Tiny House Towing: Choosing a Tow Vehicle

Even though the average person only moves their tiny house three times in their lifetime, moving always comes up in conversations. Do I need a gigantic truck? Can I pull my home with an SUV? Can I rent a truck? There are a lot of questions, but we’re here to help you figure it all out. Here are some great recommendations when choosing a tiny home tow vehicle.

Buy a Tiny House Tow Vehicle

One option is to buy a tow vehicle. However, if you don’t plan on moving your tiny house often this may be overkill. Larger tow vehicles are not inexpensive and they also consume a lot more gas than a typical vehicle. You may be wanting the biggest vehicle they make to tow your house, but this will also be the vehicle you use for quick trips to the grocery store.

Typically, if you have a 20 foot home or less, you are looking for a minimum half ton truck like a Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, or Toyota Tundra. But keep in mind here that not all half tons are created equal. There are differences in engine size, transmission gearing, fuel capacity, and towing packages. Not everyone who buys a half ton truck intends to tow something. Take a look at the table below.

Vehicle Engine Towing Capacity
F-150 3.5L V6 5100 lbs.
F-150 3.5L V6 TC 11,700lbs.

This is the same model truck with a similarly sized engine, but way different towing capacities due to the towing package of the vehicle.

If you have a house that is between 20 and 28 feet, you are going to need the next step up: a one ton pickup. This is going to be your GMC Sierra 3500, Dodge Ram 3500 or Ford F-350. These are designed specifically for towing and are capable of towing so much that they could require a commercial driver’s license if operated at their full capabilities. But if you are towing less than 26,000 pounds (which you will be), your normal driver’s license will suffice.

These larger trucks can also come as a dually, which has four wheels in the back and will handle a 32 foot home nicely. These have similar towing capacities but have the ability to handle a higher tongue weight.

Speaking of tongue weight, this is something else you will have to consider in addition to total weight. The tongue weight is the amount of weight that comes down specifically on the tongue of the trailer. Stay tuned because we are going to talk more about that in a future article.

Rent a Tiny House Tow Vehicle

So you don’t want to own a truck. There is nothing wrong with that. There is a way that you can rent a tow vehicle to get your tiny house mobile. Now we are not talking about U-Haul or Penske here, as they restrict their trucks to lighter loads like towing your vehicle. Even though their trucks could pull a tiny house, they have purposely set up their trucks to make sure that you can’t use them for that. They either disable the hitch or they permanently weld a 2” ball to the truck. Those are meant for the lighter loads as opposed to the 2 5/16” ball found on larger, heavy duty trailers.

If you go to a typical car rental place like Avis, Hertz or Enterprise can rental, you are going to come up with the exact same problem.

We use enterprisetrucks.com. They specifically rent trucks meant for towing. They come with all the tow packages and the hitches required. And the prices are reasonable in comparison to buying a new truck. There are other companies out there, but make sure you read the fine print in the insurance to see if they cover transmission problems due to towing. If you don’t see it, they more than likely do not want you towing anything.

Outsource the Towing Altogether

Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who will move your tiny house for you. There are a few websites to help you find them. One that we’ve used successfully is uShip, where they have a bid system and ratings where you can pick who you want. Think of it as the eBay of shipping. You just want to make sure that you hire someone who is licensed and bonded, as they let pretty much anyone bid on the site. If you would rather not roll the dice with a bidding system, there are companies out there that have a more fixed price model, but expect to pay more.

TAKE NOTE!

Before you move your house, it is super important to make sure to consider your vehicles capacities and check the weight of your home. It’s extremely important to keep yourself safe, as well as everyone around you.

So what is your plan to move your house? Are you towing it yourself? Are you in the market for a new truck? Let me know in the comments below.

 

42 thoughts on “Tiny House Towing: Choosing a Tow Vehicle

  1. An Animal said:

    How come nobody talks about using tractors to tow?

    Tractors can easily tow 10 – 20 tonnes!

  2. Dan Malloy said:

    In Ontario if the axle weights on the trailer exceed 4600 kg you need an A class of licence to pull the home.
    Cheers.

  3. Stephanie said:

    Since we are building something wider than a typical THOW, I say leave it to the professionals. We are only going to move the home when we HAVE to. Maybe twice.

  4. Claire said:

    Wow Tom,

    I have often wonder how in the world someone would move their tiny home, if they (Like me) don’t own a truck.

    Enjoyed learning, great article!

  5. Suzy Beckwith said:

    I have a tiny house a 16 footer. I bought my trailer and plans from you guys.

    I bought a truck but it wasn’t big enough to tow my house. Now I’m at the mercy of my friends. During my trip home from the 2016 Florida Tiny house festival, my house came off the truck that was towing it. It was thankfully fixable. It put a new desire to never take my house anywhere. lol!

    That’s not really what I want.. I want to go places..So I am searching for a truck or someone who can tow me.It is all so confusing. Maybe with time I’ll figure it out. Then I’ll need lessons on how to tow..

    Joys of tiny house living. Thanks for the article.

    Suzy

  6. Andy said:

    We bought a Ford F-350 with a Triton V10 engine. Maybe overkill, but it should do the job nicely. Moving our tiny house from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Santa Fe, New Mexico in July.

      • Andrea said:

        I’m also interested in the Santa Fe question. I live about 40 miles from SF and am considering a tiny house if I stay in the area.

    • John Steudle said:

      Where did you park your tiny home in Ann Arbor? I live within 30 min of A2 and am interested in tiny house options in the area. Thanks!

  7. Fred Enzel said:

    You skipped ford’s F250. Doesn’t it have a towing capacity above the F150?

    Thanks.

