Gain 9″ Of Head Space In Your Tiny House

In building our 221 square foot tiny house on a trailer, we were able to incorporate design details that gave us an extra 9″ of head room without even breaking a sweat. In a tiny house built on a trailer, the head height is limited by national road height allowances. Making the most of every last inch of head room on your build is thus vital. When designing and building our own 221 square foot tiny house, I spent a lot of time researching options available to us to give us the most height in our two lofts. In this article we will show you how to gain 9″ of head space with a well designed tiny house trailer.

Typically, most tiny houses are being built on “deck-over trailers”, “utility trailers”, and using “standard axles”. Let’s go over each one. A deck-over trailer is very Deck Over Trailerconvenient in that it has a flat deck on which to frame your walls. Another advantage (though also it’s downfall) is that the wheels don’t protrude over the deck, gaining you the full width of your floor space (up to 8’6″ in width without the need for a special “wide load” road permit). The problem of course with a deck-over is that the deck spans over the wheels and guess what? Your head height is significantly lowered.

Utility Trailer A utility trailer, although lower to the ground than a deck-over, is limited in width. Most utility trailer decks are placed between the wheels at a width of roughly seven feet. This lowers your usable floor space. So although you can increase your head height, you will pay for it in usable floor space.

Lastly, whether building on a utility trailer or deck-over, almost all of the trailers being used in the tiny house movement utilize a standard axle (or pair of axles). Standard axles limit how close to the ground your deck can lie.

To get around these limitations and gain an extra 9″ of height, I decided to have our trailer custom built. Worried about cost? Don’t let the term “custom” scare you off. The reality is that every trailer you see was at some point fabricated for a buyer. The difference is that the buyer may be an end user (like you and me) or it could be a dealer who later sells it at a profit. The key is to eliminate the middle man (the dealer) and work directly with the fabricator. You can get the perfect trailer for your project made to order at a very reasonable price if you jump directly to the source: the trailer fabricator.

By having your trailer custom built, you can specify all of the details you need to maximize your head height. I’ll give you two examples that will save you at least nine inches:

Drop Axle1. USE DROP AXLES: A drop axle gives you the same weight rating as a standard axle, but it hangs down from the center of the tires by about five inches. This extra drop translates into extra headroom. Extra Headroom = Happy And Less Hunched Over People.

2. CROSS RAILS: Build the trailer so that the cross rails are flush with the top of the side rails. Standard trailers typically include deck boards (2×6 for example) that ride on top of the cross rails and flush with the side rails. These are not needed when building a tiny home and will require that you frame up a floor system on top of the decking to install your floor insulation. This would be a loss of 4+ inches. If you raise the cross members, you can insulate inside the trailer frame and save yourself those inches.

Every inch counts, so take the time to design your house to utilize them all from the start. There’s no sense in spending hours designing your floor plan while ignoring your trailer. After all, the trailer is your home’s foundation, so give it the attention it deserves.

284 Responses to Gain 9″ Of Head Space In Your Tiny House

  1. Donatella September 29, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    Very helpful as always, Andrew. Thank you! (Now to get a straw bale house on a moveable trailer….). πŸ™‚

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella September 29, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      Hi there! Yes… a moveable straw bale house on a trailer would be our ideal as well. πŸ˜‰

    • Jonathan April 28, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

      As straw bales are 12-18inches wide your trailer would not fit on the road. Straw clay is an option though with a 5 or 6 inch larsen truss or just in between 2X4’s for warmer climates. http://jshawphoto.smugmug.com/NaturalBuilding/Nahuels-Ark/i-3stzzfd It takes a lime plaster well which has a little more durability for occasional travelling.

      • Andrew
        Andrew May 17, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

        Straw clay does not have a very good insulation value in my experience, so it may not be a great choice for a tiny home with thin walls. Most straw clay walls that I have seen used to MEET residential code (not exceed, but meet) are 12″ thick or more. Also, plaster is a rough choice for a moving home as it is 1) heavy and 2) prone to cracking with movement or uneven settling.

        • Leslie June 2, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

          I live in the Dallas TX area and I have no idea where to buy a trailer to build a tiny house. I have 1 year to find one to buy. Also, I need a place to build it. I live in an apartment and they (apartment management) will not like it if I make the parking lot a build site. Well thanks for reading and have a great day!

          • Rick June 12, 2016 at 8:29 am #

            Hi Leslie,
            I live in the DFW area. I am also planning to build a tiny house. I saw and toured the tiny houses displayed in the Taste of Dallas at Fair Park not too long ago.. I have been interested in the tiny houses for awhile but after seeing it in person I finally know what size tiny house I want to build. Have you seen and toured any tiny houses?

          • Andrew
            Andrew June 25, 2016 at 8:00 pm #

            I recommend you contact the folks at Trailer Made Trailers. I just spent a good portion of the day with Natalie and Damon and was really impressed with their approach and quality of work. They are based in Colorado, but they can deliver to you in Texas.

  2. EGILS September 29, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    GOOD IDEA!

    • Marc Lee Winnig December 12, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

      Great stuff, Andrew. Do you have pictures and/or drawings of your trailer and insulation/decking? I now know how NOT to build, would like to “see” how to!

      Thanks!

      • Andrew
        Andrew December 13, 2015 at 8:55 am #

        Thanks for the kind words. I know we have footage of the trailer build in the DVDs. I don’t know if Gabriella ever posted photos on the site. That said, there are several ways to insulate a trailer from using the frame itself as the host of the insulation to building a secondary floor above the trailer to house it. Their are pros and cons to each method. You have to see what your priorities are and design/build you floor (and whole house, ultimately) accordingly.

      • /bob December 13, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

        One short video is posted here: https://tinyhousebuild.com/plans/step-step-short-video/

        Doesn’t show insulating the floor but indicates the floor fastened directly to trailer framing, and a very brief showing of the rest of the build.

  3. Donatella September 29, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Would it be possible to halve the size of the bales and construct with that? I so love the stucco’d wall effect and sound deadening/insulation qualities of straw bale…

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella October 1, 2013 at 1:06 am #

      Donatella, as much as we would love to see straw bale work with a trailer, the biggest limitation is the plaster. Because the nature of plaster is to be mildly flexible only, with any trailer movement, the plaster would just flake off the walls. If you want straw bale, our suggestion would be to place it firmly on the ground.

      • Sabine May 18, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

        Consider rice husk instead of straw bale. There is a woman in Thailand, who builds domes with it. She ties it with bags on a frame. A metal frame could be your structure ( as wood in a straw bale house). You might use wood on the outside and whatever you fancy on the inside. Could be a bamboo mat? No idea, how thick the walls need to be. For sure less than 12″.

  4. Heather September 29, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    I’ve been in the design stage for a while and am curious – with these specifications for a custom trailer, what is the approximate resulting ground to subfloor height? Thank you.

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella September 30, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      Thanks for writing Heather! I would say its about 17″ before the vehicle is loaded. Once loaded (built) it will settle even lower.

      • Heather September 30, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

        Thanks!

  5. Steven September 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Andrew,
    Quick question; wouldn’t the drop axle alteration have no effect on a “deck-over” trailer? I say this because the deck sits right above the wheel itself, right? Or do I have the physics all wrong? The drop axle idea is something that would benefit just a “utility trailer” tiny house. Am I right in this assumption?

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella September 30, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      Hi Steven! Yes, that is indeed correct.

      • Jeff Mckinnon February 16, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

        Not necessarily correct. If the trailer deck steel structure is framed to go past the tires, in front and behind, making the frame as wide as the outside dimension of the tires, you can build the wheel well into the inside of the tiny home. One could design the wheel well areas to be covered by cabinets or a bench etc…

        • Andrew
          Andrew February 16, 2017 at 2:07 pm #

          I hear what you’re saying Jeff, but the trailer you describe would no longer be a deck over trailer at that point. It is simply a widened “car hauler” style trailer. The deck needs to remain above the wheel wells in order to be considered a “deck over” trailer, by definition.

  6. GLENN September 30, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    I will sum up the good and bad points of this iron below.

  7. Steven September 30, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Thank you Gabriella!! You are awesome help me clarify this as I can now look forward to 5 more inches of headroom and storage!! Much, much obliged!

  8. Steven September 30, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    Dear Gabriella (or Andrew) (or anyone!),
    You were so helpful with my last question, I was hoping you can set me straight on another. Namely, the actual difference between a utility trailer and a deck-over trailer specifically in terms of WIDTH. I’m asking of course because a tangible amount of width is what might make me go with a deck-over and sacrifice a loft-space sleeping area.
    Here’s how I understand it; hopefully you’ll be able to glean my confusion;
    The outside edges of a utility trailer is 8’6″, but the foundation width is 7’6″. Easy enough.
    And the outside edges of a deck-over trailer is 8’6″ while the foundation width is ALSO 8’6″ because the deck rides above the wheel wells. Again, this is obvious.
    The problem I’m having lies in how I’m seeing Tiny Houses being built on utility trailers; aren’t such houses ALSO using the full width of the trailer? The houses themselves ALL seem to be built to the outside edge of the trailer; visually they’re FLUSH with the outside edge of the utility trailer. Hence, they’re ALSO 8’6″ wide. So how can a deck-over trailer be said to use MORE width?
    From what I can tell, the only difference between the two is that inside of a TH built on a utility trailer, one has to cover the wheel wells inside the house, as they create two “bumps” along the long walls on either side. This visual eyesore, if you want to call it that, is then covered with wood and is thus just an accepted convention. Perhaps they interfere with the placement of furniture, but one simply works around it. OTHER than the wheel wells, though, ISN’T a utility trailer ALSO built as wide as an over-deck house would be; as wide as physically possible? Do you see what I mean?
    What’s more, on all the build-videos I see, the way the subfloor is constructed, the frame extends beyond the width of the trailer just slightly to obtain the- what appears to be- a width of 8’6″, with the middle part, or middle third of the subfloor being slightly narrower so as to go between the wheel wells (front end of subfloor wide, middle part narrower, back part wide) Do you see what I mean? Even on the utility-trailer tiny houses, they seem to be taking full advantage of the 8’6″ width!
    So my ultimate question is; other than not having to deal with unsightly wheel wells on the interior of a deck-over style trailer, HOW is it actually any wider??
    Does this make sense? What am I failing to understand? Please forgive me, since I must be oblivious to some very obvious factor, but I can’t seem to figure it out!
    Ack! Choke! Help!

    Sincerely,

    Steven Harrison

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella October 1, 2013 at 1:03 am #

      Hi again! This is from Andrew (he is teaching workshop this week but wanted me to be sure to get this response to you): “Hi steven. You’re not as confused as you think. πŸ™‚ A TH built on a utility trailer can indeed be made to fit the full 8’6″ width. The problem is that the trailer deck is not built that wide in a utility trailer. Instead the frame is built inside the wheel wells. In order to utilize the full width you’d have to frame the floor with something to span that full width. That would mean framing over the trailer frame (in most cases) with wood to extend things to the 8’6″ width. This would reduce your head height overall and would also be labor intensive. It’s better to make the trailer fit what you need in the fabrication than to chase it down after the fact on a utility trailer. Hope that makes sense.”

      • Steve October 2, 2013 at 8:56 am #

        Hey Gabriella and Andrew,
        Thanks so much for your response! Please bear with me just a bit longer, as I think I’m honing in on a grasp of things here! I’m understanding from Andrew that in order for a TH built on a utility trailer to be as WIDE as a deck-over, the frame would have to be made wider than the trailer width normally is. But again (referring to my above reply), isn’t this precisely what utility trailer builders already do? They typically build a frame that, though 7′ wide in the “middle third” of the foundation, is 8’6″ feet wide in the “front third” and 8’6″ wide in the “back third” (what I’m referring to is a foundation that is shaped like a capital “i”, or a Roman Numeral 1.), then build the outside of the house frame OVER the “curve” or of the wheel wells resulting (again, as I indicated in my above post) in a frame that’s as wide as a deck-over frame, save the inclusion of the two “bumps” along the long walls that the wheel wells create inside.
        I guess I’m not seeing how this affects roof height whatsoever.
        Sorry to be a stickler here, but I keep having this issue of not being able to comprehend the advantage of a deck-over WIDTH-wise, while definitely seeing the limitations of a deck-over in terms of VERTICAL space.
        I think what Andrew might be referring to is a practice I’ve seen used early on in Jay Shafer’s designs, particularly his original TH and the first TH’s he produced while with Tumbleweed. I seem to recall those genuinely being 7′ wide front-to-back and clearly between the wheel wells and not “flush” with the outside of the wheel wells as people seem to widely do of late.
        Please only respond to this if you think there’s something more to add. I don’t want to be tedious and annoying and I really appreciate your time and energy!; Andrew’s point about a drop axle has totally changed my building plans and I couldn’t be more excited about that!

        With gratitude!,

        Steven

        • Andrew
          Andrew October 11, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

          Hi Steven. Thanks for seeing this through. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize and other times, I may not be clear in what I’m trying to share. Sorry if it’s the latter. You are correct that many TH builders are using a standard utility trailer and then extending the width to the exterior of the wheel wells. This effects the height because the deck that they build (out to the full width) is ON TOP of the utility trailer. If you have the trailer set up from the start with the side rails OUTSIDE the wheel wells, then you can keep the trailer top as the deck height, thus reducing the impact on head height.

          The only thing on top of my trailer deck is plywood; no framing to cantilever out over the side rails or provide insulation space. That is a big savings. Hope that makes more sense.

        • kelly April 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

          hi steven

          I’m late to this stream, but am getting a lot out of it. I would enjoy hearing what you came up with for your project.

          I too, was confused about the deck-over v. utility trailer issue and how they effected height. I think I finally figured it out. plain and simply, a deck over foundation, sitting as it does “on top” of the wheel wells, means that your TH total height allotment (13’6″) is being bitten into by the fact that your TH foundation is on top of the wells, not below. That eats inches. On a utility trailer, your foundation is below the level of the top of the wheels, being accommodated by the “build around” of the wheel wells inside the TH.

          Anyone? Do I have this correct?

          Getting ready to start this adventure. Could use any advice!

          thanks

          kelly

          • Andrew
            Andrew April 22, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

            You have it right Kelly. The drop axles can even gain you a touch more height due to their dropping below where a standard axle sits.

        • Rob B May 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

          It might be worthwhile to grab a tape measure, pencil and paper then head over to a trailer dealer to get a close-up look at several trailers of different configurations and a sales person to ask questions of.

          One thing I have seen no mention of here is trailer brakes. Many places require them unless the trailer is presumed to be for farm (of road use) tho that may or may not be strictly enforced in some jurisdictions.

          • Andrew
            Andrew May 15, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

            We opted not to install trailer brakes as we don’t have plans of taking it on the open road. That said, I would HIGHLY recommend that they be added if one plans to move the hOMe. It is very heavy and will need the extra braking power.

      • Janne Zack September 30, 2015 at 11:30 am #

        If a custom trailer isn’t that cost prohibitive, couldn’t you do the drop axel thing AND have the trailer fabricator extend the frame to 8′-6″ on the front and back (beyond the wheel wells)? So that extra framing is not required?

        A question in addition. If you insulate the trailer (not using the trailer deck mentioned above) what do you place below that to keep the under side of the trailer/insulation from water damage (while driving)? I haven’t seen any posts about that yet…but I’m still new to the TH game.

        • Andrew
          Andrew October 1, 2015 at 10:58 am #

          Hi Janne. I believe that a custom trailer is the best way to go because you can dictate exactly what you need for your build. You can do the drop axles and have extra head room by shrinking your rafters to 4x4s (that’s the new rafter frame design in our hOMe plans. You would not want to extend the trailer out to 8’6 as that is the maximum legal width and you need to add siding, trim, and other details that would extend out beyond that measurement. Also, it’s important to have a wood nailer around the rim of the trailer as you don’t want to try to attach your siding to the trailer directly. That would require large, metal tapping screws (large as compared with finish nails) and would not look very good.

          We used galvanized metal flashing under our trailer to protect everything. We has since learned that there is a better product (I always forget the name) that the RV industry uses. It is lightweight, flexible, easy to work with and readily available at RV supply stores. Hope that helps.

