Updated: November, 2019. Picking the right trailer for your tiny house is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, but how do you find the best tiny home trailer for your build? Should you buy a tiny house trailer from a specialist manufacturer like Tiny Home Builders and Tumbleweed Tiny House Company or customize a regular flatbed trailer?
When I started building my tiny house on wheels in June of 2012, there were no specialized trailer beds for tiny homes. Since then, lots of companies have begun manufacturing trailers specifically for tiny houses.
In this post, I'll take a look at the different tiny house trailers and manufacturers to help you settle on the best tiny home trailer for your needs.
Custom Tiny House Trailers
Let’s look at custom-built trailers first, since my tiny house is built on one of these.
In case it’s not obvious, a custom tiny house trailer is one you have made for you, to your exact specifications, instead of buying a ready-made one. This can be a good option because most trailers aren’t designed with tiny houses in mind. For example, they include features you don’t need like loading ramps.
To order a custom tiny house trailer, you need to contact trailer manufacturers and let them know what you have in mind. It’s a good idea to look at standard trailers first to get an understanding of how yours will differ from the ones they already offer.
A custom-built trailer is likely to cost more than a regular trailer, but it could actually save you both time and money in the long run. If you would need to make extensive changes to a premade trailer, you could end up spending lots of money on parts, tools, and labor. By buying a custom-made trailer instead, you can avoid that extra work.
My custom tiny house trailer
I opted for a custom-built trailer because, while I was able to find trailers I liked, I knew I’d need to adjust them to build my ideal tiny house.
The stock trailer that most closely resembled what I was looking for was the 8×20′ SureTrac Utility trailer from Perfection Motorsports in Richmond, Vermont. However…
- I wanted my trailer to be 22′ long, and SureTrac didn’t offer this length as standard.
- I did not want my trailer to have a headboard, or the small railing at the hitch end that I'd just have to cut off.
- I did not want my trailer to have the bed tilt down in the back (this is called a ‘beavertail’, and it's for easily loading cars onto the trailer).
- I did not need my trailer to come with a rear gate or loading ramps.
I paid them to build me a modified version of this trailer and here's what I wound up with:
- 2x 5500# axles
- Steel frame
- Electronic emergency brake system
All in all, because I subtracted some items but added a few feet, the trailer cost me about $4400 with tax and registration.
There were cheaper brands available, for example from Kaufman and other national trailer manufacturers, but the shipping costs to Vermont always made them come out more expensive.
By ordering from a local shop, even though the trailer was still shipped from the midwest, I did not have to pay those shipping costs. Even better, Perfection Motorsports was able to register the trailer right at their shop and hand me a license plate to drive away with. Bonus!
To start building on my tiny house trailer, all I had to do was put it up on jacks, so that it was level, and remove every other deck board.
Other examples of custom tiny house trailers
The Tiny Project
Alek’s Lisefski’s story is similar to mine. When he started building his tiny house, there was no such thing as a tiny house trailer. He therefore customized a regular flatbed trailer.
Photo courtesy of The Tiny Project
Wesley’s Modified hOMe
Wesley Birch and his wife modified the hOME plans to build their 24’ tiny house on a custom trailer in 2015.
All in all, the tiny house only cost them $8,000, in part because of how little they were able to spend on their trailer. Someone they knew offered to build it for them for just the cost of the materials. Wesley therefore highly recommends asking your friends and family if they know anyone who offers custom trailer fabrication.
Photo courtesy of Wesley Birch / The Tiny House Build
Specialist Tiny House Trailer Manufacturers
Perhaps the most obvious option these days is to buy a trailer that has been designed specifically for tiny houses. These trailers are likely to come with steel beams instead of decking and a number of other features that will make constructing your tiny house much more straightforward.
Let’s look at some of the most well-known tiny house trailer manufacturers.
Tiny Home Builders Trailer Review
Tiny Home Builders was the first tiny house specific trailer that I became aware of, as I think they beat Tumbleweed to market.
