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YOUR Questions on Tiny House Trailers

Hello fellow tiny house enthusiasts!

I’m looking for your questions/concerns/experiences on trailers for tiny homes.

Would you be willing to share your thoughts real quick?

Are trailers something that you even need help with?

If so, let me know how I can help!

You might find the ideas listed at the bottom of this post helpful.

I will be using your feedback for future posts, ebooks, videos, and interview questions.

Thank you so much in advance for your suggestions. I truly appreciate it because it helps me serve you better later on.

Aldo's Tiny House Living Project - Trailer with Floor Framing

Photo Courtesy of Aldo Lavaggi

This might help you get your brain going…

  • Tips on finding used trailers
  • Common repairs needed on used trailers
  • Which parts of the trailer need to be removed and how
  • List of trailer manufacturers

Those are just four ideas that I thought might be helpful. Go ahead..

Please share your thoughts on the topic of trailers & tiny houses in the comments. What do you need help with? What questions do you have? Thanks!

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 55 comments… add one }
  • Jill March 24, 2012, 10:57 pm

    Hi Alex,
    Yes I am pondering just exactly what is it that my partner and I need in a trailer. I have an availability right this moment to choose either a 30 ft long deck-over dble axle trailer which is heavy duty to handle a GVW of 12,000 lbs. for 2,500 bucks only thing that bothers me is that we will lose all kinds of loft height because that trailer sits much higher off the ground at I believe 31 or 32 inches but the great thing would be that there would be an extra 10 feet to build a downstairs bedroom. How would the house turn though with such a long bed? I heard Jay Shafer is now working on building 400 sq ft homes on trailers in coming months so I am sure it must be longer trailers as well?
    I also have an option of a 22 ft dbl axle trailer heavy duty as well to handle 12,000 lbs too but it has the wheel wells showing above as most of your regular trailers and they want 2,500 for that trailer.
    I am so torn to decide what would be a good fit for us. Anyone have suggestions for us like some pros and cons of both maybe? Any comments welcomed. 🙂

    • Alex March 25, 2012, 3:56 pm

      The Popomo from Jay is like that, but just 172 sq ft and I think it’s on a 20′ trailer. So it can still turn out really nice without a loft, too. It’s just preference. Would you be moving it often?

      • Jill March 27, 2012, 12:53 pm

        No Alex, I would not be moving it often. I just don’t like patio door the Popoma has but then I am sure I could change plans around.

  • Robert March 25, 2012, 1:56 am

    Get the 22ft with the 12k rating. You will build to the max height and width limit for your State
    http://www.towingworld.com/articles/TowingLaws.htm
    Make sure it has electric brakes rated for the load.
    You seem to be at the novice level so get Jay’s book or Dee Williams book on building a tiny house.
    On a 22 ft trailer you can build a tiny house with loft for guests and a main floor bedroom.
    Join the small house society group on yahoo groups and ask questions.lots and lots of members to help you on the journey!
    Have fun.

  • Marsha Cowan March 25, 2012, 2:36 pm

    HI! I bought a used 14′ trailer on Craigslist. It was from 3 hours away and the owner delivered it to me, so I went by the pictures which were good, but did not show that the trailer had been rebuilt on a boat trailer. In other words, the sides had just been welded on from the “hips” of the boat trailer forward to make a rectangular shape, and then welded onto each side of the tongue. In other words, the front 4′ of the trailer would not hold the weight of a house, in fact, they outside corners were already slightly sloping down from the weight of the hay that had been hauled on it. As a result, my 14′ house plan was reduced to a 10′ house plan so the weight would all be over the solid frame of the trailer. This gives me a 4′ porch of sorts, but I have had to really rethink all my 8 month long plans, and still find myself changing things as I go along. The house will still be quite livable for me, but will not have some of the amenities I had originally wanted. It is being built from recycled materials (80%), and I am looking into solar electricity and using water crocks so I can be as off grid as possible.

    • Alex March 25, 2012, 3:58 pm

      Thanks for sharing Martha, sounds interesting. How far along are you in the construction process? Are you posting pictures anywhere?

      • Marsha Cowan March 26, 2012, 6:07 pm

        Lord willing, this week I am framing and sheathing my last gable, applying my cedar window and door stop, hanging my door (which I made out of one piece of plywood and a left over piece of plexiglass) and windows, hanging outside trim and then I will be ready next week to do my exterior siding. I have some pictures but need to go through them and sort them out a little. So many people have seem the actual building pictures, that I thought I would focus on pics of lesser described things that people may have questions about.

