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Box truck tiny house - Installing windows?  RSS feed

 
Anna Whalley
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Hi, My boyfriend Kyle and I are building a house inside a 16ft box truck and we are going back and forth on whether or not put in windows that fit in between the metal studs that hold the box up or to cut into them and put in the big windows we've always wanted. I was thinking we could frame it as best we could then cut away each stud without cutting the exterior of the box and place in the remaining frame and then cut out the hole from the exterior aluminum. However the only problem is that the studs and bows are the only thing holding the box in a box truck together and I've done some searching about how you shouldn't mess with the bows on the roof because it will jeopardize the integrity of the box yet I haven't found anything about the studs (or struts), or anything about anyone having to put windows in them.

Anyone have any advice? or perhaps a better explanation on my part.

Thanks.

-Anna and Kyle
 
Dillon Nichols
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Hi Anna, welcome to permies!

I was thinking we could frame it as best we could then cut away each stud without cutting the exterior of the box


I would expect the success/lack of success to depend on how well you do this framing. I definitely wouldn't want to cut more than one stud out per window, and would want the framing to be quite substantial to avoid any surprises.

Might find someone who's done this on expo... (expeditionportal.com). You might also try and get a look at a cargo box with big side doors(like some moving trucks have) or windows(like a food truck, perhaps?), and see what they did about framing around these...

I went with a shortbus, so I have too many windows rather than too few... have you considered multiple smaller windows separated only by the width of the studs? What about a huge window at the rear and/or front of the box, where you may not have as many studs to worry about?
 
Anna Whalley
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Thanks for you suggestions. We are putting windows in the wall we have to build where the roll door was. But we are thinking now it would just be easy to find small windows for the other walls, only problem is they have to be smaller than 21.5 inches. The more I look at the studs the more I think we could frame out a big window but I have a feeling we won't want to because it's too risky and we only have a month to finish the entire tiny house. thanks again.

-Anna and kyle
 
Daniel Schmidt
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Location: Jacksonville, FL
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I'd imagine you could buy a couple of steel studs and rivet them in place. You would have to make a header for the existing roof structure to dive in to and securely attach this header to the new studs. It should be fairly straight forward if you have experience building one out of wood, if not you might be better off with the smaller windows. There could be a few alternative options in this space. Going to a junkyard and getting a couple of matching sunroof windows comes to mind.

Something like an SUV with a large flat roof could yield a decent window around 2 - 3 feet long and a width that fits between your studs. I remember almost 20 years ago getting one out of a junkyard for a Jeep Cherokee and installing it in another Jeep Cherokee. As long as you measure well and take all of the hardware from the donor vehicle it should be a success.
 
Robbie Asay
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I have a 26 foot box truck with FRP walls. I bought used RV windows off ebay. There's a guy on there that has excellent prices and I've gotten a couple of small windows for under $30 each. I was also going to replace the garage door with a wall, house door and windows but now that my dad is gone I'm going to sell or trade it for something like an old Airstream, Avion or Silver Streak travel trailer and do up the interior how I want it. If you still have time and some questions I'll try and answer as much as I can.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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If the box is going to be mobile at times smaller windows would be better, if it is mostly stationary then adequate framing should do the trick. You could probably marry wood to the existing wall to provide header and jack studs.
 
Robbie Asay
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There's actually quite a few moving van RVs on the road with much bigger windows than what I bought, some even have sliding glass doors that haven't had any issues but they are definitely framed similar to a house except in regard to headers(around windows). It's not necessary to have full headers/jacks since they aren't required to carry part of the weight of a roof. Smaller ones can be used if a ceiling and insulation is put in.
 
Anna Whalley
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Thanks for the input!
Kyle and I have gone with normal windows we bought for a steal at a salvage place. We got 2 windows that will fit between the existing studs. And one 4 foot window that we will cut two studs out and build a frame for. We aren't too worried about having normal glass for windows since we could get Plexiglas and mount it over the windows when ever we drive the truck around. Hopefully that'll work. Anyone tried anything like that before?
 
Robbie Asay
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You aren't considering a common issue with box trucks but it's a typical learning curve people have to adjust to when doing this. The boxes are built to flex...a lot! While it's true that you don't "have" to concern yourself with rafter and shingle weight you must build a window frame stout enough to prevent too much flex without breaking free from the box walls when it needs to flex and without shattering the glass. With as big of a window you have(the 4ft) it's a 1/3 of the length of the box so I would not use it in yours. It's not as much of an issue with the larger box trucks.

Make sure you buy tempered glass windows. I don't trust regular house glass. If the box flexes enough to shatter the glass the chances are likely that you may crack the plexiglass as well, only because you can't see when the glass shatters and stop doing whatever it is that made the box flex that much.

I'm sorry I wasn't clear about the size of truck. When I brought up the sliding glass door(which also has it's own frame) and larger windows it was in a large truck like mine(26ft).
 
Anna Whalley
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No worries, we were planning on a big window from the get go. We aren't too worried about the size window, the truck we have isn't exactly running at the moment and its already on the land we will be living on till next winter, so we figure if we ever do take it on the road and the window breaks then we'll just replace it. Or we can replace the glass with tempered glass. Plus the window only cost us $40 so it wouldn't be a crazy loss. Thanks again!
 
Robbie Asay
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Okay, just be careful regarding insurance when traveling since most companies won't give you an RV policy on a home conversion(ask me how I know). If the window breaks and punctures tires it could turn into a nightmare you really don't want to experience. Good luck.
 
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