The property we purchased did not have a liveable house. Instead, it had a burned out foundation with some free-standing walls, a fireplace, and a basement. So, we began to look at alternate housing until we could get something built.
We considered a full sized trailer (mobile home), a camper, a tipi, a yurt, and an apartment (while we built). The trailer was appealing in that it would be more permanent feeling, but was unappealing because we feared it may be more permanent. Also, one that was move-in ready would cost more than we wanted to sink into temporary housing. A camper would be very small, and could be viewed negatively by others. Standard RV’s could be pricey or dumpy, but if we went with a FEMA model we could get one at a good price. Also, it would be so small and feel so temporary that we would be motivated to get a move on with the next phase!
A Sioux tipi and a Mongolian yurt (properly known as a gur) were the most appealing, and very roomy, but would cost alot to have one fitted with a bathroom and kitchen. An apartment would be very comfortable, but we would be paying rent every month that we could be putting into building and we wouldn’t be “on location” for working.
So, after weighing the options, we settled on a FEMA trailer for the immediate solution with plans to put up a yurt ASAP for living and sleeping. We would then use the FEMA trailer for a kitchen/bath and then start working on a permanent cabin.
In addition to this, Roy purchased a 53′ shipping container which he had set on the foundation of the old house. This was to be for storage. At first it stored our tools securely while we were working, but not living at the property. Then it was to be for our furniture, etc. until we built a house. Roy came up with a great idea, though, to use half of it for living space in the interim. This turned out to be a very good idea. It gave us a place to hook up the washer and dryer, store dishes and food on shelving out of the old house, hook up the desktop computer, hang clothes, etc. Through a series of opportunities and innovations, it became a very nice living room.
UPDATE: We finished the cabin in October of 2012. It is a comfortable 1,008 square feet, especially compared to the 8′ x 32′ we lived in the two years it took us to complete it! However, we were attached enough to our camper that it still sits hooked up in the front yard – ready for guests, of which we’ve had quite a few, a chick hatchery, or office with air conditioning when we need to get away. The container is in the process of a makeover into a workshop, storage, getaway space, now that the living room, closet, and laundry room have been moved into the cabin.