Steve over at the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company just published a great write-up on what to look for in trailers when shopping for a tiny house foundation. He describes the size, weight, height considerations as well as the need for trailer breaks and where to buy trailers. New trailers are fairly expensive; they generally cost between $1,500 and $4,000 depending on where you buy them and what the trailer is equipped with. If you’re looking for a less expensive option keep tabs on craigslist for free trailers.
I’ve bookmarked a “Free Trailer” search on my local craigslist. Try setting up an RSS bookmark with the same search and get the updates pushed to you through your favorite RSS reader. If you’re unfamiliar with RSS take a look at Google’s RSS Reader. I won’t get too technical here but RSS is basically a way of formatting content, like craigslist posts, in a way that makes them easy for RSS software to pull in just the content. Instead of having to revisit a website to see if there’s an update, the update is pushed right to you in your RSS reader software. You can bookmark any RSS enabled website in your RSS Reader and stay up to date with multiple websites. This is basically how I keep tabs on craigslist for free stuff for my tiny free house. The RSS link on craigslist is at the bottom right corner of each page.
But I digress… free trailers on craigslist often get nabbed quickly so you have to move fast. You may also need to be prepared to deal with frozen wheels, flat tires, and unlicensed trailers. Once you get the trailer home you’ll need to put more sweat equity in by stripping the trailer down to the frame. Once you’ve uncovered the frame be prepared to clean up rust and repaint. Even an ugly paint job will give your trailer years of service and if you’re building a house you may never see the sloppy paint job again.
Also keep your eyes open for tongue and axle weight ratings. Trailers with only one axle often can only support the smallest tiny house so keep your eyes open for two axles. But remember two axles doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be strong enough to carry the weight of the house but it will increase the chance you won’t need to upgrade the springs.
The most important things to watch for are a strait frame and rust. A crooked frame, like the one under my tiny free house makes it much more difficult to build the house. I’m learning that lesson the hard way. Rust will reduce the longevity of your tiny house just like any bad foundation under any house.
One tiny house builder went this route and found a great trailer under an old travel trailer. Check out Zoey’s blog for details. Photo credit to Zoey.
Great article Michael and this goes right along with what Steve and Jay have to say at their site with a couple more options. I now have two great sources to send people to when they have this question.
Thanks Michael good article and I did set up my area Craigslist.