  • Laura March 25, 2012, 8:54 pm

    Hi!
    I am a novice as well, just decided in a monthlong inner debate, that a tiny house on a trailer will be the best next step. I would like to know, what I should check, if I buy a used trailer.
    Would you suggest two tiny, tiny houses for me and my son (11), or would building on a big trailer (30′) make more sense? We may have to move ever so often. Right now, I tend to two small ones, as my son could always take it with him – moving out is less difficult 😉
    What is the difference to a gooseneck? I see more of those advertised.
    I also have many questions about off grid living in New England and therefore harsh winters.

    • Alex March 29, 2012, 10:49 am

      Hey Laura, I think it’d be interesting to see what your son thinks about it and maybe you can make a good decision based on what he says?

      As far as used trailers you’d want to check the overall condition to see what repairs need to be done, if any, and if the axle is strong enough for a home to be built on… that’s important!

  • LuAnn March 26, 2012, 12:23 pm

    I am curious about building on the tongue. I don’t see interior spaces taking advantage of this area, although there are outdoor storage or tool boxes put there once in a while. Why couldn’t there be a 2’ deep bay window w/ window seat and storage underneath built on the tongue? (Or put the kitchen cabinets and sink there). The bowed shape wouldn’t impede turning during towing any more than a storage box would.
    Also, I am wondering if anyone has tried a porch/deck that is hinged to lift up and be secured during transit, and then lowered when stationary. If this were on the tongue end, the tongue would support it when stationary, allowing a good sized entry. This would allow ALL trailer footage to be used as interior space.
    Thanks for your advice.

    • Jill March 28, 2012, 12:16 pm

      There is something called the tongue weight and you don’t want too much heavy weight on the tongue as it will weight down the towing vehicle too much for hauling. I hear you want to distribute your building weight appropriately with the bulk of heaviness centered just before and on and just past axles. Maybe someone reading this can more inform LuAnn who knows more on trailer weights?

    • Alex March 29, 2012, 10:51 am

      Fold out porch/deck I believe has been done I just can’t remember exactly where. But since most folks don’t move these too often, they just end up installing a permanent porch, building one around the house, or just adding a little staircase by the door and using the general outdoors as a patio.

      • Louise Homstead March 29, 2012, 10:51 pm

        My sketch for a tiny house designed by my brother has a fold out porch and roof over it (arches up over the main roof). He wanted to take full advantage of the trailer length rather than use part of the trailer for porch. This is not a formal design but a conception drawing. Hopefully, we’ll build in the next few years – getting our ducks in a row now!

  • sesameB March 26, 2012, 5:27 pm

    Sorry, I do not have a question, but I wanted to bring this article to your attention (in case you missed reading it) — Alex and readers, ya’ll be sure to read the recent edition of Garden and Gun magazine, APRIL 2012/MAY see pg. 78, Ted Turner –

    “Going Native”, the reporter writes: “He is the second-largest private landowner in the country. He owns 2.1 million acres divided among so many pieces of property that, when he begins to enumerate them offhandedly, the list runs to three pages in my reporting notebook. These holdings mostly radiate out from his base in the southeastern United States: his home offices. And many of Turner’s favorite places are in the Southeast. In the South, there his Hope Plantation in South Carolina, and Avalon, his large and stately place in North Florida and then there is Kinloch, north of Charleston, St. Phillips Island, north of Hilton Head, and in Georgia, I have property up in the north for trout fishing, he says. Not to mention these beautiful, calm and now by choices pesticide-and toxin-avoiding acres outside Albany on Nonami Plantation. It is lovely and has been willfully returned to the way the landscape looked before people set foot on it. There are fields, longleaf pine stands, hardwood forests, and swampy and bosky areas full of wildlife.
    We limit pesticides. We promote natural plant and animal life. Native things, we do not even kill snakes.”
    Pg. 81, “Most these days, along with getting rid of the planet’s nukes, he worries about the rise in population and the volume of resources the world is using less judiciously than it might. He worries about whether renewable power is going to work, whether solar and wind energy will make enough of a difference. Why the fixation on environmental problems? When I was a boy, back when we lived in Cincinnati before we moved to Georgia, I used to be fascinated by bison, Ted says……….. (go get a copy of this magazine to read the remainder of this very important and timely article.)

