Are Trailers Holding Tiny Houses Back?

I had been doing some writing for another project I have been working on when I started talking about how the form of many tiny houses today have actually been dictated by the use of a trailer.  It reminds me about  the story how the width of a horse has determined the dimensions of today space shuttle (though this isn’t 100% true), and so it appears this is the case with Tiny Houses too (read about it here).

There are many compelling reasons to have a tiny house on a trailer, I am building my tiny house on one, but it does have it does have some downsides too.  For many the need the flexibility of being able to move locations, for others they like the legal gray area a trailered tiny house is, and for me, I like the idea that if code enforcement comes by, I can take a little road trip to a camp ground for a while if I need to.

Setting up a Trailer

If you are going to trailer a tiny house, inherently it can only be so wide, so tall and so long.  You can certainly take the approach of getting permits to push these dimensions, but generally speaking it is going to be 8.5 feet wide and 13.5 feet tall.  This means that inherently a tiny house on a trailer can only be so many square feet.  People have tried different tricks to get around this, such as multiple tiny houses, put it on foundation, etc.

So it got me thinking about how the form of the trailer can be limiting on the potential creativity that we bring when building our houses.  This then was struck home when I saw Tumbleweed’s new Cypress 20, which looks almost identical to the Fencl from the outside with the exception of it being on a 20′ trailer instead of a 18′.  That isn’t to say that I don’t like it, but it was interesting timing.

Then I remember a conversation I had with Macy from about how I thought there was only a limited number of design options when it comes to trailered tiny homes.  Her stance was, being the architect she is, was that was so many options that could be done with a tiny house on trailer.  I think it shows the creativity that could be had with the trailer that Macy is building, but the fact remains that the trailer holds us to a certain set of parameters.  To add on to this, we also must use the current set of materials on the market and then there are certain features that make a house a home, so when we get down to it, we are somewhat limited.

My Tiny Trailer

Many will disagree and part of me disagrees with myself.  The success of creativity is taking how we do things and approach it in a way not previously thought.   It is taking those materials and re-purposing them in different and unintended ways.  It is saying… “what if we” and not being afraid of failure, but seeing it as a learning process.

Your Turn!

  • Are trailers limiting tiny houses?


  1. If you want to move your tiny house – yes there ARE going to be limitations HOWEVER if you want to permenantly build a tiny house on a foundation no you are going to have alot more options. There are places here in Colorado and I’m living in one in Federal Heights Colorado where you can have a home on a trailer IF it is tied down and on a foundation and YES you will own your own land to pretty much do as you wish. I have a 10 X 59 Mobile home with a full length room built on and an over sized 2 car garage on the property. There are other small towns and counties in Colorado where you can do the same thing as I have done here in Federal Heights. I am a real estate agent so if you have questions ask. If you want a tiny or larger smaller home and don’t want to build one from the ground up I can find those for you also; from turn key homes where you just move right in or if you want to DIY and modify a smaller home those are out there also. I love the tiny homes but at 63 years old like most I can’t handle stairs so that is why I work with getting people into the larger Cozy Homes.

    • Do you have a private business email or phone? I would like to talk to you about relocating from California to Colorado….I am chemically sensitive so I am in dire need for a home that doesn’t make me physically sick. Thanks.

      • You can leave me a message at mountainmeadowre at aol dot com – that is my business email address.

    • Hi Patty,

      I live in a three bedroom house in Louisville CO. I am very very interested in a tiny home the only thing I dontcare for is thewidth. I would like to have it shorter and fatter as opposed to longer and narrower. I am starting a construction Job on Monday and hope to start building my tiny home within the next few months. I am open to buying one but it would have to be very basic and something I could add onto too and design the interior myself.Im literally ok with having tiny tiny square footage. DO you know any tiny homes in the area that I could rent for the night to have some idea? Im glad I found you and hope to hear back from you soon. Take care

      PS I would really like to find some land to put my tiny home on even if i have to lease it. Somewhere in Boulder county,I would even be ok sitting on a farmers property and plan on having solar panels and propane for everything!

      Dena Herte

      • Hi Dena! I hate throwing cold water on your wanting to live in a tiny home but if Boulder County is your only area of choice you will have some problems. They have VERY strict rules on the minimum size home they will accept on any property unless you live in an RV park Even Adams county where I live has a minimum size of 900 sq feet but if you are in unincorporated Adams county and no one complains you can get away with a tiny home. If you want to try out living in a tiny home and can wait awhile to live in one go to Riverview RV Park in Loveland. They are closed now since they sit right on the big thompson river and were flooded out during the Sep flood last year. Hopefully they will be up and running again by summer. Talk to Laura in the main office and tell her you talked to Patty Lynn. I used to own a mini doublewide up there. They have small cabins and park model homes you can rent for as long as you want to stay there. Or if a space is available you can rent long term and put your tiny home up there. There are other places like Chateau Chapperal in Nathrop CO and a place in Fairplay CO that is open late spring – early fall. If you can give me an email address for you I’ll send you pictures and web addresses. I didn’t want to call since I’m rarely home much before 10pm each evening. Any questions just ask.

      • Hi Dena if your looking for weidth in stead of length you might want to try the park models. They are a little wider trailers and requires wide load sign too and probable permit to travel with that’s my only guess on having wider home

    • Patty Lynn,

      I am looking into building my own mobile tiny house. I can’t seem to find a website that shows a trailer wider than 8’6″. I understand about the moving permit on a wide trailer, but 8’6″ is just too narrow for me. Do you know where I can find a trailer company that would make me a custom trailer?

    • I plan to build a tiny home in Southern Colorado specifically in Costilla County. I am planning on a loft but with no stairs. I will construct an elevator for less than 500 dollars and it will do the same work as a commercial elevator. As a senior I don’t relish having to scale stairs.
      I will build this home for around $5000 or less and most people won’t believe that’s possible.

  2. I agree with Patty. To me a tiny home should at least be 10′. If you walk into older mobile homes from 10′ to 12′ to 14′ to 16′ you can feel the difference each time the width goes up two feet (actually 18″)and the more options you have while still staying small and compact. If one wishes to be able to move their tiny house…well, then I guess they will just have to live with the limitations. For me at 64, I have no desire to go anywhere and am very happy on my homestead. I think quite a few of we older gens would feel this way.