  9. Jay Olstead September 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Andrew,
    Thank you for your article on lowering the floor of the Tiny House. At Ragsdale Homes ” Next Generation Of Tiny Homes, ” we, too, have built a custom trailer for our homes. Besides using a drop axle, we have a unique method of building our floor, resulting in a net ceiling height of 11 feet 9 inches. To achieve this, we build the floor out of just two Sip panels approx 4 feet by 20 feet long which just snap together in the middle. Smaller Sip panels fill in the space in front and at the rear of the wheel wells. They are separated by a rather narrow insulated piece of tubing. Therefore, thermo bridging is not an issue. This type of floor has a net width of 4 inches, A thin layer of coated aluminum faces the ground and the top skin is a thin layer of coated steel. In the middle of this sandwich is high density foam. The insulated “r” factor of this floor is greater than a floor built with 2 by 6 floor joist. However, this floor is 65 % lighter and 35% stronger than a conventional floor, resulting in the use of less support beams. Our company builds outside the box, better illustrated by a patent pending ” Room Roll Outs.” Our 8 by 20 home has approx 380 square feet and our 8 by 28 has over 480 square feet….the most in our industry. To see more innovations in our tiny homes, request our Press Release and view our 3 animated (not yet edited) videos on You Tube. Here is just one link.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRypAKRJjKg chow Who is M Ragsdale III ?

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella October 1, 2013 at 1:04 am #

      Very cool Jay! Really looking forward to seeing this come together for Ragsdale Homes. Please feel free to send us the press releases to info@tinyhousebuild.com.

    • Andrea Neil December 29, 2015 at 1:08 am #

      Love it!

    • Laura January 10, 2016 at 6:35 pm #

      This is directed to Jay Olstead of Ragsdale homes who posted above about his homes.

      I don’t want to be the cynic here since I’m all about innovation and new designs in all aspects of THOW construction….but…. several questions and comments to Ragsdale Homes: yes, your homes are interesting but all I see on your website and YouTube videos are illustrations and fantasy creations, no actual houses. And, I think, every video shows RV type slide outs that are probably extremely expensive if done correctly, I.e. read “waterproof”. These slide outs are the only way you can boast the square footage you mention in a non-park home model. These designs are fun and creative however, I’ll give you that…. but clarify, have you actually made one? How much are they? And the decking on the flat roofs? Huh? Can you clarify how you do it? I’ve seen expensive commercial, huge flat roofs fail (I.e.leak), how are you going to get rain to drain off? Cute idea though.

      I did appreciate the ideas you brought to the floor insulation arena above, thanks for your comments. It sounds almost like a metal-encased SIP (as opposed to OSB encased). Did I understand you correctly? That comment DID add flavor to the discussion here on this blog and is a great idea if it can be manufactured or implemented inexpensively? Can you comment on the expense?

      • Bonnie M April 15, 2016 at 5:31 am #

        Ditto. Only animated, if you will, models. I checked all his videos; none consisted of actually constructed ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRypAKRJjKg ) Love his dream. It all starts w a dream.
        I am enjoying all of these informative threads herein

  10. Cindy October 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Hello Andrew , is there a particular company that you would recommend for building the “custom” trailer? Thanks, cindy

    • Andrew
      Andrew October 11, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

      Hi Cindy. Not really. I spoke with some local guys here in the Medford area and got a few leads to follow up on. I then made my choice to go with a guy who was excited to work on the project and had come highly recommended. I think as long as you knock out the middle man and get a quality fabricator, you will be fine.

      • Nina March 9, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

        Medford area? Ooh, could you share the contact info of the fabricator (over email if not public)? I live in an area where minds are not very open to this, finding someone excited about it is a draw. I’m close enough to Medford to make the drive.

        • Andrew
          Andrew March 10, 2014 at 10:32 am #

          Hi Nina. His name is Levi and his number is 541.660.7553. Let him know we sent you. I think he would be happy to see what his efforts have created for himself…i.e., word of mouth advertising is always the best form. πŸ™‚

  11. Steven October 19, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    Hey Gabriella and or Andrew,
    Hope you’re both well and happy. I was just wondering if for any reason the drop axle trailer might in any way pose an issue for any pipes that might protrude from beneath one’s tiny house? Could that be an issue when transporting it? Might they get damaged in a move? Just wondering.

    Thanks!,

    Steven

    • Andrew
      Andrew October 20, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

      Not a problem at all Steven. The axle still allows for the placement of drain lines and gas lines as needed for most designs.

  12. Aaron October 25, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    Hi guys, great blog. We have been discussing our trailer options and therefore really appreciate this post! We were wondering if you could post a few pictures of your custom trailer? It would help us visualize the differences from a standard deckover.

    Thanks,
    Aaron

  13. Andrew
    Andrew October 27, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    Hi Aaron. I have asked Gabriella if we have any good photos of the trailer. Hopefully she can post some soon. That said, I don’t know if we took any (that’s hard to imagine now, but we were so focused on getting the house built that we may have forgotten to take pictures of the trailer!) Yikes…

  14. Tracy November 3, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Great info. thanks!

  15. Eric T November 20, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    Thanks for this info, I did not know about the drop-down axles, and hadn’t conceived of having the wall be on outside of wheels. When you say you fill the trailer frame with insulation, do you mean the space between cross members? Since the trailer is heavy steel, don’t these members create severe thermal shorts? It seems like you should put insulation on top of the cross members?

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      Hi Eric. Yes, the insulation I am referring to is rigid insulation installed in between the cross members. The cross members themselves do indeed make for the perfect thermal bridge into the house. We plan to use a roll insulation over the decking and under the finish flooring to take the edge off of that. As with any project, there are areas of compromise and balance. Our desire for usable loft space was higher (no pun intended) than our need for thermal insulation. Our climate is mild enough and our space small enough to manage the conditions even with the thermal bridging (once it is minimized by the roll insulation).

      • beezwings May 26, 2015 at 11:20 am #

        How cold does it get there? I’m trying to decide whether to build on top of the cross members or not. I’d love to have the headspace in the loft, but our winters often hang out between 0-32f for a few months! I will have a woodstove, but I like the idea of the TH being able to retain its heat through the night.

        Thanks!
        Jessie

        • Andrew
          Andrew May 31, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

          Hi Jessie. Our climate is much more mild. That said, we get very cold nights in the winter as well and we do just fine. It is not as energy efficient to insulate between the metal members as it would be to build a raised deck, but you then lose head room. You will need to decide what is more important for you.

      • paul July 9, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

        I have see where 1 company spraying foam under the trailer and also in all million blog web site there not much about electric panel installation I would love to here more about that

      • Hugh Owens July 16, 2015 at 6:05 am #

        I am currently building a 24′ tiny house on a B6 PJ 24 14000 K rating. I bought the superwide version which has a “drive over” capability. The salesman called it the “Amish Option” because the Amish buy it to carry their wide buggys. It works for other wide vehicles and tractors. The trailer is 8’6″ and extends all the way so you can build full width without welding extensions on. I would STRONGLY advise all tiny housers to not use bat foam at all and instead use spray foam wherever possible. We will use blueboard or iso/urethane foam in places like the floor and as a wrap around the whole wood structure to mitigate thermal bridging of the studs and floor members. Then we will spray foam underneath to at least 4 inches, the walls to 3 and the roof to 5. This yields R30 in the floor, R25 in the walls and R38 in the roof. Importantly the spray foam is structural and lends rigidity and sheer strength. Airplane wings are often made using the same method of rigid panels sandwiching foam.In our brutal Wyoming climate spray foam is almost the rule in the new construction and sheet foam like ISO goes on the outside as well. Cost today is about $3 /sq ft for 3+ inches. Almost all RVs use minimal insulation along with ultralight construction materials and they yield RVs that are cold in winter and hot in summer. The very high end makers of course spray foam. Thank you Andrew for your superb sketchup plans and I would urge any potential builders, dreamers or designers to buy Andrew’s plans. SO WORTH THE MONEY. I am not using his design but am using aspects of it since he has a lot of good and unique ideas and suggestions.

        • Andrew
          Andrew August 6, 2015 at 9:07 am #

          Thanks Owen! Keep in mind that if your trailer is 8’6″ then you cannot cover it with the siding and your frame will have to sit “on top” of it. This may lead to water intrusion over time. This is only true if you are limiting the width to 8’6″ so as not to need a wide load permit in most locations across the US.

          I agree that spray foam insulates really well and adds rigidity and thus structural strength to the hOMe. One thing to consider is the potential health risks of using the foam. There are lots of studies that show that it can be really nasty of not installed properly. Not a scare tactic, I just want people to consider all angles of a decision.

  16. Karen Rickers November 21, 2013 at 5:42 am #

    Great information! So glad I found your blog. Loved the post on the stairs build upon storage boxes. Such a practical solution.

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 21, 2013 at 11:27 am #

      Thanks Karen.

  17. Nicole December 22, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    Hi Andrew,
    Can you tell my what the interior floor height is on your house now that you have added these extra 9″? I’m trying to get an idea of how much usable space I can really squeeze into my house plans, and I have heard so many numbers for the height at which you can actually start building that I am confused. My current plan is working with the interior floor starting at 18 inches off the ground. Is your lower than that? Am I not understanding something here?? Please help. Thank you

    • Andrew Morrison
      Andrew Morrison January 15, 2014 at 9:25 pm #

      My deck height is just below 18″ (the elevation at which the wall framing begins). One space saver is the inclusion of the insulation inside the trailer frame and the use of the trailer frame as the floor so that there is no additional floor framing above the deck. The only framing above the 18″ height is the wall framing. Hope that helps.

      • David November 29, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

        Hi Andrew and Gabriella. First yours is a very inspiring and beautiful home – well done! And thank you for all the tips πŸ™‚ I would very much appreciate if you could clarify this flooring height for me. Do you mean that on top of the actual trailer frame you just put the floorboards? (So the height of the top of the floor would be 18″+the thickness of the floorboards. Or is there something else in between? I’m sure this is obvious to everyone else haha

        • Andrew
          Andrew December 4, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

          No worries David. Yes, we placed the subfloor sheathing and then the finish flooring atop the steel frame. We did not add a raised floor frame.

  18. Jeremy February 1, 2014 at 3:53 am #

    Hi Andrew.

    I’ve been reading and looking through your tiny house build with much interested as it is something we’re also considering. Using the drop axles as you have sounds like a great idea to maximise height and width. I do have a question regarding how you would go about changing tyres on the trailer with this setup as it looks like your external cladding would restrict access to them, could you clarify this for me.

    Thanks!

    • Andrew
      Andrew February 4, 2014 at 8:53 am #

      The frame of the trailer is actually outside of the tires too. This helps simplify the construction of the home but does impact the tire changing. The good news is that it works, you just have to raise the trailer enough to tilt the wheel out from behind the frame.

  19. James February 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    Hi,
    I’m just wondering how you change a flat Tire if the framing comes down past the wheel. No issues with access there? And also how well does it tow? Are you able to maintain a speed around 60mph on decent roads.
    Finally a plan that deals with all the downsides of building a tiny. Its beautiful as well.
    cheers

    • Andrew
      Andrew February 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

      Thanks for your kind feedback James. We have not taken it on the highway as we plan to only move it around our property, not out on the open road. That said, we are making sure that when the plans are released in the next month or so, it will be drawn to handle the wind loads and other loads associated with towing it.

      The design is such that the tires can be changed by simply jacking the trailer up as with a normal tire change procedure. The hOMe framing covers the wheel well and hides it visually, burt does not impede the ability to change the tire at all.

      Sneaky, right? πŸ˜‰

  20. Pam February 16, 2014 at 6:05 am #

    Hi Andrew & Gabriella,

    I love your post on your trailer ideas. I’ve always wondered why builders did the ‘double floor’. I do have a few questions though.

    Is the trailer bed sitting on 2 I-beams that run the length of the trailer or is the trailer hitch integrated inside the trailer bed as well? Is the trailer hitch removable?

    Would you possibly be able to utilize wood floor framing as the bed of the trailer since the load is on the outside walls?

    I’ve also seen trailers with a steel triangle piece welded to the underside of the bed frame to the I-beams to give added strength to the outside wall support. Did you use those pieces?

    Are the cross beams 2′ on center?

    I am wondering how you are attaching the house structure to your trailer bed? I’m assuming you attach the side walls to the outer steel trailer frame with lag bolts? welded on?

    Is the bed made with tube steel or C-steel? Size?

    Also, did you put any barrier around the wheels to allow room for tire movement while transporting it? In transporting this trailer, does it bottom out being so low to the ground?

    Did you weld any support jacks to the frame to remove pressure from the tires when your house is in use?

    I will be building my long awaited tiny house this summer (five years of planning). I will have the bed fabricated as well. It just makes sense to start out right.

    Thanks for your help!

    • Andrew
      Andrew February 16, 2014 at 10:11 am #

      Hi Pam. Thanks for your message. My answers are below.

      No I beams. The trailer is fully integrated with the tongue. The trailer hitch is not removable.

      The trailer strength comes from the entire frame, so welded steel is required throughout.

      We do not have angle frame beams (I think that is what you are talking about with the triangle. THe frame is designed to not need them.

      The frame is made with 2′ center cross beams.

      The attachment would vary depending on the use. We are not planning to drive ours, so we used simple attachment points of steel strapping from the wood frame to the trailer. We also added wood nailers to the side of the trailer via self tapping, structural screws, and then nailed the wall frame to those perimeter plates. If you plan to drive the home around, you would likely need more solid points of attachment. We are having the plans engineered to represent that use so those details will be available soon.

      The outer frame is tube steel while the majority of the cross members are c channel. The beams are all 2×4. All materials are “structural grade steel.”

      Again, we don’t plan to move it, but it is designed to be able to travel without bottoming out. The wheel wells are frame so that there is movement space allowed.

      There are 4 stabilizer jacks on the frame. We drop those, plus the tongue jack when the trailer is parked. I also have place some wood structural supports under the frame at the wheel wells to help support the load.

      Have fun and good luck!!!

      Andrew

      • Jonathan Edelson June 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

        I was wondering if you noticed any flex in your frame when you were building, or when you took the frame off of the jacks to move the structure?

        Using 2×4 hollow rectangular beams, holding up 15000 pounds, and supported at the center, I’d expect several inches of bending under load, but this ignores the fact that the load is itself structure.

        I have been thinking about exactly the sort of foundation that you used, with steel beams at the edges to support the walls directly, but I’ve been at a loss to figure out just how strong these beams need to be. It seems that any sort of reasonable beams would flex quite a bit and cause damage to the framing.

        Thanks
        Jon

        • Andrew
          Andrew June 12, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

          Hi Jon. I personally feel that the 15,000lb number is high. We have yet to weigh the hOMe directly and have instead been going on calculations from our engineer. The trailer size can be changed to handle additional loads if need be. In fact, our engineer has used a more robust trailer frame in his current calculations that what we originally used on our home. We have not noticed any problems, but we did not intend to drive ours on the highway, which is what the current trailer specs allow for.

  21. Jerry February 19, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    Would you mind sharing who fabricated your trailer? I’m curious that you did not order 3 axles. The weight of a 28′ house and your appliances has to be significant… perhaps 10-11K lbs.

    • Andrew
      Andrew February 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

      Hi Jerry. We had it custom built by a guy local to us here in Southern Oregon. We will be putting out a blog post about him and what he offers very soon. We went with two 8,000 lbs. axles and we estimate the house to weigh around 12,000 lbs.

  22. Grant February 22, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    I’m trying to figure out these measurements for my own tiny house design, so please correct me if any of these measurements are incorrect. Working from the ground up:

    Deck height is 18″
    Figure another ~1″ for 3/4″ plywood decking and the insulation you mentioned in one of your comments.
    Assume a standard 7′ ceiling height (84″) for the bottom floor under any loft space.
    Another 3.5″ for the 2×4″ joists that frame out the floor of the loft.
    Another ~1″ for plywood and flooring for the loft
    That gives a grand total of 107.5″ from the ground to the floor of the loft.
    If we assume a standard buildable height of 13.5′ (162 inches), that leaves 54.5″ for the entire height of the loft at it’s highest point (about 4.5 feet).
    Subtract another 3.5″ for the 2×4″ roof rafters, another 1/2″ for the sheathing, another 1/2″ or so for the roofing material itself, and another 1/2″ for the material covering the inside of the rafters.
    That leaves us with a total loft height of only about 4′ maximum at the highest possible point, with most of the loft being less than that due to roof slope.

    Does that sound about right?

    I’m curious if you’ve run any of the numbers on the expected R-value for your floor, since thermal bridging will be quite serious (I know you mentioned that you expected it, but I’m wondering if you’ve done the math). What material did you plan to use to insulate between the metal trailer and the flooring (or between the plywood subfloor and the flooring itself, or both)? I’ve personally considered using cork flooring since the expense will be small for such a small space and cork has a much higher R-value per inch than most other options while giving a nice look and a soft feel underfoot.

