Tiny House: Siding

December 31, 2016 Categories Tiny House

NOTE: I’m not 100% done with the siding/roof trim, but figured I’d just post what I have now and update this later when I do finally finish everything.

When I first started out, all I knew is that I wanted wood siding. I saw a lot of pictures of people who built beautiful cedar sided tiny homes and I couldn’t help but want one. I think cedar has a very clean, finished look and that appeals to the modern side of me. At the same time, I wanted an old, rustic look, as that appeals to the nature side of me. In the end, I more or less just happen to stumble upon the siding that I chose.

It’s called Montana Ghost Wood and it’s absolutely stunning. It’s designed as an alternative to reclaimed wood, so it’s new lumber with an old lumber appearance. How cool is that?! Yes, it doesn’t have the cool history that reclaimed wood might have. However, a decent percentage of reclaim wood ends up being not usable because of splits or rot and that’s not an issue with the Ghost Wood since it’s brand new. What I really love about it is that it will allow me to have a rustic appearance that I can mix with some modern flare to get the design I want that appeals to both my senses.

It’s a lap siding and it comes in four different colors – a brown, a gray, a black, and a red. All the colors are designed to look aged and are supposed to change more over time. I went with their “Bannack Brown,” as I like the simple and natural appeal of it. And it’s available at Home Depot, which makes things very convenient for me.

I will say that it isn’t cheap. It cost me about $2,700 just for enough to cover my tiny house. I messed up a few boards during the install and it really sucked knowing that each mistake essentially cost me about $20.


I spent a few extra pennies and bought Sturdi-Strips to use as furring strips behind the siding. The Sturdi-Strips are vented so they work for rainscreen drainage, airflow, and as an insect screen. Hopefully no water gets behind the siding, but if it does I’m trying to ensure there’s plenty of airflow to reduce any extra moisture buildup that I can. The air gap behind the siding also completely extends up to my roof, which is also vented, so that there’s 360 degrees of ventilation around the entire house.

I started the entire siding process by putting the Sturdi-Strips on the house corners, around all the windows, and on top of every stud. I placed extra strips behind any areas I knew would be getting covered with trim, that way there was enough surface area for the trim piece as well as the siding that butts against it.


The front of the house was the trickiest side, so that’s where I started. The first big obstacle was cutting the siding to fit around the fender. I’ll admit, it’s not as perfect as I would like it, but it’s pretty darn close and I later caulked the small gap that was left. Another obstacle was working around all the windows and making sure the siding came up and was as even as possible when it came to cutting around each window. The door was also an obstacle, since it split the wall into two sections that join together at the top. This meant that the siding on both sides of the door had to be even all the way up so that the piece that connects to the sides can sit flush. I continuously measured the distance from the siding to the top of the door and made small adjustments so that both sides were completely even.


I only had to deal with the fender and one window on the rear of the house, which made things much easier. I did my best to measure from the top of the roof down to the siding to make sure it was level all the way across.

Right Side

This was by far the easiest side. No obstacles and a single board for each row. I wish it was all this easy.

Left Side (Utility Shed)

I built a small utility shed for storing propane tanks and general storage. Originally I thought some of my electrical system would go in there, but I’m leaning away from that idea now. I started by getting the frame built, sheathed, wrapped, and roofed.

Before I did the siding, I cut a hole in the wall for my water inlet and put flashing tape all around it. Once I had the siding cut to fit around it, I caulked all around the hole in the wall itself and the siding. There’s more caulk under the water inlet flange, then it’s screwed in place, and later on I caulked around the outside of the flange. I don’t want any undesired water leaking through.

Then I continued on with the siding and finished off the roof with the finishing trim pieces.

Lastly, I built the frame to divide the area my propane tanks will go from the rest of the shed and made my doors. I’ll be adding a vent in the floor of the propane tank area for any gases to escape if there’s a leak, but that will come later on.

All-in-all, I’m really happy with how the siding came out, especially since this was my first time installing wood siding. Actually, I’ve never done a full-fledged siding installation of any kind. Luckily you can get a lot of great tips online and one video that I think does an amazing job at covering details about installing wood siding is this one:

Tiny House: Roofing

November 14, 2016 Categories Tiny House

For my roofing, I went with some basic metal roofing from Home Depot. I ordered everything in a Charcoal Gray because I wanted a nice contrast with the siding. Being that this is the first time I’ve ever installed a metal roof, I wasn’t fully sure of what all I needed. Some of the original trim pieces I ordered ended up not being what I wanted and it put a small delay into getting the roof completely done. However, all that’s left to do is the trim around the edges.

