Tiny House Trailer: the Positives and the Lessons

One of the very first and biggest single purchases is your tiny house trailer. It’s not only the foundation for your house, it’s also a big investment fiscally and mentally. For us, it felt official when we put the money down to order the trailer. Then when the trailer was delivered, we knew we were really doing this!

While we’re using some reclaimed lumber in our build, we knew we wanted to order a new trailer specifically made for a tiny house to give us the best starting point. We are very happy with that decision and would recommend it to any that can afford to do so.

As with everything, we did a lot of research before buying our trailer. Even with the hours of thought and research, during the installation of the subfloor and exterior walls, we ran into a few features of the trailer that we would have liked to change.

We took a weekend workshop through Tumbleweed and at the end of the weekend, they offer a discount on all their products. We bit!

At the time they had three different options, but we went with the low-wider as it maximized both headspace and interior build space. We also liked not having to deal with incorporating the wheel wells into the exterior walls, as the wheel wells end up being entirely inside the house.

After watching YouTube videos about how to cut out curved sections to accommodate the exterior wheel wells (and watching people struggle with it) we’re quite happy we went with the trailer we did.

Other things we love about our trailer that made our building life easier:

  • Metal flashing was already installed underneath the trailer. It’s also specifically installed with screws, not welded so that any moisture that gets into the subfloor insulation area can leak out.
  • Threaded rods attached directly to the trailer frame mean you don’t have to weld on your own.
  • Designed so that you can put insulation between trailer joists and then attach the plywood for the subfloor directly to the trailer.
  • Perimeter design allows the exterior walls to rest perfectly on the trailer frame and the 2×4’s, even next to the wheel wells.
  • Jacks on all four corners help make leveling a breeze.
  • The tongue plate is the perfect spot for a small utility shed to rest.

From the list of features, hopefully, you can see that we’re really happy with our choice to buy a tiny house specific trailer. But there’s always room for improvement! Here are a couple little things that we wish we had known before ordering.

  • Threaded Rods – We could have requested the exact locations of the threaded rods. Since we didn’t know that was an option, we ended up having to design around the threaded rods and hold-downs. We even had to add extra 2×4’s in a couple spots. So when ordering your trailer, specify exactly where you want the threaded rods to be welded!
  • Stripped Screws – While it’s an overall positive that the metal flashing was installed with screws, it actually turned out to be a bit of a hassle for us as almost a third of them were stripped and had to be drilled out and then re-screwed. This is more of a production issue and less of a design concern, but it’s still something to be aware of when ordering and inspecting your own trailer.
  • Timing – We placed our order at the end of March and were told we’d have the trailer in about 4 weeks. Long story short…  three months later our trailer was finally delivered. This delay meant that we lost a lot of the non-rainy season and pushed our timeline further out. So if you have a specific timeline that you need to stick to, make sure you order your trailer plenty early and ask about their track record delivering on time.

Again, overall we’re really happy with our trailer, but there are a couple changes we’d request next time and we’d definitely go directly to the trailer manufacturer instead of through a distributor.

Hopefully, you can learn from our mistakes! Let us know if you have any questions!

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