Wide Load Tiny Houses: Life Beyond 8’6″

In no way am I suggesting that a tiny house get this wide, but for the right person, a tiny house in the 10' wide realm may be appropriate.

In no way am I suggesting that a tiny house get this wide, but for the right person/family, a tiny house in the 10′ wide realm may be appropriate.

The maximum trailer girth of 8’6″ (102″) has been pummeled into us tiny housers for so long that most of us don’t even consider breaching it when designing our tiny houses. In truth, trailers up to 16′ wide are allowed to be towed down major highways provided all safety measures (permits, flags, pilot cars, etc.) are met. This in no way is to say that I think tiny houses should lose their slim waist size; however, in the right circumstances, pushing beyond 8’6″ may be appropriate.

From the thousands of people that have contacted us with tiny house questions, very very few actually have intentions of pulling their tiny houses more than once or twice in the house’s life. Typically people plan on moving it just from the build site to their parking spot and then perhaps one more time years later. For them, having a bit more square footage for things like a downstairs bedroom, ADA access, etc. would be amazing. A wider tiny would also allow for larger framing members (2×6 rather than 2×4 walls), thus creating a better insulated tiny house.

So what are the legalities of pulling a wide load? Basically any trailer over 102″ (8’6″) is required to get a permit in order to be legally towed (no matter how short or long of a distance you are traveling on a public road). There are two exceptions to this rule: NJ and HI which all have a width limit of 8′ and anything over that requires the wide load permit. Click HERE for that resource. New York state as a limit of 8’6″ in general, 8′ in NYC and on any roads less than 10′ wide. For each state line you cross towing a wide load, you will need a separate permit (these matters are held at the local, not federal level). Applying for permits typically happens over the phone at which time you will be asked a lot of questions about your trailer load including specs about your axles and trailer, travel dates, routes, etc. Your fees will generally be in the $60-70 range per trip, per state. Be aware that most states don’t allow wide loads to be towed after dark or on weekends. Before you consider even moving a wide load, you will need to plan your entire route and make sure that any small roads you want to travel on can support your tiny’s girth. When you add these factors up, you can see that it’s a bit of a hassle to line up all of the details. For this reason, we highly recommend that you hire a hauling company to move your tiny house if you are going to go wide as they will handle all of the permitting, trip planning, and hauling.

But enough from us now, let’s bring in an expert on the matter. In this article, we interview Daniel Ferris for the second time. We ran a story on him and his family a few weeks ago to showcase a beautiful example of a self built tiny house. Daniel shares that, “Building a wide tiny house can seem a little daunting and risky” but also shares that with perspective and information, it’s nothing to be afraid of. He and his wife built a 28′ x 10′ wide tiny. As a hauling broker, Daniel is a pro on all matters towing and road related so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask him our questions.

DANIEL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT GOING WIDE. WE WERE CURIOUS WHY YOU GUYS PERSONALLY CHOSE TO GO THIS ROUTE?

The Ferris self built gorgeous tiny house measures in at 28' x 11' (with eaves) wide

The Ferris self built gorgeous tiny house on wheels measures in at 28′ x 10’6″ (with eaves) wide

Our reason for building wide was to fit a couple extra necessities into our tiny house. My wife and I know that this is going to be a long term home for us so we wanted to add those “extra details” to make our lives comfortable in the house. For those of you who have built or lived in a tiny house, you know that every inch counts. Having those extra inches on the width truly gives our tiny house a very spacious feeling. Our tiny house measures in at 8′ 3/4″ on the interior, 9′ to the exterior walls, and 10’6″ with the gable roof overhangs.

WHAT IS THE COST OF BUILDING WIDE?

The extra cost of building materials is fairly negligible; there won’t be much of a difference. As for the trailer, there are a few things to consider. Building a wider tiny house trailer won’t necessarily be much harder for an experienced manufacturer; however, there are limits. Axle widths are typically standard and if you want to go wider, you will have to pay a lot for custom axles to be made (I’m not certain if this is even a possibility as there may be axle length maximum limits).

We personally kept a standard axle width and built the trailer frame around those axles. Because the trailer was wider than our axles, our wheel wells protruded through our floor space awkwardly. For this reason, we built a raised floor on our trailer. An alternative to dealing with the wheel wells on a wide tiny is to order a deck-over flatbed. Another consideration is that if you order a custom-wide trailer and they need to deliver it to you, they will charge more for said delivery because they will need to pull wide load permits and deal with that process. Be sure to connect with your manufacturer ahead of time and see how much your delivery costs will increase.