    I loved this article!!! 4 stars to you Mr. Turner! Ted Turner, like actress Sissy Spacek are one of my favorite most watched people.

    Like Jay Shafer, Ted Turner, Sissy Spacek is on to the future! They speak volumes about the future.

    Going native is the future!!! I love the sunny south, barefootin’ & drinking spring water, living small with no regrets in rural Arkansas

    • Alex March 29, 2012, 10:51 am

      Thanks!

    • Bill Rockhill March 31, 2012, 11:20 pm

      Ted Turner “the” Ted Turner the owner of the largest construction company in the world….he builds 60 story buildings in all the major cities and around the world he makes Trump look like an errand boy…you know “Turner Broadcasting”….I am glad he is so “environmentally conscious” it warms my heart…..pardon me for being sarcastic …Bill..

    • Bill Rockhill March 31, 2012, 11:29 pm

      Do Not Be Fooled he is one percent of the one percent and I am a Republican……this is a wolf in sheep’s clothing…..make no mistake….

  • Jill March 27, 2012, 12:59 pm

    Thanks for the information. I will have to check that out.

  • Joel March 28, 2012, 10:17 am

    It seems like some trailer manufacturer should make a trailer specifically for tiny houses. Maybe even with the foundation bolted on and ready to go? Or just a stripped down version that would be less expensive?

    • Jill March 28, 2012, 12:18 pm

      Sounds like an AWESOME IDEA Joel! We should get this out to some manufacturers. There are some that will make custom trailers but then you will pay much more for it too.

      Jill~

    • Alex March 29, 2012, 10:52 am

      Joel that does sound like a great idea. Thanks!

    • Bill Rockhill March 31, 2012, 10:42 pm

      Joel the reason is very simple money, these trailer manufacturers build a regular utility trailer in a few minutes, with all precut parts and a MIG welder, all the trailers have “model” numbers registered with DOT and have pre made , model plates and are weighed …to modify one trailer is a costly thing to them, now if you were say a “Tiny House” builder and wanted 10 or 20 of them they would build them your way as “custom”…it is not worth the “red tape” for one trailer and unless one manufacturer in the country were to build a “frame” just for Tiny Houses someone would come along and want to change something else,so the most cost effective “new” trailer is to find a dealer who has had one sitting for a while and bargain with him, if you order one you will pay the premium as with ordering a new car or buying one off the lots same rules apply….Thanks Bill…

      • Jill April 2, 2012, 10:12 am

        Oh, I don’t know about that….. I think if there is a need and a wave of something that people are wanting and going after then some smart companies start following suit to manufacture for their needs as they will build where there is money to be made.

        Another thought would be to check with manufacturers of say…. PARK MODELS. They make those trailers already for dealers of those model types and I know they have to be rated for higher weights like what we need. Let’s check into that.

        • Bill Rockhill April 2, 2012, 11:03 am

          You are absolutely right Jill if there is a “demand” and a “broad” interest in a “customized” utility trailer for sure a manufacturer will jump on board, but there has to be that “need” and a basic “utility” trailer fits the broad needs of the very general audience, for example landscapers customize their utility trailers all the time with : racks, and side ramps, stacking units etc. it costs the individual a little more but he gets exactly what he wants and he starts out with a fairly inexpensive 3 to 4 thousand dollar platform, and yes there are trailer manufacturers out there “Lippert Components” comes to mind, they build the trailers for many mobile home manufacturers , I actually purchased (6) frames very inexpensive , but it was an order and a wait and i had to buy (6)….just trying to help.. 3500 for a good trailer is fair and about 500to 1000 to customize is fair, i doubt no matter your needs you will do much better…the ones i bought were “primed” only, no wiring basically steel and wheels they were about 1200 each….10 years ago….Bill…

  • Louise Homstead March 28, 2012, 1:33 pm

    I have a question about water supply and grey water disposal. If one wanted to be completely off the grid and living on a piece of property that one didn’t own but maybe leased or was offered in trade, what could be done for a water system. I am ‘on it’ for the solid and liquid toilet waste (composting toilet) but I am trying to figure out how to supply water enough for a couple of showers, dishwashing, maybe launder and of course, drinking. How are people doing this without a hose connection or well? Thanks for helping with your ideas.

