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.
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).
No 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.
Often 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.