Tiny House Trailer Arrival

Tiny House Trailer Delivery Day!

Our 26′ Tiny House Trailer arrived last week, which is the foundation for our tiny house on wheels (THOW)!

See it on video on our YouTube Channel:

About our tiny house trailer:

Our trailer is a “26′ Utility Trailer with Full Porch” from Tumbleweed Tiny House Company in Colorado Springs.

What that means is that our trailer bed is 26 feet long (8’6″ wide to the very outside of the wheel wells) with metal flashing already installed underneath the frame, everywhere but the “front porch” area, which is actually the back of the trailer.
The length of the entire trailer – tongue and all – is about 30 feet.
It has three axles, each with a 5,200 lb load rating, and it is equipped with tail lights, brakes, four stability jacks plus the tongue jack, and 8 threaded rods for hurricane ties.

metal tumbleweed tiny house trailer with metal flashing delivered to our tiny house build site in St. Louis

We ordered our tiny house trailer from Tumbleweed because after talking with several trailer companies at the Tiny House Jamboree in August, we were convinced that it was the sturdiest, safest trailer we could buy that was made specifically for building a (very heavy) tiny house on top of it. Plus, the fact that it came with the metal flashing already installed was a huge plus.
After watching Andrew Morrison from TinyHouseBuild.com crawl up underneath his trailer and work his butt off to sink about a million self-tapping metal screws through the metal flashing into the welded steel frame of his house. . . . we said “no thank you” and ordered a trailer with the flashing already installed.

As a side note, Andrew Morrison’s build videos have been ridiculously helpful and were absolutely, without a doubt, worth every single penny we spent on them (and they didn’t even cost very many pennies). If you are even remotely entertaining the possibility of building your own tiny house, stop what you’re doing and buy Andrew’s build videos. Even if you are having your house built by someone else, you should probably understand how it goes together and why things are done a certain way.
Seriously, for forty bucks he teaches you how to build a house.  As in, plumbing, electrical, framing, sheathing, windows and doors, siding, roofing, everything.  $40. That’s absurd.
Plus, we met Andrew at his “Free Advice” booth at the Tiny House Jamboree this year, and he is about the nicest guy on the planet. So, go support his family and buy the videos. In fact, sign up for a workshop with him.  We’ve never been to one (we missed him when he came through St. Louis), but I’m sure they are amazing.

We purchased a Utility Trailer because that’s what the Elm plans that we purchased called for (more on that later…), but since we did a lot of re-designing anyway, we could have probably gone with their Low-Wider trailer or the Deck-Over trailer and gained an extra 11″ of width inside.
The Utility trailer does have the lowest deck height of all three Tumbleweed options (the top of the deck sits 24″ off the ground), which gave us the greatest amount of headroom inside the house (max height to stay street-legal is 13’6″ above the ground).

After the the delivery fee, our tiny house trailer ran us about $7,000 which is a lot. It took up a huge hunk of our budget. But everyone who has built a tiny house says “don’t skimp on the trailer” so we listened.

We were very happy with the quality and design of the trailer, and Tumbleweed was able to get it to us in about two and a half weeks, which is unheard of.  The lead time on these is normally 6-8 weeks. That would have put us into late October before we could even start our build, so the fast delivery was awesome!

Mike Flowers, who owns Coyote Express out of Hobbs, New Mexico hauled our trailer from Colorado Springs to St. Louis for us. Mike was contracted through Tumbleweed, who arranged for the delivery, so his services were included in the $1,000 delivery charge.
Mike was very helpful, he got our trailer here safe and sound, wiggled it around until it was exactly where we wanted it, checked it over for us, gave our building project his blessing, and made us promise to send him pictures!
If you need hauling service for YOUR tiny house trailer (or anything else, for that matter) you can reach Mike at (575) 318-3077.

What was NOT awesome was the lack of any kind of schematic for this particular trailer.

We bought the plans for the Tumbleweed Elm in a 24′ length because 26′ Elm plans do not exist yet.
Tumbleweed can build you a 26′ Elm for around $70,000 but they have not yet made those building plans available for purchase.

So, you can buy a 26′ Elm on a utility trailer… and you can buy a 26′ utility trailer… but you can’t buy the plans for building the Elm on the 26′ trailer. Whatever. We knew we would have to modify our plans to add the extra length, which was no problem. Kevin could do that in SketchUp* while we waited for the trailer to arrive.
The problem was that the trailer schematic in the plans was for the 24′ trailer and Tumbleweed was not able to provide us with a schematic for the 26′ trailer so that we could modify our plans.

When you add two feet to the length of the trailer, that changes where the wheel wells fall in relation to the front and back walls of the house.  We needed to know the measurements of the longer trailer, but after inquiring several times, we got no answers.

So, we had to wait until the trailer was delivered to measure the frame ourselves.
That really sucked because in the two weeks or so between ordering the trailer and the plans, and actually receiving the trailer, while Kevin was working feverishly to build the whole (modified) house, board by board, in SketchUp, he had to guess at the placement of the wheel wells on the trailer, and guess what? It turns out they were not proportional to the smaller trailer’s wheel well placement, so after the trailer arrived, Kevin had to modify the side walls, which require HUGE double 2×8 headers to sit about 1/8 inch above the wheel wells.

In case you are wondering (we certainly were since we didn’t have a schematic…) the metal tube framing on the tiny house trailer (essentially our floor joists) are spaced at 24″ on center, measured from the tongue side of the trailer (rear wall of the house), OUTSIDE of the 2×4 and plywood that the Tumbleweed plans call for around the outside of the trailer deck. This will make more sense when you can see this outside framing in place in a few days.

Side Note: I don’t mean to paint Tumbleweed as a bad guy here.  We are very impressed with the quality of our trailer – it is incredibly well made. And Tumbleweed builds some seriously amazing tiny homes.  Most of the employees we dealt with were very knowledgeable and helpful.  But there were a few things that were sort of unsettling along the way.

I won’t go into all of that here, you’ll hear me say both good and bad things about Tumbleweed throughout this build process.  I’m not trying to bash anyone.  Kevin and I decided up front that we wanted to be very candid about our tiny house building experience and not sweep anything under the rug.  We’ll tell you what we liked and what we didn’t, what was worth the money and what wasn’t, and we’ll tell you when we screw something up or figure out something clever.

Because we want you to know the honest truth about building a tiny house, and if you are considering doing it yourself, we want you to go into the process informed.

I hope this series will be helpful. We intend to do as many videos as we can manage during our tiny house build to show you our progress and what’s working (or not working), so please subscribe to our YouTube channel to follow along with our build process and see all of our videos as they are released!

 

*Big “thank you” to Jake & Kiva at TinyNestProject.com for making the SUPER helpful SketchUp tutorial videos! Another video series that was 100% worth the small investment! 

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