One of the most concerning aspects of the roof install for me was the chimney for my wood stove. With shingle roofs, it’s pretty easy to make cuts around obstacles and even if you mess up, it’s not that big of a deal – you just grab another shingle and start over. With the metal roof, any mistakes meant I would ruin an entire 3ft by 10ft sheet of metal. Since I didn’t order any extra, I really didn’t want to mess up. I watched a bunch of videos about metal roof installs and chimney installation through metal roofs to try to gather as much information as I could before I began.

Being that a wood stove also has potential safety issues related to it, I also did my best to research the proper installation techniques to ensure I was meeting all the safety standards. Most importantly is purchasing the right pipe and ensuring the chimney extends the required distance above the roof. I bought my entire chimney kit through NorthlineExpress.com and they have pretty good information and diagrams about installation and planning. What’s pretty cool about their website, is they have a lot of videos that walk through all the parts and they have more videos on Youtube about installations. DuraVent, the manufacturer of my chimney pipe, also has a basic planning guide. I tried finding all the same pipe components from Home Depot, but the descriptions were too generic to ensure I was getting exactly what I wanted. Ordering the kit through Northline was incredibly easy, had a detailed video explaining every part in the kit, and it came with everything I needed.

First things first, I needed to get my chimney support box installed. The support box is basically the foundation of the chimney; it holds all of the weight of the chimney from the roof up. When I ordered, I wasn’t fully sure how big of a support box I needed, so I ordered one that was for sure longer/taller than what I needed. It’s easy to trim off excess metal if it’s too long, but I can’t easily make the box taller if it’s too short. The chimney components came with a book that states the support box must extend at least 2 inches past surface of the finished ceiling. So, I began by figuring out the exact length I needed and cutting off the excess. I also cut it at a 15 degree angle so it’d match the slope of my roof.

Then I needed to cut a large hole in my freshly sheathed roof and get the support box level and mounted. This is one of the other times I had help. I had someone inside the house making sure the box was level as I was on the roof nailing it in place.

Once the support box was in place, I prepared my roof by covering the entire thing with an ice and water barrier. My roof is so small, that the single roll I bought managed to cover everything (one roll can cover 225 sq ft).

Then I laid down some 1x4s to act as both an air gap for venting and to give a thicker surface for the sheet metal screws to grab onto. I put extra blocking around the chimney area to give more surface for the flashing to sit on.

Finally, I could start laying down the sheet metal. Since the squareness of the entire roof depends on the exact positioning of the first sheet of metal, I took extra time ensuring that it was as perfectly positioned as possible. Since every sheet’s position is determined by the sheet before it, I didn’t want to end up with a crazy slant in the roof by the time I got to the other end. I measured and measured and measured again to get that first sheet right. The other important thing to note is that I started at the rear of the trailer and worked my way forward. I did that so that any winds that come along with driving down the road will flow over each sheet and not be able to “pick up” the sheet behind it, as the overlap is facing away from the direction of the wind. Once I laid down the second sheet, I measured the overhang to make sure it was the exact same as the sheet before it. I repeated that for every sheet so that the visible edge looks as neat and straight as possible. I should also mention that I was on the roof and had someone else hand the sheets up to me as I needed them, which made things easier.

After the first two sheets, it was time to install the chimney and cut around it. I started by making a template of the exact size of the flashing hole that I would use later to cut the sheet metal to size. Then I installed the flashing, the pipe, the chimney cap, storm collar, and used hi-temp silicone (that’s why it’s bright red) to seal the storm collar. I’ve seen a lot of videos of people using regular, clear silicone but if the chimney pipe ever gets crazy hot,the regular silicone won’t withstand the temperatures the hi-temp stuff can. Although it looks gaudy, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

I also will flat out admit that I didn’t install the flashing “properly”. The proper installation method is to put the bottom of the flashing over the metal roofing and the top of the flashing under it, to better prevent rain from reaching the roof surface. However, since my flashing basically touches the edge of my roof, any water that gets to that point will run right off the roof anyway. I went for a more “finished” look and cut the metal sheets to fit perfectly around the flashing and then sealed the area around the opening really well. No water should get in, but I feel confident that even if any did, it’ll still flow down the flashing and right off the roof.