    • Alex March 29, 2012, 10:54 am

      Hey Louise you can collect rainwater in a few different ways.. From your roof or you can set up other ways and then filter, etc.

      I wonder if anyone uses a humidifier to collect water and then filter it in case there isn’t any rain. This would work pretty well in Florida.

    • Bill Rockhill March 31, 2012, 11:08 pm

      Well Louise you are probably right someone should write a tiny book about water, septic, electric and heat, there are plenty of books already out there pertaining to all these subjects for the “regular” home industry, unfortunately all the same rules apply….what i do not get is so many people in the Tiny World including designers/architects who do not want to face the facts that the rules are the same…for example grey water is illegal to run out on the ground any time of the year,all septic and grey water was combined years and years ago by most Dept of health regulations, if you are to build a house any house and not “contain” your waste then it has to go into a sewage system or a septic system, I have been to seminars and open houses , I am a builder of Tiny and Big houses ,and heard other tiny house enthusiasts talking about “composting” and “sawdust and dirt” buckets…unless you have a really good place to dump/store this waste/compost this is a bad idea,oh it novel and all initially but it gets old fast,and many composting toilets are incinerators with draws etc I have put these in they are a last resort, now if you plan where your tiny house is going then “site prep” should be a real part of your budget, as is “water” if you want water like where ever you live now, there is a system there with a dug or drilled well or city water, if you plan on off the grid rain collection then you will need water tight sanitary inside temperature controlled water storage ( year round heat) or you will have one hell of an ice berg in a few days. There is no simple solution ask anyone who has lived year round in any camper/rv off the grid, now I am not trying to be a nay sayer just an honest messenger, the reason no one talks about this is obvious, no one wants to hear the answers….and when they do speak up, they are discounted as such. You can live in a tent comfortably the most important comfort is all the mechanical s, I mean just imagine all your neighbors going in a bucket and dumping it “out back” every day or so…not very pleasant.. reminiscent of old england …there are real solutions already in existence to all these needs…thanks Bill

      • Tiny November 17, 2012, 6:35 pm

        Bill,

        Everything about tiny houses is against code to begin with, so why harp on the fact that they’re not hooked up to city sewers? Composting toilets (especially the commercial ones) are clean and easy, and are widely accepted in many places in the world. Its nothing like throwing the contents of your chamber pot out onto the street. However, grey water disposal IS something I’d like to see discussed further on this site, and I think a lot of people are building without fully considering that. Regulations on grey water disposal vary widely from state to state. For example, I know Arizona DOES allow you to dump your grey water directly onto your property, as long as it doesn’t flow into a stream or onto someone else’s property. Read this brochure:
        http://www.google.com/search?q=greywater+rules+arizona&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=fflb

        Louise, we’re building an off-grid tiny house now, and are planning to haul our own fresh water. A lot of rural homes in the southwest (especially on the indian reservations) are not hooked up to water, and people haul it themselves with a pick-up truck. Sure, its more work, but when you build a tiny house you’re really not doing it for convenience.

  • Laura March 28, 2012, 8:34 pm

    Hi Louise,
    That’s exactly my question! I would also be interested what people do in the winter. Raincollection will freeze?!? And where does the grey water go, when the ground is frozen?

    Laura

    • Joel March 28, 2012, 11:25 pm

      We are working on this right now, developing a passive solar gravity fed water pre-heater. Ask me in a few weeks how it works but the idea is to heat the water barrel via sunlight during the day and hopefully keep it thawed during the night in an insulated box. This is basically a variation of what is used for livestock watering in Montana winters.

  • Laura March 29, 2012, 7:06 am

    Haha LOL. We are livestock, indeed!! But that sounds promissing, Joel. Please keep us posted!

    What about collecting rainwater in a tank inside the house ( the loft). This way it could not freeze. How big can the tank be? And is that save from leaking anywhere? What kind of a filter system is needed? How do you collect ‘water’ during winter?

    Sorry, I have soooo many questions! Is anyone planing on writing a book about water/ heat/ electricity/ sewage in off-the-grid, tiny houses soon? I feel, by reading I get an idea on how to build, but the rest is still unclear to me.

