Tiny Home Builders Blog

TINY HOUSE HIEGHT

Every time we attend an event with one of our tiny houses, we are constantly asked about the height. Our house is 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 tiny house height.

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One of the more common questions that we are asked is, “How do you keep your tiny home secure?” Well, let’s discuss secure for a moment. Given enough time and remote enough location, any tiny house out there can be stolen. But there are precautions that you can take and tiny house security systems that you can install. Here is how to make it as tough as possible for thieves to steal your home and your possessions and make it as easy as possible to recover your home should they succeed.

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Choosing a Trailer

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

What should you be looking for in a trailer that is about to carry a house?

It 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.

Tiny House Trailers

 You can buy a custom trailer OR restore a used trailer. It’s a DIY revolution! Take that used trailer, though, and you will have to make changes that aren’t so cost effective or timewise. Try searching the toolbar on social media sites for previous experiences. You will find warnings and even tragic posts from tiny house DIY’ers who discourage others from repeating the 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 Tiny House custom trailer URL. Like the saying goes,”Why reinvent the wheel?

Is that a pun? 

To quickstart 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!)

 

Let’s get know the possible types of foundations for your future tiny house on wheels.

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If you’ve ever seen the MiniMotives home, you would see 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 offers stabilization when towing.

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These trailers have 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 3-4” of headroom due to maximum height restrictions. Make sure it does not tilt, another feature common to deckovers.

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Most tiny houses are built on a utility trailer with the deck that is inline with the wheels. It is very popular to customize this type of trailer with drop axles. It will increase your headroom since there are max. height restrictions, but there will be less ground clearance which may effect your plumbing lines.

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

$$

less knowledge of appropriate specifications for Tiny Houses

Tiny House Custom 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 squared 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.

Size

Size matters. Not only will you have to consider the space and layout for your needs, but a few other factors:

  • =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 may require additional axles and tires.  If you plan on traveling with your tiny house,your toll rate will increase per axle.Cha-Ching!

  • Places and spaces to park.

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.

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Can you guess which trailer I chose? :)

Before I even started contributing to Tiny Home Builders, I signed up for their trailer (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 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.

New Trailer Pickup Location In Toronto

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Are you in Canada or the northeastern US and in the market for a tiny house trailer? In the past we’ve delivered trailers as far north as upstate New York from our Florida location. But as you can image the delivery costs can get pretty expensive when travelling that far. Well we’ve now added a new pickup location in Toronto, Ontario Canada to service the northeast!

We’ve also simplified the process of ordering a trailer with all the available options on our website. Just go to our trailer page and click “Build & Price Your Trailer”

Trailer Pictures

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We introduced a line of tiny house trailers a few months ago, but since the trailers are manufactured down in Florida and I live near Atlanta I hadn’t had a chance to take any pictures or them (and my Dad, who lives in Florida, is no Ansel Adams ;). But I finally went back down there to work on a house for the Jacksonville and Atlanta Home Shows and brought a trailer back with me to deliver to one of my workshop attendees (that makes 6 now that are building house, woo hoo). So I took the opportunity to take some pictures and record a video showing off the features of the trailers. You can get more information at https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-houses/trailers

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Tiny Home Builders Trailers

When I built my first tiny house I used a standard equipment trailer with just a few special requests. These requests included leaving off the ramps, not having a dovetail (which is a slanted back which helps when loading heavy equipment like tractors), and using heavy duty axles. I actually forgot to have them leave off the front guard (which is a piece of metal on the front of the trailer that stops your equipment from rolling too far forward). That ended up not being that bad of a mistake since it made me build the front compartment which I ended up really liking and has stuck with several of my other designs.

While building on a standard trailer is definitely not a problem, there are a few things that I have had changed over the years for our houses to improve the way they are attached as well as to make the trailers a little lighter. I’ve been offering these trailers to others as well if they contacted me directly (which several have), but I recently decided that I needed to set up something a little more formal so that anyone who was interested could get one (without knowing the special handshake ;).

So we’ve introduced our new line of trailers specifically made for tiny houses over at https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-houses/Trailers

These trailers have many of the special requests of my first trailer as well as a few more. Most notably are the steel flange and the metal deck replacement.

Steel Flange

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A typical trailer has wood decking that runs the length of the trailer. That decking is supported by steel beams (cross members) that run perpendicular to the decking and attach to the sides of the trailer. Since the subfloor of your house needs to be attached to the metal of your trailer you may think that the cross members would be a good choice. The problem with using those is that since they run in the same direction as the floor joist, you would have to perfectly line up the floor joist with those beams. Those beams are also pretty far away from the subfloor since they are under the wood decking, which would require a really long bolt. What you really need is metal that is running perpendicular to the subfloor joist and is right up against the subfloor. While the trailer side beams match both those requirements, it’s a pretty thick metal and is usually a ‘C’ channel which doesn’t give you much room to drill. So the best option is to just add brackets (that is how we used to do it) or a flange to the sides.

Why not pre-drill the flange or weld the bolts to the trailer?

While having the bolts welded to the trailer may seem like a good thing, it’s actually a pain to work with and doesn’t give you a good way to attach the subfloor (when the bolts are on the back and front). If the bolts are welded to the sides of the trailer you’ll need to make sure that you have a joist in that exact location to attach to it (not exactly builder friendly). This can require you to add an extra joist or change your plans around. It can also be a pain to work with a fixed bolt since you will need to predrill your wood before putting it in place. This can be hard to line up correctly and you will need to do so before you attach the board to anything. While it can be worked around, as a builder, I just don’t want that hassle.

The flange on the other hand allows you to put the bolts wherever your joist end up after you’ve constructed the subfloor. That’s why we don’t predrill the flange either. While it may seem intimidating to drill your own holes through the metal it is actually quite easy. It doesn’t take any special tools other than a standard drill and a good drill bit. Others like to talk about plasma cutters and special drills to scare you into thinking that you can’t do it. But you’re about to build a house, what’s a few more holes to drill.

Bolts welded to the back or front of the trailer are even worse. In these locations the subfloor doesn’t typically hang over the edge, so what is the bolt supposed to attach to? Cantilevering the subfloor over the back edge just so you can accommodate that bolt seems a little unnecessary.

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Finally, the flange also increases the width of the trailer, thus reducing the amount that the subfloor needs to extend unsupported over the edge of the trailer. More support is always a good thing.

Replace the wood decking with metal beams

By replacing the wood decking with metal beams, we eliminate some of the weight of the wood decking and provide another place to bolt the trailer to. Not to sound too redundant, but these beams are up against the subfloor and are perpendicular to the joists.

Summary

Basically what it comes down to is you want to have metal on your trailer that runs the length of the trailer that will give you a good place to attach your house too. If your trailer doesn’t come with those metal surfaces, you’ve going to have to add them.

I personally designed these trailers for what I want and need, and it’s what we use for our houses.