    • Andrew
      Andrew February 26, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

      Your numbers are just about right. We have 4’2″ in the loft at the highest point. Plenty of space for the use of the lofts. In terms of the floor insulation, no, I have not run any numbers. Our climate is relatively mild, so I didn’t sweat it. If the climate gets much colder in the future, we may use straw bales to insulate under the house.

    • Hugh Owens July 16, 2015 at 6:19 am #

      Grant you need to actually measure the deck height for each manufacturer and it is higher for the higher capacity trailers. For example PJ trailers with a 10K rating 20′ long have a deck height on top of the 2×6 deck to the ground of 22″. Our 14K PJ trailer is 26″ and is not a deckover trailer.. My 7K equiment trailer is 18″. These heights vary because of the width of the structural members and the tire heights. Drop axles are a good idea if you will rarely move it but if you are planning on trailering it as we are, you need road clearance especially at the stern or you will drag.

  23. Linda in L.A. February 25, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    Hi! This is so inspiring to me! Thanks for sharing your home and story!

    I am very new to understanding all the things needed to have a tiny home on a trailer and am in the “dreaming” phase right now, thanks to your home helping to provide the vision!

    I’m wondering how tall is your house on the trailer? I read that in the state of CA, it can only go up to 14 ft., but I don’t know if that means from the bed of the trailer or from the ground all the way up? Can you clarify? I would like as much height as possible! πŸ˜‰

    Also, is there a benefit other than switching up the “boxy” look to having a slanted roof that I should know about (like is it better for rain or something)? Would it be ok in your opinion just to have a box/squared roof also to have a little more head room in the lofts?

    Thank you!

    • Andrew
      Andrew February 25, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

      Hi Linda. Our hOMe is roughly 13’6″ measured from the ground to the top of the roof. The requirements state that the measurement be taken from the ground, not the trailer deck.

      The roof has a 2/12 slope to it which is vital for proper drainage. Anything less than that would potentially cause drainage issues. The single slope roof means more headroom inside than a double pitched roof, like a gable.

      • Linda in L.A. February 25, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

        Thanks, Andrew!

        Could you have gone higher a few inches or are there risks to consider by going higher? What made you choose that height?

        Also, what made you choose the length? Could one build more toward 40 feet in length on a trailer or do you think that’s getting too long to transport? Are there even trailers that size? Lol, I’ve got lots to learn, I know πŸ˜‰

        • Andrew
          Andrew February 26, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

          The national maximum is typically around 13’6″ or 14′ if ON TOP of a trailer (i.e. a backhoe on a trailer, etc.). We wanted to stay within the 13’6″ as we plan to offer our plans for sale to others who may be building in areas with that requirement.

          The length was based on what we felt we needed for our interior space. You could go longer; however, it gets harder to drive as it gets longer as the risk of “bottoming out” comes in to play.

          • Ray July 20, 2015 at 1:36 am #

            I have to comment on this issue being a Trucker and having been all over the country, you MUST stay under 13’6″ if you’re planning on taking it on the road. This is due to most bridges being only 13’9″ in height at a minimum. In the north eastern states and Illinois, this isn’t always the case so you really have to pay attention to bridge heights. Some will be taller but, not the majority.

          • Andrew
            Andrew August 6, 2015 at 9:00 am #

            Thanks Ray. Great information from an experienced driver!

      • Louis May 24, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

        Thanks for the helpful write-up & responses here!

        Forgive my impertinence- I’m in the design stage and it’s all abstract to me so far, but the headroom bit runs counter to what I found today.

        For a given roof slope, as evaluated across the width of a home & comparing to a single-slope roof, a gabled roof has:

        -an identical average headroom
        -an identical maximum headroom
        -a higher minimum headroom (by 1/2 of the max)
        -two points of minimum headroom, not one

        So gabled is identical to single by two measures (avg & max), superior in one (min), and loses out in another (# of minima). Both seem equally valid configurations, though an interesting design choice. Otherwise, is there a reason why a gabled roof must have a steeper slope than a single-slope roof?

        The other thing is if you settle for a single loft, a lengthwise single-slope beats either other configuration (widthwise single-slope or gabled) for headroom, even with a much steeper pitch. Unfortunately it experiences its minimum at its entrance, though Greg at Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses apparently made it work in his Boulder. I also suspect it restricts overall house length. Is there precedent for a lengthwise gabled roof with central loft?

        • Andrew
          Andrew June 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

          Hi Louis. It can certainly be confusing to conceptualize all of the details of a house before it is built. Even with 3D modeling, it can still be hard to get a feel for things. The math of a gable roof vs a shed roof is very different than the reality of that comparison. One easy way to visualize it is to consider 2 people sitting up in bed next to each other. How do you do that in a gable vs. a shed design? Another thought is that the height of a roof is based on the slope and the distance that slope travels. If, for example, you want to run your roofline from the front to the back of the trailer, you would have a VERY low slope roof to allow it to stay inside the maximum height requirements. Further, if you then wanted to use that space, much of it would be lost because of the low slope. A cross trailer approach, with a shed roof, will provide the most usable headroom in the lofts; however, that has to be balanced with overall design considerations of the home. Each person needs to decide for themselves. That said, the shed roof was and is a great choice in my opinion. We love the design we are using and find it very functional.

  24. Sasha February 27, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    Hi Andrew,
    Fantastic site, your posts are so practical and informative. I’m in the midst of discussing build options with trailer manufacturers near me, and one of them brought up the issue of weight distribution as a design consideration. In his words “There are many design/build issues that need to be considered based on your intended usage. Generally, trailers are designed to have a minimum of 10 to 15% of
    the gross weight on the tongue, anything less is outright dangerous… In your case this is a balancing act with the most variable loads (water tankes etc) centred at the axle centre. Static loads need to be balanced both side to side and front to rear.”
    Can I ask what is your view on weight distribution on the trailer? Did you run into this during your build?
    Thanks so much!
    Sasha

    • Andrew
      Andrew February 27, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

      Hi Sasha. That was something we left to the trailer manufacturer. We told him what we would be building and how things would be designed. He took it from there. I am sure there is a lot of truth in what your guy says. I’m not an expert in that realm though.

      • Sasha February 28, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

        Ok, thanks! Yeah that’s a whole other world to know about…

  25. Jack Webb March 9, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    Hi andrew

    Just wondering where did you get the trailler from how much did it costa nd more

    • Andrew
      Andrew March 10, 2014 at 10:30 am #

      Hi Jack. The trailer was custom built by a guy near us in Medford, Oregon for about $4200 (can’t remember the exact number right now). His name is Levi and his number is 541.660.7553.

  26. Dale March 17, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    Andrew,

    Magnificent design! My question is when you release the available floor plans for purchase… please include the option to have this design/build made from SIP panels, for all build out. SIPS are the only way to eliminate cold floors – or the thermal bridging associated with floor rot issues. This plan also needs a metal underbelly to eliminate any potential rodent/termite/frost/freeze issues as well. The SIP’s can also be constructed or fabricated to allow conduit piping for electrical/drains. By having your drains especially embedded in the SIP panels – there is never an issue with frozen water lines to boot.

    Thanks much for your insight and details on this blog, it has been most helpful and welcomed toward my future construction plan options in a unique contemporary genre’. Since my thoughts are to place the finished model on a fee-simple owned camping lot – a 30′ to perhaps 35′ trailer is also a welcome option – just as an option in future plan details.

    Cheers and can’t wait for the plans which my contractor would require in pages & not via PDF file downloads as an option also.

    • Andrew
      Andrew March 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      Hi Dale. Thanks for your message. The home is designed without the use of SIPs, so that is something that you would have to have done for your project. There is some engineering and specific detailing that goes into using SIPs so if someone wants to go that route, they will need to contact their local SIPs supplier. That said, if the demand becomes high enough for these plans in SIPs, we can look at doing something about it from our end.

      Cheers.

    • Laura January 10, 2016 at 6:46 pm #

      I am thoroughly enjoying this thread and the comments in it. Especially appreciated the ongoing comments ‘re innovations with SIP panels. While a lot of this overlaps the “insulation” blog, both are helpful. I’d never though about the plumbing going through the SIP itself. What a great realization and “kills-two-birds-at-one-time”. Thanks both to the Morrison’s and others who are sharing their expertise! I just finished a reply to another post related to a potential metal encased SIP (vs OSB-encased) (just as an idea, I can’t tell if it’s a reality based on the blogger’s, Jay Olstead ‘s note) but THAT might solve the problem Dale mentioned in floor insulation when Dale says “needs as metal underbelly”. I hope Jay responds to my query as it is an interesting idea, even if it’s not cost effective, which I’m not sure about.

  27. Sage K March 21, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    Hi Andrew! I’m super excited to have found your site and be learning as much as I am from your shares. So thank you!
    I live in Eugene, OR and I’m designing a portable home, not exactly a ‘tiny’ house, but definitely not a big house either πŸ™‚ More like the dimensions of a park model RV. 13’11” wide by 35′ long (or so I think now)
    I have not been able to find ANY info on trailers for a home size like this. I want to build it myself (with a little help from my friends) and I’m planning on incorporating some pretty cool features such as using rice hull insulation, a composting toilet, an open plan living model with a bath in the ‘bedroom’ that converts to a loveseat! ha!
    I may make the length shorter, but I’m trying to get as much width as I can and still move my trailer onto my future property. We want to have a ‘pod’ style of living with several small structures rather than a big dumb energy monster (a standard house) lol.
    I saw the # for your custom trailer builder guy in Medford and noted it.
    Also, though I was wondering if you’ve come across any info for people that are self constructing these types of tiny-ish homes. I’ve found a number of companies that are selling them for upwards of 70-100k plus! I plan on doing mine for $40.
    Any ideas, suggestions or references you might be able to offer would be much appreciated. I’ve spent a gazillion hours scouring the internet, but Google is a Jungle, if you know what I mean.
    Anyway, I signed up for your workshop newsletter. I would LOVE to be involved in your strawbale workshop that’s coming up here in OR. I’ll see if I can pull the money together and make it happen. Strawbale along with hempcrete and papercrete are some of my passions. Also Earthships!!! LOVE!
    Thanks for your time and I hope you have a wonderful day…livin’ the dream I see!
    You inspire me and my husband. Thx so much,
    Sage

    • Andrew
      Andrew March 28, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

      Hi Sage. Great question. I don’t know much about trailers that would support something that big as I believe that would fall into a double wide mobile home width. Typically those are built in halves and then transported to the site as such and assembled on site. I don’t think you would be able to transport something that wide, even with a wide load permit.

      Hope you can make it to Vernonia for the workshop! Cheers.

      • Daniel Ferris July 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

        As a short reply to that question, you can transport something that wide, but you will have escort(s) (depending on routing and locations, constructions etc. will determine how many escorts will be needed) along with permits. I work in the trucking industry as a freight broker. It is possible but you will pay a pretty penny to do it.

      • Taji July 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

        Hi, I was wondering about straw bale/ hemp crete materials used as insulation/ exterior walls in a tiny house on a trailer. Would the structure hold up during transportation?

        • Andrew
          Andrew August 2, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

          Hi Taji. I would not recommend using bales and/or hempcrete materials for your tiny house on a trailer. There are three main reasons.

          1) The weight of those materials is huge and would require an incredibly expensive trailer and axles.
          2) Straw bale and hempcrete walls are very thick. They would leave very little usable space on the interior.
          3) The plaster that covers and protects the walls would not hold up well to the large amount of movement a mobile home would experience.

  28. Sasha March 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Hi Andrew and Gabriella,
    I’ve ordered my trailer (yeah!) and it’s going to be very similar to yours from the sounds of it. The cross members will be flush with the frame in order for the frame to be used as a sub floor. I’m considering insulation options for between and above the frame members. I have a couple of questions I’d like to ask you as I’m really impressed with your house and feel confident of your expertise…
    – what (if anything) did you attach under the trailer frame as flashing to support the insulation and keep water and debris out? I’ve considered a thin sheet of metal that would be attached to the frame edges, but I’d love to know what you did. Also, I’d love to know in which order you put everything together. I.e. did you start by installing flashing then put in insulation and then floor deck?
    – I read in a previous comment that you were planning on roll insulation between the trailer frame and your floor decking to manage the thermal bridge. Can you tell me what product you settled on and how you like it?
    Thank you so much! I really appreciate any response πŸ™‚
    Sasha

    • Andrew
      Andrew March 28, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

      Great Sasha! We used roll, galvanized metal flashing attached to the bottom of the trailer cross members. I would not use that again. I found a material that the RV manufacturers use that is much more lightweight and easy to work with. It also comes in larger sheets so needs less attachment. I don’t know the name of it, but if you go into a local RV supply shop, they should know.

      We installed the flashing, then the insulation, then the subfloor.

      We opted not to use anything for the thermal bridging as our climate is so mild. We wanted to have solid contact (with glue) between the subfloor and the frame instead.

      • Sasha April 5, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

        Thanks very much Andrew!

      • Alan March 16, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

        Hi Andrew – recently met Jenna and Guillaume form tiny house giant journey at a tumbleweed workshop and they mentioned your site. Thanks for the informative content and reading through the comments is a wealth of great information.

        I am picking up a tiny house specific trailer tomorrow, excited. My plan was to build in between the steel framing as you have and maybe use the RV flashing that you talk of and then go straight ontop of the framing with a sill gasket and then ply, however, I just received advice (read it here bullet point 15 in the comments. http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/community/forum/general-questions/41526/moisture-management-tiny-house-subfloor#comment-154091) that the thermal bridging will practically render my EPS useless as the steel framing will suck all the heat out of the house.
        How is your experience with your flooring and do you wish that you had a continuous insulation over the top of your beams? Thanks so much.

        • Alan March 18, 2016 at 8:57 am #

          To add to y last comment after a discussion at my local RV dealer and a trip underneath an RV with their mechanic we determined that you may be referring to Coroplast as the underside alternative to Aluminum?? – http://www.coroplast.com/catalog/coroplast/

          • Andrew
            Andrew March 23, 2016 at 10:13 am #

            That looks even more fancy than what I saw. Perhaps it is the new, new norm. Or perhaps the stuff I saw was just a boring grey color compared to the fancy ones shown on that website! πŸ˜‰

        • Andrew
          Andrew March 23, 2016 at 10:17 am #

          Hi Alan. We have not had significant issue with our floor frame and heat loss. That said, I imagine that it would indeed be even more energy efficient to provide a continuous layer of insulation over the frame, especially important if you live in a very cold climate (which we do not). It’s all about balance: balance of insulation versus headroom in this case.

      • Jordyn September 27, 2016 at 8:56 am #

        Hi Andrew,

        Do you recall the name of the RV sheets you recommend?

        Thanks in advance!

        • Andrew
          Andrew October 5, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

          I don’t. Sorry. I would talk to an RV supply yard. Good luck.

  29. Maja March 23, 2014 at 2:07 am #

    If I wanted to do subfloor heating is that possible in one of these types of homes? Also, will that take away a lot from the head space?

    • Andrew
      Andrew March 28, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

      That could be done. There are two main ways to do this: 1. electric mats and 2. PEX tubing. The PEX requires water which adds weight to the structure. The mats are thin and easily installed but require added electricity. If power is not an issue, then I would go with the mats.

  30. Allison April 4, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Hello!!
    I live in Anchorage, AK and may be starting our tiny house build in the summer. We are not buildy at all, but I do know that we need to get our trailer 1st. You mention having a trailer custom built. Where on earth does one get that done? We have no clue!!
    Thanks!!

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 4, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

      Hi Allison. Good for you guys! I would suggest talking with a local metal fabrication shop to see if they can a) build you the trailer or b) recommend someone who can. Talk to at least 3 different folks about pricing to get a good sense of the market. We will be offering a very detailed step-by-step DVD on the building process which will be good for you to get the details clear.

  31. Sage K April 5, 2014 at 12:46 am #

    One more question…where/how did you incorporate the wheel wells into your design? Thanks!
    -S

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 6, 2014 at 8:52 am #

      They are under the stairs and under the dining area. In the case of the stairs, they became part of the structure for the storage cubbies/stairs. Under the dining area, they are finished with the same material as our cabinets to create an elegant foot rest. πŸ™‚

  32. Sin April 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Custom made trailer? is interesting, I was wondering if I could see how they weld the trailer, any drawing ? what is the thickness of the material? such as size? length? is there anyway to see it? I would like to custom make mine too.

    I impressed by your building design, I/m going to build my tiny house in Indonesia, I have little knowledge with the building construction, but I love to learn and doing it.

