More than just wheels that go under your tiny home, trailers are the literal backbone of your tiny living. Without the appropriate wheels and deck, you won’t be able to properly take your home with you on your journey. Trailers require just as much thought as the design of your tiny home – there are measurements, weights, and other specifics that are much too important to deal with on the whim. Keep reading to find out more about trailers!
The Trailer Basics
First things first: trailers shouldn’t be an afterthought in your tiny home design process. If you’re going for a tiny house on wheels, the type of trailer you choose should be selected in the early stages of your planning. This is because you will need to build your tiny home on it and you’ll need to make sure the trailer can hold the house’s weight.
Ultimately, the type of trailer you go for will depend on the style and total weight of your tiny home (contents and people included). For instance, a loft-style tiny home would need a trailer that’s modest in height, as your home’s total height includes the trailer. This is important to keep in mind, as the maximum legal road height in the US is 13.6 feet.
The trailer you will build on should have an appropriate gross weight vehicle rating (GWVR), which is the total weight that the trailer can safely hold, which includes the weight of the trailer, house, and contents of the house. Weight of trailers can vary, but most trailers have a double axle, and each can hold around 3,500 pounds.
As the trailer that carries your tiny home is still considered a road vehicle, it still has to be road legal. To stay lawful, ensure that your trailer has brake lights and a braking mechanism, which attaches to your car or truck. A license plate is also needed!
Like in most places, tiny houses still fall under a grey area in the US. The industry is still not as regulated as it should be, which means you’ll encounter things that can hinder your process. When it comes to trailers, be wary as trailers can be sold in any condition and labelled as a ‘Tiny House Trailer’. Make sure that it’s an adequate trailer for your tiny home and it’s up to you to be informed in your research to make a good purchase.
Types of Tiny House Trailers
If you don’t have the slightest idea on what kind of trailers are available on the market, start by taking a look at this list of the common trailer types for tiny houses.
- Bumper Pull. The most common style of tiny house trailers, bumper pulls are the easier ones to tow and build on. It comes in a good in-between size, as it won’t take up much height space. They’re recommended for first-time trailer owners, due to the normal turn radius, so you can drive as you would a normal large car or truck. These trailers are simple and can do the job for a standard sized tiny house. Most of them come with sides or ramps to help you get on an off your tiny house easily.
- A more expensive choice, gooseneck trailers are generally the go-to option for more experienced trailer owners, due to its larger size. It’s larger than a bumper pull, which means it can accommodate more weight. Its unique shape even helps with a design for a tiny home with a platform bedroom without having to climb into a loft. Apart from design advantages, goosenecks provide the vehicle with better maneuverability and stability while driving. However, you may need to take a few tries if you’re inexperienced to get used to it.
- Deckovers are simply a flat deck on wheels. Building a tiny home on a flat surface seems to be an easier option, however bear in mind that it will reduce the interior height of your home. This is because the deck is raised above the trailer’s fenders. This type of trailer is best for a house without a sleeping loft, as the overall height limit for trailers are 13.5 feet.
Costs of a Trailer
Did you know that a trailer is roughly 18% of the material cost of an average tiny house build? That’s a big part of your budget, considering that you’ll have plenty of other things to include in your home closer to completion, such as furniture and appliances. Don’t underestimate the price of one, and make sure you are buying a quality one. For a rough idea, trailers can cost between $5,779 and $6,579.
To reduce your costs, think about purchasing a second-hand trailer. You might have to do more work to clean it up, but it could be worth it to control construction costs. Inspect the trailer in person before buying it to make sure it’s still up to scratch. Don’t go for rusted, rundown, and lightweight ones, as it can do you more harm than good.
Here are a few more pieces of information that may be useful to know before getting on the trailer life.
- Special permits. Hauling a tiny home on a trailer around can seem daunting at first, especially if you’ve never done it before. You might think that a special permit or driver’s license is required, but that only depends on which state or province you’re in. While there is no limit based on length (unless your total vehicle length is over a whopping 60 feet), there is a limit to height and weight. Make sure to look into this before building.
- Explore your options. There’s no one trailer shop that suits all – like with everything you put into your tiny home, spend time researching the one that is best for you. Start at trailer or RV stores, as well as going straight to tiny house companies, who can also find you one in addition to building your tiny home.