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Do any of you tow a "tiny home" versus a fifth wheel trailer with your HDT?


SeekingMySerenity

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I am new to the forum, obviously, but I have read so far about large fifth wheel commercially produced trailers being the typical. What I want to know is if anyone tows a "tiny home" style trailer instead.

 

The reason I make this distinction is because a tiny home is more akin to a stick built home on wheels thus has more challenging parameters than 5ers. My initial plan is to design a tiny home on a fifth wheel custom trailer platform with a 30 foot build deck first floor size and a loft level that juts over the fifth wheel area between five and seven feet with total height 13 feet 3 to 5 inches to match the height of a Volvo VNL42T780.

 

I may be a strange duck I will admit, but I am curious to know if others here might have a similar set up that I could ask about.

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I'm not aware of any HDT forum members with a Tiny House. I don't see any reason not to have a Tiny House instead of a 5th wheel though. Are you familiar with "Tumbleweed Tiny House" organization?

 

http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/

 

You're certainly welcome here even if you didn't have an HDT. LOTS of knowledgeable folks who are generous in sharing and helping. If at all possible, attend an HDT Rally. There are over 50 HDT's here at the East Coast Rally in Crossville, TN this week. In October, the National HDT Rally will be in Hutchinson, KS. I hope to see at a future HDT event. Again, WELCOME!

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You're certainly welcome here even if you didn't have an HDT. LOTS of knowledgeable folks who are generous in sharing and helping. If at all possible, attend an HDT Rally. There are over 50 HDT's here at the East Coast Rally in Crossville, TN this week. In October, the National HDT Rally will be in Hutchinson, KS. I hope to see at a future HDT event. Again, WELCOME!

I can vouch for this statement. My DW and I are at the ECR to fact find and see if this is the direction we want to go. I cannot express how overwhelming hospitality has been. We are already planning to come back next year.

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You could get a 53' commercial trailer and modify it. Then you would have a solid foundation, for sure.

 

The roof would have to be lowered about 12" to put on several AC Units and other stuff.

 

Then shorten the frame and box to whatever length you want, likely no more than 45' total.

 

Just a dumb idea !!!

 

JohnnyB

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The tiny house movement has homes on wheels as standard and custom designs. My main question was if anyone with a HDT pulled a tiny versus a 5er for their home on wheels.

 

I do appreciate the inputs though. I also know that the tiny homes on wheels can be towed with the appropriate vehicle, but I did not know if anyone here did so thus me being able ask about any quirks or advice when moving them.

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I had the same idea, 30 ft low profile gooseneck, with a deck on the neck, maybe cut down some and a fifth wheel hitch instead of the ball.

 

There is a blog started by a family that was going to do this, and use a hdt, but it stops before they got the house built.

 

Keep us posted.

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The tiny house movement has homes on wheels as standard and custom designs. My main question was if anyone with a HDT pulled a tiny versus a 5er for their home on wheels.

 

I do appreciate the inputs though. I also know that the tiny homes on wheels can be towed with the appropriate vehicle, but I did not know if anyone here did so thus me being able ask about any quirks or advice when moving them.

Most of the tiny homes we have seen are a stick built home on a trailer frame. Even though they can be moved they are not meant to be moved frequently like a RV trailer. They typically do not have on board water tanks or 12 volt electrical systems. The structure is typically nailed and not screwed together. Nails will come loose after moving a lot of miles down the road. Also you will be subjecting your shingles and siding to sustained winds of 60-65+ mph unless you plan to only drive slowly

 

As far as using a container, you may look commercial so you may need to be prepared to be pulled over & inspected by DOT. Plus you might find campgrounds that will not allow that type of rig.

 

Dave

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There are a few other items to consider besides the construction techniques Dave alluded to. As inviting as it sounds, the internet coverage of the whole "tiny house" movement overlooks the problems trying to park the item when you actually live in it. With a class 8 truck parked next to it no less. Standard RV parks frequently do not encourage home built RV's of any sort. It sounds like you want to be off on your own, but local zoning laws usually prevent that.

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There seems to be a lot of regulations and certifications that relate to both the trailer frame and the living quarters and what they contain in terms of plumbing etc. I went to a presentation on tiny homes and gypsy wagons called a Vargo that just touched on the laws but they wanted to avoid that discussion all together since their talk was just on the design aspects. They often referred to their buildings as playhouses to avoid the regulation discussion.