    • Exactly. I have to have 10′ or I get claustrophobic, especially in the bedroom. If they can tow it wide load, fine = i wasn’t going to move it myself anyway. And, at age 60, wherever I decide to park it is pretty much the place it will be until they read the will.

      Anyone with ideas or plans? Send them to after posting here. Thanks & happy homing!

  3. I would love to see more plans for purchase out there that are for tiny houses of varying designs (saltbox, etc.) but especially tiny houses that can be built on a trailer for bugging out purposes, but that can fold out to greater dimensions. Someone with an origami mind has a lot of potential customers out there if he/she can create some elegant DIY designs that give this kind of flexibility.

    • Something like this?

      • Thanks! Something very much like this – except I’d have to make it on my own over time; no way I could cough up the cash to buy one. My goal is to have my own tiny house on my own land and no mortgage (I’d have to deal with real estate taxes, but better than having to cough up the rent once a month), with the ability to relocate if necessary. This particular model looks like it might be beyond the capabilities of a DIYer with no real construction background, but the possibilities are intriguing.

    • Shipping Containers could be an option for your tiny home. Setting Shipping containers side by side to create a larger footprint and the will be no need for stairs for the older generations. You could look up Boxmn Studios as they create the origami concept you mentioned previously. Boxman Studios is a one shop stop for creating unique concepts which really work. However, Similar building codes may be applicable. In my experience, You should probably adhere to building codes as they serve a purpose to keep the dweller safe and the dwelling itself safe.

      • Thanks!

        • I do like the idea of shipping containers, but wonder if they’re beyond my skill level. Two containers side by side on their length would provide a lot of room. Not sure if they could be bermed, but that’s an intriguing idea, too — instead of heating the place from 0 degrees Fahrenheit on the coldest days of winter I would only have to heat it about 15 degrees. With passive and active solar I might be able to get by without fossil fuels or even wood…. Time for someone to write a “Bermed Shipping Container Homes for Dummies” book.

  4. I don’t think you could be more wrong. Creativity is often born out of necessity and what could drive a greater need for creativity than physical dimensional limitations?

    A blank canvas with no limits allows you to “go anywhere” but doesn’t really present you with obstacles that need creative solutions.

    My design is based on a 20′ trailer but encompasses folding decks and shades on both of the long sides as well a solar panels that fold into a roof recess when on the move that doubles as a rainwater catchment basin when the house is not in transit. None of these creative solutions would necessarily come into existence if I didn’t have to find a way to deal with the physical limitations of building on a trailer.

  5. If you’re reading this about tiny house’s you’re already thinking outside the box. Now it’s time to think outside the trailer with as much creativity as you use when solving space issues in a home.
    -You don’t have to limit your width. The standard width is there for towing without a permit, it does not say you can’t just get a permit and do it at ten feet wide or more.
    -The trailer has sides, you can build over them. If you want a wider home but the trailer is only 8 feet wide it’s not a problem to extend beyond the 8 feet in width if you build the floor to support the walls.
    -It can come off the trailer you know…just like a boat sits on a rail system, your home can too. An electric winch can pull it back up when you need to.
    -If you buy a little bit of land you can build it as a shed, or outbuilding…even a ‘temporary’ housing until your real home is built…i’m not saying to lie, but waiting for the finances to come through for a traditional home can sometimes take a while…a long while.

  6. Not limiting at all. If you plan to be permanent or semi permanent you can always build a single gable roof unit and later on join 2 units together at a common wall. 16 by 18 or 16 by 20.
    I only need 136 sq ft plus loft and can move if needed.
    Trailer mounted house is not the only means to an end. If it suits your purposes whether being portability or zoning or local codes, you choose it. If other motives or needs are desired you decide what they need to be in order to not be limiting.

  7. When deciding what you defiantly have to have in the tiny house varies from dweller to dweller and age is one thought to always give merit because, that is something we are all collecting. A catch 22, no, take Andy’s philosophy, yes, necessity is the mother of invention and creativity of an end result depends on the individual, space is a motivator. As John and Robert say, size and mobility can be achieved in other legal ways and they are right on the money with their points.

    The biggest factor is what is the structures going to provide for you, vacation, a permanent home, yard use, weekender, what? With this variety of uses or desires comes the decision of how to construct it to do what you want it for. It isn’t dictated by the trailer that is just one small focus group who decides that is their permanent small dwelling. I have never even considered a trailer in the planning of my lifestyle, I have one and it is used as a trailer to jump from here and there for longer durations, the truck camper, for temp travelling as a weekender but home for me has to be a fixed location and I chose an old building which truthfully cost me less than some trailers I have purchased over the years.

    You Ryan and guys like Jay, our friends on here like Andy are the big problem, and I say this with flattery and admiration, not criticism. I have been at this small lifestyle idea for years, long before many of you were born, have built many concepts of compact living and travelling with the what can I get for the biggest bang attitude “the have to haves and the wants”. And what happens when I decide on something is short lived because now, with all this information, new concepts in appliances, utilities etcetera, etcetera and the fantastic input and ideas from the creative people you all are bringing out of the woodwork is keeping me in a state of confusion. I have a learned righteous new buzz words, “Keeping my foot print to a minimum, re-cycle, conserve water, hydro, solar, a gamete of them that has almost become a religion.

    I am like the kid whose father dips his fingers in honey and gives him feathers to play with. I get a bee in my bonnet and have to build it for no other reason than to see how it would fit in. I will never be finished or content. Sooooo, with my permanent residence I have to go back to the basics, how much floor space do I want to clean, which surfaces are the best to use, will it accommodate a mate if I ever again meet one which always seems to happen, I do love companionship, but she who embraces this lifestyle, I am not giving it up again or even just enough room to have company is nice. One day I will sit on the patio (when I get it finished) with a cool beverage in hand and say that is good enough. I have torn the old temporary out and am again working with a clear canvas. The coroner may be at the door but that day is the day I shoot for. “It’s good enough” A trailer doesn’t dictate anything. You can hire someone with a trailer to move anything for a lot less than even putting new rubber on one every few years.

    • Hmmm, I was wondering about how long the tires would hold up; makes perfect sense to hire someone to move a wide load rather than replacing tires! Freedom!