This company belongs to Dan Louche who is one of the most well-trusted names in the tiny house world; he’s been building tiny house trailers longer than anyone. At the time of writing they have three locations: North Utah, South Ontario, and Central Florida.
Dan’s priority is building safe trailers with lots of connection points between the house and the trailer to make sure they’re securely attached to each other.
The standard Tiny Home Builders trailer is the Tiny House Bumper-Pull Trailer, but other options include Tiny House Gooseneck Trailers, Tiny House Deckover Trailers, Container Home Trailers, and custom builds.
Tiny Home Builders offer two tiny house trailer styles. With the first style, you build the subfloor on top of the trailer, like this:
Photo courtesy of Tiny Home Builders
With the second style, the trailer acts like the subfloor with the sheathing installed onto it, like this:
Photo courtesy of Tiny Home Builders
This second option gives you an extra 3-1/2 inches of height, however, building your subfloor on top of the trailer is better for insulation, allows for a wider build, and gives you more room for plumbing.
Photo courtesy of Tiny Home Builders
Comparing these trailers to mine, the first thing that’s different is that these trailers do not come with a pressure-treated deck. In fact, there’s no deck at all. As I mentioned above, I removed every other board from my deck and then started framing the floor on top because that’s what was recommended at the time.
Instead, they have two long steel beams that run from the front to the back, serving as additional attachment points for your floor joists and potentially reducing the weight.
There are also steel flanges welded to the sides to secure the house and reduce overhang, and no side walls or a dovetail, which eliminates the need for welding.
Perhaps the biggest difference I can see with these trailers that makes them tiny house specific is the “minimally curved fenders.” As the description says, “Fenders that aren't curved are much easier to cut and trim around which saves you time.” I can definitely see how this would be a benefit. My fenders were very rounded, and I had to spend quite a bit of time building custom wheel well headers to span the wall above the trailer.
A nice benefit of buying a Tiny Home Builders trailer is that you get a bunch of bonuses, including a tiny house construction guide and a guide to attaching your house.
For the most part then, the Tiny Home Builders trailers are pretty similar to the trailer that I bought from my local shop, minus the wood decking, with a few tweaks that would make building a tiny house that bit easier.
You can ‘build’ and price your trailer on their website using their free tool.
They don't have a 22′ trailer, so I chose the 20′ trailer as a comparable option. The price of the trailer was less than mine ($3,600), but with delivery from Toronto ($799) plus a customs fee ($145), the price came out to $4544.
Tiny Home Builders Example
Logan Steege used a 24’ Tiny Home Builders trailer to build his tiny home, which is currently being used as a guesthouse at The Urban Crash.
Photo courtesy of The Urban Crash
In this video, Dan Louche does a good job explaining the Tiny Home Builders trailer in this video:
And you can learn more at http://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-house-trailers.
Tumbleweed Tiny House Trailer Review
It did not surprise me when Tumbleweed got into the trailer business. They were already selling lots of plans, shells, and complete homes, so why not round things out by offering Tumbleweed trailers as well?
Not to be outdone, it looks like Tumbleweed's trailer – Low-Wider Trailer – has more special tiny house features to make building your house that much easier. You can also customize the trailer by choosing the length and porch type. Let's take a look.
Image courtesy of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
I can immediately see several differences with these trailers. First of all, they have threaded bolts sticking up from the deck. This is so you can securely attach the framing of your house down onto the trailer. I did something similar on my house, but had to screw into the trailer to do it. It definitely would have been nice to have the bolts already attached.
Image courtesy of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
Additionally, I'm seeing that flashing is already installed on the underside of the trailer cross members. This definitely makes building out your subfloor easier.