After the chimney, the rest of the roof was simple, but still time consuming. I worked until dark and technically didn’t finish everything completely until a later day, but it was done enough to protect from any rain. It took me six hours from the point I started the first sheet until I finished. I think that’s pretty good timing considering it was my first time installing a metal roof and I stopped to install the chimney in the process. Frankly, I think it looks good and I’m particularly proud that the length of the overhang at the starting piece matches the length of the overhang of the last piece, meaning that first piece was positioned perfectly. I didn’t take a pic of the completed roof until the other day, so you can kinda see what my siding looks like (which I love).

I also installed a chimney support bracket to keep the chimney well supported in case of high winds. The bracket is required for chimneys taller than 5ft, which mine is exactly at 5ft. Frankly, the bracket is worth it just to have. Before installing it, I could easily move the chimney around by hand. After installing it, it’s like a rock. That puppy is secure.

As I said, the roofing isn’t 100% done, since I still have to install the trim pieces. I put a temporary eave trim along the top of the roof to stop water from getting in, but I have a different one on order that will be going up instead.

Tiny House: Sheathing and Windows

November 3, 2016 Categories Tiny House

I did all the wall sheathing by myself and I will flat out admit that it was not the most pleasant experience. As it turns out, it’s somewhat of a challenge trying to hold a 4x8ft sheet of plywood up, verify it’s level, and nail it in place without any assistance. I’ll also admit that there are a couple of mistakes I made, but luckily they get covered up and no one will ever even know.

Luckily I had help putting the roof sheathing on. It took me over a day to do all the wall sheathing by myself and it only took a few hours to get the roof done. If I had to do the roof myself, it would have taken significantly longer. I didn’t take any pictures during the process, though.

Once all the sheathing was on, I wrapped the entire thing in Tyvek house wrap. I bought a 9ft high roll so I could cover more area with less seams.

Then I cut out all the holes for the windows and door and put down a layer of flashing tape on all the window sills. If water ever gets to the actual window sill, the sill flashing helps to shed the water away from the untreated wood.

With all the sills prepared, it was time to install the windows. I special ordered all of my windows because I wanted very specific sizes and colors. Almost all of my windows are 4ft wide, except the one above the door which is only 3ft wide. I went with a black exterior finish and white on the interior. Some people might think that’s odd, but I like the balance it represents. I also ordered the windows without a J channel, that way I could put my wood siding tight up against the window and be able to caulk it to keep water out.

Installing the windows is another area I had some help with, as it’s much easier to have someone inside the building making sure the gaps around all the edges are the same while I stayed outside and nailed the window in place. Every window has caulking around the sides and the top, but not the bottom. The bottom isn’t caulked so that if water gets on the sill, it has a place to drain out from. After everything was nailed in place, I went ahead of finished up the flashing. The window flashing goes on each side of the window first, extending down about six inches, then there’s a final piece of flashing that goes across the top which should overlap the side flashing. Just like with the caulk, the bottom does not get any flashing; that way water can still get out if it manages to reach the sill.

Lastly, I got the door installed. I didn’t take any pictures during the install, but the door gets sill flashing just like the windows. Unlike the windows, however, you do caulk the bottom of the door. I put down three decent beads of caulk all the way across the bottom and about six inches up the sides. I put two extra long screws into every hinge to get a good grip on the studs around the opening. On the non-hinge side, I have long screws through the door catch and additional screws hidden at the top and bottom under the weather strip.

Just like I ordered my windows without the J channel, I ordered my door without any brick moulding. I will be using trim around my door that matches the siding. You can’t see a lot of detail of the outside of the door since it’s black and the shadow from the tree is blocking the light, but if you’re wondering, it’s a carpenter style door. I was originally planning on having a full glass panel door, but couldn’t find one that matched my specific design and in the width that I wanted. The nice thing about the carpenter door is that I can put my rooster door knocker on there that I bought last year while traveling. I bought a modern style door knob (brushed nickel, of course) and I’m hoping it will have some cool contrast with the rustic wood I have for siding.

Tiny House: Building the Frame

November 2, 2016 Categories Tiny House

OK, so I’ve FINALLY started building my tiny house. I began piling up supplies near the end of August and placed the orders for my windows and door at the beginning of September. After waiting six weeks for my windows and door to be built and delivered, I finally had the last pieces I needed in order to start building. I took a week off of work, giving me a solid nine full days of dedicated time to work on it.

