Tiny House Trailer Buyer’s Guide
If you’re in the market for a tiny house trailer, then exciting times are up ahead! Your journey to homeownership is just a few weeks away—but first, the trailer. There are various trailers available on the market, and it’s important to find the perfect one for your needs as it will serve as the foundation of your home. Your trailer of choice will determine the size, shape, and weight of the house you can build on top of it and the type of vehicle required to tow the entire unit if you decide to travel.
Here are all the considerations you need to make when purchasing a trailer for your tiny abode!
All tiny homes are subject to regulations by Australian law. While their nuances vary from state to state, there are general guidelines you need to consider as they will affect the types of trailers available to you. The most important aspect to remember is that houses on wheels are considered caravans—essentially vehicles—as long as they are a maximum of 2.5 metres wide. If you decide to exceed this value, you’ll have to register the house on wheels as a home, which will require additional building permits and zoning and planning approvals. You can visit the Vehicle Standards Bulletin 1 for more information.
Weight is an important consideration when purchasing a tiny house trailer, as each option is rated to carry a different weight. Most trailers are rated to carry 3,500 kg, 4,500 kg, or above—a value that you can find by searching for a specific model’s aggregate trailer mass (ATM). In general, a trailer with a 3,500 ATM can carry a home that’s approximately 6 metres tall, while an option with a 4,500 ATM can carry between 7.2 to 8 metres.
However, if you choose to build a home on the upper end of the scale, you need to take precautions by using lightweight materials to meet the maximum weight capacity; otherwise, your home will not be eligible to take on the road. Additionally, trailers with an over-4,500 ATM are rare, require other engineering permits to qualify and a hefty vehicle to tow, so they are not advisable for ease of use.
- Towing Vehicle
When opting for a tiny house on wheels, you need a towing vehicle to transport the home from one place to another or take it with you on winding road trips. Most mainstream car models—those that are still practical for daily use—don’t have the capacity to tow weights over 3,000 kg, so you need to find specific vehicles with enough towing strength. The minimum you could go for is a family-size SUV, like the Toyota Land Cruiser or the Land Rover Range Rover, or a small truck like the Ford Ranger. Do keep in mind to check the max towing capacity if you’re shopping around for a new vehicle.
Choosing Between a New And Used Trailer
Tiny house trailers can cost a pretty penny, often starting at about $9,000 brand new. If you’re looking to save on costs, we usually advise you to opt for a second-hand option, but the used trailer market isn’t necessarily favourable. As trailers are the foundation of the home, it’s extremely important to find a high-quality option that won’t break down in the middle of the road or break apart from the weight of its load. However, most used trailers have been well-loved and badly maintained, with rust and broken parts—all of which can be hazardous on the road. It’s highly recommended to purchase a new tiny house trailer that can last you decades and ensure your safety.
Types of Trailers
There are various types of trailers on the market, each more suited for a different purpose than the other. Choosing the wrong one may make your entire tiny home ineligible for the road—so choose with care!
A gooseneck trailer is a robust built designed to distribute weight between the tray and axles. This option is made for large-size homes and is usually rated for over 4,500 kgs. The elevation on one end—the gooseneck—helps with stabilisation so that your house stays in place even on the bumpiest roads. If you choose this option, you can enjoy a more spacious abode but will have to go through all the extra procedures to register the unit as an actual home.
This trailer type is essentially just a deck over wheels, giving you plenty of wall space for storage. It’s the same trailer that’s often used to carry large cargo—but the load usually needs to be strapped down for stability. If you opt for this option, you have to battle against severe tilting and are limited to shorter homes but receive the extra horizontal room in exchange.
- Bumper Pull
A bumper pull is a common choice among tiny homeowners, as it gives you enough horizontal support and stability through wheel walls, allowing you to build a taller house. The max weight is usually in the 3,500 kg-and-under range—but a larger custom should be able to grant you a more robust weight capacity.
Is it Possible to Build a Detachable Trailer?
Detachable trailers are growing in popularity for being “smart” options that give your home the flexibility to mount on land or wheels. This option is certainly within possibility, but do note that once you choose to move the house out of the trailer and onto land, you’ll have to legally register it as property and go through all the permit requirements for a building.
Afterwhich, you may have to make some adjustments to plumbing and electricity so that they can be secured through conventional means, as opposed to the workarounds required for tiny homes on wheels. However, it’s still a path you can take if you’re only looking into travelling for a short period and prefer to settle on land afterwards.
Finding the perfect trailer for your tiny home is one of the biggest decisions you have to make before starting life on the road. Consider getting in touch with us, and our team of experts will help you work through all the requirements and regulations for living the good life on wheels. .