The Tiny Home Builders trailer page says this is a problem, as that water can get trapped inside the trailer causing rust and rot down the road. I too am wary about accidentally trapping water between the trailer and the subfloor, but I spoke to Tumbleweed about this. Here’s what they said:
The weather flashing on the underside of the trailer frame is designed to leak any moisture that may get into the floor insulation areas – the flashing is not welded all the way around on purpose. The new trailer design designs the flashing attached by screws for easy accessibility to plumbing, insulation, etc, and it is also designed to allow any moisture to drip out. – Ross Beck, Tumbleweed
Tumbleweed also offers several porch configurations. Allow me to explain. When you frame the floor for a tiny house on wheels, you don't want to put sheathing underneath the porch, which would catch water falling through the porch.
So, looking at my own build, the place where you see the floor joists turn 90 degrees and hang out over the end of the trailer is where my porch went:
You can specify which kind of porch you would like – full, right corner, left corner, or none – and Tumbleweed will (not) add the flashing appropriately. This is useful, particularly if you’re building a Tumbleweed-designed tiny house.
This trailer gives you a good amount of head room with a good width by building around the wheel wells. Their embedded floor design gives you an extra 3 ½” of headroom.
Last but not least, there are scissor jacks on each corner for easy leveling.
Image courtesy of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
Finally, this trailer comes with special tiny house trailer radial tires. They minimize tread wear, improve flexibility, and are designed to carry heavy loads.
This trailer is priced between $5,779 and $6,579 and, again, you can play around with prices using their online tool. You can collect your trailer for free from Colorado Springs, CO or have it delivered for a fee.
Selecting the closest comparable trailer to my own, a 20′ flatbed trailer with a full end porch, the price is $5,779. However, that's if I'm picking it up. Delivery to Vermont is $3,000 extra, which means $8,779 total!
Tumbleweed Trailer Example
Tim and Sam’s tiny house (named Tiffany), was built on a 24’ Tumbleweed trailer by Adam Lehmann from A New Beginning Tiny Homes.
Image courtesy of Tiffany the Tiny Home
Learn more about Tumbleweed trailers and general tips for trailer purchases in this video:
Or visit the Tumbleweed site.
Tiny Idahomes is a family-run business based in–you guessed it–Ihado. After failing to find the perfect tiny house RV trailer, owner Jesse entered into a partnership with experienced welders and metal fabrication designers to build a trailer perfect for tiny houses.
Image courtesy of Tiny Idahomes
These trailers are 8’ wide with fenders that add another 3” on each side, and you can specify your own axle weight and position, providing they meet requirements.
These trailers come with AC, battery, and propane mounts, leveling jacks, and the bottoms are covered with steel sheeting to protect the underside of the house from moisture. The wheel wells are sealed with polyurethane sealant as well as epoxy paint and primer, and there’s a water skirt welded onto the fenders to stop water getting into the house.
The base price ranges from $4,575 to $7,812 depending on size.
Learn more about Tiny Idahomes trailers on their website.
Iron Eagle Trailers
Iron Eagle were one of the first tiny house trailer manufacturers. They built their first one for Dee Williams and have worked with her since then to improve their tiny house trailer designs.
They build with flexibility in mind, not simply modifying flatbed trailers but purpose-building tiny house trailers from the ground up.
Image courtesy of Iron Eagle Trailers
These trailers are designed to help you make the most of the space you have. The fenders are at the legal limit and the frame extends beyond the fenders. The crossember supports are recessed below the top of the frame to make room for floor joists and insulation. This reduces thermal bridging and therefore improves energy efficiency without sacrificing floor height.
The frame comes with pre-drilled holes to help you fix your tiny house to the trailer and the axles are in a better position for tiny houses.
Tubing has been used for maximum resistance to twisting in the face of uneven loads and the total weight comes in at under 1800lbs for the 20’ trailer (compared to about 2300lbs for a standard hauling flatbed).
Models range from approximately $2455 to $6430 and tweaks such as fender position changes are free.
Learn more about Iron Eagle Trailers on their website.
Tiny House Basics
Tiny House Basics is run by Shelley and Joshua Engberg – a couple who built and live in their own tiny house. They work with experienced trailer manufacturers to build custom tiny house trailers.