WHAT IS MOVING A WIDE TINY HOUSE LIKE?

Going just a tad wider than normal, the Ferris' were able to incorporate some things such as this awesome bath tub

Going just a tad wider than normal, the Ferris’ were able to incorporate some things such as this awesome bath tub

Moving a wide load tiny house is a bit more complicated but all in all, not too bad. Let’s put it in perspective. If you only plan on moving your tiny house on rare occasions, or even just once, then paying for wide permits and hauling it won’t be an issue. Here is what you should know. Cost of permits in some states are higher than in others. In general though, you will pay around $65 per state.

In terms of hauling, I would recommend you contact a freight broker or a driver directly to have them pull it for you. These drivers are pros and know the ins and outs of pulling permits, staying safe, and making sure your tiny house arrives in one  piece.  The cost to have your tiny house hauled varies based on many circumstances. Here are some of the variables to consider: time of year you are shipping, supply and demand, fuel prices, local shows requiring a lot of drivers, kind of truck needed (power only, pintle hitch, ball and hitch set up, 5th wheel, oversized), distance of the run, and location of the destination.  This is why it is important to have a good working relationship with a freight broker you trust, or to use a driver you know will do the job well. Long story short, I can’t tell you an average cost because there isn’t; however, I can share that a typical wide load haul from Medford to Portland, OR (nearly 300 miles), for example, will run around $1,000 plus the permit fee.

IF THERE IS AN INCREASED COST IN MOVING A TINY HOUSE, WHY BUILD ONE?

It all depends on the cost benefit for each individual or family. For us personally, building wide didn’t pose a negative issue at all. We only plan on moving ours one time once we buy land so the extra space out-weighs the cost of permits and hiring a driver. Having the extra width goes a long way for my family.

These are questions I recommend you ask prior to designing your tiny house.

Will extra space add a better quality of life for you and your family?

Will the cost of shipping a wide tiny house be more than you want to spend?

How often do you plan on moving your tiny house?

WHAT DOES BUILDING WIDE DO TO THE OVERALL WEIGHT OF A TINY HOUSE?

A compilation of images from the Ferris build. Note the wheel wells intruding on the overall floor space.

A compilation of images from the Ferris build. Note the wheel wells intruding into the overall floor space.

Any time you add square footage to a tiny house, the weight is going to increase. What’s important is that you factor in all of this information and get a strong sense of how much your tiny house will weigh before you reach out to a trailer fabricator. A good fabricator will help you design a trailer with a frame and axles strong enough to handle the load. Remember that heavy duty axles cost more and that the price continues to rise as they become more and more heavy duty.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE WHEELS WHEN YOU BUILD WIDE?

Great question. Personally, we built a platform/raised floor all the way across the middle section where the wheel wells were located. This provided a couple of advantages. One, we had the full interior width of the trailer in what we call the great room with no obstructions. This also provided a little more height to run my stair stringer from. Including the double-riser at the top step and the raised floor, we were able to make our stair risers just a hair under 8”, which is a very comfortable riser height. Putting in a raised floor to conceal the wheel wells does have some advantages.

SO HOW WIDE IS PRACTICAL WHEN IT COMES TO TINY HOUSES?

I guess that just depends on the situation or perspective. If you start to build really wide, you may be better off just buying a single wide manufactured home, especially since they have delivery options set up all over the country. As you can see, there are challenges with fabricated wide load trailer delivery and also when it comes time to tow the completed house. The wider you go, the higher your costs will be so it all comes down to what value you place on a wider footprint. For some people, being able to have a comfortable downstairs bedroom or a space that can accommodate their entire family for years to come, would make those extra charges worth it. For the person that wants to tow their own tiny house and plans on moving quite a bit, the wide load option would not be great. It all comes down to personal needs.

For more images of the Ferris tiny home, please click HERE and go to bottom of article for a slide show.

What about you? Would you consider going wide with your tiny house build? Would it be worth the extra cost and effort? How often do you plan on moving your tiny house? 

31 Responses to Wide Load Tiny Houses: Life Beyond 8’6″

  1. swabbie Robbie February 9, 2016 at 11:48 am #

    Thanks for this article. As we are about to market our home and downsize for our later years, I am weighing all the options. I doubt we would be moving our next home very much but like the option of being able to un- couple from mother earth and take our home and studio/shop building to another place without having to sell and buy again.