    Thank you,
    Laura

  • Jennifer March 29, 2012, 5:05 pm

    Most utility trailers I find come with some type of wooden flooring. BUT, every construction tutorial that I know of starts by ripping it up and then framing the floor. Couldn’t you just build over it? It seems leaving the manufacturers floor in tact would keep road debris, animals, weather etc. out.

    • Bill Rockhill March 31, 2012, 10:32 pm

      Dear Jennifer
      The suggested method is to remove every other floor board for weight concerns, then flash the entire bed,do ant structural extensions (steel) , then fram your floor system atop the flashed intermitent deck boards, install your foam ( floor ) insulation, then your sheathing……you can leave the deck boards , they also create a ( raceway) for plumbing or electrical above the steel frame but below the framed floor….I hope this helped…Bill…

  • Zach April 2, 2012, 9:21 pm

    We went the long way and had a trailer custom made. it cost a little more but we got more than we paid for. 24 feet x 8.5 feet, 14k axles with electric brakes and a 4 inch flange around the outside to mount the floor box to . It took a little longer but it has really set the tone for the build. Here is a link to the trailer post:http://charlestontinyhouse.com/?p=40

    • Alex April 27, 2012, 11:52 am

      Hey Zach! Thanks for sharing- I’m looking forward to following the rest of your progress.. very exciting. See ya around! Alex

  • jackie October 29, 2012, 10:02 pm

    Hello I am very interested in the tiny house movement i live in toronto ontario and want to build a tiny home on a trailer. What are the legal measurements I can have for the trailer,please help me as I am very new to this and a little confused as how to start

    Thank you so so much

  • clf December 31, 2012, 1:21 am

    Hello. Ive been following the tiny house movement for the last 3-5 years and planning a business/build around it. The question I have is on the tiny house village website? couldn’t find the link? can you recommend any other information where people have been doing this successfully? specific to the legalities involved with purchase rights etc? I have the property/with main house on city munis and back of property zoned r2 with well and permitted septic. Located in Payette,Idaho. Semi rural with an Albertsons across the street.(nice) any interest/questions for any of your subsribers feel free to cntct my email address: [email protected] thanks for all you do.

  • Dustin January 14, 2013, 4:29 pm

    Quick question. What are the best methods for securing your tiny house foundation to a trailer?

  • Jared January 29, 2013, 1:26 am

    I don’t have a trailer yet, but as I’m drawing up plans I’m finding I need to have a pretty good idea of the height of the trailer deck off the ground. If I have a max road height of 13’6″ I just need to subtract the trailer deck’s height to find how much vertical space I have for framing & roof materials.

    Is there any kind of standard? Or do I just have to wait to finalize plans until I get the trailer I’m gonna use?

    On a related note, are low-profile trailer tires an option for lowering the trailer height (increasing the vertical building space)?

    Thanks!

  • Tracy September 3, 2013, 6:42 am

    Looks like there is someone building tiny house trailers, I just saw a listing on Seattle’s Craigslist:
    http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/fod/3992872371.html

    • Jared September 3, 2013, 1:16 pm

      I had this guy build my trailer, and I’m pretty happy with it. (My house is still in process, just framed, sheathed and roofed.) The trailer didn’t cost any more than a used car hauler, and it’s built to my specs. I heard about this guy from someone else who’d finished a tiny house on one of his trailers.

  • Austin January 16, 2014, 11:24 am

    Hi Alex,

    I am building the Marmara from Four Lights Houses. I live in Mechanicsburg, PA. Since I bought the plans in the fall I have been having the worst trouble finding a 10′ x 29′ trailer that the plans call for. Do you have any advice on how could get the trailer I need?

    • Alex Pino January 16, 2014, 1:04 pm

      Hi Austin,

      That’s a Park Model sized trailer which I don’t think is very common for sale since they’re 10′ wide and need special permits for towing on the roads. But you can find them. Here are some ideas to get you started:

      1. Contact a local welder/trailer manufacturer and see if they’ll make one for you
      2. Get a good deal on a used park model that sits on a 10’x29′ trailer and strip it, etc.
      3. Contact several Park Model manufacturers and ask them where they get their trailers from

  • Dana August 7, 2014, 9:39 am

    Some people have taken apart an old trailer and used the flatbed for a tiny house, are they as sturdy or would it need some reinforcements? Old trailers are easy to come by! Looking forward to eventually going to a workshop!

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