    What if I could request some construction details information of step by step process in photos from you personally? I will be very happy. I am a freelancer in dark room for photography, dream to have a small house with my loving husband. I was trying to look for some budget resources and start building it. I likes tiny house idea!! so as my husband.

    hope to hear from you and your reply for my request is greatly appreciate.

    Thank you

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

      Hi Sin. We have all of the details of the trailer and the entire hOMe plan in our construction drawings which are available on the website under “hOMe Plans.” We will be releasing a complete step-by-step DVD soon which will show the entire construction process from start to finish. Stay tuned…

  33. Amanda April 23, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    Hi Andrew and Gabriella!

    Mike and I are completely inspired from your beautiful home and would love to see if it’s possible for us to live that lifestyle as well. We live in Colorado and believe that the maximum road height is 13,’ but I hope we’re wrong…We have only one slight problem…Mike is 6’3.” Considering the legal road height restrictions, is it possible to accommodate this height for the kitchen and bathroom based on your floorplan? From your video, I believe the floor to ceiling height in those areas were 6’3.” If so, what is your recommendation to make Mike fit comfortably? Any info would be so helpful! Thank you!

    Amanda and Mike
    ps we have a dog named Oscar too!

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 25, 2014 at 8:47 am #

      Hi Amanda and Mike. Thanks for your kind words. I did a little research and it appears that the height restriction is indeed 13′; however, there are some exceptions that bring that height to 14’6″ as defined by CDOT. You can also consider getting an oversized permit when you transport and, assuming they allow for taller vehicle permits, the price is VERY reasonable.

      Check out this page for more information: http://www.coloradodot.info/business/permits/truckpermits/frequently-asked-questions.html

      The current height under the lofts is actually closer to 6’4″ than 6’3″ and that works really well for me (I’m 6’0″). The extra few inches really helps it feel comfortable and not cramped. I don’t know how Mike would feel if he only cleared the ceiling by an inch or less. You could steal from the lofts, but then you would quickly start to feel the low ceiling there as well (unless all his height is in his legs!). I think an inch or two would be all you need. Also, we built our hOMe to be 13’5″ so that we would stay solidly inside the legal height requirements. You could add that last inch to the overall height and then shift one from the loft to the kitchen/bath.

      I think you can make it work. Just be sure that Mike clears the ceiling in the bath/kitchen by at least 2″ to make sure he doesn’t feel the need to duck every time he enters those rooms.

      • Ray July 20, 2015 at 1:52 am #

        Another idea for people with height problems is to use either metal framing or even the plastic wood products for more strength with thinner products. Have to consider all options here.

        • Andrew
          Andrew August 6, 2015 at 9:01 am #

          For sure. We have started using metal frames on our hOMe construction as well.

  34. Vinod May 1, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

    After looking at this website and your videos I m really admired to build something like this may not now but 10 years down the line. We dont really have this kind of culture here(Mumbai,India) to live in RV/Trailer homes. But I am really sold to this idea and after retirement we would go to India tour(whole India). Thanks alots guys for such brilliant idea πŸ™‚

    • Andrew
      Andrew May 4, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

      Thanks Vinod! Wishing you success.

  35. Cindy May 3, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    Hello Andrew and Gabriella,

    Thanks so much for sharing all of your experiences! Your home is a masterpiece!

    I am 53, single, and am going to build a tiny home for myself with in the next year. I plan on having my trailer custom made as well. It makes too much sense to go to the trouble of modifying a ready-made trailer when there are so many advantages to having it custom built, and reasonably priced as well. I will be incorporating all you suggestions for maximizing head room. Since I have little building experience, I want to ensure that I start out right with the most important part of the build; the foundation. So, I have a few questions for you if you don’t mind:

    I understand utilizing the space between the trailer cross members for the floor insulation, and the resulting head room you achieve by using this method, but I got lost on all the talk with the thermal bridge, roll, etc. I do not live in a mild climate and based on the above posts, it seems problems with thermal ‘whatevers’ are of concern to a lot of folks. Can you explain more what this means in terms of using the actual trailer frame as the support for the sub-floor. Is there any way that I could use this method and still keep my floor warm enough? Would this method cause damage to my tiny home? Are there other pitfalls to this method I should know about. I have looked at Tumbleweed’s manufactured trailers, but other sites say there are some problems with this design. It seems pretty confusing to me, though I am sure my lack of experience is the root of that – not the providers of the info.

    Additionally, there is a lot of humidity in Virginia (where I live), as well as snow, winds, heavy rains, etc. I want to be 100% sure that my home will rest securely on the trailer and that it can withstand the elements. Though, like you, I don’t plan to move it often (I hope only one time) I would like to be able to do so if I change my mind. Any guidance you have, or links to other resources on these considerations would be most appreciated.

    Finally, I would like to maximize the width of the floor space in my home as much as possible. While I love the sleek lines your home has, I prefer to have a cottage, cozy feel to my home and would like to use regular (though small) furnishings and have the pitched roof for cathedral ceilings over the main part of the house. I would also like some dormer windows – lots of windows. Can you safely extend the floor framing out over the edges of the trailer. I really didn’t understand some of the questions Steve was asking in earlier posts. It seems to me that the actual width of the trailer, between the wheel wells is only around 7′. Some builders say that they can get 12-18″ more in width through their specialized design. Unfortunately they don’t sell plans, just the custom made homes which are absolutely stunning, but I want to build my home myself. Any suggestions on how this might be accomplished?

    I also just want to say what a gift it is that you are willing to share. I have talked with numerous people, some who think I am nuts, but I am confident that I have the stamina and determination to accomplish my goal. Your valuable insight and tremendous practical advice have been truly inspiring. I cannot wait to get going! Regards, Cindy

    • Andrew
      Andrew May 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      Hi Cindy. There is a steep learning curve when it comes to construction, so don’t worry about not understanding everything that is said here. Just keep learning and things will start making more sense. πŸ™‚

      Thermal bridging is where a material that is not insulative actually acts as a pathway for the exterior climate to enter the house. In other words, the metal cross members of the floor will feel cold when it is cold outside and warm when it is warm out. That temperature will transfer, partially, into the home. It is hard to stop this from happening when using the floor cross members as the base for the floor decking (as opposed to building up a framed and insulated floor on top of the cross members). It’s a trade off that one must consider to see if it is worth it or not for the extra head room. For us, it was.

      The design is strong enough to handle the weather that you may see. The building has been engineered to meet the rigors of the road and the weather. That said, you may need to make changes to the structural elements if you have larger snow loads. A local engineer will know the answer to that question.

      You are limited on the width of the hOME if you plan to take it on the road and don’t want to get a special “wide load” permit. If you don’t mind getting the wide load permit and moving the hOMe under the requirements of that permit, then you can make it wider. If you don’t want to deal with the permitting and the details that go with that, then the width of hOMe is as wide as it can be.

      Thanks for your kind words and we wish you the best of success with your build.

  36. Tone Pola May 5, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    Was your trailer purchased, then taken in to get customed?
    or you went to the fabricator with the specs and bought it like that?

    • Andrew
      Andrew May 5, 2014 at 9:25 pm #

      Hi Tone. The trailer was custom built to our needs…from scratch. πŸ™‚

  37. Rob B May 13, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    I am very interested in the bath sink and medicine cabinet you show in the video house tour.

    I have long been annoyed at the wasted space caused by a center drain straight to a p trap and tried using a tailpipe with an immediate bend run directly to the wall and then into a p trap but that still wastes more space that your sink appears to.

    Your sink seems to solve the problem. I have searched for both things on the net but without result. Could you enlighten me about the brands and perhaps the source.

    Thanks.

  38. Scott J May 27, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    Thanks for sharing you professional expertise with us on your site, you’ve built a home similar in some ways to the design I’m beginning to work up, though mine will have no lofts and will have a ”basement” much like that of a Class A motorhome to allow more room for lots of green tech and storage.

    The folks over at ‘Living Big in a Tiny House’ had someone custom design their trailer as well. Follow my website link to a YouTube video where Ian Munford, of Munford Industries, makes a compelling case for not using utility trailers for a Tiny House at all.

    According to him utility trailers are designed to carry the load on the flat of the bed rather than the frame perimeter. Unfortunately Tiny House loads have the majority of the load on the perimeter and not the flat of the bed so the TH load is basically the opposite of what these trailers are designed for. I plan on moving about a good deal so I’m going to go with a custom trailer of that sort, but I’d be curious to hear your opinion on the matter.

    • Andrew
      Andrew June 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

      Hi Scott. That’s an interesting point about the trailer design versus use. I had not heard that; however, it makes a lot of sense, in terms of how loads are carried on a utility trailer. When we had ours made, we were clear in our intentions and the manufacturer built to our specs and needs. I think making sure that these details are clear ahead of time is essential when discussing the construction of the trailer. Thanks for bringing this up.

    • Hugh Owens July 16, 2015 at 6:37 am #

      Scott. the living big folks are incorrect. Think about the trailer. The channel beams are over the springs which is the perimeter. The center of the trailer is theoretically the weakest but for carrying equipment like tractors, their point loads are very close to the perimeter, over the springs. If you spray foam between the stud members and you will in effect make the whole wall so strong in sheer that the point loads along the base wont vary by much.

  39. Kimberly June 9, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    Hi!
    I was wondering is your trailer a full 8’3″ wideor is it 8’6″ wide? Is the deck at its widest 8’3″ to the outside of the rails or 8’6″?
    Thank you!

    • Andrew
      Andrew June 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

      Our trailer is 8′ wide and once all of the framing, siding and trim pieces are installed, it equals a total of 8’6″ wide.

  40. Tobias D June 14, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    Rob B, above: I too, was interested in the sink drain. I don’t know what Andrew used, but I found this: http://mandmmarine.com/1–Low-Profile-Sink-Drain-390-10306.aspx
    They, and other boat places, have similar “Low Profile” sink drains. Haven’t found one with an integrated valve. Yet.

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella June 14, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

      Hi Tobias. This is very similar to the low profile drain system we used. Thanks for sharing the link.

  41. Bill June 25, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Wondering how this lower trailer has on using a sol-mar 2000 unit sinceit requires a certain amount of space under the toilet?

    • Andrew
      Andrew June 30, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

      We got rid of our Sunmar toilet as it was NOT working for us at all. The trailer still has space under it, so it would likely still support the space needed for your unit. Keep in mind that the unit would have to be pulled inside during transportation, which may be more than you want to take part in. πŸ™‚

  42. Laurah July 9, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    Hi there! I have been reading through this post and the comments that follow to gain a better knowledge base for my own build. I have also come across Kate (Naj Haus) and her post on subfloor/deck construction. With no building experience (though I am an interior designer and have some working knowledge), this is still confusing to read through as I am more of a visual learner. Your subfloor construction seems very similar to Kate’s, am I correct on this? The only difference I might see is that your cross members are not mounted on the bottom of the side rails like hers, though your insulation still sits within the frame? Here is Kate’s post on her construction with detailed photos and descriptions:
    http://najhaus.com/2013/08/18/floor-construction-what-lurks-beneath/

    Thanks in advance for your response!
    -lb

    • Jared March 11, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

      Hi Laura,

      Did you ever figure out an answer to your question regarding the cross members on your trailer?

      Thanks,

      JB

  43. leanna July 12, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    So we have a unique situation in that we are essentially rebuilding an old 35′ fifth-wheel Rv into a tiny home. The owner before us customized the Rv by raising the floor up and eliminating the typical wheel well bump in the living space. What were looking at is figuring if well have enough height within limit to have a loft like so many tiny homes. From ground to peak….what is the towable max height?
    Obviously this is going to be a very different build due to the length and raised fifth wheel area. Its a dual Axel with two tires on each side so we believe weight won’t be an issue. Its an old Rv (1982). Any advise would be appreciated.

    • Andrew
      Andrew July 20, 2014 at 9:29 am #

      Hi Leanna. the maximum height varies from state to state, but in general you want to stay below 13’6” from grade to peak. I would make sure that the trailer can handle the weight too as, even though it has a double axle, there are many different axles strengths and the frame of a tiny house will be considerably heavier than that of the RV. For example, those axles could be 3500 pound axles (each) whereas we are using 8000 pound axles (each) on our 28’ hOMe. There should be some weight details on the RV placard. If not, try and identify the axle ratings through stamps on the axles themselves. You will also want to look at the frame design to make sure it can handle the load. This is especially important when dealing with long trailers like yours. Best of luck. We’d love to see photos of your progress!!!

  44. Frederic Clement July 17, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    Hi Andrew and Gabriella. Congratulations for your great design! I was wondering if this kind of Tiny House on wheels could be viable for our winters here, in Quebec, Canada. During 4 months, the temperature goes as low as 40 degrees below 0 so normally, our houses require 12 inches of floor insulation, walls 6 inches and roof 16 inches. If I read well, you use only 2 X 4 for all the structure. And my subquestion is : if we use high efficacity styrofoam instead of mineral whool, does it lowers the required depht of the walls?

    • Andrew
      Andrew July 20, 2014 at 9:25 am #

      Hi Frederic. For a climate like that, I would recommend using SIP panels as they have a much higher R value per inch. You Would likely have to redesign the space slightly to allow for extra floor insulation (SIPs panels laid on the trailer frame), but it would be possible for sure.

  45. Lara July 27, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Hi A & G,

    Thank you so much for all of the valuable information and your willingness to share your experiences!

    After two years of planning and research, the foundation for my tiny has arrived! I have a drop axle, however the axles I chose are 10K each (way overkill, I’m sure…but I’m hoping to avoid any repairs that would require jacking up my house and having someone use a tool that could set my house on fire!). Because of the size of the axles, the wheels are also larger (8 lug rims with all steel radials) and because I want to be able to haul this house from Vancouver to Baja if the adventure takes me there, the frame is also quite heavy. I used 4X4 tubing on the entire perimeter to accommodate the full width of the sill plate and 2X4 tubing for the cross members. I also had my fabricator make the width of my trailer the same width as the axles (with the tires mounted). This pushes my width to 8’10”, which is not legal on the highway without a permit. However, I’m hoping that no CHP is going to be able to eyeball the extra few inches and pull me over for the infraction, assuming he’s carrying a tape measure with him! But from what I understand, the permits are around $10.

    This brings me to my questions. Although I’m willing to take the risk with a slightly wider load, I’m not as willing to risk having my roof torn off by a low bridge because I was trying to gain a few extra inches of head room! Because of the larger axles/tires, my trailer height without the deck installed sits at approximately 23″. This tiny will be 24′ long and I plan on 16″ OC studs. I’m hoping to come in under 10,000 lbs. Did you find that the weight of your house brought it down an inch or two when it was complete and full? Did you plan in that prospective drop?

    Also, I’m trying to figure out approx. how thick the exterior walls will measure. I’m guessing between 4″-5″ each, with the exterior siding not included since it doesn’t consume interior space (I plan on using the extra 1/2″ of the trailer frame to support the sheathing for a bit of extra support). That would take up about 8″-10″ of interior space. How much interior space did you find that your walls consumed? I’m hoping to land at just about 8′ interior width.

    And finally, I plan on using sheep wool insulation. I want to seal out any/all moisture and air leaks in the floor and walls. I plan on having all of the seams sprayed with EcoSeal because it seems to have a little bit of flexibility for movement. I’m hoping it has a rubber cement-type texture. Do you have any experience with EcoSeal?

    Thank you again for your efforts! You are clearly appreciated by many of us!

    Lara

    • Andrew
      Andrew July 28, 2014 at 10:36 am #

      Hi Lara. I don’t have any experience with Eco-seal, so I can’t really speak to that. I can say that wool insulation will likely settle while driving and it is relatively heavy. We opted for rigid insulation (others opt for spray in/expansion foam, but we don’t like the potential health impacts of that). I would be very surprised if your 24′ home will come in at 10,000 pounds. I think it will be quite a bit above that, personally, depending on what finishes you use and what type of cabinets, etc. The axles alone will be very heavy as will the trailer frame. I would recommend using 24″ centers on your framing in place of the 16″ centers. That will help save on weight.

      The width of your building will be pretty wide when done because it is really best to have the sheathing and siding overhang the side of the trailer. This will add at least 2 1/2″ – 3″ of extra width on top of the frame width. That would potentially max you out at 9’1″ That would be noticeable. More importantly, that would be dangerous to drive in Baja. Having lived there for 5 months, I can tell you that the roads (including Mexico 1, the main drag through Baja) are very narrow. A trailer that wide would be difficult to drive down there. I think you could get away with a permit for the extra width if need be in the States and Canada, but the Mexico part will be harder.