    Since we may find an 8 foot too small I have been looking at Park Model RVs for concepts. I see 10 foot wide and 12 foot wide versions that look accommodating. I would probably build my own instead of purchasing and existing one because the quality would be better for the costs, and I could do alot about keeping weight down without sacrificing strength. I would build a 12′ X 30′ wide shell for the studio.

    I think the RV industry is pretty well set up for moving Park Models with the 10′ and 12′ widths so it should avoid them overcharging for some custom built house they would need to do special calculations on.

    • Michael February 9, 2016 at 5:27 pm #

      Informative article. When you are looking on shipping costs for park models you are aware what expenses you are facing although most of them have their own trucks.
      I am wondering why the industry isn’t using more slide out to increase interior space instead.
      You can tow with your own truck and have more space when parked.

      • TJ Houston February 9, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

        You are referring to Park Models within the 8′ 6″ width limit?

        TJ

        • Phil June 22, 2017 at 2:25 am #

          No, the article is all about W I D E. ones

  2. Jerry McIntire February 9, 2016 at 6:32 pm #

    We started designing to 10′ wide and now are at 12′ without overhangs. We don’t plan to move it more than a couple times over many years, and we found that moving anything under 13′ 6″ requires only a simple permit. Your state may vary!

    • Ravi February 10, 2016 at 8:54 am #

      Jerry, Length?

    • Javier Puentes January 13, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

      Hi jerry can you tell me what kind of trailer are you using and where did you get it. I’m want to build one with the same measurements. If you could give me some advices I will really appreciate.
      Tnak you.

  3. TJ Houston February 9, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    Very beautiful and “homey” looking. Are those real “stone” tiles in the bathroom, if so, how are they working out?

    TJ

    • Daniel Ferris February 10, 2016 at 6:00 am #

      yea its a natural grey slate. Pain in the rear to install, as every tile varies in size so there is a lot of adjusting. But I like how it turned out.

  4. TJ Houston February 9, 2016 at 7:59 pm #

    Third time I’ve seen that type of low pitched roof and I’m really falling for it. It appears to give more overall room than the slanted shed style I was originally leaning towards. What slope did you use, and what material did you use for your roof?

    TJ

    • Daniel Ferris February 10, 2016 at 6:01 am #

      It is about a 10 degree slope. The beam is a glue lam and the rafters are a 2″ x 6″. Basically a dormer style all the way across.

  5. Will February 10, 2016 at 12:03 am #

    Great article! Personally, I’m building slim because I’m going tiny on a trailer to live the nomad life style. I plan on being on the road a lot when she’ll be ready to roll and I wanted the process to be as simple as possible. Even though I’m loosing inside footage, because I’m insulating her to sustain Canadian winters, I have no regrets. The benefits of being able to freely navigate the roads outweighs the benefits of a little more floor space.

  6. Ravi February 10, 2016 at 8:53 am #

    Hi Daniel, I’m sure you considered length as well as width. If you’re not planning to move much or ever, why didn’t you go longer as well as wider? Also why did you chose 10′ wide instead of 10’6″, or 11′, or wider? Just curious about how you landed on 28′ x 10′. The article is excellent. Thanks for your input! -Ravi

    • Daniel Ferris February 10, 2016 at 6:00 pm #

      well the construction location limited me to the length and width. I could have gone bigger but the size was comfortable for us and again the location limited us to that size. Would I have gone bigger??? I don’t know, if the option had presented itself… maybe.

  7. Dani Dayton February 15, 2016 at 11:16 am #

    Hello all! We’ve been following along and gathering information for some time and have finally decided to build our hOMe based on the plans we purchased from Gabriella and Andrew a while back. Of course, the trailer is the first step, and actually seems more daunting than the build in my mind because this is the foundation of the entire house. And you know, it means you’re really starting. Yikes! 🙂

    What we were wondering is whether you all (Daniel, Gabriella and Andrew) would be willing to share the basic specs you gave to whomever fabricated your trailers? We’re trying to decide whether or not to build wide and it would help us a great deal to have a “cheat sheet” from which to ask for quotes on both widths.What I have gathered from the Morrisons’ posts is: 28′ X 102″, 3 (drop) axle trailer rated for 7K lbs per axle. Am I missing anything critical? Any additional suggestions from either party on crucial details to go over with potential fabricators?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide and for all of the wonderful information you have shared with us so far!

