Unless you live in a century old home, having a level house is something that most people take for granted. Tiny house owners, on the other hand, may have to deal with leveling their house on a regular basis. There are many ways to level a tiny house, some better than others. Here is your guide to the hows and whys of Tiny House leveling.
Why Level Your Tiny House?
Many people underestimate the importance of having a level house. But the truth of the matter is that maintaining a level tiny house is more important than you think. If you are even slightly un-level in your home, doors and cabinets will swing open or closed exactly when you don’t want them to. Maybe you are putting something together on the counter and the screws roll off and onto the floor. There is also the worry of something falling out of the loft. But you need to think about the structure of the home as well. Your tiny house is on a trailer, which is spring loaded. This means that if you do not level and stabilize the home high enough to get the weight off the tires, you will bounce around like a castle at a children’s birthday party.
Eying it up: Tiny House Leveling by Sight
Dan and I recently attended the Decatur Tiny House Festival with our 12’ Tiny Living model house. When we arrived, we were happy to see that the ground was relatively level. Well, at least it looked level. After jacking up the right side of the house close to seven inches, we realized just how un-level the ground truly was. We had not even gotten the other side off the ground yet. Had we, the house would probably be sitting close to 13 inches off the ground on the right side. Needless to say, our hindsight was definitely 20-20.
As difficult as eyeing a level location for your house is, the same goes for leveling it. This truly is something that you want to have an actual level to see. Trying to “eyeball” it will probably not come out as good as you expect. If you are in a pinch and do not have access to a level, find something that rolls. e.g. a ball, pen, or anything else that is round or cylindrical. Once you get the house close, figure out where that ball is rolling to and make the necessary adjustments.
Tiny House Leveling Equipment
In addition to a good level, you are going to need a way to jack you house up and then stabilize it once you get it there. Many people are partial to scissor jacks and some even have them welded right to the frame of the trailer. You should remember a few things about these jacks before you purchase them. First, they are not the best for stabilization as they only come down/go up at one angle. This means that if the ground below the jack is un-level, there is additional stress on the jack. This additional stress can cause the jack to bend, break or even slip out from underneath your house. Even companies that do attach them to your trailer will tell you to first jack your house up to the proper level and then lower the jacks down for stability. Speaking of having them installed, remember you are going to lose ground clearance with these as well.
We recommend that you use a regular hydraulic SUV jack. These are easy to transport and very efficient. Once you have raised your house to level, you are going to want to keep it there with jack stands like the ones pictured here. They come in a variety of weight tolerances and provide superior support for your house.
Keeping Your Tiny House Off the Ground
There are a couple of reasons that ideally you would like to keep the tires off the ground. As mentioned earlier, you really want the house to sit more stable then on the springs of the axle. Another reason is that you will be able access your tires, giving them a spin every six months or so. Doing so prevents flat spots in the tire as well as dry rot if they are sitting in the dirt for a long period of time. Or, if you are worried about tiny house security, you could remove them all together. Read about this and other security measures in the article, How to Maintain Tiny House Security.
How do you / do you plan to approach your tiny house leveling? Let me know in the comments below.