I started, of course, by getting the trailer as level as possible so I’d have a nice building surface to start with. Since my trailer already has steel joists running every 16″ on center, I did not build a wooden frame on top of the trailer to support the floor. Instead, I’m relying on the structure of the trailer itself to be my support. I did, however, lay down a pressure treated 2×6 sill plate to sit between the metal of the trailer and the untreated base plates for my walls. I also made sure to put a sill gasket (that’s the rolls of pink stuff) under the sill plate.

It took me a lot longer than I expected to build the walls, which are all 2x4s. The front wall, which has six windows and a door in it, took me over an entire day to build. I built the front wall in three sections to make it easier to lift and all the sections slide together and get nailed into place. Even as three separate sections, each section is quite heavy because of how many headers it has for the door and windows. Part of the reason it took so long to build the wall was because of how many different measurements there are and everything needing to be as precise as possible so it would all slide together in the end. By comparison, the rest of the walls were much easier to build.

Luckily I had help when it came to raising the first three walls. Flat out, it would have extremely sucked to have attempted to do it by myself. I built the rear wall in two 10ft sections and was able to raise it by myself.

Once the walls were up and in their final places, I drilled eight holes down through the base plate, sill plate, and trailer frame. I’m sure my Titanium drill bits would have been able to drill through the thick steel of the trailer, but I went ahead and bought a set of Cobalt drill bits, which are better for drilling through hard metals. Based on how easy it was to drill the holes, I’d say it was worth it. Once all the holes were drilled, I dropped in 1/2″ thick, 4-1/2″ long galvanized bolts with washers, a lock washer (not pictured), and nut. These bolts should keep my walls firmly attached to the trailer when it comes time to move it.

My subfloor is 3/4″ tongue and groove plywood that I glued down using Liquid Nails Subfloor adhesive and some 2″ galvanized nails. For those who don’t know, the subfloor adhesive not only helps to hold everything together, but it also helps so you don’t have squeaky floors. Beneath the plywood I have pressure treated 2x4s laid on their sides and attached to a sill gasket that rests on top of the steel joists of my trailer. This keeps my subfloor away from direct contact with the steel and any condensation buildup away from untreated material.

Once my floor was down, I could more easily start working on getting my rafters cut and into place. My roof slopes at a 15 degree angle so they’re all cut to match that angle. All of my rafters are notched to fit snugly into place and have hurricane straps to hold them there. One of the few “legal” requirements of a tiny house is having hurricane straps.

It took me three full days to get the base structure built, but I’m pretty happy with how it came out. Things were finally starting to take shape.

Tiny House: Initial Design

May 15, 2016 Categories Tiny House

I’ve been focused on a side-project lately and haven’t had much time to finish up my tiny house design. I’m still not done with it, as there are some things I go back and forth on and other things that simply take time that I don’t have right now to draw out all the details. Nonetheless, I thought I’d share my rough design as it is.

The Shell

The frame of the house will be built using 2×4 walls with a shed-style roof. I’m trying to draw out every 2×4 that I’ll need in the construction so that I can simply count how many are in the design and then go buy that many, plus a couple extra in case I make a mistake (read as: WHEN I make a mistake). I’m even drawing in the fire blocking so my count can be as accurate as possible.


I very much am planning and designing for a modern look, as that’s my personal preference and style. I haven’t drawn the “utility shed” at the front of the trailer, where the hitch is, but there will be one drawn out eventually. The utility shed is where the propane tanks, water heater, and possibly some of the electrical system will be housed. Since I live in a cold climate, I’m still researching outside storage of a tankless water heater in below freezing temperatures. I think all I’ll have to do is wrap the small amount of pipe exposed to the cold in some of that electric heat pipe wrap mumbo jumbo (highly technical term) as well as some pipe insulation and I should be fine. I’m not very keen on the idea of requiring electricity to keep the pipes from freezing and there’s a strong possibility I’ll swap the design and make it so I can have the water heater mounted inside the bathroom area so it’s not exposed to the cold.

I’m planning on doing wood siding, ideally cypress, if more research indicates it will handle well in cold environments. I’d prefer wood siding, despite the higher maintenance it will require, because I feel it will have a more nature-like quality.

Interior Overview

The interior will maintain a modern look and won’t have as much rustic appeal as I was initially thinking. I’m still trying as much as possible to plan around having a wood stove as my heat source, despite the inconvenience of it needing floor space and adequate spacing from combustibles. Obviously going with one of those wall-mounted propane heaters would save space, but I don’t want to have to pay for the propane it would require to keep the house warm during a Wisconsin winter. My goal is to live on a piece of land with an abundant quantity of trees that could easily provide a “free” source of heat.


The kitchen will be fairly minimal, as I’m not exactly what you would call a “chef.” I’m designing it as if I were to have a decent-sized fridge, but in all likelihood, it’ll end up being a smaller fridge to reduce electrical requirements. There will also be wall-mounted cabinets for additional storage, but I haven’t taken the time to draw them yet. All of the cabinets are being designed according to the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) standards, but I intend on building them all myself.

There will be a small dinning area in the kitchen that can fold away when not in use. The stools will probably end up being folding wooden chairs that can be stored in the kitchen ceiling so that they’re out of the way when not being used. I designed the table in front of a window so that there’s the potential to have a pleasant view while eating. This table could also double as a desk, if you don’t mind the idea of having an “office” in the kitchen.


The bathroom is minimal, much like everything else. I did get a little “fancy” and am planning for a small sink in there. The toilet will be a composting toilet, so as to not require any plumbing. I haven’t drawn the door, but it’ll be a sliding barn door mounted outside the bathroom and slide in the direction of the couch.

There will also be a shelf, or possibly a cabinet, above the bathroom window for storage. Depending on how I design the utility shed, there may be additional storage above the sink, too. The bathroom has a 7 ft ceiling so that I can comfortably stand in there for showering.

Living Room

The living room is obviously nothing more than a couch, essentially. I’m designing it as best that I can to be long enough to also double as an extra sleeping area and I’ll most likely change the design so that it can slide out to become wider. Frankly, the loft is tiny and can’t be used for much more than actual sleeping. When it comes to hanky panky, it’d be nice if the couch could double as a bed.

There should be plenty of natural light in this area with the glass door at the front and large window behind the couch. You’ll notice there’s no TV, as not only do I want to live life free from that stuff to focus on other things, but I also want to live as free from electricity as possible.


There’s not much to say about the loft. It’s a small area big enough to fit a queen bed and has some windows for lighting. There’s a strong possibility I’ll add in a skylight so that I can look up at the night sky.


I have junk that I refuse to get rid of and that junk needs somewhere to go, so I’m trying to build in as much storage as possible without it feeling intrusive or making the space feel confining. The main storage area, where I’ll likely keep clothes and such, is the staircase. Right now it’s designed as open storage, but that’s only because I haven’t designed something I like that has doors and drawers. Yes, I could easily just put doors on the openings as they are, but I’m crazy and it would bother me that the gap between the doors is a different gap than that of the kitchen cabinets.

There’s also a large, open storage area above the bathroom. This is where I’ll likely store all my camping gear and backpacks.

Anyway, that’s my design so far. It’ll be the first or second week of June before I know how much longer my side-project will take and then I can hopefully finish up the design and start purchasing all the materials. I’m a little worried about the wood stove and how long it will take to acquire.

I still have to find a nice chunk of wooded land, too.

My Tiny House Trailer

November 14, 2015 Categories Tiny House

It’s been a little over a month and a half since since I decided to build a tiny house. During that time I have basically accomplished nothing – I’m talented like that. What have I been doing? Waiting, mostly.

You may remember I bought an old, used trailer shortly after (read: “the day that”) I became committed to the idea of building a tiny house. That same night I finally did some research (I do things backwards, I know) and decided against using that trailer, as I just didn’t feel confident in it any longer. I bit the bullet and purchased and brand-new, custom trailer designed to my specifications.

It was somewhat of a pain finding a local trailer manufacturer. The first placed I called never seemed to have anyone to talk to and after leaving my contact information more than once, I finally heard back from them three days later. Frankly, that’s unacceptable to me and not a business I want to deal with. Some places I called didn’t take custom orders, others only seemed to sell parts related to trailers but not trailers themselves, and finally I came across Big O’s Trailers in Portage, Wisconsin.

I told them exactly what I was doing with the trailer and made a few upgrades as well as a few “downgrades,” like buying it without stake pockets, a bump rail, or any decking, since I’d be ripping that all off anyways. The trailer is considered a “car hauler,” so I also had to order it without ramps or the “dove tail” at the rear, because I wanted the surface of the trailer to be completely flat. I upgraded to 7,000 lb axles, a 12,000 lb tongue jack, and a one foot longer tongue. I went with the heavier duty axles and jack to ensure I don’t come close to maxing out the weight rating of the trailer and I extended the tongue to give more room for a “utility shed”.