    • I didnt skip it, these are just our recommendations. As you can see from our chart, it is possible to get a whole gamut of towing capacities just within one truck class. You should consult your local dealer for the truck towing capacity that is right for you.

  8. Alice said:

    What size tiny house luxury living home would my GMC Sierra 1500 with tow package pull

    • Dan LoucheDan Louche said:

      For that size vehicle the absolute max length would be 20′, and that may be pushing it.

  9. John Pasquence said:

    Hi all tiny home owners. I am finishing my tiny home it’s 33 ft fith weel. I am towing it with a small tractor that I am modifying it to carry my house. If anyone heed any help I am available feel free to ask.

    Thanks John

    • Jake said:

      John I definitely need some help, I would love to bounce some ideas off you.

  10. Sam Jenkins said:

    What would a Chevy 2500 pull ?

  11. Sherie Otteson said:

    Great article! I will be looking into a tiny home sometime in the future. I will have to move from property when it becomes an estate…and sells. I am 61 an want to travel some. I would like a 28 foot long, I believe. I’m kind of claustrophobic. I will be looking for a truck to haul it myself. Any suggestions?

    Regards,
    Sherie

  12. Karen Everett said:

    I will be towing mine from where it was built in Georgia to it’s final spot in Virginia. I plan to rent from Enterprise Trucks. Do you know what tag I would need from the Georgia DMV to put on while I tow it home? Is there any temporary tags I could get?

  13. Snaxx said:

    So I guess 2 door jeeps are out of the question. dang it…

  14. Great article but since we are building something wider than a typical THOW, I would say leave it to the professionals.

  15. Fred Enzel said:

    I realized long ago that the 28 to 30 THOW I am planning will need that diesel F350 I expect to buy used to dovetail with completion of the tiny house. It will help that several family members will benefit from having that truck available.

    Thanks for a great article.

  16. dale Langille said:

    HI
    I have a question I’ve been told a Tiny house needs marker lights mounted on the rear at the top and also at the front to corners is this true ? (7) lights in total five on the back at the top and two upfront one on each corner. This before it can be towed over the road.

  17. Daye Sloope said:

    Hi all! I have an f150 with the 6.2L engine. What size tiny house can I pull and safely stop loaded down? Besides easier driving and parking, would it be better for weight distribution and easier on the truck if I had a gooseneck? Should I modify the truck to help towing? Trying to keep the truck that is almost paid for vs buying another.

    • Daye,
      I don’t know what the towing capacity is. You would have to tell me. Shoot me an email with that number and reference this post and I will help you figure it out.

  18. Torben said:

    Hi Tom,

    I’m just starting to get seriously interested in T-houses (I’ve been playing around with the idea for years) and wondered: If you have your house on a trailer, when you get it on-site, how do you level it? do you just let it sit on the rubber wheels and inflate/deflate to get the proper level, or do people jack them up and put them on blocks or some other stable material? How do you prep the area where it eventually gets parked so it’s not sinking or rising with frost heaves and mud?

    Thanks!

  19. Kevin Welder said:

    I see so many tiny houses built using very heavy and space consuming materials (2×6 wood wall framing, floor joists, and rafters). As a professional steel fabricator, I want to make my tiny house out of a lightweight but strong welded steel tubing framework. I want it to be easily trailer-able, and streamlined to the wind, like an RV, but still quality, classy, and energy efficient construction.

  20. I found it interesting that you said different trucks could handle different kinds of weight. I never thought that there was a possibility to require a commercial driver’s license to operate one of these. I will be looking at my husband’s truck a little differently from now on.

  21. Pingback: Features that Make the Ford F-150 a Best Seller

  22. Pauline said:

    Thank you so much for this article! I’m seriously looking at getting a tiny house on wheels within the next few years and have been wondering what kind of vehicle to get. I’m not a big truck person, but I’ll want to move it 3-4 times a year visiting places as I move from one spot to another. i never thought about renting a truck! :)

    Do you have any suggestions on a good size range for me to stay within to accomplish my goal? I don’t want to go to small or too big.

    Have a great day!
    Pauline

  23. Sheri said:

    We have a Nissan Armada with a towing capacity of 10,000 lbs. why size would we safely be able to tow?

    • Dan LoucheDan Louche said:

      In our experience, probably up to 18′ house

  24. Bev said:

    Great info! Also appreciate the comments from others.

  25. EruditeOne said:

    There are a few things anyone who plans to build a Tiny House on Wheels may be wise to consider:
    1) Build with SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) for far greater insulation value than studs and insulation and to reduce weight less. I think SIPs can be made with structural steel framing.
    2) Building with structural steel framing will shave 60% of the weight off of the structure.
    3) There are trailers made with Aluminum.
    Some estimates suggest these weight reducing materials may avoid about 4,000 pounds of weight.

    • Victor Gac said:

      Can you provide links to SIP products you are considering or have used? And, links to the aluminum trailers you mentioned

  26. Gregor said:

    Can someone suggest how to weigh or accurately estimate the weight and tongue weight of a tiny house?

    • Dan LoucheDan Louche said:

      They make a scale that is specifically used for this. Unfortunately it cost about $100 and you will likely only use it once.

  27. Krista Lee said:

    LOVED this article!! I’d just recently been struggling with this issue. We don’t want to buy an expensive muy macho truck just to move our tiny home four or five times a year and then use it as our everything vehicle. Too expensive! We’re about trying to save money, as well as being as minimizing our carbon footprint. Thank you so much for this article! Love these options!

  28. Danielle LaRock said:

    How do you weigh a tiny house? Great article, thank you!

    • Dan LoucheDan Louche said:

      There are CAT scales at truck stops where you can weight your house.

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