Choosing a Tiny House Trailer

Something exciting is about to happen! You are searching for the most important feature of your Tiny House to be. The cornerstone. The Foundation. The Trailer.

What should you be looking for in a trailer that is about to carry your home? I recently purchased a tiny house trailer and this is a summary of all the items I considered.

Tiny House Trailer Features

There are features of trailers, some of which are important to have, and others that are important to not have if the trailer is to be used for building a house on.

The trailer you plan to build on should be defined with an appropriate GWVR (Gross Weight Vehicle Rating), equipped with heavy duty axles, high load radial tires, emergency brakes,running lights,dual chains, steel beams and flange,and a flat deck. It shouldn’t have any extra rails unless you incorporate them into the design and it definitely won’t help having a ramp or tilt feature.

A trailer specifically designed for a tiny house, by a company that is knowledgeable of tiny houses, handles all this.

New vs. Used

Tiny House Trailers

You can buy a custom tiny house trailer OR restore a used trailer. It’s a DIY revolution! However, when I looked at used trailers, I found that most required changes that aren’t so cost or time effective. Try searching google or social media sites for previous experiences. You will find warnings and even tragic posts from tiny house DIY’ers who discourage others from repeating their mistake…using RV, rusted, poorly welded, and even just lightweight utility trailers. Sure, circumstances related to budget, time, skills, and energy might still have us searching craigslist OR it might send us clicking on a custom Tiny House trailer URL. Like the saying goes,”Why reinvent the wheel?” Is that a pun?

To quick start your build safely and efficiently, a custom trailer is what’s up. After all, investing intelligently in the foundation will keep your tiny home in it for the long haul! (pun!)

Tiny House Trailer Type

With tiny house trailer and regular trailers, there are different types depending on what you need. Here are the most common:

Gooseneck

Gooseneck Trailer

If you’ve ever seen the MiniMotives home, you’ve seen a tiny home built on a gooseneck trailer. It’s a great option for a platform bedroom without having to climb into a loft. The gooseneck also offers better stabilization when towing.

Deckovers

Deckover Trailer

Deckover trailers have, wait for it…, a deck over the wheels. You won’t have to worry about a strategic layout of cabinets over wheel wells, but you will lose about 12” of headroom due to maximum height restrictions. This is a deal breaker for most. Also, if you go this route make sure it does not tilt, another feature common to deckovers.

Bumper Pull

Bumper Pull trailers  are the most common style trailer for tiny houses and the style we chose. We didn’t want the size of the gooseneck and we needed the interior height so a deckover was out. This is easy to tow and build on.

Tiny House Size

Size matters. Not only will you have to consider the space and layout for your needs, but also a few other factors. Specifically, more length means more square feet of materials. More materials means more labor, time, and weight. More weight means you will need a heavy duty towing vehicle.

A length over 24 ft will require additional axles and tires.  If you plan on traveling with your tiny house,your toll rate will increase per axle. Cha-Ching!

Finally, you’ll want to consider the impact length will have on where you can park your house.

This is not to discourage you from buying bigger. No way! Tiny doesn’t have to be so tiny at all. It is just to help guide you to the best decision for YOU. Overall, if you plan to stay settled in one place for a long period of time, a larger trailer will work out. If you plan on traveling, living incognito, and/or living urban, the smaller the better.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Used Trailer

Pros + Cons –
Spend within your budget.Pay for improvements as you go. weld reinforcements
search within distance saw off extra rails
choice of 5th wheel, deckover,utility sand off rust,paint
more wear and tear
possible tire/axle replacement
strip off decking
No VIN/ tougher DMV process:temporary plate, inspection upon registering as handmade trailer

New Trailer (manufacturer or non-custom trailer company)

Pros + Cons –
GVWR (weight it can carry) is defined. must provide plans to manufacturer to get special customizations.
No wear and tear Expensive
less knowledge of appropriate specifications for Tiny Houses

Custom Tiny House Trailer

Pros + Cons –
fully licensed VIN*** Pick up can be distant
Can register as camper van vs. homemade*** Choosing between Tiny House companies
1 Year Warranty on axles ***
Steel Flange for attaching tiny house***
Minimally curved fenders for easier sheathing/siding***
Heavy duty axles
No wear and tear
Delivery Option
Customer support specializing in tiny houses ***
Costs as much (or even less) as a new non- custom trailer***
bragging rights?