After roughly a five week wait, my trailer finally came in. I picked it up yesterday and it was far above my expectations.

When I initially ordered it without the decking, I was told there would be about a 2″ gap between the “joists” and the top of the trailer since the decking sits in the trailer. However, they were able to raise the joists up, giving me a flat surface on top, and they ran the joists every 16″ on center (not sure it that’s normal or not). So, if I wanted to, now I can build directly on top of the trailer frame without having to lay down floor joists.

The other awesome thing is the outer edge of the trailer they welded on a 7″ C-channel, making it so that I can attach a wall on top of it and easily drill down and bolt the wall to the trailer frame. The original description I gave them would have made it so I would have had only 2″ of metal below the wall frame, which was probably a pretty terrible idea.

The only thing I wish I could have gotten are more angular fenders instead of the round ones. I’ve seen pictures of other people’s trailers with the more angular fenders and it just looks significantly more easy to cut all the sheathing and siding to fit around them.

Since getting the trailer, the only thing I’ve done is taken measurements and created a basic 3D model of it in SketchUp, which you can download if you want (for whatever reason).

I have a few design ideas in mind and now that I know the exact measurements and locations of wheel wells, I can start working on getting everything laid out the way I want it. I’m still on the fence about building something “standard” or getting a little crazy and trying to change people’s perspective on what a tiny house can be.

Since it’s approaching snow season here, I likely won’t get any building started until Spring. During that time, I’ll be working on designs and trying to pick one I like and stick with it. My areas of focus are:

  • Modern, but rustic design
  • Off-grid living!
  • Wood stove/heater
  • Solar power; low electricity usage and reliance
  • Low water usage
  • Compost toilet
  • Open floor plan / “spacious” living areas

I’m Building a Tiny House

September 27, 2015 Categories Tiny House

I’ve been back in Wisconsin for two weeks now not fully sure on what crazy idea to do next. I spent most of that time looking for a new vehicle, and now that I have one I’ve turned my mind towards other things. Specifically, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I have decided to build a tiny house. As most of my ideas go, I have done little thinking about all the details and instead I’m just taking the idea and running with it, because I think that’s the best way to experience life. It could be my best choice yet or a terrible and miserable failure. Only time will tell!

The idea of building a tiny house is not something that’s actually new to me. In fact, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for awhile now for three main reasons:

  1. I live a pretty simplistic lifestyle.
  2. I’m cheap (or “poor,” if you prefer) and don’t wanna pay rent or buy a real house.
  3. It’s on wheels, so I could travel with it, if I wanted to.

On top of that, living in a tiny house comes with the advantages of having lower property taxes than a regular house would (if you own the property) and the building codes are completely different since it’s built on a trailer and can be registered and insured as an RV, if you do things properly. I’m still looking into the DMV regulations, but what I’ve read so far is the house will have to be inspected and document everything, including pictures of every stage of building. Although I plan on doing the work myself, I do plan on having the electrical, plumbing, and any gas lines professionally inspected and certified to make sure I didn’t mess anything up and to hopefully make getting it registered as an RV a lot easier.

In the 17 hours that I have been committed to this idea, I have already purchased an old camper trailer for $350 to start building upon. It’s not in perfect condition, as it’s from a nearly 30 year-old trailer, but it needs minimal work to bring it up to par. I chose to go with an old, used trailer because three hundred and fifty dollars, that’s why. Seriously, it’s pretty hard to beat that price.

UPDATE: I decided not to use this trailer for my tiny house and instead bought a brand new, heavier duty trailer that I’ll be using instead.

The trailer I bought currently has two axles that appear to be rated for 3,500 lbs each. I say “appear to be” because there are no markings anywhere that I’ve seen yet indicating the actual weight rating, but their diameters are both 2-3/8″ and according to the internet (which never lies), that should mean they’re rated for 3,500 lbs. The tires are crap and will definitely need to be replaced. Both axles look like they have brakes, but all the electrical will need to be redone and possibly other stuff, I honestly don’t know yet. I’ve never messed with trailer brakes before, so it’ll be a fun learning experience. If I can’t salvage what’s there or decide I don’t trust the axles to support the entire weight of the house, I’ve already priced out new 5,200 lb axles with brakes. There’s a good chance I’ll upgrade the axles just to be on the safe side, as I’d prefer not to come close to exceeding the axles limits.