      • I just hauled which should have been a very good trailer to NS from AB for a friend, it did sit for a while, 2 years, we had to repair lights from corrosion, put a new tire on to replace one that rotted over 3 years, the brakes through lack of use took ages to free and then didn’t work well enough for my total comfort. When I did this sort of thing for a living, I always had the trailer in full repair ready to roll and so would the guy you would hire. As for your concern, the other three tires had just been replace through rotten rubber. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t do the 4th but it looked great when we left Calgary. Last year I hauled a trailer which tires appeared to be great from Ottawa to Calgary, again the trailer sat for a duration that I do not know but had to replace them all in Kingston, some 115 miles away. $1,200 So, no, I personally do not trust tires that have sat. Good tires on my class A had to be replaced from two years of sitting, cost $2,500. and that was cheap though old work contacts, I do not put cheap quality tires on anything. With that said, they were not maintained or covered which was my fault but I didn’t intend to let it sit in the hot sun that long. People will argue that maintenance is the key and they are right to a point but even the manufactures will tell you they do get age fatigue. Many people purchase a trailer like the ones we use, do not maintain it thinking hell, it was purchased new then never check brakes, lights, bearings, suspension or even metal and suspension fatigue until they have to use it. Some do but that’s rare. The trailer is the least expensive thing. Just purchase a truck to haul these things. I wouldn’t use less than a 1 ton dully. If you are looking at an economical life, that is not a everyday driver to save you money and yes, I have one of those too, sitting at a shop in Canmore AB after another $1,000 to put a water pump on it. Next trip for that is the Calgary auction. $40,000 over the last three years to keep it in high mile good working order. You don’t let things go when you are making your living with it. If I get $6,000 it has a new owner in a hurry. New everything under the hood, to include tires and rims. By the way, those are Canadian prices, in the US it is a lot cheaper, even to purchase the truck but still too rich for my blood just to haul a trailer once in a while. I expect flack with people saying a 3/4 ton or heavy half will do the job, they are expensive enough to purchase and my friends who use those, please let me know what highway you are on so I will stay away from that fools errand.

        • A 3/4 ton pulls a 7000 lb trailer with ease. How many sailboats and large cruisers are pulled by 3/4 ton pickups? Lots,daily and safely.Plenty of tiny houses have been moved with 3/4 ton uhaul trucks. No worries,no issues. A tiny house is a cinch with a 3/4 ton. Who are you kidding about wanting to be off that road traveled. Have you ever pulled a tiny house for real? The day a 3/4 ton is not rated safely to pull loads far in excess of 7000 lbs has not arrived.Most are rated in excess of 9000 lbs and some with diesel engines 14,000 lb tow ratings.
          Why pass out bad information when you obviously know not what you speak of?

          • @Robert
            The sailboats and large cruisers are fiberglass shells. A tiny home is made out of much heavier materials. Yes, if you are not planning on moving your home much, a 3/4 is fine. But I have seen 3/4 ton trucks burn up towing race-car trailers across the country. I say go south and find an old Dodge Power Wagon one-ton dually with the Cummins diesel. There are plenty around and they run forever. Not a lot of money invested and you are ready to go anywhere.

            As far as the post referring to the damage from sitting to breaks and tires. There is a reason the remove the axles from mobile homes. At least take the tires off to keep the weight off of them and out of the sun & weather.

          • My tiny house weighs 7000lbs. I have towed heavier boats with a 3/4 ton. A Ford super duty with 6.7 diesel is rated 14,000lbs. Again no problem towing and having towed my race cars cross country behing a 3/4 ton with a total weight far less than my tiny house I never had one burn up from the light load. You hardly notice the trailer and car are even there. A one ton dually is a nice truck but hardly needed to tow a paltry 7000 lb load.
            Most tiny houses are moved only a few times. They are not rv’s for recreational travel.

        • I agree with the tire issue. I learned the hard way as well. Now when I park for an extended period of time, I jack it up, level and block, and take the wheels off. They go in the garage until the next spring. I also keep them covered in the summer.
          Also, be careful to look at the date of the manufacture of the tire. Some big box stores will offer a cheap price, but the tire may only have a couple of legal years left, even though they have never been on a vehicle. They have a 7 year life span from manufacturing date.

  8. Why not build two halves of a tiny home, each on their own trailer. Like double-wide moble homes. Design each half to come together on a common wall and be bolted together in a way that if it needed to be moved, a couple hours unbolting, and two halves roll away. I use to help move mobile homes and there is a trick to setting up two trailers together. You let the air out of the outside tires on the second trailer causing it to lean away from the first trailer. When the second is positioned, air up the tires and the trailer moves back toward the first trailer, closing the gap between the two.

    Another option I have seen is building tiny homes on large flatbed trucks with a sleeping loft built to overhang the truck’s cab. This way, the tiny home moves itself out of the way!

    Years ago, I was inside a beautiful 1957 GMC school bus in Texas that was converted into a tiny home. The guy living there was 5’4″ so it worked.

    Once a tiny home becomes self powered, the rules change to those for an RV.

    • When I was in my 20’s, I worked with a guy who had this realy cool 1962, split level mobile home. He also had his own mobile home semi toter to move his mobile home. If the park owner tried to jack up his rent, he could move his home.
      It is through him that we did side jobs setting up mobile homes after work and that is where I learned about the doublewides.