      The height is something you can’t risk stretching. Overpasses are what they are and if you are too tall, you will hit them. That would be disastrous. We did not include the sag of our springs in our calculations. As such, our house is slightly lower than the design height. That said, if you hit a bump on the road, the springs will do their job and spring you up and down. If the up happens to take place under an overpass, you would smack into it if you had based your measurements on the “deflated” spring height.

      Sorry to be full of bad news, but it’s best that you build to the standards as closely as you can. Good luck and I hope you love Baja as much as we did!

  46. Tim July 31, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    My wife & I have been saving for a trailer & looking at plans for some time. The one thing we want to make sure of is that we get everything right the first time. Would you still at this time consider your trailer to be the best option as far as square footage? We absolutely love your design but are curious as to weather anything new or better has come out or been found since your build. Also we want to be sure it will handle the load for many years. What are the weight limits on yours & how much ground clearance do you have with that type as we would be moving ours after it’s completed. We live in Spokane so not sure if your insulation would be as effective in out winter weather either. Like I said we just want to get the right fit the first time as it is a huge investment for a trailer considering what’s going on it. Did you have any coating put on yours or special springs? Also any reinforcement of the where the steel is concerned? How much does your trailer way? Anything you wish you would have done different? Thanks so much & your home is truly amazing! Tim

    • Andrew
      Andrew August 1, 2014 at 11:16 am #

      Hi Tim. I think you are on the right path to want to get everything right the first time. We felt the same way. We have made some minor changes along the way, and are currently reworking the trailer itself right now (in terms of the actual steel design) to make it more cost effective. We had hOMe engineered, so we know it is strong enough.

      We LOVE the size of hOMe. We never feel cramped and if anything, we find it quite spacious. We also have some outdoor spaces on our land (fire ring with chairs, outdoor dining table, hot tub, tool shed, etc.) so that helps as well. Finally, we have separate small cabins for our kids (14 and 17) so that they have their own private space and a space to hang out with all of their friends. That said, they spend the majority of their time with us in hOMe.

      In terms of insulation, you could change things up to go with SIPs or simply increase the walls insulation by using a layer of rigid foam over the studs. Alternatively, you could go with 2×6 walls in place of 2×4 (there is room to do that) and even use spray foam insulation (which I don’t really like for health reasons).

  47. Hope August 16, 2014 at 5:51 am #

    Hi!

    I love you hOMe design and I plan on building one for myself. Is it possible for you to share with me the dimensions for the trailer you had made, so that I can have someone in my area make one for me or is it included in the “Total Package”?

    Again, I LOVE your layout and cannot wait till I can start to build one for myself! Thank you and God bless.

    ~ Hope πŸ™‚

    • Andrew
      Andrew August 16, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

      Hi Hope. Thanks for your kind message. The trailer design is included in the plans for hOMe. It is engineered and designed specifically for the build, so the dimensions alone would not be enough to build from. Thanks again.

  48. mike August 19, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    very helpful. thank you!!

    • Andrew
      Andrew August 23, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

      You’re welcome.

  49. Rebecca August 23, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    Hi there,

    I am very intrigued by this idea of gaining headroom by using the trailer frame itself as the floor joists instead of the conventional 2 by’s.
    Do you have any photos of your trailer being prepped this way?
    How did you attach the walls to the trailer foundation???

    Does this method not limit your house to the age of the trailer itself?

    I would love some more detailed info on the process! πŸ™‚

    Big thanks for the great idea!

    • Rebecca August 23, 2014 at 10:37 am #

      *the life of your house to the life of the trailer…

    • Andrew
      Andrew August 23, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

      Hi Rebecca. This is how we built our hOMe, and is what we show in the DVD. All of the details of how that comes together are shown in the DVD. The trailer would have an excellent longevity, so I would not worry about the difference between the hOMe and the trailer in terms of long term life expectancy.

  50. bob August 26, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    rEALLy like this design and layout. Been looking at Tiny Houses for almost 3 years now and have been working on the downsizing of my stuff. My wife is not into this however so I just look and read and keep up on it. I was, and still am, following Shane and Carrie at clotheslinetinyhomes.com and for a long time felt their plan was the way to go since there were just a few steps to the bed platform over the gooseneck on their trailer base. Before that I’ve always gravitated to Jay Shafer’s plans… originally at Tumbleweed and now at Four Lights. But the ladder access is always a concern as we all get older. I think many months ago I saw a post on the stairs you included in your hOMe and was intrigued. Now after seeing the finished product and touring your hOMe (virtually) I like the whole plan even better! If my wife were to decide to climb on board I know she would still want a full, well designed kitchen (she really likes to cook) and yours is the best I’ve seen in a tiny house. I usually don’t go for shed roofs but function on the inside is more important to me than appearance outside and I do really like the more functional, and better design of headroom in the “master bedroom.” Our current house has 2×6 walls in the lower level (walkout basement) but 2×4 on the main level and is considered well insulated for central Iowa winters. I believe 2×4 framing in the walls in your hOMe are sufficient and the rigid foam insulation is likely better than what we have. We do have extra insulation in the attic and could see in your plan more than sufficient insulation with a bit more in the roof being enough for this climate. We do sometimes see -15*F and still keep warm inside. I did have a question about being able to change the tires on your trailer design but reading through the comments I found that answer. There is another question I have that maybe you could answer for me.
    It’s a minor question.
    You mention using drop axles on the trailer and show a photo in the article above.
    Is what you used the same as torsion axles?

    Again, I think yours is a fantastic design and in video seems so much more spacious than many I’ve seen. I know I may possibly not ever be in a position to build and live in a Tiny House but it is still inspiration to think about living in a smaller house, designed more to suit our needs and not be “excess baggage” as it were. And that’s the whole point, isn’t it.

    • Andrew
      Andrew August 31, 2014 at 6:32 am #

      Thanks Bob. We have actually changed the design slightly to eliminate the drop axles so that those people who plan to drive their hOMe around a lot have a little more ground clearance. We changed the rafter design to allow for added headroom so make up for the loss from removing the drop axles. The headroom is a little bit less this way (2 1/2″ I believe as opposed to the drop axles), but it makes driving the hOMe easier. I’m not sure if drop axles are the same as torsion axles. If you don’t plan to move the hOMe around a lot, you could probably use the original drop axles design and keep the new rafter design for added headroom. The trailer, as designed today, is less expensive than the drop axles trailer as well, so the added headroom may not be as valuable to you. That’s up to you. πŸ™‚ The new trailer design makes it easier to change the tires too!

      Thanks again for your kind feedback.

      • Bob December 17, 2014 at 6:20 am #

        I did a bit more looking into drop axles vs torsion. They are different things. Torsion axles have to do with the type of suspension as in torsion vs leaf springs vs shocks. A torsion axle does also allow for a lower deck because of its design. Leaf springs raise the deck to allow for vertical movement of the axle. Torsion axles have a special rubber insert in a metal square tube and a short axle is inside that. The rubber is designed to twist at a certain force/resistance to work like springs, except instead of vertical it is rotational and usually stiffer and has some natural damping to reduce bounce. A drop axle (looking closer at your photo in above) is simply a standard axle with a metal offset plate welded on at the hub on each end that “drops” the axle below the center of the hub. A drop axle most likely still uses springs. Both drop the deck since they locate the deck at or near the same level as the hub center. Not sure which type costs more/less.

  51. Bowman26 September 17, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    I like the idea of lowering the ride as much as you can. The only problem is that for every inch you reduce the height you also remove an inch of clearance which could be an issue if you are trying to get into someplace tight or slightly hilly. So many things to take into account. Great site for keeping my mind stewing over what I will do!

  52. Kal September 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Hello,

    Are ur DVD’s from ur first build or second (if u made a second)?

    Thanks.

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 27, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

      Hi Kal. The DVDs were made during the construction of hOMe. This was the one and only time I built hOMe, but was one of hundreds of houses I have built over the years. I’ve been building for roughly 20 years.

  53. Sandi Berumen September 21, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

    Hi to both of you,

    I am planning on ordering your plans very soon.

    I do have a question or two.

    First, how long did it take you to frame your hOMe? by that I mean everything done through the lofts being put in and the roof on (needless to say), siding, windows etc.

    My trailer is 36 feet long — while it currently has the old RV on top of it I am planning on removing it and building on the trailer — I will be calling your guy and finding out about “beefing up” my trailer for heavier loads, though it currently carries 12, 600 pounds. I will be utilizing my slide as well. The tongue weight of the trailer is 600 pounds as it stands. The trailer is a deck over the wheels, but I am 5′ 7″ and do not need to have more than 6 foot of head room. The kitchen will be in the middle the closet and bath to the front and livingroom area will be in the back. Needless to say, my trailer sits high from the ground — I am hoping I will not be bothered by not having as much head room in the bedroom loft — the second loft for me will be mostly for storage and my cats play room. Anyway, my plan is to get it framed in and then to be able to live in it while I finish the inside walls etc. I am going to utilize the composting toilet that you folks did in the bath even though I have holding tanks that I will leave in place to be utilized in some manner to be fully self contained if I want to be “off grid” at any time. I will be adding additional length and I know I have to frame for the slide, but I have it and would like to utilize it. Anyway, just need a rough idea as to how fast the unit can be framed. Since I have floor over I will be utilizing both types of insulation — between the frame and on top under the floor.

    Also, just an aside — the lighter weight material for underneath to seal the unit from below is made from a heavier plastic type material ( at least my current underlayer is) and it is definitely not rodent proof. But then rodents can chew through almost anything if they want to badly enough.

    Secondly, I know you have probably been asked this before and I know costs very by area, but do you know approximately how much the materials cost to frame your hOMe? I know choice of windows and siding etc will change and I do want to use steel roofing, but I am just trying to do a rough budget.

    Also, thanks so much for your site and your willingness to share your knowledge and information with those of us starting out. As others have said, you are an inspiration in many ways and your ideas are great!

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 27, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

      Hi Sandi. Thanks for your message. It took me 4 months to build hOMe from start to finish working almost entirely by myself and filming the entire process for the DVDs as I went. I didn’t break it down by stage in terms of timing, but I imagine the framing was all done in a few weeks and the rest was the finish work. The cost for the materials, not including the finish stuff, was around $22,000 (roughly). Best of success to you with your project!!!

  54. Donna October 8, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Hey
    thanks for all the info you share and the time it takes. I am 58 single and will start building my tiny home for retirement this spring( I plan on using a 14 foot trailer). I can only afford to do it once, so I am trying to find out all I can before I start. My question is about the pros and cons of building out over the wheel wells. I am not concerned as much about the extra room it would offer as the potential for water or condensation damage. Would it be less likely to have these problems if the house is built totally within the wheel wells dimensions?

    • Andrew
      Andrew October 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      I think you would have less issues with water and condensation if you built within the wheel wells. If space is not an issue, that is what I would do.

  55. Ed October 26, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    I think this is the best tiny house i’ve seen, really like the large kitchen and bathroom. I’ve got two questions for you: How much did the custom trailer cost and how have you found living in the house?

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

      Thanks Ed! The trailer costs vary a lot by location as we have seen. I think we paid $3000 (can’t honestly remember now) and we have heard others being charged as much as $8000. We made some modifications to it to bring costs down and it seems most folks are settling in around $4500 or so.

      We LOVE living in hOMe. We absolutely love it.

  56. Pete November 1, 2014 at 1:47 am #

    Hi Andrew,

    Been drooling over your tiny house ever since I first saw it. I am in the very early incubation stage at the moment with the project.

    Your site is very informative and most helpful. My question at this stage is. What approx is a all up weight as I would be keen to built on steel skids. If I was to move it I would look to have it hoisted and trucked on a trailer.

    I look forward to your reply. No hurry just when you get around to it.

    Cheers
    Pete

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 5, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      Hi Pete. Thanks for your kind feedback and we’re glad you find the site helpful. You should have no problem building on steel skids. You would just have to size them to handle the load. Our house is approximately 15,000lbs if I remember correctly.

  57. Pam November 17, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    If you’re Builidng it on site and never taking it on the road why are you constrained by a certain height?? Is this to make it sale able in the future?

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 17, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

      Hi Pam. If you plan to build on site and never move it then you are not restricted to heights. That said, I would recommend building it on a foundation rather than a trailer then. If you build it on a trailer, it is considered moveable and as such would need to meet requirements for being moved (height and width) if you are ever required to move it by the county. I suppose in the rare case of that happening, you could get a special movement permit to accommodate the move.

  58. Shoal Nervo November 28, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    ok so I thought i had it all figured out. I was going to buy your house plans / dvd instructional video and start building as soon as i get off work ( I’m on a vessel as merchant marine). I want exactly what you made in the pictures and video. However, i didn’t realize that i needed a custom trailer for it. Do I need to buy your plans in order to have the proper information needed to show a specialist in trailer fabrication? ((i really hope not considering i only have about 2 months vacation, i dont want to spend any of that time waiting for the house’s foundation to be made))
    If i did have to wait.. im assuming there really isnt much i could build while waiting for the trailer right?…

    -Shoal

    • Andrew
      Andrew December 4, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      Hi Shoal. Unfortunately, you would need the plans in order to build the trailer and thus the house. Sorry for the bad news.

  59. Karen December 16, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    Hi Andrew,

    Would these adjustments work for building a 3m wide tiny home? I will have to build the framing floor in three sections just as the guy did with his “Minim” tiny house since the wheels protruded from the trailer frame.

    I hope you can help me with this question.

    Thank you,
    Karen

    • Andrew
      Andrew December 27, 2014 at 8:56 am #

      Hi Karen. I’m not sure I understand what you are asking. As long as the home meets the maximum width restrictions for road use, you can build it that wide. I did not extend my floor in three sections because I used the metal frame itself as the floor and that was custom designed to meet our needs. If you plan to build a secondary frame over the metal deck frame, then you can do it in three pieces or as pone unit, built in place. I always prefer to build things as one to minimize any potential deflection or “hinge points.”

  60. Bill Honn December 30, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    Andrew,

    I am an Architect/Builder.

    If I build a Tiny Home, I will not move it.

    So could i just get the steel frame from a trailer and erect it and build my tiny home on it without wheels? I would use some blocking to support the frame.

    Not sure how the building department would view this?

    But I wouldn’t be able to get a license because I couldn’t drive it to DMV.

    My other idea is to park two Tiny homes next to each other. With a breezway between them.

    Kitchen Dining and living room in one, and bedroom, bath, closets in the other.

    Thanks, Bill

    • Andrew
      Andrew December 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

      Hi Bill. I would recommend that you build it on a set foundation instead. You may need to work with the building department to make sure that your plan will meet their requirements for a home and a CoA; however, you should be able to meet the code in most areas if you build on a foundation. There is no need to use the trailer bed unless you intend to move it at some point in the future. The “double tiny” home idea is a good one as well and one that some friends of mine have done with small straw bale cottages.

  61. Bryan January 5, 2015 at 1:01 am #

    Hi Andrew, not sure if I missed it but was wondering, did you weigh your TH fully loaded? If so can you share that with me? I was also curious… I see you have a bumper pull tongue.. What did you use to pull your home to its resting place and did it require a CDL or class b drivers license?
    Love your home and thanks for the great ideas and info.
    Bryan

    • Andrew
      Andrew January 8, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

      Hi Bryan. We didn’t weigh it fully loaded so I can’t help you there. In terms of pulling it, it falls under the requirements in most states for a regular license to drive it. The GVW is under the maximum allowed and the hOMe can be pulled with a 3/4 ton or 1 ton pick up truck. Thanks for your kind feedback.

  62. CHANEL January 7, 2015 at 5:46 am #

    Hello Andrew and friends,

    Thank u 4 all the great information you’ve shared with us. It is comforting to know that you are someone with extensive knowledge and experience in this area. I certainly want to hear, learn, see more about how to make the right choice for my trailer foundation. I spend hrs, literally, everyday researching and soaking up all I can, as THE TINY HOUSE JOURNEY/ MOVEMENT IS MY NEW GREAT PASSION. I’m a hands-on person so whether it’s u, or another resource, I’d like to help. I AM SO UBBER EXCITED FOR ALL OF US WHO ARE STEPPING OUT INTO A NEW WAY OF LIVING. Having extensive experience and knowledge in finance, business, n owning a large house, the peace of mind, and freedom we can now claim, IS PRICELESS !!!!!! I look forward to whatever you can share with me.

    And for anyone who may need an extra hand, or ideas, (designer/artist by nature, n schooling), you can contact me shoppinsmybag@yahoo.com. BEST OF ALL, THIS IS A GIFT, NOT FOR MONEY.

    All the best,

    Chanel

    • Andrew
      Andrew January 7, 2015 at 9:32 am #

      Love the passion and excitement!!!

