Teardrop Campers; 2015’s Must-Have Backyard Appliance

Little-known and underrated, the teardrop camper is one of the most fuel-efficient, compact and comfortable solutions to the problem of comfortable road-tripping. They’re light enough to be towed by a small sedan, but large enough to house a full- to queen-sized mattress and an outdoor kitchen to boot. Sounds handy, right?

teardrop kitchen

Well now those who appreciate a more stationary lifestyle don’t have to let road-trippers have all the fun. Some homeowners have realized that a teardrop’s outdoor kitchen makes for an excellent addition to a barbecue, while the inside can serve as a playhouse for kids. Alternatively, travel-retired homeowners can use teardrop campers as guesthouses for other travelers rolling through; they’re likely to appreciate a private bed as opposed to a living room floor.

Teardrop trailers vary in costs as much as they vary in shape and size. For around $15,000 buyers can opt into teardrops with upholstered furniture, a cozy kitchen with running water (so long as you fill up its water tank) and a TV. Prices seem to average out at around $7000 or $8000 for standard teardrops with kitchenettes.
It’s also possible for more hands-on people with carpentry skills to create their own teardrop campers.

micro camper

This couple was able to build a micro-camper themselves using only $800 worth of materials, while another man spent a full $3,000 to create a more standard teardrop vehicle, which is outfitted with all kinds of snazzy detailing.
If you’re considering making your own teardrop, here’s a little pertinent information about getting it registered to be on the road. First of all, provided your teardrop camper isn’t souped up with a bunch of fancy and heavy gadgets, you’re going to need to register it as a “Homebuilt Utility Trailer.” You’re looking to get a Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) license plate. It will need to be under around 1500 pounds to stay under the legal limit for vehicles that need their own brakes. So long as the vehicle passes inspection, it should receive a VIN sticker and a license plate. You’ll need the CA 343, 4017, and 5036 forms and you might be given the 124 form during the procedure, which is titled “Application for Assigned Vehicle Identification Number Plate.”

Another consideration: when you head to the DMV to register your teardrop, make sure to bring receipts showing approximately how much you spent, especially on major stuff like plywood, frame and axle if you bought it. That means while you’re building it, you need to make copies of all your receipts in case they get lost. A 5 year registration costs about $30.

Here’s an unexpected break: with a teardrop trailer, liability is not necessary because the towing vehicle’s coverage extends to the trailer too (at least with state farm), even if they’re not attached to each other during whatever accident may befall the trailer. Very cool. And get this: if something is stolen out of the trailer, you may be able to file for homeowner’s insurance.

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