Watch Your Roof! Respecting Tiny House Height

One of the growing trends of the tiny house world is going as big as you can and still going tiny. We are asked a lot about the maximum lengths, widths and heights. Our normal builds are 13’5” high, just one inch below the legal limit set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The response is normally, “WOW! How do you drive with that in tow?” Here are some of the things to think about when it comes to respecting tiny house height.

Highway Overpasses

So you know that if you are equal to or under the maximum height allowed by the NHTSA (13’6″), you are going to be fine on all of the major interstates. Plus, most of the time, the state roads are marked. But as you start to get down to some of the smaller roads, you have to very careful not to take the top of your house off. Call ahead, go slow and find a height-specific GPS (we’ll talk more about that in a bit).

Gas stations

Tiny House Height - GasNo one ever thinks about clearance at gas stations when it comes to tiny house height, because your house doesn’t run on gasoline. Your towing vehicle on the other hand, does have to refuel and with the diminished gas mileage from towing your house, it will need a fill up more often. Some gas stations are kind enough to mark their clearance right on the covered pumps. Unfortunately, many do not and so you will have to watch out closely. We have heard more than one story where people have had to unload the tiny house in the street, go fill up their truck and then hook it back up before carrying on.


Tiny House Height - TreeOften you will see the electric companies or civil services cutting away branches from the main road so that they are clear of traffic and power lines. The problem comes when you get away from the main drags and head out on the smaller roads. If your home has a peak style roof, you may be able to navigate down the middle of the road and clear the trees on the sides where your tiny house height is considerably lower. However, if you are sporting a shed style roof, you are more than likely not going to be able to avoid the low hanging branches. Make sure you are going slow, use a spotter and if worse comes to worse, stop and get someone from the local authorities to come in and offer advice. They may have an alternative route that your GPS did not tell you about.

Respecting Tiny House Height With Navigation

Speaking of GPS, technology is a beautiful thing. There are now navigation programs that allow you to enter the dimensions of your vehicle and they will route you the way you need to go to avoid a collision. If you are old school and want to go with a stand alone GPS unit, we recommend the Magellan RoadMate RV9165T. This unit allows you to customize your route based on your vehicle length, width, weight and height and even has the “Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory provides one-stop RV resource for every aspect of RVing experience.” Not necessarily everything you need for tiny house living, but the resources can’t hurt.

If you are in the market for an app for your smartphone, look no further than the CoPilot RV USA app. You can set your height, weight and length and even which roads have propane restrictions. The app also downloads the maps for your route so that if you should lose cell signal, you are still covered.

So what do you use when navigating with your tiny house? Have you ever had a close call? Let me know in the comments below.


14 thoughts on “Watch Your Roof! Respecting Tiny House Height

  1. Tim Reynolds said:

    What is the widest that aTiny House can be?

    • Tom Bastek said:

      Eight feet, six inches wide.

      • Nolan said:

        Hey Tom,
        That’s a quick answer but nit a complete answer. The more complete answer is something like: up to 16′ wide depending on the locations you want to move it to. Beyond 16′ wide gets into the hose moving range and the equipment and labor can be prohibitive. As you get beyond 102″ there are permits and additional restrictions but it is still very easily to move wider structures. It just takes a little more planning. My main reason for building tiny (portable) homes is to avoid building permits and taxes. Others may have different priorities. If a person plans on living in their tiny home and moving it little or never the 8’6″ mindset can be a real hindrance for tiny home living.
        My preference lately is towards tiny homes on skids to save the money of the trailer frame while still being portable. If the skids are standardized to match the local shed movers then a person doesn’t need the expense of a larger tow vehicle and can use local shed movers as needed.

  2. Cookie said:

    And…Megellan is out-of-stock on this item for the moment.

  3. Tonya Phillips said:

    Okay this is probably a stupid question but here goes as I really do need to get it right. To get to 13’5″ is that from the ground to the peak of the house or the amount from the trailer base to the peak of the house?

    • Tom Bastek said:

      Tonya! Great question! It is from the ground to the top of the peak of the house!

  4. Mary said:

    I have been looking for months for information about a removable roof for towing purposes because I want the loft to accomodate being able to stand up 6′.Anyone have any info on this?

    • Kim said:

      instead, possibly go with a goose neck trailer, then the height isn’t an issue. Or possibly go with a 4′ crawl space under your room.

    • Thomas Ross said:

      One great option is a standing height loft. Basically, you shorten your staircase and leave a spot open at the top where you can change your clothes. That low spot can of course be extended. I’ve seen them go all the way to the back wall of the bedroom. You just have to deal with the space you took away from the first floor to do that.

  5. Chris said:

    Some states allow 14’6″ tall vehicles. I don’t live in one of those states but my tiny house is around 13′ 10″. I’m curious if you have had or heard of anyone being cited for a trailer height that’s too tall. I feel like authorities are more concerned with weight and won’t notice/care about being a few inches over.

  6. Nelly said:

    What height would you say is the safest, tallest allowance for hitting under most gas stations?

  7. Thomas Ross said:

    I came to this article while looking for trailer deck heights, not house heights, but they are sort of related. Everyone is willing to say that a drop axle will get you so many inches, building the subfloor into the frame will get you so many, settling will get you two to three…but what no one seems willing to do is give me a number I can actually use. If you use every trick in the book, how much vertical space of house can you expect to have? At what elevation do the lowest decks on 28′ or 30′ tiny house trailers sit? Even a small range instead of a number would be helpful, if you must. I have a whole design in my head, but I need at least 5’6″ and 5″6″ (in parts of it) even if I have to use steel tubes and aerogel to skinny-up the second floor and roof to get it, so knowing what kind of floor elevation I can design for is really important.

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