  9. Hi Robert, I believe I did say I would receive some flack about the ¾ tons and you didn’t let me down. Thank you. Large cruisers, I owned a 26′ Macgregor sailboat for a few years and towed that behind a light half ton through Canada and the US, why did I purchase that, because it was conducive to affordable light vehicle towing which I could used as a personal driver, the half ton was actually over kill, the Mac was a toy and I would not have a toy that required an expensive vehicle to sit in the yard when not in use. Here is the website have a look and then look at it on a vehicle, visually people shake their heads because it looks huge on a half ton. From my house to the lake in Kelowna it was 2 blocks and I took it down a couple of times on a K car. I could have pushed the thing to the lake but taking it out would require a couple of guys. Yep, the K car pulled it out and brought it safely home un-damaged. Oh, and Robert I have owned cabin cruisers also but paid heavy haulers to move them.
    You can quote ratings all you want but the fact is, many RV haulers out of Goshen Indiana and out of Oregon will tell you they cringe when they have to haul a commercially built park model any distance at all on a ¾ ton, the specks say they can handle it and they are a hell of a lot lighter than a comparable in size home built tinny house, built many times by a novas who just isn’t sure of weight distribution when using their own plans. That’s where people like Jan and Ryan are handy they provide plans to be towed. The RV haulers that do take the park model, generally white knuckle it most of the trip and they haul trailers every day. How do I know this, dam I do believe I have a fully equipped RV hauler sitting in Canmore AB. Let me see if I can remember why I purchased that truck. I will get back to you on that one when my memory comes back. Digging a little further I seem to remember being paid as a Driver Trainer and load supervisor for Canadian Auto Carriers for a few years, and yes, just about forgot, Safety Coordinator for Jo Ann trucking out of Brooks AB a major oilfield heavy hauling company in its day. What was that one project they ask me to sit on the board of, yes, the Oil Field Heavy Haulers Association, that’s it. I believed we didn’t only discussed hauling Trillium trailers behind mini vans. No, one committee had me sit on the Sage report discussions to recommend re write for Occupational Health and Safety Regulations for the Heavy Haul Industry.
    Robert, I didn’t set out to insult anyone or give anyone faults information, sorry for the sarcasm. I didn’t cover the area Peter did about removing axles because I simply felt I said enough about poor maintenance and as much as you would like to believe, many people do not even realize some of the dangers they put themselves and others in. I am sure that not one of the accidents I had to investigate over many years in transport was intentional. The fatalities were not suicides or murder; they were accidents of poor judgment through lack of knowledge and some did cost lives that are a hell of a price to pay for a slip up.
    Peter mentioned mobile homes, just so happens now that you have me blowing my horn, I owned Sure Lake Mobile Homes in Kelowna BC, purchased, rebuilt, hauled, set up and developed many Mobile or as they like to refer them as Manufactured Homes over the years. I wonder why today they take the axles with them and no longer re use them. I seem to remember reading on a tire one time use only. I can back up everything I have said here. I post with my first and last name and was well known in the industry, respected and yes, disrespected, outright hated by some. Do I know it all, not a chance in the world would I declare that and that is why I live and breathe the advice I get from these web sites, the people who have good constructive advice and if I feel I can contribute, I do so. It seems the older I get the less I do know but I can tell you this, I would never test out tolerances or safety ratings to their max. We have gone way off the original subject of the post and that was are trailers holding tinny houses back by dictating design if I believe. I believe they shouldn’t. But do I think I know a bit about hauling them yep, I do and I know when not to haul them and who should and who shouldn’t. Have a nice day.

    • Exactly why I stated that you should speak on something you have knowledge of. A tiny house built on a cargo trailer is not a park model nor weigh half the average park model commercially constructed weight.
      It also is not a mobile home unit. They are Tiny Stick built homes built on full suspension cargo trailers and easily hauled safely by 3/4 ton trucks. Why you want to argue something you obviously have no experience with is beyond blowing your so called horn it is blowing smoke.

  10. I apologies for a spelling error in my last post (I probably made a few) and gave credit to a Jan and Ryan for plans and I did mean people like Jay and Ryan. We have many designers putting out excellent educated plans but Jays are the first I ever personally came across and if I did confuse anyone on my remarks re towing, yes, you can even pull a tent trailer with a minivan or other small vehicle in my humble opinion. I thank those in this movement for the information they continually provide on their websites.

  11. You might say it’s the rules and regulations regarding bylaw compliance and for road hauling that are limiting tiny houses on wheels, or the bridges and other infrastructure out there. Physics limits all building, though that envelope is constantly being challenged. After playing around with several scale models I’m getting closer to planning my trailer-mounted house to be 10′ wide. It will add to the cost but is physically possible. I can build a larger tiny “mobile” home than a tiny one on a foundation to fit within local bylaws, otherwise I’d probably build stationary. It won’t be moving often if at all so the amount of fuss involved in special permits etc will be minimal and the amount of space gained will be well worth it. My current studio apartment is just under 10′ wide and feels just right. The 13′ Boler trailer I’ll be replacing (it’s getting demoted to guest house)is 6′ wide and definitely too small. What works for vacations doesn’t necessarily work for longterm everyday life.

  12. I think we should address the terminology of “tiny home” and “small home.” The trailer homes are by nature tiny and are on wheels because of many outdated building codes throughout the U.S. won’t allow them on a foundation. They are built on wheels to get around this regulation somehow.

    Many small homes, which are still considered tiny by some, are built on foundations because they meet the restrictions of building codes, mainly size, in most states.

    I would say both are not limited in either way and in fact in recent years many innovative designs have come out. It’s all up to your imagination! Currently, building on a trailer gives you the freedom to build a home size below building code laws in most states and this is liberating.

  13. I will say that almost all tiny houses on trailers I have seen on the web are pretty much the same. There are a few that are different, and decorating styles are different, but most have very similar floor plans. Yes, there is potential for creativity, but there are size limitations, and very few people seem to vary from other tiny houses much at all.

  14. I don’t understand… I’ve towed 27′ and 32′ travel trailers many times. Why are tiny homes limited to 20′? And more importantly, when you can buy a fully functional 32′ travel trailer for about $3-5k, why are people working so hard to reinvent the wheel?

    • You can build a tiny house on a longer trailer some designs go 200Sqft.

      If you have ever torn apart a travel trailer you would understand why build a tiny house,the things are mostly smoke and mirrors of light weight cheap construction. That is why it is so easy to tow large ones.
      A tiny house is a real house only tiny,full insulation a real roof real windows 11 ft cathedral ceilings,someplace you would want to reside in for years not weekend trips to the camp america lot.
      You might want to study about tiny houses before saying why reinvent the wheel or suggest buying a travel trailer to live in. Apples to orange comparisons rarely work.

    • Just because a tiny house is mobile doesn’t necessarily mean it will move a lot. If a person wants to move their residence every few days or weeks a regular RV might make more sense but if it’s only going to move a few times a year or less then the tiny house on wheels starts looking more reasonable. Better quality materials, higher ceilings, more individual designs and other advantages attract many people that would never consider an RV. Plus sometimes being on wheels is more to circumvent or accommodate local bylaws than to actually be mobile.

      I think most people build up to 20′ because the cost of the bare trailer goes up quite a bit after that point and because it seems to be an optimal size to contain what you need for a fully functional living space at a reasonable cost.

      It isn’t so much reinventing as refining and adapting.

  15. It’s cool that Ryan brings up this topic because I’ve been wishing to see more tiny house designs that were square instead of rectangular that that have stairs that are L-shaped with a landing. The only ones I’ve come across that incorporate stairs like that are the Tumbleweed Ernesti and B-53.