While they have 7 locations across the US and deliver to both the US and Canada, they don’t have any sales lots, so they’re able to offer manufacturer direct pricing, which could make quite a big difference to your budget.
Photo courtesy of Tiny House Basics
Tiny House Basics offers trailers ranging from 12’ to 56’ long by up to 10’ wide. They have a range of trailer types for you to work with, for example their gooseneck trailers add an 8’-long gooseneck hitch, which makes a perfect low-level sleeping loft, and their 30+’ trailers allow for much larger rooms and lofts.
Depending on the model you go for, you can choose a lower deck for increased headroom, crossmembers flush with the deck to save on height, weight, and money, an extended upper deck, and an extended tongue to allow for more space for your propane tanks, storage, and so on.
Tiny House Basics say their trailers are, on average, $1,000 cheaper than trailers from other tiny house companies.
They manufacture their trailers in California, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Washington, Missouri, Florida, and Alabama, and there’s also the option to have your tiny house delivered to you by one of their partner companies.
Find out more about Tiny House Basics trailers on their website.
Trailer Made designs and manufactures tiny house trailers and frames, and their team consists of experts in tiny home building and trailer manufacture. They describe their tiny house trailers as “foundations on wheels” rather than flatbed trailers.
Photo courtesy of Trailer Made
With Trailer Made, you can choose between a bumper pull or gooseneck trailer. Each trailer comes with galvanized steel crossbeams for longevity. The beams are set 16” apart from each other, so you can easily add insulation and level flooring. You also get a lifetime warranty on the chassis.
Other features include a welded tubular chassis with two or three axles, the lowest possible ride height with a straight-beam axle, galvanized flashing on the bottom of the trailer frame, square wheel fenders suitable for tiny homes, and optimal load disbursement through axle and leveling jack placement. There’s also the option to have them frame your tiny house for you.
Prices start at $3995 and you can request a quote here.
For further details, take a look at their website.
Non-Tiny House Specific Trailer Companies
Alternatively, you could buy a trailer from a company that doesn’t exclusively manufacture tiny house trailers but that does sell them alongside regular trailers. While these companies might offer more variety and delivery options, they are unlikely to have the same level of expertise as tiny house trailer manufacturers.
PJ Trailers manufactures a variety of trailers including several that have become popular in the tiny house community. They have a network of over 300 dealers across the US and Canada, which should reduce or eliminate any delivery costs. They also have 3D models of their trailers, so you can get a 360 degree view of your trailer.
Their most popular trailers for tiny houses are:
Which Tiny House Trailer is Best?
I like elements of all the options mentioned above. The Tumbleweed trailer makes for the fastest and easiest build, but it comes at a steep cost. I think if you live in or near one of the pickup locations, this one could make sense for you. The Tiny Home Builder trailers are quite reasonably priced and delivery costs less. Tidy Idahomes and Iron Eagle Trailers both come with some nice tiny house specific features.
Deciding which tiny house trailer is best depends on the design you have in mind, your budget, your location, and many other factors. Delivery costs in particular are very important to take into account, and if you don’t know much about construction and don’t want to make too many modifications to your trailer, I’d recommend going with a specialist tiny house trailer manufacturer.
Even though my trailer wasn't a specialized tiny house trailer, I am very happy with my decision to work with a local shop for a few reasons:
- I supported a local business and the local economy
- I have a place I can go for help and service (and I have already had the brake lights checked out for free by them)
- I paid no delivery fees
I don't think you can go wrong with any of these options. The most important thing in my opinion is that you start off with a trailer that is new or in new condition. The reasons for this are many, and I go into them in detail in my in-depth resource, Tiny House Decisions. I'll just say that your trailer is the foundation of your house, and you'll never be able to change it once you're done building. So, start with the best trailer you can afford. Happy building!
Did you like this mini-guide?
Then you'll love Tiny House Decisions! In it, I go through all the major decisions you must make in order to design and build your tiny house, from idea to completion. For each decision, I explain what each option is, what I did (and whether I'm happy with my decision), and make a recommendation. Enjoy!