  63. Diana January 12, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    Andrew,

    I’m currently gathering information and working on the design of my own tiny house. I really like your overall design – simple, modern, shed roof. I’m wondering how you were able to install the siding to enclose the wheel wells and how that would affect access to the area for changing the tires.

    Also, many designs like yours have a foundation that accommodates the wheel well, and then exterior walls that sit above the wheel well. Some inexperienced builders have said that this was a mistake on their part, as it left the area uninsulated and exposed to environmental temperatures. Were you able to overcome this difficulty?

    Thanks so much for all that you do. (Excellent TEDtalk)

    • Andrew
      Andrew January 18, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

      Hi Diana. Thanks for your message. We have since changed the design to allow for easier access to the wheel wells. Nothing changed on the interior as a result, just the look on the exterior. For us, this was not a big concern as we don’t move our hOMe much (if at all); however, we felt that people who would be moving a lot would want better access to change a tire. It can be done in our hOMe, but not as easily as the new design allows for. In terms of insulation, we have some in the interior of the wheel well and we also stuff the tire cavity with batt insulation when we are parked (again, we are pretty much always parked, so this is easy for us). It may make the insulation envelope slightly less than perfect, but it gives a LOT more floor space as a result. It is a trade off of sorts, as is much of construction…Hope that helps.

  64. Clay Orahood January 19, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    Hello Morrison’s!
    Huge hOMe fan! Love the design, creativity, etc..
    With having the split design, the bath sink and kitchen sink are roughly 28′ apart. This would require approximately 7″ of slope for the drain (1\4″ per foot). With having a deck height of 18″ how is this achieved and still be towable? I understand you built onsite and haven’t had the need to move hOMe. Maximum interior height is vital. I am wondering how you were able to do this without sacrificing deck height.

    • Andrew
      Andrew January 20, 2015 at 10:52 am #

      Thanks Clay! We actually ran two separate drain line out, one at each end of the hOMe. There was no easy way to connect them under the house for precisely the reason you mention. The two waste lines can then be joined via an RV union outside of the hOMe when it is parked or dropped into the waste facility (whatever it is) through two separate locations, whatever is easiest.

      • matt January 27, 2015 at 8:41 am #

        Hi, I’ve been doing quite of reading on here. I’m in a pickle I cant seem to find someone that will move my gigantic shed so I need to build a trailer for it. The moving company moved my mom’s house and the shed a few years ago so I know it can be moved. It is 14 feet tall,12 feet 16 inches and 16 feet long. Any suggestions? Like how it can be built and how to get it on a trailer?

        Thank you!

        • Andrew
          Andrew January 28, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

          Hi Matt. This is a bit outside of my expertise; however, my first thought is that you will have to hire someone that works with oversize loads as your shed may push the legal limits of road heights. As I understand the requirements, a house on a trailer cannot be over 13’6″; however, a LOAD on a trailer bed (a backhoe or this shed) could be up to 14′ from grade. It sounds like your shed is 14′ and so once on top of the trailer, it will require special permitting to transport. Sorry I don’t have a better answer for you.

        • Ray July 20, 2015 at 2:54 am #

          You need a professional house mover to move it.

          • Andrew
            Andrew August 6, 2015 at 9:02 am #

            I’m not so sure about this one. We know several people who have moved their hOMe by themselves. Drive slow. Have great respect for what you are hauling because it is BIG. Plan your route in advance. Don’t push it. I believe with these and other tactics that even a beginner can be successful. Would it be better to hire someone? Most likely, but if it is not in the budget, don’t give up.

    • James D. January 12, 2017 at 5:09 pm #

      Gravity system isn’t the only option, you can use a discharge pump to get the drainage to wherever you need it to go…

      https://s3-media4.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/i3aL9ZroWSjJ5gWtcA2zGw/o.jpg

      Or instead of running the pipes below, you can run them through the connecting side wall… It’s well over 7″ between the bottom of the sinks and the floor/deck level… Just put both sinks on the same wall side…

  65. Deanna February 9, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    Hi Andrew,
    where did you purchase the trailer?

    • Andrew
      Andrew March 5, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

      Deanna. We had it custom built. The details to do this are all included in the plans. Cheers.

  66. Hilton February 12, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    Please can someone post a photo or drawing of a drop axel design. We are going the tiny living route.
    Hilton

    • bob February 13, 2015 at 10:57 am #

      They did. The photo is of one end of the axle beam with hub and the drop bracket between and is labeled as “Drop Beam Trailer Axle” in the photo itself. Just imaging the beam (square bar in left of photo) extending to other side of trailer with the same drop bracket and hub for the other side and you’ll have it.

  67. Jeremiah Ashbaugh February 15, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    Hello Andrew,

    Incredibly impressed with what you’ve created and also beyond appreciative for the information you’ve shared and for the presentations on the cultural shift that is taking place with this movement. I wanted to read each and every response to make sure I didn’t ask you the same question twice as others have done. And honorably you’ve answered each of those double, sometimes more, questions with the same kindness and sincerity. I’ve lived Oregon since birth (only lived in other countries for study and things of the heart) and love the State and travel in all parts of it all the time. If I get the chance someday, I’d love to buy you a beer for being such a great dude. Sure enough, one of the last people to post answered my last question ;-). My lady is not in to the idea of tiny living yet your design is the first in hundreds I’ve shown her that actually had her considering, that’s some feat!

    I guess I can scrape out a few questions. 1. So your new designs are not going to have the drop trailer design, given this, how much clearance are you gaining with this? I’m going to have a very sloped driveway to pull the thing in to and I’m worried about how that’s going to work with your low riding trailer. 2. Regarding the separated plumbing drains, do either of these stick out of the bottom in anyway? And if not, how did you do that with the insulation? My guess if you have zero plumbing in the floor?

    Again, I’d be honored to buy ya a beer, smoothie or kambucha if that’s more your thing! You’ve earned it!

    Kind regards,
    Jeremiah

    • Andrew
      Andrew March 5, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

      Hi Jeremiah. I love the options of drinks you put on the table! You’ve covered all the bases my friend. πŸ™‚ I guess the type will depend on the time of day. We do have plumbing hanging below the house, but only by a tiny bit. It is still above the axles and placed in such a way that it does not get in the way. As far as grade changes and the trailer height, that is a tough one to answer. The current design is set up to handle typical grade changes, but steep driveways may be more difficult to predict. I’m sure there is a math equation out there to figure it out (in fact I know there is) but without the numbers in front of me, I can’t really guess at whether it will work or not. Sorry to have a
      bad” answer for you.

  68. Steven Okey March 8, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    Hello Andrew,

    I am in the beginning stages of planning for a Tiny Home build. I will be returning to school when I turn 50 and the idea of Tiny House living suites me as I am unsure what my career change will yield as far as income and need to have the freedom of no mortgage. It will be my residence during my return to school and may stay where my school is or will want to move for a job.

    Long story short, too late… is that I would like to possibly build on a 40′ length trailer. If I were to keep the height at the 13.5′ limit would I still be able to tow it without special permits, in other word would the length require any special permitting?

    I really appreciate any help you can offer.

    Thanks
    Steven

    • Andrew
      Andrew March 20, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

      Hi Steven. That will depend on the state in which you pan to tow it. Sorry I don’t have a more specific answer. It’s best to research on the DOT website for your state.

      • Steven Okey March 22, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

        Hello Andrew,

        Thank you so much for your response. I will check with the Calilfornia DOT. I think I am going to downsize my plans into a 32′ trailer. I have read many blogs that 40′ trailers can be hard to handle.

        I also want to tell you how great these blogs as I research my future Tiny Home. My biggest concern is finding a place open to Tiny Homes.

        Take Care
        Steven

  69. Jared March 11, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    Hi Andrew,

    I can not express enough what a valuable resource you and Gabriella have been in the planning stages of my tiny house!

    Given that I am a complete novice this question my be silly. When using the trailer as a subfloor, I am curious to the advantages of having the cross members of the trailer flush with the TOP of the side rails rather than flush with the BOTTOM of the side rails as in others I have seen.

    Secondly, I know thermal bridging wasn’t a concern for you, but I live in a severe climate that will reach – 30 F semi-regularly in the winter. Thermal bridging is definitely a concern of mine but do you think it could really play that much of a factor given the space is so small and easily heated?

    Thanks again for all your insight, I am full of gratitude!

    JB

    • Andrew
      Andrew March 20, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

      Hi Jared. Man…you live in a cold part of the world. πŸ™‚ Yes, thermal bridging will be very important to you. I would recommend that you consider lowering the cross members as you suggest and then using SIPs as the floor. That way, you will eliminate the thermal bridging and you will not lose a lot of head room (if any). In fact, you may want to design your space to use SIPs throughout. Good luck and have fun!

  70. Johnny Shi March 13, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    I had never before heard the idea of a tiny house build. It seems like a really cool idea for a club house for kids or an extra room. Are the houses ever used for stuff similar to this? What is an average cost for a tiny house? http://www.mustangtrailers.com/trailers/flatdeck-trailers/

    • Andrew
      Andrew March 20, 2015 at 10:15 pm #

      Hi Johnny, I imagine that some might use a tiny house in this way. Most of the people we work with are using them as their primary residence. The average cost for a tiny house (size dependent of course) is around $25,000 or so.

  71. Michelle March 21, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    Andrew and Gabrielle,
    you two have been so wonderful in answering any and all questions related to your build and even others builds, that’s so awesome thanks!

    My partner and I have purchased your plans, and dvd set. After getting quotes from a few companies regarding the custom trailer build, we realize we’re no longer able to use the drop axles as per your new trailer design. I see that you mentioned a different rafter design to handle the headroom. Is it noted in the building supply list? As I have already bought the rafters per the list. Height and head-room is very important to us.

    On top of that there are bars that go above the wheels that are now on the outside of the trailer (for easier access to the wheels I understand.) However this confuses me on how to begin the framing as you had a piece of wood as the layout straight across bolted to the side-beams of the trailer. Would you still go about framing the same way? Would it be easier to frame from the top-side around the wheel wells instead of from the bottom?

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 3, 2015 at 9:19 am #

      Hi Michelle. All of the changes to the plans are accounted for on the drawings and the material list, so there should not be any issues on that front. In terms of how to build the trailer/frame layout, it is hard to describe in an email message. The good news is that the plans detail out all of the questions you have. It may take you a bit to orient to the drawings, but all of the information you need is there. πŸ™‚

  72. Emily Gerde April 2, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

    Love your design! Jealous you live in a mild climate. We are very new to the tiny house movement and just getting started. We live in Minnesota and would need more heavy duty insulation. It sounds like from the comments that this would affect the extra height. Am I correct with that assumption?

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 3, 2015 at 9:13 am #

      Thanks Emily. Perhaps you will lose headroom, but it is not for sure. You can choose to use SIPs for the roof (Structural Insulated Panels) and they provide higher Rvalues in similar thicknesses as what we show on the plan. In addition, you don’t need to vent those roof structures, so you can save some space there and add it to the insulated space. Hope that helps.

  73. Joel April 17, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

    What was your roof pitch?

    Did you create any type of venting under the roof sheathing?

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 26, 2015 at 10:51 am #

      Hi Joel. Our roof slope is 2/12 and we did indeed provide ventilation space between the insulation and the bottom of the roof sheathing. This is an absolute requirement in order to prevent the roof from rotting.

  74. Susie April 21, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    Hi, I just had one question I wondered if you could answer for me..After looking at so many tiny homes on wheels, I see that generally the trailers are one axle, kind of in the middle, and I wondered why, it would seem that would cause a problem when its unhooked from the tow vehicle, I imagine that means you have to have stabilizers. But my question is why arn’t they built on two axle trailers ? I can only imagine maybe the additional weight ?

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 26, 2015 at 10:40 am #

      Hi Susie. Most tiny homes are actually built on two or three axles; however, those axles are placed next to each other. If one were to place additional axles towards the front of the trailer, it would not be a trailer anymore. It would be a wagon and that behaves very differently on the road in terms of turning, etc. Most axles are placed at about the 60/40 ratio on the trailer to make for proper weight distribution and when separated from the tow vehicle, the front of the trailer is supported by a jack. There are also stabilizer jacks placed on the trailer (typically 4…one near each end of the trailer on both sides).

  75. Crystal May 6, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

    I have a tumblweed trailer and am welding on additional tubing for added width (will have attachable overhangs, that can be attached when parked, detached when in transit (seldom)). I think I will have A LOT of thermal bridging. Wondering if you have any ideas for what to put on top of the steel, before I lay the AdvanTech and then cherry flooring on top. Tumbleweed trailer is the one where rigid foam drops down btwn the C channel pieces, sitting on flatstock. Foam pieces will also fit between the added-on portions (though they are very small, 1×2′ and the tubing is hollow). I live in upstate NY. I have some moisture concerns r/t the thermal bridging so I would really like to minimize that. I had 3 ideas: 1) there’s some kind of sill tape I saw on a video once. Would that really help, it looks so thin. 2) layer of foil sided rigid foam with small squares cut out where the metal intersects and plywood plugged into these squares to prevent compaction, or 3) a new product: mycelium insulation, which is very strong but not sure of compressive structure from Ecovative (they will design to your specs) http://www.ecovativedesign.com/.
    Would like to be as environmentally/chemically sensitive as possible, but not finding great alternatives that provide the structure/waterproofing/sound proofing of sprayfoam and Advantech, etc. Was excited about MagO, but it comes from China! Any materials you like please let me know.
    Thanks for your well-written blog and e courses!

    • Andrew
      Andrew May 17, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

      Hi Crystal. I am not sure about the best approach. If thermal bridging is a big concern for you, then you should probably consider altering the design to allow for a framed floor over the deck. The foam roll seal won’t provide much, if any, protection from bringing. It will help with the moisture migration, but that is all.

    • Laura January 10, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

      Crystal mentioned mycelium insulation. Be careful with that one. I don’t think it’s been proven if it can or will reabsorb moisture and get moldy. However, it’s an amazing invention and that deke-guy from Relax Shacks did a nice short video on YouTube easy to find about using it in tiny home construction (the company producing the mycelium insulation built a tiny home he video’s).. But even Deke had a comment about the mold possibilities. I would be ESPECIALLY careful if trying to use it in floor insulation due to a greater risk of water intrusion.

    • Alan March 18, 2016 at 9:41 am #

      If anyone else has these same questions – the conversation here > http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/community/forum/general-questions/41526/moisture-management-tiny-house-subfloor#comment-154091 from #14 onwards may help….

      I am leaning towards building my own 3″ EPS SIP ontop of the deck despite that it’s ready to receive insulation in-between the steel trailer cross-members.

      I’ve been frightened away due to the ‘thermal bridging’ discussion.

  76. Carl Hays May 29, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    Please clarify, did you buy an existing trailer and have it modified for your needs or did you have the trailer built from scratch?

    • Andrew
      Andrew May 31, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

      It is best to have a custom trailer built.

      • Jim Wall July 4, 2015 at 10:13 pm #

        Andrew,
        Would you be so kind to give me the name of the trailer manufacturer you used?
        Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!

        Jim

        • Andrew
          Andrew July 8, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

          Hi Jim. Check out the FAQs page on the website. We have some manufacturers on there to connect with. Have fun!

  77. deb July 6, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    hi and ty for your insight ,when you say fabricator and eliminate the middleman .how do you go about finding a fabricator ,I have found lots of companies that sell trailers most laugh when I tell them what I want for size of trailer. Looking for a 32or longer by 8.6 trailer ,extra room is for my sewing business, I do leather,canvas and vinyl custom work and repairs. So I need a room 12-16 ft long to accomindate machines and supplies.ty deb

    • Andrew
      Andrew July 8, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

      Hi Deb. You want to find a trailer manufacturer, not a dealer. You may need to ask around. You can start by talking to people in the metal fabrication industry. They may have good leads. You can also talk to the trailer dealers to ask about their fabricators. That is a VERY long trailer for a tongue pull. I would recommend you consider a fifth wheel trailer instead as the extra length may make the tongue pull hard to tow.

  78. paul July 10, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    repost of I know there company spray the underside of there trailer in foam just thought let people know that and also I like know more on electric panel in tge tiny home not much out there on this ty

  79. Tori September 7, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    Just purchased a 36 foot gooseneck. Curious if anyone has implemented solar panels into the design?? Would love info on it if so πŸ™‚ Thanks

  80. Sara September 16, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    Hi Andrew, I am currently saving for the tailer part, and have been researching like crazy.
    You said you can get a custom trailer built for a reasonable price. my question is what is the reasonable price range and how does it compare to other prices out there you’ve seen. Also after finding and contacting a manufacturer, approximately how long is the wait time for the construction of that custom trailer. (I’d LOVE to go this route) Oh and side note question, along with the specifications you made for your trailer, did you end up using a utility style or deck over style?
    Thank You!

