How to safely tow a tiny home:
Moving a large trailer load must be done carefully and slowly. Here are some simple tips you should heed:
Pack your belongings carefully.
- Your tiny home will experience a large amount of swaying and some major bumps even on the smoothest road. Just think hurricane and earthquake. Remove all ceramic dishware from cabinets and pack in boxes separated by something like foam or newspapers.
- Secure chandeliers and other hanging items. Secure furniture by wedging it in place with other items. Make sure your appliances will stay in place too. Make sure the refrigerator door is secured closed and empty contents to coolers if they will be unpowered. If you have a stackable washer/dryer strap securely to the wall.
- Remove pictures, art, and TV from the walls. Pack securely.
Distribute weight correctly:
- 65% of the weight should be in front of the wheels to minimize fishtailing. Move everything (except the mattress) out of the lofts to lower the center of gravity.
- Tongue Weight: “Proper trailer tongue weight can make the difference between a safe trailer towing experience and a dangerous journey. If you don’t have enough weight on the trailer tongue, the trailer may be prone to swaying from side to side, making it difficult to control. Conversely, if you have too much weight exerted on the hitch ball, the force could overload the rear tires of the tow vehicle and push the rear end of the vehicle around.” (Quoted from the website in the link) Most experts agree that an acceptable tongue weight for any trailer is somewhere between 9 to 15 percent of the gross trailer weight (GTW).
Plan your route:
- If it’s not too long, drive it ahead of time looking for obstacles like low bridges, road construction, low hanging wires and branches, and pot holes.
- Take a long, non-conductive stick the height of your home. If a wire, traffic light, or other obstacle seems to low, stop and measure it with the stick. Do not touch electric lines -if you can’t tell the difference between electric and phone, network, cable, etc., call the utility company
Just because your tiny home is within size limits doesn’t mean you won’t need permits. Each state and municipality has it’s own requirements. The city of Phoenix, for instance, will limit you to certain speeds, routes, and time of day. You must also know the exact weight of your home, so get it weighed.
Many states will require load class “E” not the “C” load class that come with most trailers. Also check for tire wear: We’re not talking about tread depth. Look for sun checking –tiny cracks or splits in the side walls caused by extended sun exposure, that are sure precursors to a blowout. If your tires are more than two years old get new tires. Have at least two spares and a jack in the truck.
Make sure your pulling vehicle is up to the task:
- This might require a coolant system flush, the addition of engine cooling, and a brake inspection.
- Make sure the trailer has electronic brakes and the brake pads are in good shape.
- Kent Griswold of Tiny House Talk rents a 20″ U-Haul truck if he needs to move his house. It has the towing capacity needed as well as the right hitch ball and trailer braking interface. See YouTube video below.
You will need temporary brake and turn signal lights on the rear of the structure. These can be rented if you move infrequently.
Your trailer will need to be registered & licensed and have a lighted license plate.
If towing your tiny home yourself, you will need a commercial drivers license.
Even when using a towing company their load is not always fully insured. Check with your home owners policy to see if it will remain valid in the new location. They might have you install a GPS so they can track their insured property.
Take a long ladder and a chain saw.
- You may be cutting low branches especially on rural roads.
- A lot of damage can be prevented by putting a strong piece of material along the top front edge of the structure.
- Consider wrapping the lower half in several layers of plastic or Tyvek. Cover glass doors with wood.
Prepare your new location for your arrival ahead of time.
- If you will be staying in an RV park or tiny home community make sure they will accept your home. Most require that it has been built to a certain “code” and have a certification sticker on the trailer.
- If you are moving to private property we strongly suggest a foundation and a tie-down system to prevent blow over.
Check the weather:
Avoid traveling on snowy roads. If high winds are forecast consider postponing until the weather clears.
Here is the video I mentioned earlier using a U-Haul truck to tow your tiny: