Wondering what your best tiny house trailer option is? Should you buy one new or used? Is it better to have a 5th wheel/gooseneck, bumper pull, deck over, car hauler, or custom tiny house trailer? With so many options these days, it’s no wonder that people often become overwhelmed in the selection process. Let’s break it all down and decode your options!
Going the used route can certainly save a wad of cash; however, money saved at this stage, if the trailer isn’t the right fit for YOUR build, can make future expenses much higher than the initial savings.
The most important thing to look for on a used trailer is the weight rating placard. Usually they are located on the neck of the trailer. You need to ensure that the frame and axles are rated highly enough to confidently support your home. If a used trailer doesn’t have this placard, there’s no way to know what it’s rated for and thus, we recommend you immediately walk away from the deal…no matter how sweet it may seem.
A word about used RV trailers: though it’s very tempting to dismantle an inexpensive or free RV to refurbish the trailer, keep in mind that RV building materials are considerably lighter than those used in a tiny house. In virtually all cases (unless somebody is using ultralight materials to build their tiny), an RV trailer won’t be adequate for a tiny house build. There have been some cases of folks reinforcing a used RV trailer to strengthen it, but this should only be tackled by those with extensive metal working experience.
A “tongue pull” simply refers to a trailer with a standard towing hitch which affixes to the rear portion of a vehicle. These are different than 5th wheel/gooseneck trailers which connect via a hitch located inside a pick up truck bed. Here are your tiny house tongue pull trailer options:
Some of the initial movable tiny houses were built on car hauler trailers since there wasn’t much a market for custom tiny house trailers back then. The usable portion in these trailers fall within the width of the wheel wells. This means that the width of the buildable deck is narrower than that in your other trailer options. Having stayed in some tiny homes built on car hauler trailers, we’ve found them to be a bit too narrow for our liking.
One advantage of car hauler trailers is that they can often be found in standard trailer supply stores. Another is that they afford plenty of head height for those wanting a lofted tiny house.
This trailer option can also be found pretty easily off-the-rack. Deck over trailers allow for maximum width on a tiny house build. No wheel wells protrude into the building deck so no special design modifications need to be made, saving you time money.
The largest disadvantage with deck over trailers though is that the building deck sits fairly high off the ground, meaning that you likely won’t be able to have a loft and your entire tiny house will need to remain single story. If you don’t want a loft though, this may be your best option out there!
As the popularity of tiny houses has increased, a new market sector for custom tiny houses has emerged. Custom tiny house trailer designs have taken the best aspects of standard trailers and modified them for tiny house builds.
Custom tiny house trailers typically have lower decks than deck over trailers and more width than car haulers; the best of both worlds! One disadvantage to a custom tiny house trailer is a potential delay in receiving your finished product. Since many of them truly are custom built, it can take some time to receive it. That said, sometimes a custom builder will have some inventory on hand and if the stars align, it’s possible that it will meet your specific needs. It’s certainly calling around!
The popularity of gooseneck trailers has increased in the last few years and with good reason; one can build a spacious room atop the protruding trailer “arm”. We’ve toured some tiny houses built on these trailers and have been very impressed by the head space in those rooms. It’s definitely enough for a tall person to stand up, something not possible in a lofted bedroom.
5th wheel trailers tow much more easily than tongue pull trailers. They also makes for a safer towing experience because their weight is distributed largely over the truck axle. 5th wheel trailers are most often used in recreational applications while goosenecks in commercial ones.
One challenge with 5th wheels may be finding a custom trailer builder who has experience building them. Another challenge may be renting a truck which can tow one, meaning you may need to hire out the haul or buy your own truck.
As you can see, your options are many, but once you establish what your priorities are for your tiny house design, your trailer selection process will become easy. To learn much more about your trailer options and the pros and cons of each, be sure to watch the free video from our sister site TinyHouseBuild.com below (this digital workshop video series comes FREE to any of our plans customers!):