*** special and unique feature of Tiny Home Builders compared to other brands.

Tiny House Trailer

Can you guess which trailer I chose? :) Before I even started contributing to Tiny Home Builders, I purchased one of their trailers (pictured above). It was very economical and high quality. Naturally, we tiny house people, are always looking for the best value! The biggest difference I noticed with this company was how much expertise and honest advice the owner supplied before even purchasing. I could tell if I had any questions, I would get an answer from the tiny guy rather than corporate.  As a result, came this shiny, 20 ft. custom trailer with drop axles.

Here are some resources that might help you in your quest,too.

Trailer 101 Learn all about the terminology of what makes up a tiny house trailer, the special features of a custom trailer, and pickup and delivery details.

Customize and Price your Trailer Get an instant quote on custom lengths up to 32 ft ,axles, deck widths,number of axles, and pickup/delivery.

Take a video tour! Must See! Dan will lead you around the trailer and tell you what to look for in a custom trailer. Seeing this video really was the deciding factor in my own search. What type of Tiny Home Trailer want? Let me know in the comments below.

11 thoughts on “Choosing a Tiny House Trailer

  1. Sandra Stamey said:

    What is the best size of trailer to build on if we plan to tow it ourselves.? And what size truck will we need to purchase? What is the cost of the trailer.?

    • Ada Cario said:

      Hello Sandra,

      20 to 24 ft is pretty easy to move anything bigger can get complicated but it can be moved with the right size truck. Trailers vary from $3050 to $6000 depending on the size. You can click on ‘trailers’ in the header above to request an official quote.

  2. Cynthia Stephens said:

    I would love to go Tiny but I am disabled and not sure what the future holds but, I want a handicap accessible Tiny home. I think it’s doable.
    How about you? Do you think it’s possible or should I just start crying now?
    Thanks
    Cynthia Stephens

    • Tom Bastek said:

      Cythia,
      It truly depends on your level of accessibility. Tiny houses are not ideal for ADA accessibility. You need to have 4′ turning radius to accommodate a wheelchair, walker, etc. and this is just not possible in a space that is only 8’6″ wide.

      • Mark Hawk said:

        I disagree. It can be possible with the right design. A van wheelchair lift could be added at the main door to allow access in and out while locking that door while in transport. Placing a wheelchair shower on the rear facing the middle a closet could go opposite. Next to that closet a toilet with safety rails installed will allow handy cap access. A minimum 24 foot trailer will be required.

        • Tom Bastek said:

          Mark, We will agree to disagree. Although I will tell you that if you can make it work, you should have a go. I get a ton of calls from folks with disabilities looking for someone to build them a home.

          • Corvus said:

            Hi Cynthia,
            I recommend looking at the canal boats they use in the UK for design inspiration. Also called “narrowboats”, they are max 7ft wide, usually with a corridor along one side of the boat and facilities such as storage, kitchen and bathroom along the opposite side. They would have some great ideas for making the most of a narrow space if you need to use most of a trailer’s width for wheelchair access. I had a friend with a narrowboat who used a wheelchair, although she was able to get about on crutches within the actual boat itself, so it would really depend on your own level of mobility.
            I work in a hospital and they have rooms designed to allow for easy turning of beds in the corridors. Each room has a door set at a 45deg angle to the corridor wall opposite. This means that each doorway creates a turning space that is significantly wider than the corridor itself, so this concept might allow you to have a corridor wide enough for a wheelchair for most of its length, with a couple of places where it is wide enough to turn the wheelchair. It’s hard to describe so I hope I’ve painted an accurate picture with my words, and perhaps given you some ideas to design a trailer home that might suit your needs.

  3. Ivy Baker said:

    I liked that you pointed out that the size of the trailer you pick will really matter with a tiny house. You did say that the bigger the trailer the square feet you get. It would be really hard for me to pick a trailer out before getting a layout made for my tiny home. Perhaps it would be smart to get a custom made trailer after you figure out what type of tiny house you want.

  4. Joshua Norfleet said:

    What is the “normal weight” of a tiny home? I have a GMC Sierra and wonder if I can tow it with my truck or would I have to upgrade to a 2500.

    • Tom Bastek said:

      They vary by size (obviously). But to give you an idea, a 12 foot home built to our specs is around 6500#.

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