A Two-Winnebago Couple's RV-Centered Home Build

A diesel pusher, camper van, and garage to fit them both!

Susan Harley  |  11.30.2018

Our RV life started out innocently enough. There was no way of knowing all those years ago — no way! — what it would become, and how RVing would dictate nearly every aspect of our future lives.

Ignorance is Bliss

Back in March of 2012, we bought our first RV, a travel trailer that we affectionately called The Tramper – a word that accidentally erupted from my mouth during a conversation when I couldn’t decide which word applied, trailer or camper. We were not full-timers back then. In fact, I did not know there was such a thing as full-timing.

Honestly, I hardly knew what an RV was.

My husband and I were pretty “normal” back in those days. As in, we lived in a house, and did normal stuff, like walk up and down stairs. There was a pretty kitchen to putter about. I had my office. Bill had his. There was a living room and dining room and garage, a bathtub, a treadmill … normal, normal, normal.

We headed out in The Tramper as often as we could, and we started a website so we could share RV park reviews and our musings on this road trip lifestyle.

building house around RVs

Change is Coming

However, it wasn’t long before The Tramper started letting us down. It was constantly in the shop for warranty work. And worst of all, it leaked. Basically, it rained in our travel trailer. So, long story short, we found ourselves eyeing Class As and wondering what hitting the road in one of those would be like.

By late summer of 2013, we were the proud new owners of a Class A – a 2013 Itasca Ellipse, made by Winnebago. Approximately 43’ long, 13’ high, tag axle, diesel pusher. It is a beast! And it is in that very RV — these five years later — that I am typing this story now.

building house around RVs

We ended up selling that house in the suburbs, and knowing that we were going to build a new home on our land in the Tennessee mountains, we started living in the Winnebago full-time.

But here is what I did not know… I did not know that my husband would insist that the garage beneath our new home be big enough (and tall enough) to park this monster of a motorhome in it. And not only park it in the garage for storage, but for the RV to be fully-operational (electric, water, and sewer). As in opened up, while in the garage. (His vision includes using it for family and friend overflow during larger gatherings.)

building house around RVs

I did not know that the house plans and house build would take so long (over two years!) that over time, I would feel trapped in this motorhome while Bill was gone on work trips. Trapped enough to take me to make another unexpected decision…

Oops, We Did it Again

I had no idea we would buy another Winnebago, as in an additional (not instead of) Winnebago, a 2017 Era 70A camper van, so that I could head out on my own (in a much more easily maneuvered RV) while my husband was away at work for weeks at a time.

building house around RVs

So, of course, we are now adding a “shop” onto the garage to park the camper van in. Again, one that is big enough and tall enough to accommodate an RV. And of course, back to his vision again – to make it fully operational for those family and friend get-together overflows.

All this lunacy brings to mind that old song: ‘She swallowed the bird to catch the spider…. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. But I don’t know why she swallowed that fly.’ I think of that song every time I explain to people why we have two RVs and why our house looks the way it does – a little box atop a really big box.

building house around RVs

Building a Home Around the RVs

The house itself looks kind of puny (though tall), plopped above that garage. The garage, however, looks like an Amazon warehouse when empty. Our home is tall because the RVs are tall. We are basically building a home around our two RVs. And word on the street is that when the house is done, I get to sleep in it too.

building house around RVs

I realize you’re probably thinking: What fools! Why not build a nice, normal house and just store your RVs like nearly everyone else does? And I can’t even disagree with you. But once Bill gets an idea in his head, there’s little chance of reasoning him out of it. He wanted these two Winnebago babies nearby and sheltered, ready for adventure at a moment’s notice.

building house around RVs

We still have a few more months before we can move in. And once we do, the house will serve as home base, and we will venture out in the motorhome and camper van as often as we can.


I would love to hear what you do with your RV when you are not RVing? Or, if you are a full-timer, would you ever go back to sticks and bricks living?


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6 Comments

  1. Lynn Zimecki Posted on 12.05.2018

    Ok…when can Laura and I come for a visit!!! ❤️❤️

  2. Susan Posted on 12.04.2018

    Tracy – Thank you!! Do not put it past my husband to pull the B behind the A. No seriously. He drives the motor coach like it’s a corvette and loves to tow things!

  3. Susan Posted on 12.04.2018

    Leslie – We are in a rather remote part of Tennessee. I can tell you that a garage this tall has been an incredible engineering challenge, and that is putting it mildly! Or perhaps we just made it a hundred times harder than it could have been. ‍♀️ We’ll definitely provide more details when this house build is complete!!

  4. Dave Bell Posted on 12.04.2018

    I am not sure I can let my wife read this. If she does I might be headed down the same path. I am sure glad to have Bill back at work.

  5. leslie Posted on 12.03.2018

    Can I ask where you are building this awesome property?!?! We’ve been searching for months for something similar, but keep running into building code issues!! Would love to hear more about the process and specifics. Congratulations on this new adventure!

  6. Tracy Posted on 12.01.2018

    OMG I love it! I can see you pulling the B behind the A!! I think the garage idea is brilliant. Good luck and happy travels