For some, there's nothing more romantic than a cross-country train trip. But would you live in one? For one German couple, however, living in a train car house is tantamount to their idea of the dream home -- and it helps too that they actually first met on a train.
After that fateful meeting, Marco Stepniak and Vanessa Stallbaum -- both photographers -- took a honeymoon trip from Berlin to Kazakhstan, where Marco suggested building a train car house to Vanessa. According to Tagesspiegel.de, the 34-year-old first got the idea over 15 years ago when he'd attended a local youth club near his hometown that was set up in a pair of old train cars.
New train cars were too expensive, costing around US $725,000, so the couple settled on two vintage mail cars for $29,000 from the seventies that had to be shipped from Switzerland -- which in itself set them back a whopping $37,600. To finance their project, the couple had to take out a loan.
After repainting the cars, these were then transported to the construction site in Ruhr, Germany. Working with an architect on the plans, the couple enlisted the help of Marco’s father and friends to remodel the interiors in order to keep costs down, while trying to retain the original feel as much as possible.
They also added a living room that connects the two cars together, so that when seen from above, the 1660 square foot house looks like an 'H'. It wasn't easy, but insulation and underfloor heating were also added, plus converting one of the cars into a bathroom, which entailed breaking down some of the compartments.
Local zoning laws were a problem too, as the cars couldn't be placed on neither residential nor commercial areas, but the couple finally found a mixed-use commercial neighbourhood near a nature reserve where their home could finally be situated.
"It's more complicated than expected," says Marco Stepniak about the expansion and renovation of the cars into living areas, explaining, "you can ask anyone." Since this project that he and his girlfriend have started is idiosyncratic, so it is difficult to find someone who knows how a floor is laid in a train carriage, how the cars should be insulated and energy-friendly enough. Everything must be planned separately.