Well, it is finally here: our new home!!! Or at least the “foundation” I guess…
What you see above my friends is part of the upcoming projects I was talking about a few days ago. Jenna and I are planning on building a tiny house on wheels and use it to travel all around the country.
We purchased this 20ft trailer from Tumbleweed about 6 weeks ago. They are significantly more expensive than what you could find out there but they are specifically designed to have tiny houses built on them. If you have the chance to find a regular used utility trailer for dirt cheap, don’t let me stop you; but you will have to do some serious work on it.
Here are the advantages of the Tumbleweed trailer over a used trailer, or even over a new trailer not designed for tiny houses:
1. You don’t have to take care of a rusty trailer. Consider the time and effort to polish the whole darn thing, fix any major defects and repaint it.
2. It has no unnecessary extras. With any other trailer, you will have to cut off some steel, usually the beam at the front of the trailer, cut off any cute fencing, remove the spare tire rod, etc… have you ever tried to cut through steel? Well neither have I, but I heard it’s really tedious. Regular trailers also come with a bunch of extra wood decking you’ll have to strip.
3. It has all the necessary extras. It comes with the flashing and the subfloor already installed! This saves you time and money vs. a regular trailer that you would have to flash then build a subfloor. It also has heavy-duty threaded rods welded to the frame to secure your house to the trailer. With a regular trailer, you’d have to weld those on or drill big holes through the frame (refer back to the cutting through steel comment). It also includes a scissor jack stand on each corner that allows you to level your house easily.
4. It has dual 5,200lbs axles, both with brakes, and radial tire rated 30,000 miles (vs. the usual cheapo tires that you usually find on trailers). Those axles are also placed on the trailer so that the load of your house is evenly spread and your tongue weight isn’t ridiculous… You know, I’m talking about those trucks that look like they are going to take off for the moon towing their load.
5. They have top of the line hookups, lights and safety features.
6. They are built with pride in the USA; and built specifically for tiny houses.
7. They will be delivered within 250 miles of where you live. Though ours was exceptionally dropped off right at our gate.
It’s up to you to figure out if all of this is worth the extra $1,000 to $1,400. It was a no-brainer for me.
Anyhow, we got really lucky as the trailer was ready to be delivered on the same weekend as Tumbleweed’s workshop. They wanted to showcase it at the workshop and offered to deliver it straight to our place (the site was just 10 minutes away). In preparation for the delivery, I took a bunch of measurements of where we would eventually build it to make sure it would fit. I estimated I would be able to have at least a couple of feet on each side of the trailer to move around. If you can afford it, get way more room than that!!! There wasn’t much of a choice for our project so we’ll have to make it work. I remembered that the overall width of the trailer was 8ft and that would fit through the gate. Score!
I went to the workshop early on Friday to take a look at our new trailer and boy was it beautiful. I never thought I’d get so excited about a steel thing on wheels… This was a good opportunity for me to take a few measurements of the trailer. It is exactly 20ft long excluding tail lights (about 3 inches) and the tongue (about 51 inches). I know it will fit length-wise in my uncle’s driveway (where it will be built). It is about 102 inches wide at the tires which is the maximum width allowable on the road without a permit. Perfect, no problems with CHP! But wait… 102 inches is 8ft and 6 inches and that won’t fit through the gate!
At that point, I had to head back to my uncle’s and see what we could do. We decided to take one of the posts from the gate off as well as one of the threaded rods holding it to the wall. The second threaded rod is about 33 1/2 inches from the ground and I measured the fender height to be 32 inches, so at least that should fit! Once the post was off, we had about 103 inches of width to work with. No matter what, the trailer was getting in… and it’ll get out in a few months!
After Saturday’s workshop and everyone got to see the trailer, Ross from Tumbleweed Tiny Houses came over to deliver it. We started backing the trailer in and lo and behold, it fit!!!!!!! Well, sort of, barely… The tires ended up rubbing on both sides and the fender had an unaccounted for light sticking out just about an inch. That light cleared the second rod by less than 1/2 inch but the trailer was in! We only damaged one succulent (or eight) in the process. They will regrow.
The life saver in the process (besides everyone there helping) was the trailer dolly I had bought that same morning from Harbor Freight for $59. It’s probably the only time we’ll use it but gosh was it useful. My uncle Matt did a great job pushing the trailer in the narrow alley that goes to the build site.
Now, all that’s left to do is place it well and level it, which will be easy with the included jacks. Oh, and I guess I have to start assembling plywood too… and the roof… and the plumbing…
I was looking forward to start building on the 22nd of July, but something else came up. I’m actually typing this article going 500mph and sitting at 38,000ft toward Hawaii. Yep, you read that right. The build will have to wait at least another 3 weeks as I was offered the opportunity to sail a boat back from Hawaii. John, one of my uncle’s friends is racing to Honolulu in the Transpac race and will need a crew to help him get his sailboat back to Los Angeles. I’m extremely grateful to have been given this one in a lifetime opportunity. Having never been to Hawaii before, I decided to go there a few days early and explore the wilderness of Kauai. Then after that it’s roughly 15 days of sailing back to LA, completely disconnected from the world! More about that later.