How To Weigh Your Tiny House

How To Weigh Your Tiny House

Tiny Homes are built with the same materials as regular homes, making them heavier than RVs. It is critical to know how much your Tiny House weighs so that you can stay within your limits. Below I explain how to calculate your Tiny House weight so you can tow without fear.

Weight limits should be respected

Every trailer has a weight rating, but it is only as good as the trailer’s weakest link (axles, tires, safety chains, tongue, brakes, frame). For example, if you have a 10,000lb trailer, your axles should be rated for at least 5,200 lbs axles, your tires should be rated for at least 2,600 lbs (preferably labelled ST – Special Trailer radial tires), your safety chains should be rated for at least 10,400 lbs, you should have brakes on the axles (preferably both), and the tongue and jack should be rated for 2,000 lbs. When purchasing a trailer, make sure you check the weight ratings of these elements.

Tongue weight is often overlooked

Tongue weight is “the downward force that the tongue of the­ trailer applies to the hitch of the tow vehicle.” Ideally your TW should be between 9% and 15% of the Tiny House total weight. So, if your house weighs 10,000 lbs, your TW should be no more than 1,500 lbs.  Don’t forget to add a buffer for the weight you will be carrying in the bed of your truck. Overlooking TW is one of the most common mistakes I see with Tiny House owners. Some standard trucks are not designed to carry a lot of weight on their hitch. Many Tiny Housers prefer a dually. If you plan to travel often, I recommend using a weight distribution system no matter which vehicle you choose.

*Our truck was a 2006 6.oL turbo diesel Ford-250. We towed our Tiny House over 25,000 miles with this truck and spent thousands of dollars on maintenance. I do not recommend this particular engine.*


The easiest way to keep track of weight during your build is to weigh your empty trailer and weigh the materials you use. It’s tedious, but doing this calculation will give you a ball park estimate of your final weight, which is better than nothing. You can also strictly follow the plans you purchase, which will have an estimated final weight. The Tumbleweed plans estimated that my house would weigh 8,800 lbs, without my belongings. I deviated from their materials list and customized the design. In the end, my Tiny House weighs just over 10,000 lbs fully loaded with all my belongings. I’m within the trailer rating of 10,400 lbs, but it was close.

Going over your weight limit is not a good thing.

I’ve heard horror stories of owners having to upgrade their axles due to being over their trailer’s weight rating. This is not a cheap fix! You may also need to gut and redo construction, which doesn’t sound like fun. The best plan of action is to use lightweight materials as much as possible or follow the build plans. If you have access to a tow vehicle, you can take your Tiny House to the scales several times during the build process. See instructions for weighing at the scales below.


Tiny Houses are surprisingly easy to weigh once they are mobile. All you have to do it tow your house to a public certified CAT truck scale and follow the instructions below:

  1. Drive onto the scale making sure that the front axle of your truck (steer axle) is on the very front platform, the rear axle (drive axle) is on the following platform, and the wheels of your house (trailer axles) are on the next platform. Make sure to disconnect your weight distribution system if you have one.
  2. Hit the button on the intercom alerting the attendant you are ready to weigh
  3. The attendant will let you know when it is okay to get off the scale. Drive off and pick up your weight certificate at the register. The cost is $8-$12. Let the attendant know you will need a re-weigh (usually another $2-$4)
  4. Detach your Tiny House and park it safely.
  5. Do the steps 1-3 with the TRUCK ONLY

*Some scales may allow you to detach your Tiny House directly on the scale, which simplifies the calculation. Most of the time you won’t have this option.

Tiny House Weight

Tiny House WeightTiny House Weight Calculations

With both weight certificates you can figure out your tongue weight and total weight using a few easy calculations.

  • Weighing  Certificate #1: Truck & Tiny House. Steer Axle (A), Drive Axle (B) and Trailer Axles (C)
  • Weighing Certificate #2: Truck. Steer axle (D) and Drive Axle (E)

Your tongue weight can be calculated by taking the weight of the truck axles while towing the Tiny House minus the weight of the truck.  Tongue weight = (A + B)  – (D +E). 

Once you’ve found your tongue weight, you can also find your total Tiny House weight by adding your tongue weight to your trailer axle weight. Tiny House weight = Tongue Weight + C

Other methods for determining tongue weight

There are a few other methods you can use to determine your tongue weight, such as using a trailer tongue weight scale or weigh safe ball mount. To learn more, read this informative article.

Other Articles For Tiny House Travel & Towing:

*This article was written with the help of Guillaume Dutilh 

*Minimotives also wrote an informative blog post on Tiny House weight



  1. darren
    May 20, 2017 / 11:18 pm

    why dont everyone just purchase a 30-40foot caravan. a decent fwd would be able to tow it easily.

  2. April 14, 2017 / 6:56 am

    Doers anyone have a suggestion as to how to estimate the weight of my Home on Wheels during design phase so I know how to size my trailer?

  3. April 4, 2017 / 11:17 pm

    I remember tires spontaneously combusting on our trailer tires in Iraq. But the loads were 70 tons (40 tires on the trailer) and it was 127 degrees in air. The asphault would melt our souls when we stood in one place too long. Sorry rando comment for a tiny house forum. I hope I can pull of this tinyhouse thing

  4. March 8, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    would you recommend renting/using a U-Haul truck and if so; what size?

    • March 8, 2017 / 4:53 pm

      Yes. Many Tiny Housers have done this. The size depends on the size of your tiny house. Once you know the weight of your tiny house, and the tongue weight, I would give those specs to U-Haul (or any renting service). They should be able to fit you with the right vehicle.

  5. January 30, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    If the trucking, auto, and premium RV industries are any indication, I’d hesitate to have the “empty weight” of one’s tiny home exceed 75% of the trailer rating. To wit:

    Trucking; 18 wheels x 6000 lbs/wheel @ 110 psi= 108,000 lbs. Max tractor-trailer weight; 80k lbs.

    My car: 4 wheels * 2271 lbs/wheel @ 35 psi ~ 9000 lbs. GVWR: about 6300 lbs.

    Airstream Classic 30: max rating 10,000 lbs, empty weight 7365 lbs.

    You want hassle free tiny home living? Have some margin in your tire, spring, and frame ratings.

    • January 31, 2017 / 9:06 am

      One other thing; from earlier comments and this article, I would guess you’re running tires on that trailer rated for….about 2600 lbs apiece. That would be the trailer equivalent of a standard “P” tire for a pickup. For a little bit more money, you can get “E” rated tires that carry 3000-3400 lbs apiece–the same kind you should be running on that pickup, but just designed for a trailer. You can also run such tires at a higher pressure and reduce the amount of fuel you use to tow.

      As things stand, you’ve got about 10% margin on the rear wheels of the pickup, and on the trailer tires. That’s quite a bit closer than the “best practices” I mentioned above will run them. You start to wear tires out QUICKLY when you get close to the rated load.

  6. January 27, 2017 / 9:46 pm

    Excellent write up. I already weighed the truck. Have to weight the trailer tomorrow. You did everything exactly the way I was planning to do it. I should be within my limits. We’ll see…

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