    • Sara September 16, 2015 at 8:50 pm #

      So I didn’t really read all of the messeges i’m sorryy. But! I did see that you mentioned you rarely if ever move your tiny home. I plan on moving it. Not too often, but often enough, so would going the lower trailer route still pan out? or will it create complications in other areas. Okay thats the last question! haha maybe.
      Thanks again

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 19, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

      Hi Sara. We have changed the trailer design on our hOMe to allow for a higher deck without sacrificing head room. You could use the drop axle for sure, but it is lower to the ground and a bit harder to move when dealing with grade changes (in and out of parking lots for example).

      We used a custom trailer where the deck extends out beyond the wheel wells so it’s more of a utility than a deck over, but a β€œwide utility.” Cost and time line vary greatly depending on where you are and who you work with. I would say anything from $7000-$9,000 is reasonable for our custom trailer and wait time could be 4-6 weeks at the most.

      Andrew

  81. Madeline N. November 23, 2015 at 9:14 am #

    Hey Andrew,

    Just a quick question about the last point made in this post. If you choose to forgo the trailer’s 2×6 decking and add insulation between the metal members of the trailer, do you attach flashing to the underside of the trailer to protect the insulation? Are you still required to construct the 2×4 floor framing above the metal members in order to support the plywood subfloor? And if that’s the case, why not place the insulation between these 2×4 members?

    I tried to review previous posts, so I hope this isn’t a repeat question. Really appreciate it! Thank you!

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 23, 2015 at 10:39 am #

      Hi Madeline. We do include flashing under the trailer to secure the insulation and protect it, and the rest of the undercarriage, from moisture. You can secure the subfloor directly to the trailer and then frame the walls up from there. That is what we did. You can include a floor frame above the trailer if you prefer; however, you will lose some headroom as a result. It does make it easier to install plumbing in the floor though. It’s a balance of what is most important to you.

      • Madeline N. November 23, 2015 at 11:32 am #

        Thanks Andrew! I really appreciate the fast reply! If you don’t mind one more quick thing: Does “subfloor” consist of just a layer of flashing, a moisture barrier and a sheet of plywood? (or OSB, I know there are different schools of thought).

        Coming from a non-constructing background, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, because I feel like I could put my foot through a layer of plywood. πŸ˜‰

        • Andrew
          Andrew November 25, 2015 at 11:30 am #

          Technically, subfloor is only speaking of the plywood (or OSB). The inclusion of flashing as a moisture barrier is necessary, but is not considered part of the subfloor. You will need to use the right material so you don’t put your foot through it! πŸ™‚ For your floors, a minimum of 3/4″ tongue and groove sheathing is recommended.

  82. edward jefferson December 30, 2015 at 11:50 pm #

    Great idea. Very awesome as always.

  83. Dave K February 22, 2016 at 11:51 am #

    Would using a drop axle on a 30′ trailer make it too difficult to move in a rural area where landscapes are generally undulating (read not-flat)? Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    • Andrew
      Andrew February 24, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

      Hi Dave. With that length of trailer, the drop axle would like make moving the trailer around difficult, especially in rural areas where clearance is low to begin with.

  84. Albert Mayfield March 4, 2016 at 3:50 am #

    Useful article . Coincidentally , if people needs to merge PDF or PNG files , my business partner discovered a tool here http://goo.gl/ZfP2Vj

  85. Tara March 31, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    I have finally started making some forward progress towards the tiny house of my dreams. When requesting a quote and more information about custom trailers, I was told “Drop axles give you lower ground clearance, and with a 28′ trailer, with a house on it, could cause you to hit the ground in uneven area or on hills. That is in addition to them not being as strong of an axle as straight axles and have a tendency to break or give out.” I had specifically asked about drop axles based on your recommendations here which, by the way, are super helpful! So…are these concerns I should have, or would you recommend finding another trailer place that will give me exactly what I want? I don’t have a lot of experience in any area related to building a tiny home, so it’s hard for me to discount the advice of others (say trailer advice from a trailer company), but it’s also sometimes challenging to know whose advice is best. If you were to build your home again, would you still use drop axles? Thank you!

    • Tara March 31, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

      And…maybe this has already been answered. If so, I apologize.

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 6, 2016 at 10:58 am #

      Hi Tara. Thanks for your message and congratulations on taking the next steps towards achieving your tiny house dream. That’s exciting!!! I would agree that the drop axles increase the potential of hitting the ground in uneven terrain. We have recommended to people to install a roller on the back of the trailer to help roll it over the terrain in such situations. That said, we do not use the drop axles on our plans anymore, mainly because we found a different way to build the trailer that makes it stronger, less expensive, and perform better on the road. I don’t agree with the statement that drop axles break more often. They are a viable and strong option, but one that you don’t need to use if you don’t want to. I hope that helps. You can talk to Joshua Engberg at Tiny House Basics for a quote on your trailer if you have not already. He has provided several for other hOMe customers in the past.

  86. mac April 11, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

    hi Andrew, im looking at buying a new galvanized trailer that will have a flat deck size of approx. 4m x 2m (13.1foot x 6.5foot) to start a tiny house build on.
    what do you think I should go for, one that has a) a galvanized checker plate deck, B) a plywood deck, or C) just comes with no deck (just the exposed metal frame members)
    thanks πŸ™‚

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 13, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

      I would suggest a deck that has flashing is best as that process is difficult to accomplish on your own. I worry about the width of the trailer though. 6.5 feet is VERY narrow and won’t leave you much room to build inside. Consider that a typical tiny house is built on an 8′ wide trailer. Every inch counts.

  87. Megan April 12, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

    Do you find that the drop of the axles creates any problems while driving your tiny house on the road (as if the tiny house were too low to the ground)?

    We would be moving ours (more than likely) quite a bit, over many different types of roads and terrain. Therefore, I would like to know if it would still be recommended for us to use the drop-down axles on our trailer like you aforementioned here.

    Thanks much!
    Megan

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 13, 2016 at 6:07 pm #

      If you plan to move it a lot, I would suggest either using regular axles (which is what we show on our plans now) or adding a roller bar to the back of the trailer in case it does “bottom out.”

  88. Donna Babcock May 1, 2016 at 7:25 am #

    Hello Andrew,
    I am researching building a tiny home of my own. I am thinking of having a custom built 28′ aluminum trailer but I would love to hear your opinion on why I don’t see more of these. I haven’t sourced out a price but it is the foundation! I live in Canada and it just seems to make more sense to go aluminum. Looking forward to hearing form you.
    Cheers
    Donna B

    • Andrew
      Andrew May 1, 2016 at 10:18 am #

      Hi Donna. Thanks for your message. I have to admit that I am not an expert on trailers. My assumption as to why fewer people use aluminum trailers is in regards to strength. I know that aluminum trailers are lighter; however, I wonder if they have the same strength as steel trailers. My guess is that they do not. Tiny houses are very heavy, unlike RVs. For example, our hOMe is roughly 17,000 pounds when empty. I’d say if you can do the aluminum in a way that ends up lighter, but is as strong, then go for it. I imagine it will be more expensive too, but perhaps that is worth it. Good luck and have fun!

  89. Bobbi Jean Wood May 4, 2016 at 7:00 am #

    Thanks for the tips! I have included both of these details in our tiny which is just being started after a year of planning. I thought I would let you know a good way to gain even more inches in combination with what you mention we were able to gain over 15″. By using a triple axle instead of a double the trailer fabricator was able to use tires that were 3″ smaller bringing 3″ to the interior head room. Another way to gain a few is by skipping the traditional wood truss roof and using a SIP systems to not only do the walls but the roof too. On a shed roof no additional support or ridge beams are needed and the insulation and structural support of the roof are all one component. This intern allows the roof to be thinner over all gaining an extra 2-5″ depending on your exterior roofing finish material.

    • Andrew
      Andrew May 4, 2016 at 11:28 am #

      Excellent. Great stuff Boobi Jean.

  90. Allen Aguiluz May 7, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    Could the stairs fit my 80 pound dog?certainly I’m scared that my dog well fall off at the end of the stair.and also the second loft could I make a tiny bridge to that loft or would it be unstable… Like connecting those top cabnets.i don’t like to have a ladder in the second loft I’m not used to ladders if its probably fair I could add a little height to the second loft.als I have so many ideas from this house if I could have hanging rack in the roof not top.if I can put a tv in the fist and second loft and would my desktop fit in that desk….well that’s a little bit more power. Also I’m a bit to young:age 14 but I always love to build my new house.

    • Andrew
      Andrew May 9, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

      Hi Allen. The stairs could certainly handle your dog. We had an 80 pound dog here before she past away. She was old and was not as agile on the stairs as our young dogs, but they supported her just fine.

  91. Mollie May 11, 2016 at 2:58 am #

    If I plan to build on a permanent foundation and do NOT intend for the hOMe to be moved. Could the ceiling height be raised by approximately 3 ft, enough to actually have standing room in the lofts? My boyfriend and I love the tiny home movement but he is 6’3″ and previously broke his back so he would prefer a full loft so he doesn’t have to crawl in and out bed.

    • Andrew
      Andrew May 11, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

      Hi Mollie. If you are not building on wheels, you would not be restricted in height or width. That said, adding height or width will change the design proportions significantly and may not maintain the look you are after.

  92. flordy May 28, 2016 at 7:53 am #

    does the Low-Wider Trailer that Tumbleweed offer have these DROP AXLES and CROSS RAILS to maximize height? i know there maximize width with its 7′ 7″ living space. if dnt i might have look in into these custom trailers. it problaby cost less the trailer i want id $5,000 dnt inculding shipping
    http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/products/tumbleweed-trailer

    • Andrew
      Andrew May 28, 2016 at 11:24 am #

      I’m not sure what they include with their trailers. Sorry.

  93. Marie June 8, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

    What would you say to the idea of having the trailer come with a diamond plate metal guard welded to the bottom by the fabricator? I know it would add weight, but it would also be much more permanent than anything I could do. I would think it would add to the rigidity and overall strength of the trailer as well.

    What do you think about an angled end (lowboy mafi style) trailer? I work on roll on-roll off ships and the angled deck on a mafi lowboy don’t seem to affect their weight limits (I have seen 60 ton units loaded onto single 40 foot long mafi). With the side “beams” angling from all the way down just behind the wheels to about 4 inches below the deck at the end, the mafi can clear a relatively steeply angled ramp fairly well. In normal operation the trailer more commonly bottoms out about 1/2 way between the tug hook point and the first tripple axle at the “top” of the hill often before the tail end does. I know of no normal truck that can move a mafi style trailer but the deck height is, at most, about 12 inches. It would have to be professionally moved.

    Assuming that idea is not workable, is there any reason you would not be able to have the behind the wheel ground clearance higher than the before the wheel ground clearance? The wheels themselves regulate the clearance at the axles, so you only really need a higher deck height aft of the last axle, but you could have the front axle support a lower deck and the midde/last axle support at deck over height. With a side entrance could you just step “up” a single step (the height of the wheels) as you walk aft? Kind of a hybrid deck over with and lower profile fwd? The same kind of vertical transition is made for a gooseneck with no dimunition of strength. If there is no loft at the back 40% of the THOW (or at least no sleeping loft) this would also give you the additional height to put a bath all the way aft and still get the slope needed to run the drains to the center of the THOW for a center kitchen.

    I have noted that most everyone puts either a living room or a bedroom on a gooseneck. I would want a super lux bath room (with a sauna). Since the higher elevation works for the drains is there a reason no one else is doing this? A beautiful shower can be had in the nose section and a sauna right beside it. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/416723771752671508/

    Also, a built in length oriented bed with storage below would give more than enough room to put the largest water tanks required under the road side of the bed platform (you could even have access from the outside or use this 7ft x 2.5 foot area for a large solar battery bank, inverter, and storage tanks) and still provide additional sleeping (or reading) space above without needing a loft at all, yet I have seen nothing like this in anyone’s build. Is it just a question of taste or am I missing something?
    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/416723771752558999/

    And lastly what are your thought about smaller solid tires (or at least thicker walled tires) vs regular air filled ones?

    • Andrew
      Andrew June 24, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

      Hi Marie. I have to admit that your questions go beyond my area of expertise. What you suggest all makes sense to me, but I don’t have adequate experience in trailer fabrication to comment with any authority. Hopefully someone in this thread has that experience and can share their thoughts.

  94. Alexander Kingsbery June 29, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    Hey Andrew,
    We live in Bend OR and are looking to use the same trailer you are using just 24′ instead. Where did you get your trailer from??
    Thanks
    Alex

    • Alexander Kingsbery June 29, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

      NVM I see Levi and his number in a previous post.

  95. Vincent Brouillet July 5, 2016 at 2:58 am #

    Hey Andrew,

    you mentioned having started to design with steel frame. Have you got plans that cater for steel frame?
    And have you covered the insulation and the total thickness of the walls. I do understand you won’t be able to avoid thermal bridge for the floor but I imagine that you would use some sort of system to limit thermal bridge with steel frame walls and roof? Do you know where I can find information about that?

    • Andrew
      Andrew August 12, 2016 at 12:12 am #

      Hi Vincent. I do not have plans showing the steel frame; however, the folks at Volstrukt can build it for you (they have a current model complete at this time and are building it for friends of ours). It is key to place at least 1″ rigid (if not 2″ rigid) outside of the frame to eliminate thermal bridging. This is true for the roof and walls and you can insulate the floors similarly as well if you choose (you will lose headroom, but gain insulation value). Hope that helps.

  96. alex ettinger August 11, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

    Iv got a 22 foot trailer with 6,000 axle ratings. so 12,000 pound rating. do you think that will be sufficient for our tiny home.

    • Andrew
      Andrew August 11, 2016 at 9:29 pm #

      Hi Alex. That depends on a lot of factors. If you build with really heavy materials, then no. If you build with really light materials, then perhaps yes. To give you an idea, our house (28′) weighs roughly 17,000#. We sell the plans showing three 7,000# axles. That is just a part of it though. The frame itself needs to be rated for the weight too, and I have no way to know what the ratings are on that without more information (and to be honest, I am no engineer, so probably can’t help with determining the frame strength anyway). On another note, in terms of square feet, you won’t get to 250 SF with a 22′ trailer. You end up with an exterior square footage of 187 SF (8.5′ x 22′). The lofts don’t typically count in the square footage calculations. Hope that is at least helpful. πŸ™‚

  97. alex ettinger August 11, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    planning on around 250 square feet

  98. Valerie September 9, 2016 at 3:59 am #

    It would be wonderful if you had a partnership with a trailer fabricator who was making these trailers to your specifications and sold to all of us who want to build your hOMe design. Perhaps 3 fabricators, one on each coast and one in the Midwest…this is a movement after all…

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 10, 2016 at 11:41 am #

      Hi Valerie. I agree. We don’t have the time to put into that endeavor right now with everything else we are doing. I can recommend that you contact the folks at TrailerMade or TinyHouseBasics and see what they offer. They have both built a lot of trailers for our hOMe design. Let them know we sent you and they should take extra good care of you!

  99. Doreen Lindenburg September 17, 2016 at 7:33 am #

    Hi Andrew and Gabriella! And fellow tiny enthusiasts. I have purchased a custom trailer that was made for a client that backed out of the deal. I therefore got it at a slightly lower price. It is 28′ long and has six vertical steel threaded posts welded about 1 1/2 inches from the side of the trailer which is 8 feet 5.5 inches wide.

    I’m wondering Andrew if your plans would include instructions on how to adhere the structure of the tiny house to that trailer. I did hire a builder but he has never build a tiny house. We can’t figure out why the rods are so close to the edge and do not want to go beyond 8.6 inches wide on the build. I’m also wondering if I should add more before I have in insulated! It came with a sheet of metal under the trailer so I can begin my sub floor directly on the trailer. Thank you!

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 17, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

      Hi Doreen. My guess is that the bolts were placed there to land near the middle of a 2×4 exterior wall. The biggest challenge here is the size of your trailer as the 8’6″ size is measured to the widest point (siding, gutter, etc.) so you will have a hard time staying within that width. I imagine you can make it happen, but it will take some forethought.

      The plans show where we locate bolts and how to attach the structure to the trailer through the bolts. Hope that helps!

      Andrew

  100. Megan Garcia October 6, 2016 at 7:39 am #

    Hi everyone,

    Can you tell me, please, if anyone here has looked into the low-wider trailers Tumbleweed is putting out?