Enough yammering, here’s some pictures of the junker I bought. I’m gonna try to get it sand blasted, some welding needs to be done, and then a fresh coat of black paint should get it looking like a million bucks. Well, maybe not a million bucks, but definitely more than $350 I paid for it. Its rough dimensions are 24’x8′, including the tongue.

As you can see, the rear, right of the trailer is gonna need some work to get the support brackets straightened out or new ones made and welded on (most likely the latter). The support beam going across the trailer right before the bumper will also have to be replaced, as it’s too rusty and bent to trust. I’m debating on keeping the side step and trying to design the house so that I can have a door above it. The only thing I know for sure right now is that I want the rear “wall” of the house to fold down to become a small porch and there will be another wall about one foot inside the trailer that will have a double glass door to let in lots of light.

The only thing I’ve looked up so far are the basic legal requirements and restrictions to haul this thing down the road. There are both federal and state regulations limiting the length and width of a trailer/RV/motorhome. In order to be in compliance with all states, I’m opting to go with the most restrictive of the regulations, that way it can be taken anywhere… even though it’ll probably never leave Wisconsin. Better safe than sorry. RV Trip Wizard has an awesome breakdown of each state’s restrictions, with the caveat that it *may* not be 100% accurate (I’m sure it’s close enough). You can also check out the DOT’s commercial restrictions, which are basically the same limitations. Again, I’m going with the most restrictive limits so I should meet all of the standards regardless of who looks at it.

Note: These dimensions are the restrictions for trailers, since that’s what I’m starting with.

Max Height: 13’6″. This means the tippy-top of the roof, or anything coming out of the roof (like the chimney for the wood burning stove I want) has to be under that height from ground level. Flat-out, I plan to push this limit to maximize space inside the house.

Max Width: 8′. Blame Arizona, DC, and New Jersey for that. Almost every other state is 8’6″, except Alaska at 8’5″ and Hawaii at a gracious 9′. The trailer I bought is only about 91″ wide, so I will easily be under the 8′ limit.

Max Length: 35′. For this one you can blame North Carolina, as most states are 40′ or more. My 24′ trailer doesn’t come close to this, so I’m good.

Lighting: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has regulations for lighting equipment (brake lights, turn signals, reflectors, etc). It’s pretty easy stuff to follow, but since the trailer I bought has none of it currently on it, it’s all stuff I’m gonna have to buy and add during the design.

Safety: The following safety devices are required. If any state required something, I added it to the list. Again, most restrictive. I want to be in compliance with every state.

  • Safety chains.
  • Breakaway switch on towed vehicles/trailers weighing over 3,000 pounds.
  • Brakes required on towed vehicles/trailers weighing over 1,500 pounds (Nevada specifies brakes must be on all wheels, not just one of the axles).
  • Brakes required that stops the combined vehicles within 40 feet at 20 mph (this is in Kansas and Wyoming).
  • Flares or reflective signs. Not sure if they mean for roadside emergencies or what.
  • Fire extinguisher in RV (aka tiny house).

Rear Impact Guards: Trailers with a gross weight of 10,000 lbs or more are required to have rear impact guards installed, according to NHTSA Standard Numbers 223 and 224. The trailer I bought does have a bumper on it, but I shouldn’t come close to exceeding the 10,000 lb limit… especially since the axles can only support 7,000 lbs.

Tires: NHTSA again. According to Standard Numbers 119 and 120, the tires must be of sufficient size, have the appropriate load rating, and the rims must be of a particular size, type, and identification. Honestly, I would think this is a given. I don’t want tires on the trailer that aren’t gonna be able to hold the load.

Building Codes: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has building codes designed for RVs, which need to be followed if you want to register your tiny house with the DMV – which I plan on doing.

Misc: I found this Tiny House Community website to be pretty informative for basic questions. They also have a guideline that I’ll probably get a lot of information from. Here’s another good site about codes and whatnot.

I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to build this project, as I don’t want to rush it. I’ve looked up nothing in the design process, construction, appliances, etc. I’m honestly more focused on making sure the trailer itself is sound before doing anything else. This will include cleaning it up, replacing the tongue jack, getting the welding done, buying some jack stands, and getting the brakes fixed or replacing the axles altogether. Once all that is done, I can start construction. I’d like to have the shell completed, roofed, and sided by the end of October, but that’s assuming things go to plan (which I have none).