Through the past few weeks I have been part of a number of conversations regarding tiny house building and how to find a suitable foundation. But the conversation is always assuming that foundation is synonymous with trailer. So the conversation really is about what is a suitable trailer to build a tiny house on? Do I buy a new one or find a used one? Do I go with single axle, tandem axle, or even a triple axle? And what about stability? Should I look for a trailer with scissor jacks already welded on or to I look for something that I can just use bottle jacks later on? This has allowed me to spend a lot of time thinking about the whole point of the trailer. Let’s all agree on these points:
- Trailers of any sort are a mobile foundation for tiny houses
- The more axles the more weight the trailer can handle
- There are multiple weights to consider on your trailer including gross weight, cargo weight, and tongue weight
- A used trailer could possibly mean a wreck has taken place or there is some bend/bow in the frame
But a primary first questions MUST be asked.
Do I want my tiny house to be mobile? Do I want it to have the ability to move if I should choose it to?
Why is that question so important? Mostly because if your answer is no then why are you even thinking about a trailer? Is it because that is what Tumbleweed did some 6 or 7 years ago? Is it because that is what all the blogs talk about? I you don’t want the option to be mobile why not consider a more permanent foundation? Why not piers or cinderblock or concrete pad or skids? There are a number of options.
Tiny houses were first built on trailers (by Jay Shafer) for a couple of reasons:
- They could be sustainable and be possible to move to more beneficial areas
- Because of their size they wouldn’t be legal on a concrete foundation so on a trailer they took on an RV status
- It was one man’s design. It was not a changing force in American architecture
I say all of this because I don’t want anyone to feel pigeon holed. Build what you want to build. Find out what your municipality will allow and then design and build from there. If you don’t have a notion to move find out what is legal to build on a permanent foundation and then go from there.
We often call it the ‘Tiny House Movement.’ The definition of movement is, “a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas.” If you truly want to be part of a movement be a part that works together to move forward. Don’t get stuck in a design mentality of years ago.