27 August 2014

Are tiny house trailers worth the money?

Over the last month I have been rethinking my approach regarding trailer design. The majority of the tiny house movement use second hand or custom made trailers. These are designed to be towed behind a car, ute or truck up to a weight of 3.5 tonne in NZ, see my previous post about this type of trailer here. This is all well and good if you have a vehicle that can tow 3.5 tonne, however in NZ this is limited to a handful of models. Living tiny and owning a massive gas guzzling landcruiser does not make much sense unless you are into four wheel driving and need to tow a 20 foot boat. So this leaves you with borrowing your mates V8 or using a towing company to move the house each time you want to relocate. This is fine but of course things like costs, organising other people, planning routes and ensuring the wind is low so you don't roll the house into the nearest river all come into consideration. Shaye and Tom used a towing company to move their house for $180.

We have decided we will only move the house probably every year or two depending on the situation. This got me thinking about trailer items that aren't used while the house is parked up, like brakes, running gear and lights.


First up: Brakes. Brakes are only used when on the move unless they are on to hold in position. By law the trailer must have brakes which makes a lot of sense for stopping such a large load. In my case I would need the ability to to use different tow vehicles which means a remote system is required. This is a wireless unit that sits near the driver, it talks to the brakes on the trailer. One problem with electric brakes and control units is they don't like moisture and sitting for long periods which doesn't make a lot of sense when thinking about the tiny house needs. A very rough cost of bakes and remote controler is around $2000 - $3000. Living Big in a Tiny House have just posted this video regarding braking systems here.

Running gear

Most people use double and in some cases triple suspension axles with either 13 inch or 15 inch wheels. This adds a small problem designing around the wheel arches that protrude through the deck in a lot of cases.


By law lights are required to only be used while on the move. You are looking at another few hundred bucks here.

Dont get me wrong this type of design is great for ease of movement and does add some interesting and nice design cues, see my initial design here. But with a cost for a custom trailer at $6 to $10k it got me thinking about other ways to do this. In my next post I will go though other options, stay tuned.

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