    I would love to see a craftsman-style house that is closer to 600 square feet that could incorporate those type of stairs and maybe make it a one and a half story house. I have no clue what coding is on this obviously but I was visualizing something a la Ross Chapin (I’m in Minnesota).

  16. Eric, I see where you are coming from with the travelling aspect in mind. I tried on my first year here to see if the RV would work and as Robert stated, the construction is way to under built to withstand full time living especially here in Canada, (my temps only drop to a norm of 5c in the winter), My first thought was, so I have to pay more to heat the thing but it turned out to be way more than I imagined, even with the winter kits on them. Friends working in the Oil Patch try to use them and have to add insulation and more heaters to make it comfortable and that gets dam expensive, especially the heating fuel. The plumbing systems from the manufacture continually give you problems and it’s hardly worth the effort. These tinny houses are built like houses taking climate into consideration. Again, the RV has nice smoke and mirrors but built for travelling. The wheel being reinvented is the lifestyle of the house, from the monster most of us are accustomed to living in to a way scaled down version and that vision is in the hands of what and where you want it and again, lifestyle. The trailer thing is not my choice but the small apartment main floor with no loft is but then again, I am at the Sr. stage of life and just don’t want any incontinence. That is my own individual choice. Some just simply build small skid shacks to whatever size they want.

    The best unit I ever seen for every use was indeed a trailer; custom built a little wider than the norm manufactured cargo and the guy added a ton of Styrofoam insulation held to the walls with attractive maple strapping and used commercial vinyl to cover the Styrofoam panels. I looked great; he built it with very light furniture, sparse but ample kitchen and bathroom and the plumbing was worked in close to the inner surface covered with thin venting again accessible to the heat. The holding tanks were part of the furnishings and always accessible to heat and over the wheel wells. He could live everywhere in this, and could if required, put the furnishings to include the kit and w/c into a storage locker and use the unit to haul anything he wanted. I could go on and on about the concepts he thought of but will just give him credit for using a lot of intuitive even to the decor maintenance. This unit was totally stealth making window openings look like tool box doors which became awnings when opened from the outside and he had a full length cloth awning mounted to look like a tubular storage unit. This thing was so dam light we pushed it around a parking lot.

    Some of these small house guys are very innovating and I am continually impressed with many ideas that come out of these sites.

    Molly, your points are well taken and that could possibly be why Ryan asks the question in the first place but if you look at many, they do vary by the builder’s ability and taste. Its guys like Andy Hawkins who I like to watch, I am not as good at looking at a space and seeing the possibilities they do and I won’t concede to total ignorance. I have in the past adopted ideas, improved on them and then see something else that may have worked better. My problem as I may have stated is accepting that it is good enough. There is always room for improvement but I do get ridiculous with wants and desires.

  17. When I was in college my poetry professor told us that the rules force us to be more creative than we would be without the rules. I feel that much the same way the rules of literature and poetry force you to find new a creative ways of saying something mundane, the trailer and size restrictions can force us to find creative solutions we might never have thought of before.

    • ” A man is rich in proportion
      to the number of things he can afford to leave alone”
      You wax poetic Joslyn

  18. I loved the romance of a house on wheels. Picking up and going when you want to or need to…sigh. But like all romances, this one ran headlong into reality and into my own personal needs. I still love them, but have decided to go a more practical (for me) and maybe less expensive route. Look at the Texas Tiny Houses web site. They specialize in building small houses and building them solidly enough that they could be loaded on a trailer and moved. If you go on youtube, you can see a few of the features they include to make that happen, including a seriously overbuilt floor system and what looks like ladder trusses to reinforce the corners. I love to travel, but any house I build is staying at home. More freedom for me and far less stress. If I have to move, I plan to have built it solidly enough that it can be loaded onto a trailer and delivered to where I need it to go. Going this route also gives me an extra foot or two. Even an extra foot in width makes a huge difference in the feel of a tiny house, making it seem even more like a home and a bit less like a travel trailer. I also work at home, and my business just won’t fit in a 135 square feet footprint. Go to Tiny Texas Houses website for some truly awesome tiny houses that are, in many cases, just a foot or two wider. For a comparison and a discussion of what a couple of extra feet can do, go to faircompanies website and look at the little house on a trailer video. This house was built on a trailer, but is large enough that you would probably pay to have it moved although it is still quite small. It’s not built to go jaunting around the country. It can move when it needs to, but does not sacrifice a lot of features for a degree of mobility that it may not need. So, before committing to the romance of a pick up and go house, know what picking up and going may really entail. Tires, axles, brakes etc may be an issue after a couple of years of sitting. A rigid limit on width and weight. Do you have a vehicle strong enough to do the job? And really, honestly, will you be comfortable behind the wheel with a house,in tow behind you on wet roads or in windy conditions? Pick up and go houses are great for a lot of people. Just know that there are alternatives if you want a tiny house and you are not one of them. Keep in mind that shed building companies load up and deliver 10 and 12 feet wide sheds on a regular basis, so moving a still tiny, but slightly wider building is a fairly routine thing to do.

  19. So I have been doing a lot of research on these tiny homes, as much as I love them, I have three kids. Buying and pulling a 40′ flatbed is pretty expensive, and We don’t have the means for that. I had the idea of putting together two 8×20 trailers with lofts on each end. Has anyone ever seen this done? My research sort of comes to a halt at this. I believe it wouldn’t be to hard. Thoughts?

    • In a double-wide mobile home, you have two trailers that bolt together side by side. If you built your two 8×20 so that they share a common wall and the wall only had a door that gave access between the units, the shared wall would only have a single opening to protect the interior from the elements while traveling. The shared wall would actually be a half/thick wall on each side. You could engineer brackets on the trailers with large bolts to pull the two halves together. This way the end product is 16×20.

    • If you want one, try it. You are only limited by your own doubts. There always has to be a first one. I think it is a great idea.

  20. Getting the email alert about the last comment reminded me of this and got me thinking about it again.

    I guess for me it boils down to this,

    I would rather be limited by dimensions, than by geography.

    I can take a tiny house on a trailer, and park it overlooking the ocean any time I want, or I can have more space and be stuck in one place.

    Having been stuck in one place, I choose mobility.

    Having been in an RV, I choose a tiny house.

    • I like your comment! “I’d rather be limited by dimensions that geography” Great statement!

