There are several things to consider when choosing the width of your tiny house trailer. Many people instantly think that they want the widest trailer possible to get the most room out of their house. But if you don’t think this decision through, you may end up with something you really don’t want.
Before deciding on the width of your trailer, you need to first decide on the width of your house. Many people assume those to be the same, but they aren’t.
When deciding on the width of your house you will want to take into consideration the rules and laws for vehicles on the road, since after all, you’ll likely need to transport your house at least once.
The rules for oversized loads on most roads are determined by each state. This makes it a little complicated since there can be some variance based on where you live. But for the most part, the rules for widths are typically specified within bands or ranges of widths. For instance, there will be a set of rules for vehicles 8’6” (102”) and less, 8’7” to 10’ (120”), and others up to 16’ wide. Once you decide on the range, you will want to be on the high end of that range since you want to take advantage of as much room as possible.
Vehicles up to 102” do not require a permit, nor are there any restrictions on when they can drive. Because of this, 102” is the most common size that people choose to make their tiny house. In fact, it’s the most common size for every heavy-duty trailer on the road (when you measure from outside fender to outside fender). Because as I said earlier, you want to be on the high end of your range to take advantage of the room you are allowed.
The next step up is 10’ wide. This extra width adds a lot of interior room to your home and can make it feel more like a home and less like an RV. The rules for this size do however get a little more restrictive by typically requiring a wide load banner on the back of the trailer, added lights/reflectors, and a permit. These permits are required for each state you plan to drive in, usually cost around $40, and are valid for a few days. If you only plan to move your house once or twice, this extra width is likely worth the added hassle. But if you are planning to be on the road more than that, I would stay down in the 102” range.
There aren’t many tiny houses that venture up into this width due to the challenges of transporting the trailer. Forget about the added, more expensive permits and the need for an escort vehicle, the trailer is just much more difficult to move. Simple tasks like stopping for gas or navigating local roads can be a real challenge.
Now that you have determined the width of your house, you need to determine the width of the trailer. You must remember that everything on your home is included in that tiny house trailer width. Your outside sheathing, outside siding, door and window trim, drip edge and roof overhang all must be included in that 102”. We get asked a lot about why our standard trailers have a recommended width of 96” when the legal limit is 102”. The answer is that if we built our trailers to 102", you would surely be wider than that by the time you were done with your house.
As a rule of thumb, you typically want your trailer to be about 6” narrower than your house. However, if your design calls for larger overhangs or perhaps a narrower siding, a different trailer width may be appropriate.
There are always other options for going a little bigger. Go longer instead of wider. Also, look at collapsible and convertible furniture that fold away when not in use. This can free up space for movement and activities.
What did you go with for your tiny house trailer width? What are your plans? Let me know in the comments below.
Published on 7/18/2023. Published in Tiny House Trailers & Towing.