    Dani and Lance

    • Gabriella February 17, 2016 at 9:08 am #

      Hi Dani and Lance! So great you guys are getting started! Your hOMe plans have the full trailer plans and specs for you to take to a fabricator. Let me know if you need me to send it off again 🙂

  8. Andrew Schoen February 17, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

    Great article for sure! I am about half way done with my heavily oversized Tiny Mansion! I took a 8ft x 30ft trailer and had 2 feet welded on to go 10×30′. I plan on living in this, and I am a reasonably tall guy, so I wanted to wider taller space. Since I will already have to pay to have it moved, and that should only happened once, I went taller than 13’6″ as well. It’s about 15ft!

    I know all the hassle and expense will be well worth it once I’m living in it! Oh, and by the way, the design was completely based off the HoME design, so thanks Andrew and Gabriella!

    • Gabriella February 18, 2016 at 9:59 am #

      I am SO excited to see your place done Andy!! Hope all’s great!

  9. Barb February 26, 2016 at 8:23 am #

    One other thing to be aware of is access to your final location. A wider house will limit where you can park it. I looked into buying a 12′-wide park model and parking it on a friend’s rural property but realized it would never fit through her gate and there was no other way onto the property.

    If you plan to park your less-tiny house back in the woods or in a farm field, you may want to check the width of the access road first and consider the cost of taking down trees, taking down and replacing fences, and/or grading the road.

  10. Nadia marshall March 8, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    Thank you for this post… I stumbled across it looking for Andrews blog on drop axles and it is so timely! We live in Australia and want to build a wider tiny house. The legal trailer width here is 2.5m 8’2″) and we want to go a minimum of 2.8m wide (9’2″). But, if you can’t legally register a trailer that is wider than 2.5m, you can’t weld extensions onto it… You can only build a wider wooden frame for the tiny house floor and attach that to the 2.5m wide trailer and then get a wide load cert to move it. I think this is what the Minim house crew do. But a lot of people here are talking about wider trailers. How do you register trailers that are 12′ wide if your legal limit is 8’6″?

    • Gabriella March 9, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

      Hi Nadia! Here is the response from Daniel to your question: Unfortunately I do not have any knowledge on registering the trailer. I didn’t worry about it as I planned on only moving once so i was just going to put on temp plates along with the wide permits to move it. And the trailer was manufactured to 102″ wide so I didn’t have to worry about towing it away as it was legal width at the time. The trailer mfg. should be able to tell you what they can and cannot build. Legally I have never heard of it as an issue to have a wide trailer manufactured in the US. Many farmers have custom built trailers to haul stuff around their farms, but these trailers are not always registered either, and they typically stay on the farms or are used less frequently on the road as they have to buy a permit to move. Mobile homes are also built on a wide trailer frame of 12′ wide. There are specific regulations and certifications they have through the government obviously to build just like any business, but that is another example of trailers being manufactured past the standard width. If Australia has a law against registering and manufacturing trailers past the 8′ 2″ mark then there is no possibility of getting a VIN and registering the trailer. Thus leaving no room for conversation. They should contact several trailer manufacturers in their area and ask what they can legally build for them and what they are trying to accomplish. If the trailer needs to be registered with a VIN number the manufacture will know exactly what they legally can do and how it is to be classified in order to meet those specifications. Any way hope that helps! 🙂

      • Nadia Marshall March 13, 2017 at 4:58 pm #

        Hi guys…
        I wanted to let you know we finished our extra wide tiny house and have been happily living in it for 9 months now. We ended up building a 2.5m wide regulation trailer so got a VIN number but then had a 3m wide metal frame attached on top that we then built the house on. We haven’t registered it because we hopefully won’t have to move it again (it had a single short journey from its build site to its resting place – we got a tow truck to move it with all the extra wide/Extra high certs and temporary rego). It is very comfortable living for two people and two big dogs. I feel like it’s almost excessive and we could have gone smaller but it is such easy living! Here is our build on Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/zentinyhouse/#!/zentinyhouse/
        Thanks for all the advice!
        Cheers
        Nadia x

  11. Jeffrey April 18, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    Why don’t tiny houses incorporate “slides” as the big motorcoaches, and even some of the smaller class “C” RVs do? This would allow the home to be slim going down the road, and up to 12′ wide in some home spaces when parked and set up? It would seem to me, to be the ultimate compromise that ends in a “win-win”.