    • That’s a great choice when you change locations relatively frequently. Moving at least every six months to a year? Taking you house tooling along behind you on vacation? A trailer makes absolute sense. Maintaining and replacing parts may be expensive, but they are part and parcel of that lifestyle, and because you are moving, you will probably have less problems with you trailer than someone who lets it sit in place. You are truly choosing to limit your space in a very real exchange for your needed degree of mobility. But what if that’s not your life style? What if you have a job, family or community that keeps you in place? Exchanging room for mobility makes since. Exchanging room for just the possibility or dream of moving makes less sense. If you honestly think that you’ll maybe move every three to five years instead of every year, paying to have your home moved may be less expensive then maintaining and/or replacing parts on your trailer each time you move. And far less of a headache in the long run. In that case, you’re trading very real space not for mobility so much as for the dream of mobility. Trading reality for reality (space for mobility that you actually use) makes perfect sense. Trading reality for romance (I don’t plan to move for the next few years, but boy, I sure could if I wanted to!) makes less sense. My point is to be sure of your choices and what you actually need before choosing. And be sure that you know that “just picking up and moving” is most frequently “Just picking up and …..what do you mean I need new tires?…what! those were new brakes just two years ago! What the heck are bearings….? How long will that take? Oh come on! The bill is WHAT! Trailers are wonderful. Wider, more comfortable tiny houses that are not on trailer, but built to be moved are wonderful. Just be sure of which one fits your life.

  21. Tiny houses on or off a trailer are far more limited by zoning laws and goverment sanctions than their foundation style. I have worked for a year and a half to purchase a 1/2 acre lot left from the realignment of a state highway. The nice brick home that was on the lot (then about 1 1/2 acres ) Was purchased and razed for the realignment. I have completed the purchase for $1033.00. A give away price for state surplus land. I am in an ongoing discussion about rezoning the parcel as a one unit campground to be able to place the tiny house on it.( They see it as an RV)

    I am being told ( let me give you my abbreviated version ) there isn’t a chance in hell of getting the varience. Without the varience I am allowed to “camp” for up to 21 days on the property but can not make it “home”. The tiny house must then be moved, hence the main reason mine is on a trailer. There is a sister property 7/10 of a mile away and I am in the final process of purchasing it as well. The road between is essentially the abandoned old state road and is still utilized by a very few. I will be able to hook up and move from site to site and be within the law. I am confident in time they will simply give up and I will be able to remain on one of them. In the mean time I want to remain mobile and in “camping” mode.

    • BobHenry, good luck with your plans; I hope you wear the officials down!

  22. Hi All,
    I agree with a lot of things mentioned on this thread… and the obvious answer to the original question is that options are really limitless. Typically, the only tiny homes on wheels that end up being discussed are the ones being publicized by their owners. There are lots of others out there, quietly hiding from zoning boards and house inspectors.

    I am in the process of building a tiny home for my family of 4 (maybe 5 one day :)) and I am going 12 feet by 25 feet as my interior dimensions. With one ‘master-loft’ and a set of bunks, I still consider this size a tiny house; especially since my daughters are 5 and 12 and both my husband and I are around 6 feet tall.
    I’ve made literally 100 designs leading up to my final one, and there are ENDLESS possibilities for floor plans and finishes… because that’s what makes tiny homes work… they can be customized to the individual and not have to cater to anyone else—-> including all of those phantom ‘guests’ that people build bigger homes around. Any significant ‘entertaining’ that needs to happen can always happen around a restaurant table or a bonfire.

    I am building my tiny home on a 27 foot travel trailer frame. (We lived on it for a time when it was still a Holidaire travel trailer.) We’re building on wheels solely to get around numerous zoning issues and I have decided to keep the trailer licensed and stay within reasonable dimensions… but if we’re at 14 feet high when we’re done, I’m not going to worry about it. We hope we are never forced to move this house on wheels from its current site on a rural family property.

    People always act like we are giving up so much to live this way, and yet it feels like the opposite. We gain so much by living in a home that does what it needs to do for our particular family and no more. We have more money and no clutter. We have financial freedom and close interaction with each other… we are rich!
    Keep dreaming outside the 8.5 foot x 16 foot trailer dimensions because ANYTHING is possible! 🙂

    • I wish you well trying to build a 300sqft 12 ft wide tiny house on a 7’10” wide travel trailer frame. You might consider a few more designs and engineering realities before proceeding.

      • Don’t worry about me, Robert. My Dad is an engineer… it will be overbuilt if anything. Cantilevering out a couple feet on either side of a trailer isn’t a big deal if you know what you’re doing… nor is extending/reinforcing the chassis of the trailer with additional welded components. Sticking to the bare bones trailer dimensions is important if you are wanting to be portable or you are a beginner with no idea of how to engineer changes… if you have the knowledge and you’re staying in one place, all sorts of options open up…

        • like I said I wish you well. having built a tiny house on a 23 ft travel trailer frame with gusseted extensions and perimeter frame I know what I am talking about. 12 ft wide is more than your TT is capable of and even if not moved you endanger you and your childrens lives. A 300sqft tiny house fully fitted with furniture,supplies,etc will weigh in well in excess of the axle rating and frame safety margin.
          If your dad is an engineer he will have figured that out,if he hasn’t examined your design and trailer he will figure it out.
          I’m not worried about you at all,you need to be worried about you and yours.
          I’ve 4 years in a tiny house built on a reconstructed travel trailer frame. 300 ft on a 27ft is a death trap waiting to happen.
          I merely suggested you review you design and engineering.

          • I actually mistyped — meant the dimensions to read 10′ x 26′ … but I stand behind all my other comments.

          • At 260sq ft dry weight of a stick built 13ft 6 inch tall tiny house will be in excess of 10,000 pounds. Check the rating of your TT add in several thousand pounds of personal goods and furniture and how safe do you think your family will be? You can stand by whatever you want but a 20,000 pound rated trailer is either going to be needed or you are a danger to more than yourself. Ask your Dad.

  23. I’m trying to find the Canadian highway specs for size. I see lots of information on weight. But I have yet to find width or length or height both in terms of standard, and what would need a permit. Anyone know the actual law? Are some permits easier than others? What about reality – if you get a professional to move a wide load – what is a normal wide load? Thanks in advance for the help. Bonus points if you add links.


      brake requirements are all over the map across Canada,some require brakes on 3000lbs some provinces no brakes on 3 times that weight.
      Transport canada has that info or check with your local trans dept.

