Buying a Custom Tiny House Trailer

Buying a Custom Tiny House Trailer

Well, it is finally here: our new home!!! Or at least the “foundation,” I guess. What you see below, my friends is part of our master plan to build a tiny house on wheels and use it to travel all around the country. This is a Tiny House trailer.

Tumbleweed tiny house trailer

Tumbleweed Tiny House  Custom Trailer

 

Tumbleweed tiny house trailer

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.

Advantages of a Pre-Made Tiny House Trailer over a Used Trailer

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.

Tumbleweed tiny house trailer

Tumbleweed tiny house trailer

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.

Tumbleweed trailer barely clearing the gate

Barely Clearing The Gate

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.Matt "dollying" the trailer

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…

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47 Comments

  1. April 11, 2016 / 1:30 pm

    Love your posts. You two are the most lucky people in the world and we as readers are the luckiest people also. God Bless You.

  2. Clementine Cavanagh
    January 27, 2016 / 6:03 pm

    How did you register your trailer? Were you able to just register the trailer itself then build the house and go on your merry way unbothered by the police or did you have to have the house inspected by the DMV and classified as a travel trailer or RV. Most sites we look at tell us to do the latter so just looking for any guidance. This is the largest grey area in our entire building process.

    • January 27, 2016 / 7:01 pm

      We had to bring it to the DMV in California and it was registered as a “Coach”… After a year, we went to a DMV in Illinois and we got it registered as a Recreational Trailer, they didn’t need to see it.
      All of this was done with the house almost finished. We never had an issue with that and being pulled over by the police. If you don’t plan on traveling, registering just the trailer could suffice.

  3. talisha
    September 29, 2015 / 2:08 pm

    Hi how much was the actual trailer build in total

    • September 30, 2015 / 9:25 am

      I’m not quite sure what you are asking. This trailer cost $4,400 to purchase. The whole house cost around $30,000 in materials.

      • talisha
        September 30, 2015 / 4:44 pm

        How much for the trailer

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