Michael Jones brought to my attention an area that has not been covered here on the Tiny House Blog and that is what kind of trailers to use for a tiny house on wheels or a gypsy wagon type home.
Steve Weissmann, Jay Shafer’s business partner at Tumbleweed Tiny House Company wrote a very good article on their website. I am going to republish it here and than do some followup research to see if I can learn more as well. This article is geared to Tumbleweed Tiny Houses but could be applied to your own design as well. Here is Steve’s article:
A typical flatbed trailer is ideal for building a Tumbleweed Tiny House. They are available at many trailer and RV stores. The picture is a typical flatbed trailer.
Often when you purchase a trailer, it will have sides or ramps. That’s okay, you will just need to remove the sides and ramp. It’s actually pretty hard to find a trailer without some sides built in. Sometimes they are referred to as utility trailers.
Trailer sizes are listed as the size of the actual trailer bed. It does not include the hitch or the wheels. For example, a 7′ x 14′ trailer would be 7′ between the wheels. Almost all trailers are 8’6″ wide when you include the wheels; and as it turns out, this is the widest possible width for road travel without a permit. The bed of the trailer would be 14′ long, and when you add the hitch, it would probably measure 17′ long.
Except for the New Popomo, all of our portable homes require a flatbed trailer where the wheels are taller than the trailer bed. The maximum legal road height in the US (without a permit) is 13’6″. None of our homes are taller than 13’5″. But more important than the legal road height is the height of the bridges. Most bridges are in fact much taller than 13’6″, but to be safe, you can not build on a trailer where the entire bed is above the wheels.
The New Popomo does not have a loft, and therefore is designed to fit on a trailer bed that is “over the axle”. The advantage to that design is that it provides for a wider house, albeit shorter.
Most trailers come with a double axle. Usually, each axle is rated to hold 3,500 lbs. However, some axles are rated for 5,000 lbs each. Therefore, a double axle trailer will have a total rating of 7,000 lbs or 10,000 lbs. This rating will have a large impact on the price. It is referred to as “GVWR”, which means Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. Keep in mind that the GVWR includes the weight of the trailer. So if the trailer is rated for 7,000 lbs and the trailer weighs 1,000 lbs, you can put 6,000 lbs on it. On our website, we list the weight of our houses including the weight of the trailer.
Except for the XS-House, all of our homes require a double axle trailer. The XS-House can be built on a single axle trailer if the axle is rated for 5,000 lbs.
Trailers usually include brake lights, a license plate, and a breaking mechanism. The lights and brakes attach to your car/truck, and when you use the brakes, it will also apply the brakes to the trailer.
There are many sizes for hitch balls, but almost all are either 2″ or 2 5/8″. The hitch ball on your car/truck is easily changable, and probably around $30.
Because the trailer is roughly 18% of the material cost, saving money on the trailer is the easiest way to control construction costs. Consider buying a used trailer. craigslist.org is an excellent place to look for a used trailer. Prices for used trailers range from $500-$1500, a savings of $1000-$2000.
Here are some websites that sell new trailers:
Foot Note: Bill Kastrinos at Tortoise Shell Homes is now selling the trailers separate. Tortoise Shell Homes will sell the 8×16 7000# G.V.W. without ramps or side rails or ramp recepticles for $1950, add $100 for the safety break away kit.
They are very clean and easy to put a house on because the ramp recepticles, and rails just get in the way. They also have 1 1/2 inch doug fir planks, which can be used as the sub floor. The lowest prices locally is $2800.
They are not on his website so give him a call or email him (Click Here). Make sure and tell him you heard about it at the Tiny House Blog.
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