  24. Anyone have experience with a tiny house on skids or rails that can be placed on a flatbed with a come a long then delivered to it’s new resting place. As long as it’s not permanently mounted to the ground it should still by pass building codes. Anyone?

    • I have been looking for the same thing myself. I’ve found crumbs of information here and there that might be useful. Try looking at “Tiny Texas House – built and moved in under 3 minutes” on youtube for a close look at the foundation overbuilding that tiny texas houses use to insure that their houses are movable. The first few frames gives you a look at the massive (relatively speaking) under carriage that insures their houses don’t buckle. In fact, it would probably be a good idea to look at more of their videos for ideas. Every once in a while, Brad K. drops a morsel of information that relates to what makes a movable house so sturdy. For example, in one video he mentions in passing and shows on screen the ladder trusses that they use in place of the usual 4 x 4’s or 6 x 6s on the corners of the house so that it stays ridged in transport. You can also get a view of what he sets his houses on once they are on site. He mentions (maybe on his website) that a tornado went though his site and knocked over several of his houses. They weren’t trashed. He just had to basically sit them back up again. Now THAT’S sturdy. Since then he uses a cable to tie them down. Go over his website and his youtube videos. It’s a goldmine of little tidbits. As for actually moving a tiny or small house, I would be tempted to contract it out. There are places on line that you can submit a request for something to be moved and get back bids from several companies. I tried this once when I was planning to buy a government surplus park model home that was located two states over. I didn’t complete the purchase, but the prices didn’t seem that extreme. I plan to build something more in the category of a small instead of a tiny house. Maybe 350 to 400 square feet instead of the usual 200. That way I’ll have room for my home business/office. The idea of risking all my hard work, not to mention risking the lives and limbs of me and my loved ones on a first time DIY shed/house move is not appealing. I plan to go with the folks who do this for a living. If you’re building in the tiny house range, it may be worth calling a few of your local shed companies. They deliver sheds the size of tiny houses on a regular bases and they are experts. They may be willing to contract to do the move for you or pass on the name of the company that does their moves for them. Best of Luck. Marka.

  25. I go back to the thought of double wide mobile homes. When you build a tiny home on a trailer, why can’t you build a small home on two trailers and then put them together when you get on site? True, you will have two trailers to transport when you move but it doubles the space you have and squares up your home.

  26. Question, any suggestions would be helpful. Years ago I got a trailer that had obviously been sitting around in Mexico (ocean front) for quite some time,and someone had built on right next to the original trailer, so that it is now 2x as wide. They supported the newer portion appropriately with the proper wood and cement triangular-like supports, and correct sub-flooring.-at least it seems. It feels very secure, online the other original portion.

    However, it doesn’t appear that they ever did much of anything to properly add any more than a few additional supports to the original trailer portion (which is 30 years old) of the “house.”. The shower area in the original trailer portion has again (for the 2nd time since 2006), begun to rot from underneath and recently someone nearly fell through the shower floor while bathing. There are no tires on this trailer, and everything looks pretty rusty from what I can tell by looking under there. There seems to only a handful of cement supports on the original trailer side.

    What would be your suggestion(s) be as to what I could do (that would not cost me an arm and a leg, but would be safe) at this point to help ensure that this does not EVER happen again (or at least doesn’t happen for a VERY VERY long time), since this trailer has been sitting there for at least 20+ years, and I doubt they ever originally added any extra welded supports and I know they didn’t add any type of a complete metal floor or anything. What would you do to provide the best possible support to the old portion of the trailer? As I said before, the “newer section” seems like it is very well supported. I’d appreciate ANY AND ALL SUGGESTIONS.

    Thank you,

    • Save your money and look for a dedicated cargo trailer
      You can pick up nearly new units for under $2000 and a 130sqft tiny house can safely be built on such a platform. Fixing old rust is costly and unsafe. Do it right and you will have a solid build with no worries.

      • I think you missed the point, Robert. The home is already built. It is already sitting on the rusty trailer. I think they are looking for ideas on how to shore up the rusty trailer.
        To the person posting. You will have to crib up (support the structure)the structure to support it while removing the old rusty trailer. Then you will have to build a new support structure, slide it underneath and jack it up to support the home. Then block it up like the addition.

        • Binkley jacks,and new cargo trailer. Didn’t miss the point,a strong safe trailer needs to be in place before the other underlying issues can be attended to. if a trailer isn’t needed than lifting and building a proper foundation will go a long way to start solving the problems.
          Falling through a floor is no fun!

  27. I’ve been following tiny homes and watching the TV series “Tiny House Nation”. It appears this is where my husband and I will be living when I retire in 15 years. We lived in an old 70s 24′ RV for 2 years on a mountain and then moved to an 80s 34′ travel trailer (no push out) for 3 more years so we have some experience with living in these spaces. What I hated the most was the low ceiling (made it feel like a cave) and the manufacturers making it feel so crowded. a neighbor had a 5th wheel travel trailer that had a push out and I could not believe the huge living space it gave him.

    Why is it no tiny builder has used push outs that are so popular on travel trailers and RVs? A 24″ push out could provide needed relief to the limited 8′ width. This can be used for kitchen counters, couch area, single bed, desk, green growing space, etc.

    I would also suggest at least the use of large garden windows on the front or rear of the design.

    Ive been thinking that with 13’6″ being the max height when on the road why no one has come up with a way to make the roof go up and down like a popup trailer. If you did that for the loft area you might be able to get a roof that is under the limit when on the road and tall enough to give you 2 full floors.

    It would be great if some mechanical engineer could come up with plans/drawing on how DIYers could do this themselves and put the design in the public domain. Right now I’m looking at using a couple 30″ scissor jacks to lift a section of wall and the roof as much as 2’6″. This would turn a loft that was only 4′ high into one that is 6’6″ high. When it comes time to move the tiny home you unlock the mechanism and lower the roof.

    • I think these are all great ideas; I’d love to see info on how DIYers without a lot of skills could do this.

  28. Alan, the main reason that people don’t design for pop-ups and pop-outs is because of two big factors: weatherproofing and cost.

    One of the options I am considering is building on a drop-deck flatbed designed to be hauled by a tractor, rather than a pickup truck. It seems to me that the cost of hiring a trucker to move my house a few times a decade, if that, must be cheaper than owning a pickup truck large enough to tow a 28′ 6″ house.