    • /bob April 18, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

      I can imagine that you don’t usually see slide-outs on a TH due to added expense to ensure they are waterproof, and even more than that the whole idea of a TH is NOT to be *bigger* but smaller. I see a great many newcomers to the movement who seem to forget that the entire theme in the TH movement comes out of the small end of the minimalist movement, or small house movement. That that the most important part is downsizing your collection of stuff to what you really authentically need. Tiny “Living” must come first and foremost before anyone can ever consider the size of their house. The biggest problem with some new TH owners is that they forgot to downsize enough, if at all, first and try to fit at least a subset of their existing stuff into a space that is too small to fit it. And then they realize they didn’t want to live that small anyway and the experiment fails for them. FIRST live tiny, then you’ll know what size dwelling you require to be comfortable. If you need more space than a THOW can provide then you don’t really want a TH but rather possibly a SMALL house instead. Again, the modern TH movement was initially about building a HOUSE that is “right-sized” for you. The trailer base was only introduced to get around restrictive codes and not primarily for transportation. I’ve said this many times, if you want the RV lifestyle, including living in a dwelling that can expand with tip-outs and slide-outs, then get a RV. Those will cost less anyway. They are made for the road. But if you want to live tiny and can locate to any of a growing number of communities that allow it, then build a TH or small house or whatever sized house in that location and enjoy a lower cost lifestyle (compared with big-house living with lots of excess stuff) in a dwelling that better suits you. What ever the size of the house is, it will be less costly than following the conventional brainwashing that everyone needs or wants a mcmansion and as much stuff their paycheck can buy to fill it to overflowing. This is madness.

      • Alina June 25, 2016 at 7:34 pm #

        Jeffrey, when I looked into it, the cost was pretty solid, and the argument was that the more moving parts there are, the more likely you will have something go wrong. And in a tiny house, the thing that gets jammed or has squirrels nesting in it is likely to be awfully hard to get into. That being said, ask around! Builders should be able to give a better answer.

  12. Brigette September 24, 2016 at 8:20 pm #

    Hi. I’m a bit late in coming, but I just found this post. I’ve only found one tiny house trailer manufacturer that has a 10′ wide option, and that trailer was about $10,000. I would like the extra width because my fiancé and I are planning to start a family right after we get married this spring, and my family lives a couple days’ drive away so we’d need some space for guests. You said you cantilevered your house over the sides of your trailer. How is it holding up? Is there enough support for the walls?

    • Chan March 19, 2017 at 10:30 am #

      Brigette, which manufacturer did you find to build the wider trailer? I’ve been looking but have had no luck yet.

  13. Luke Smith February 24, 2017 at 4:14 pm #

    Thanks for pointing out that any trailer over 102 inches is required to get a permit in order to be legally towed. It’s easy to see how towing something extra wide like that could have traffic ramifications, so the permit there makes sense. It could be useful to look into the weight limit as well, as there could potentially be a permit required if the load is too heavy.

  14. Destiny May 4, 2017 at 11:57 pm #

    Hi there everyone,
    I’ve been looking into tiny houses for a while and i also have a friend that has been doing the same. Today I finally came across this site.

    I have to wonder, is it possible to build higher than 13.6′?
    Like say a two story tiny house instead of just a one story with a loft ?
    How would one go about getting the permits for that?
    What all would be needed?

    I think I had my question about building wider than 8.6′ answered already, lol.

    • /bob May 5, 2017 at 11:46 am #

      Both limits, height and width, have to do with building a tiny house on a trailer base. Those are the limits to tow in MOST states without a permit. Building bigger on a trailer will usually require a special permit and likely a licensed towing service to handle transport for you. If you are building on a permanent foundation, slab or block or otherwise, then go as high or as wide as you want.

      Are you really thinking of a tiny house or just a small house? Usually any house with 400 sqft or less is a tiny house (regardless if on a trailer or foundation). Adding a second story is entirely doable but may take you to over 400 sqft (all finished living floor space with a certain head room is counted) and there are many places you can build a 2 story small house of maybe 500-1200 sqft right now. Of course it varies and you will still have to verify where and how big is allowed from your local authorities.

      • Gabriella May 6, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

        Thanks Bob!!

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