    I don’t know if these trailers have the lower axles like you wrote here, but can these trailers be used to gain headspace and width space (as they claim)?

    If so, HOW do you build on their squared off wheel wells to maximize the width and head space?

    Will there be boxes (where the wheel wells are) on the inside of the house?

    Also, if we didn’t go with a Tumbleweed trailer but rather a custom trailer like you did, what trailer type did you use with the lowered axles–what do we ask for (utility, deck-over, etc)?

    In addition, how did you frame the floor and walls to be maximum width and height over the wheel wells (with the lowered axles)? Is it harder than a “regular” trailer?

    Lastly, if the trailer has lower axles, is it harder to drive the finished house? Is it too close to the ground where it hits bumps and stuff under the house easier (like a low-riding car)?

    Thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions. I’m such a noob. Lol πŸ˜‰

    • /bob October 10, 2016 at 11:31 am #

      Just on the width question, please consider carefully. If thinking of building to max width of 8’6″ to avoid needing a special permit to pull it down the road you cannot consider just the width to the outside of the *walls* of the THOW, but must also consider how far ANY other part of it extends from the walls. That max width is total width of every part of the THOW, including any overhang from the roof and any other item attached such as a vent cover or window treatment/trim or anything else. I get the impression reading many different posts on the subject that many people seem to forget that or are not thinking of that. If the roof overhang on each side is 6″, that makes the max width at the walls to be 7’6″ only. Think of it this way: When it is done you have to be able to pull it through a frame that is exactly 8’6″ wide and 13’6″ tall and nothing, no part of the house can extend past that frame. Otherwise you will be considering a special permit if any part extends beyond that frame.

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 13, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

      Hi Megan. Sorry for the delayed response. Anytime you use a lower trailer, you will have more issues with clearance when driving the home and changing grades (like entering a gas station from a main road, etc.). You may want to have the trailer manufacturer place a roller wheel on the back of the frame so that if you do scrape, the trailer will roll and not be damaged. In terms of building on a trailer with wheel wells inside the house, yes, you will have to build around them. We hid ours under our stairs on one side and under a bench at our home office/eating area on the other. You’ll need to get creative with the design to minimize their impact.

      From what I can tell on Tumbleweed’s trailers, they are a drop axle, but their not that low ultimately. I have not used theirs, so it’s hard to say. I can say that there are mixed reviews for drop axles. Some folks like them and others don’t. It depends on who you talk to, so be sure to get as much input as possible.

      What’s for sure, is that building on a trailer that uses the full width of the trailer (outside the wheel wells) is worth it. It is a little more work to manage the details, but every inch counts, and you get a few by building that way!

      have fun.

  101. deb bushee October 19, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    be nice if you could list companies that sell these axles. one person that i did track down would only sell them with trailer

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 13, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

      Hi Deb. You would want to get them with the trailer. Changes axles once the house is built on the trailer is no easy task.

  102. Dawn Hart Jourdan November 3, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    Etrailer.com sells axles of every imaginable type, even esoteric ones. I have not yet ordered from them, but they have many customer reviews. It looks as though you must have large things deliveted to industrial locations, but I expect a trailer manufacturer would be used to that.

    I am very interested in Timbren’s axle-less independent suspension system, manufactured in Canada, which uses rubber springs. http://timbren.com/axle-less/ They seem to market these to off road trailers, but still offer a 4″ drop version. Each wheel can move independently.

    One listed advantage to this suspension is that it will work well underloaded, where leaf springs bounce loudly when underloaded. My final weight is unknown, and variable if I have holding tanks, so having a suspension rating well above my predicted weight seems calming. With a rubber suspension, bounce will be minimized, causing less stress to the home and contents.

    Do you know of anyone who has built a tiny house with this suspension system? I know it’s unusual, but not brand new, as Timbren has won awards for it as far back as 2011.

    Can you think of any reasons using these for a tiny house would be a bad idea?

    Thank you for your wealth of information and wisdom. I greatly appreciate your time.

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 13, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

      Hi Dawn. I don’t have experience with these. I love the idea though. I have posted to Tiny House People on Facebook to see if anyone has experience with them. I’ll also contact Damon at Trailermade to see what he thinks.

      Andrew

      • James D. January 11, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

        I’m no expert, but I believe Timbren’s Axle-less products are only rated up to 3500 pounds max, mainly for sport utility vehicles and smaller trailers and etrailer stated that they don’t recommend them for triple axle configuration. So with tandem configurations you’d likely not have the support needed for anything but a very small THOW and would be pushing the max rating even at that…

        A better option would be Dallas Smith Corp – Axleless Low Floor Suspensions, which have very high GWR. While giving a ride height of 10″-12″, with 16″-18″ floor height.

        Considering even a drop axle still leaves most trailers at about 24″ or 2 ft to then build the TH upon that the extra 7-9 inches this would provide could be a game changer. While it can still raise the trailer when clearance is needed and can self adjust to changing weight loads… along with giving the TH a very smooth ride, so the house itself can last longer and materials like drywalls and reclaimed glass windows will be more practical…

        It’s just a question of cost and long term longevity as to whether these options would be good for a THOW, especially as you’d be looking at a completely custom job, but it does beg the question why no one has even tried yet… Though, you can find them used in products like friendly buses that can lower themselves to make easier access for the disabled… Company even offers a self leveling extendable ramp system.

  103. Max A December 19, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

    I would like to have a custom trailer built with receiver holes or welded box/grooves for aluminum or wood framing 2x4s as sort of a tiny-home-ready trailer. It would be so easy to frame the house with a strong basic metal frame connected right to the trailer, maybe with some rubber blocks set into those recievers. That begs the question of what the ULTIMATE TH trailer would look like. Inventing and marketing this trailer in bulk would both drive the cost down, and make THs more widespread. Some of the trailer fabricators looking for a niche market should start serving this market vertical directly. You could even call them things like “The Ultimate TH” “WideLoad TH”, “Mini TH”, “OffRoad TH” trailers.

    • Andrew
      Andrew January 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

      Very cool concept for sure. I know that every tiny home is slightly different, but this seems like a great idea to me. One thing I would want on my trailer, personally, is a way to easily attach and detach it to/from a permanent foundation. This would allow it to easily meet the IRC requirements and still remain mobile when necessary. Any takers…?

      • James D. January 12, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

        Any system will have to either be built around the trailer, like a docking system or kit, or the trailer itself has to be detachable to then lower the TH into a foundation… Probably with a lift system that can lift and lower the TH separately from the trailer…

        The later of course will require a specially made trailer design that can detach but still be road worthy… Possibly cam locks or other strong temporary fastening system.

        For example, there are SIPs manufactured with cam locks to make it easy to lock them together but also to separate them for temporary structure designs.

  104. Campbell Walden January 2, 2017 at 7:45 am #

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m in Bellingham, Washington and I’m having a really difficult time finding a trailer within my budget, and time is running out for me to be able to find one. I want to start building in March. I’m 18, working two jobs, and conducting this project all by myself. Planning, designing, and funding. I’m really worried I won’t be able to afford the rest of the materials to dry-in my house if I can’t find the trailer less than $2500. (I’m looking for an 18′) Any suggestions?

    • Andrew
      Andrew January 6, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

      Hi Campbell. That can be a challenge for sure as you want to get the best trailer you can for the home since it’s the base and foundation. I would suggest talking to manufacturers in your area that are used to doing custom work. If you simply cannot afford the trailers as priced (custom made or stock that fit your needs) you might see if you can talk to some of the welders about doing a “side-job”. They would need to clear that with their employer, but some folks allow for that type of work and it can be less expensive this way. Be sure to check that they are insured and licensed in a way that will allow you to get the appropriate paperwork to register the trailer. Hope that helps.

  105. Shey January 28, 2017 at 11:26 am #

    Hi Andrew,

    Were you ever able to find any pictures of your custom built trailer? I am in Oregon as well and I am considering going custom.

    How much lower to the ground is your trailer vs conventional? I’m very curious about the wheel placement on yours.

    Shey

    • Andrew
      Andrew January 28, 2017 at 12:09 pm #

      Hi Shey. We have made so many changes to our trailer design over the last few years to make it better that finding an old picture of our original trailer won’t be worth much. Instead, I suggest you talk to a custom fabricator and let them know exactly what YOU want. You want the floor as low as possible while still being functional for driving. You want it strong enough to handle the weight of your home (depends on the design but 500 lbs +/- per linear foot for an 8’6″ home is a good starting point). I suggest you contact the folks at Iron Eagle Trailers in Fairview, Oregon (http://www.ironeagletrailers.com/ironeagle/) to see what they recommend. Good luck!

      • Shey January 28, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

        No problem. What type of changes? Did you have to take the home off the trailer to do so?

        I’m just trying to get an idea of what your wheel situation is. Are they completely under the frame? I can’t think of any alternative way than the “utility” or “deck-over”.

        Also, regarding a utility trailer. I assume the best option would be to build over the tire (like in a car) vs narrowing the width of the entire tiny house. Although, I can’t find any examples of this online. How are most approaching this (sorry…i’m not very knowledgeable in construction)?

        Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll definitely contact those guys.

        • Andrew
          Andrew January 28, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

          We made the changes on the trailer design that we sell along with our plans. We built to the full width of the trailer (8′) so that our finished dimension is 8’6″. We have extended the rails over the side of the trailer and incorporate the wheel wells into our home design (they are enclosed). Hope that makes sense. The folks at Iron Eagle have a slightly different version of a trailer design which I really like. They have built trailers for our home design in the past.

          • Shey January 28, 2017 at 7:14 pm #

            Oh I see what you mean about the home extending over your trailer (just checked out your home tour on youtube).

            Saw your enclosed wheel well. It was nice to see that because it’s something that’s never really shown on tiny houses.

            I’m still a bit confused on how you custom design gave you several extra inches? I thought the point of the custom design was to avoid the wheel wells in your home?

          • Andrew
            Andrew January 30, 2017 at 9:02 am #

            There is no way to avoid having the wheel wells inside the home unless you build with a deck over trailer. The problem there is that the height of the trailer makes a loft impossible. There are tradeoffs in any design to consider in advance. πŸ™‚

          • James D. February 1, 2017 at 8:10 pm #

            Well, it would be more accurate to say that there’s no way to eliminate the wheel well that doesn’t involve figuring a way to move the wheel out of the way…

            It’s possible but not very practical because it would require a high level of engineering that involves expensive technologies normally reserved for luxury RV’s and heavy hauler drop deck/low floor trailers that in turn would also require a high level of maintenance costs with higher risks of something going wrong over time…

            A more reasonable solution would be to try to minimize the profile of the wheel well… For example, you can have the trailer designed without a wheel well cover and instead integrate that into the TH shell to eliminate the need to insulate and cover the normal wheel well cover and thus minimize its profile…

            One way to do this is with galvanized steel, or aluminum, SIPs,

            Metal SIPs are extremely strong… Here are images to give a idea…

            http://www.durathermsips.com/uploads/2/4/3/8/24385285/_______6439726_orig.jpg

            http://www.singcore.com/images/MetalBenchStrong.JPG

            Om Ah Homes, makers of 10-12′ wide Tiny Houses, use SIPs and their houses are so stiff that they can use regular sheet rock wall finishing but so far they have never had to worry about cracking while moving and they’ve already moved their demo house across the country to various Tiny House events…

            So they don’t need additional stud framing support… While already combining the vapor barrier, insulation, etc and wall finishing can also be integrated… for the Roof a metal corrugated roofing can be one side of the SIP as well…

            Though, you can still use stud framing to create a service cavity between the SIP and interior wall finishing that can also be removable to make access to the plumbing, wiring, etc. easy…

            But these SIPs can be curved and thus a version that serves the function of the wheel well cover but doesn’t require any additional coverings besides interior finishing should greatly reduce its profile and impact on the interior spacing… as well as being able to integrate it with the rest of the SIP framing…

            Though, on a almost unrelated note… Metal SIPs would be a good solution for anyone who likes the look of say a Airstream Trailer… Since they can be curved but are naturally insulated, it allows for a all metal look but can be 4 season ready… While not needing additional finishing to help maximize interior spacing…

            Or you could just split the SIPs into interior and exterior walls, with a service cavity in between that you can install VIPs into for a insulation boost, allowing for thinner SIP panels… VIPs can also be integrated into curtain walls… So Window panels can be higher R-Value to further insulate a Tiny House without needing thicker walls…

            Some things to think about anyway… Depending on your budget and access to manufacturers willing to do custom work… But might want to see about whether a trailer maker would be willing to team up with a SIP maker for TH specific trailers better than anything presently available…

            You can probably add that the Ice Fishing Trailer business would probably be interested too… They make use of axle-less wheels that have a built in jack to allow the trailer to be lowered to the ground for Ice Fishing… maximum weight supported is less than some Tiny Houses but there’s a company in Dallas Tx that makes high load rated axle-less solution…

            So a insulated, super strong, trailer that needs only minimum wheel well covering would have a fairly big market appeal… along with ease of repair and replacement parts if the SIP panels are installed with something removable like cam locks… avoids one offs with spray foam and flexible customization as needed…

            It’s a thought, anyway…

  106. Daniella January 29, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    Hello Andrew and Gabriella,

    First I want to thank you for sharing all this information and taking time to answer questions. I’ve been dreaming about a tiny house for years and my husband and I are finally getting to the point of starting the construction.

    I live in south Florida and recently purchased a 28′ trailer. Although it was new, there was a significant amount of rust coming through the paint that we have decided to sand it down, re-prime it, and paint it again with miracle paint. The humidy, rain, and heat are truly unforgiving when it comes to rust, and being that the trailer is the foundation of our house, we want to make sure we do everything we can to preserve its’ structural integrity. Like you, my husband is 6′ tall and having read this post before I was ready to insulate the frame of the trailer to gain the head space instead of building a deck over it. However, talking to some people down here, I’ve been told that I don’t want to do that because it would mean more holes on the trailer and more possibilities for rust. The deck of our trailer also extends out to 8’4″ but the frame of trailer itself is only 7’9″ so if we did in fact insulate the frame of the trailer 8″ of the house all the way around would not be insulated. Do you think this being the case you would still recommend to use the frame for insulation? It would mean making holes underneath for the flashing and on top for attaching the house to the trailer.
    Thank you again!

    • Andrew
      Andrew January 30, 2017 at 8:42 am #

      Hi Daniella. Thanks for your message. It sounds like a good idea to minimize the penetrations in the frame in order to minimize the locations that rust could take hold. I would recommend that you use the newer trailer flashing that RVs use these days. It is more of a blanket that installs under the trailer in a single, large sheet. It is lightweight and requires much less fastening (less holes). I don’t know the name of the material, but you could certainly request that information from an RV dealer.

      Secondly, I think you will have to frame up the floor based on the width of the trailer. I’m concerned about the width of the house versus the width of the trailer though. It sounds like the edges of the house will be overhanging the trailer. This means that ALL of the weight of the roof and the two bearing walls (the main walls supporting the roof) will be on the frame that is overhanging the foundation. That will require some strong wood and something deeper than a standard 2×4 floor system. Exactly what you’ll need is something you’ll need to ask an engineer. This is crucial as the entire house will depend on this working. You may end up using steel and wood mixed together to minimize the height of the floor system while maintaining the strength you’ll need. Finally, you will need to make sure that the walls are attached well to the trailer. This will be harder to do if your walls are framed up outside of the trailer width. The bolts are located on the trailer frame, but the hold down brackets should be placed along side the studs, and then slipped over the bolts on the frame. Obviously, that won’t be possible with the walls outside the frame. Something else you should run by an engineer for help solving. Good luck!

  107. Shey February 20, 2017 at 7:58 pm #

    Hey Andrew could you provide Levis email? I’m looking into a custom trailer.

    • Andrew
      Andrew February 22, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

      Hi Shey. Unfortunately, Levi is not doing custom work at this time. He did us a favor in building the trailer but is not in the business of doing so. You may want to contact the folks at Iron Eagle, also in Oregon. Good luck!

  108. Judy Linklater March 8, 2017 at 10:54 pm #

    Have you checked out Triodetic foundation systems? They are strong, and even portable.

    • Andrew
      Andrew March 9, 2017 at 8:25 am #

      Very cool Judy. I had not heard of these before. I can see where they would be VERY suitable for a moveable tiny house. I like that they are portable, and can be installed over a slab or over bearing pads. Here is a great PDF description of the product for those who are interested to learn more. http://multipoint-foundations.com/pdfs/floodplain.pdf

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