    I’ve seen 48′ double drop-deck flatbeds with 29′ clear main deck, and auxiliary decks front and rear that would be good places to store propane tanks, batteries, and motorcycles/bicycles and the like.

    I have no plans to build the house itself longer than 28′ 6″, but you could, I suppose, utilise the auxiliary decks as single-level living space, as well.

    I plan on owning a Jeep Wrangler with an off-road teardrop trailer for camping trips and daily driving. I don’t want a $50K+ pickup because then it would pretty much have to be my daily driver, as well. I’m not a big believer in owning more truck than you need on a regular basis.

    • Gemma. I have worked with these low deck trailers that are pulled by semi-trucks. There are two designs. One is called a Beaver-Tail and has a large (or sometines two) ramp on the back that allows what is to be hauled to drive up and over the rear platform over the tires. The second design is called a Low-Bow and the front tongue that attaches to the semi remoes from the trailer to allow the item being hauled to drive directly onto the lower platform. Both designs are for hauling large heavy items. The latter is more expensive that the former. You may find that the cost of these trailers exceeds the cost of a large pickup truck. If you find one for cheap, it is probably rusted out and will not hold a load for long. What you might want to consider is a fifth wheel flatbed. It will allow a longer build to accommodate a bedroom at one end rather than a loft. You could then find a company that deals in recreational fifth wheels campers to hire their delivery vehicle to move it.

    • Gemma,

      I have thought the same thing. If It will only be moved ever 5 years or so then have it professionally moved and then you can get a longer trailer.

      Ive thought about having a surround deck that would be hinged and you can fold up for transport. Ive been thinking a lot about popup types of design. There is a canadian company that had a completely collapsable home that unfolds once you get it to where you want it. Looks cool..

  29. I think people have to get a better understanding of highway travel clearances. One is not limited to 8.5 feet wide and 13.5 above the road surface. It’s true that those are the no hassle limits but you can go larger. The height limit is set to accommodate overhead lines and bridges which are built to a standard. Depending on the distance and route this can be a minor or major hassle. If you are within a foot or so of the limit you can often install a curved lead board and glide boards along the roof ridge to allow the lines to slide easily over the roof-usually need utility co. approval. Much higher and you need to pay the utilities to disconnect lines-gets expensive real fast. Regarding width up to 12′ you only need wide load signs and flagging-and maybe a light. Over 12′ you need a permit, convoy cars and associated gear-not overwhelming but a hassle for sure. So, if you plan on an occasional move-find a trailer guy (or gal) and figure your height to 13’5 including trailer and build within that and less than 12′ wide and you’ll have no problems. Happy Building-Will

  30. im planning on a 10′ wide floor, hanging 1 foot of each side of a standard width trailer by design, not to much trouble to move, here in WA state the permiting for travel is $10 for up to 3 days, or $20 for a whole month, it will need corners flagged and oversize load signs on front and back, but no pilot cars or anything else as long as eves arent over 11′ maximum width.
    no big hassle

    • Hello Phil!
      I am looking to build a tiny house exactly the same way; I am buying a normal 8.5′ and building a little less than a foot off each side, for a total of 10′ wide. I would SO appriciate hearing how your house is doing. Do you have any issues with sagging where the edges aren’t on the trailer. Did you support the overhang in any way. And information would be much appreciated!

  31. Has any one built a home on a 48 foot semi flatbed trailer ?

    • I think the deck height of a semi-trailer is what would keep people away. Plus they would be way over-kill on what would be needed to carry a stick home. Now maybe a 48ft fifth-wheel trailer but by then you are defeating the “tiny home” concept.

  32. I am in the process of designing and building a tiny house that has a slide out floor with fold out walls and roof for extra width. Because I traveled in a travel trailer with my work and I know firsthand the difference extra width makes in a living area. It makes all the difference in the world. And also your really not restricted on length so much. And also I think the pitched roof should be square to utilize all of that head room that you can possible use. With just a small pitch to shed water. This will make the trailer more livable and practable. I’m searching for the best and cost saving materials to construct this project. And with any luck, possibly build some to sell. My sister who is a genius at saving space will assist me. In Alabama and most states 96 in. Width and 168in Height. 14 Ft. I know some states its 13′ 6″. But the length is unlimited to 40 Ft. And I know 40 is not practical. But I’m thinking minimum would be 24 Ft. Up to 36 Ft. Length.

    • Did you finish this yet? If so, would you share? If not, let me know as I have rough designs for fold-out. Folding is much easie to engineer and build than sliding, and allows much better weatherproofing.

  33. I’m researching tiny home house plans, but I’ll probably design my own. Interested in finding out more on the slide out design to give the feeling of more space. I too agree that the width is a critical element in eliminating that claustrophobic feel. I’m curious which states are the most restrictive on width (Ohio = 8ft?). I’ve heard horror stories of traveling through restrictive states when travelers have been pulled over and cited. So I want to make sure I have the biggest bang for the travel process. Any suggestions?

  34. Well im in the process of designing mine and I have found a way to get 2 stories and a loft into a mobile tiny house with head space for a grand total of 23 feet high the issue with the height is driving right? Well with my solution the flat roof collapses to just under the legal height for on the roof and can be push back up when parked …also for more spreading out space I found that I can put 4 fold up decks on it as well if all the decks math the dimensions of the exterior walls
    It is a matter of money and getting a trailer with the ability to hold the weight but it is entirely possible to get almost double the space indoors and if youcount the decks then about 5 times the floor space im able to afford this by salvageing my wood siding from pallets and buying salvaged windows from antique shops gettingmy flooring from a reclaimed wood place and my building supplies are mostly used also im doing it myself so yeah

  35. I bet if you succeed in doing this a bunch of people would be interested in buying these plans.

  36. Shawn,
    I would be interested in learning more about your ideas for bump-outs and collapsible roof. I know your plans aren’t finalized, but can you tell me how it work?

  37. I’m very interested in a socalled camper that are toed by electric mobilty chairs but I have a electric scooter 94volt very powerful up hills and straightaways ten times more powerful then the electric wheelchair and the toe the new electric campers no problem. So i khnow my 94volt scooter would not have a problem toeing the camper that this wheelchairs toe I actualy seen a utube video of a. Scooter toeing. A big camper. Thank you billy b

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