For many people, the words “tiny home” create the picture of a cozy miniature home, often snuggled gently into the surrounding scenery, soaking in the simple life. However, when thinking about tiny homes it’s easy to forget one of their most important components: the trailer. Before you start planning every detail, there are a few things you need to know about buying the right tiny house trailer.
Every home has a foundation and a tiny home is no exception. You want your home to last a lifetime. So why should your trailer be any different? If you’re planning to build a tiny house, it just makes sense to start with the right trailer. Choosing well at the beginning can add decades of enjoyment to your home.
With the summer do-it-yourself building season just around the corner, now is the time to get the foundation in place for your building project.
10 tips to help you find the trailer that’s right for you and your home
- Don’t build on a flatbed. The most common type of trailer is a flatbed. But they’re not designed for tiny houses. Look for a trailer specifically engineered for two things. One – to provide an optimal foundation to safely secure your tiny home. The lower your home sits in the trailer, the more stable it will be. Two – to provide the maximum amount of building space – both for height and width. That means more elbowroom for you.
- Grab a tape measure. Unlike in a regular house, every inch counts when you’re living tiny. Do some pre-planning to know exactly how much room you need. Make sure your trailer can provide the space you need to live comfortably and accommodate your lifestyle. If possible, work with a trailer manufacturer that can customize your trailer down to the quarter inch.
- Adjust your coupler. Transportation should be easy. Look for a trailer with an adjustable coupler so you quickly hitch up and tow away. This feature allows you to use any hitch to pull your home, regardless of the hitch’s height. This also means you don’t need to purchase a special hitch to make your load even.
- Don’t buy new tools. Normally you would need new tools and special drill bits for drilling through your metal trailer. Save yourself some time and money. Look for a trailer with the holes pre-drilled for hurricane ties and other reinforcements used to secure your home to the trailer.
- Look for a forward-facing side-winding jack. The right jack helps to ease the hitching and unhitching process. The handle should be on the front of the side-winding jack so you gain extra building space. (If the handle is on the top of the jack or on the side, its turning radius takes up valuable building space.) You can use the extra space to extend your house up to the jack or build an exterior storage box.
- Get the right axles. Options for trailer axles include drop axles, straight axles, and off-road axles. Each option has benefits along with corresponding tradeoffs. Look for a trailer that offers the axles that works best for your tiny house. You’ll also gain a longer lifespan for your trailer by choosing commercial-rated axles designed to withstand extensive wear and tear.
- Roll with tires that can handle the miles. Trailers can come with two types of tires: bias or radial. Bias tires are typically less expensive, but they don’t last as nearly as long as radial tires. Radial tires are also less likely to develop flat spots when they are parked in the same position for a lengthy period of time, and they run cooler on longer trips.
- License and registration, please. In some states, trailers don’t automatically come with paperwork needed to license them. Make your life simpler by buying a trailer that includes a title of ownership as well as a VIN number so you can easily register and license it.
- Say no to rust. Better quality trailers come with an industrial paint designed to inhibit rust. For maximum rust resistance, you may wish to galvanize your trailer (submerging it in molten zinc for a complete protective coating). This is good for people doing a lot of travel in the winter on salty roads or for people who live near saltwater.
- Do your research. With the tiny house movement growing rapidly, you’ll find many companies offering to sell you a tiny house trailer. Look for one that will listen and work with you to provide a trailer for building the tiny home of your dreams. If buying your trailer from tiny home manufacturer, ask to speak with their construction supervisor for tips on safely securing your tiny home to the trailer.
If you’re planning to build this summer, make your do-it-yourself experience the best it can be. Choose the right trailer for your tiny house project and eliminate unforeseen headaches and complications. The right foundation makes all the difference.
If you’d like to speak with someone about selecting the right tiny house trailer, feel free to get in touch with Sharon Read of Seattle Tiny Homes. She’ll be glad to chat with you for no cost or obligation.