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There is a lot to consider if you are building your own RV. I call it an RV, since to be really useful in a "mobile" application it really has to have the RV systems....so to me that makes it a "homebuilt RV" vs. a "tiny house" that is not really intended to be moved frequently, even if built on wheels. A tiny house, akin to a mobile home, has wheels, but is not really intended to move frequently. In my feeble mind, that is how I distinguish the two.

 

For a homebuilt RV you have lots of options. Pretty much all of them are going to be pretty heavy, if you use conventional construction techniques....even if you intend/strive to keep it light. And frankly, that is beneficial, since you likely end up with a better product. Notice that ALL of the custom built 5ers are very heavy. There is a reason for that - and that reason will apply to a homebuilt RV. So an HDT is a great tow vehicle for a homebuilt.

 

The basic shell can be built lots of ways, but conventional construction using hurricane standards - and likely some additional reinforcement for sway - will be one good way to proceed. There is LOTS of data and products to help with that.

 

It would be an interesting project..... :)

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I am new to the forum, obviously, but I have read so far about large fifth wheel commercially produced trailers being the typical. What I want to know is if anyone tows a "tiny home" style trailer instead.

 

The reason I make this distinction is because a tiny home is more akin to a stick built home on wheels thus has more challenging parameters than 5ers. My initial plan is to design a tiny home on a fifth wheel custom trailer platform with a 30 foot build deck first floor size and a loft level that juts over the fifth wheel area between five and seven feet with total height 13 feet 3 to 5 inches to match the height of a Volvo VNL42T780.

 

I may be a strange duck I will admit, but I am curious to know if others here might have a similar set up that I could ask about.

So, you're looking to build a ~38 foot trailer yourself because the industry's existing 40-45 footers don't give you what you want?

 

Personally, I have to think the tiny home movement is unsustainable. The supposed build prices they're showing just don't make sense - assuming they aren't lying and are actually quoting what the customer paid the vendor, many of these vendors are (for the most part) one-person shows, and if they're building 12 trailers a year, that's a build rate of one per month, so by the law of averages, the labor dollars in any one trailer cover that person's salary for one month. If it's a comfortable living wage, there's no way the materials for a trailer like that cost so little.

 

There's not a lot of competition in the HDT/5er space, but there's definitely some (and there certainly was more a few years ago). When there's no competition, there's just no way for any one vendor to hold their prices appreciably above their comparable competition - buyers would simply flock to the competition, the competition would end up with an extra-long order book, they'd expand to handle demand, and the overpriced (non-)competitor would only pick up the customers willing to pay so they can play earlier (until the competition expands to suit demand). Therefore, I have to think prices on existing 5er RV trailers are competitive for the costs involved in doing the job right. If the RV trailers are priced so there's a bearable margin over efficient cost structures for the right labor and materials, how can a tiny house make any sense? It's either going to be suboptimal for towing (durability of the structure and exterior), suboptimal for camping (dependent upon live connections to utilities, no provisions for off-grid living or even an onboard generator), suboptimal for space (tiny home probably doesn't allow for slide-outs within the relevant codes), etc. Trying to adapt a commercial trailer frame into a tiny house is going to leave you with needless excesses: overbuilt frames, overbuilt axles for the actual loads presented, oversized tires compared to actual need, suspensions made for long life rather than soft ride for personal possessions, incorrect heights for rooftop gear, etc.

 

Best of luck to you if you go this route. In my mind, it just doesn't make sense...it's got too much potential to be a valueless "asset" well before you want to be in a position to replace it, or it'll end up more expensive than a purpose-built RV trailer.

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At one time, people built their own homes. We called it "sweat" equity. My neighbor, down the street, did that with his home. It took longer than paying someone to build the house. But, if the homeowner, possesses the skills, knows the building codes, works with the inspectors, the house is usually better built than a "contractor" built home and there is a substantial savings. On the other hand, if the homeowner lacks skills and does not understand the building codes, the house will be a disaster!

 

BTW - My neighbor spent 20 years on his house. The house was his hobby. He once had his work "red tagged" by an inspector because the carpentry was not to code. It was actually above what code required. LOL. A discussion with the inspector's supervisor resulted in the red tag being removed.

 

I once saw one of these house rigs going down the highway. TOO KOOL! I loved it! This project is doable as long as you possess the skills, have a place to do the build and know the applicable codes.

 

BTW - there was post on, this forum, about a guy (I think he went by old surfer) who was selling his truck and trailer. The trailer was built by a a different guy. If you do some research, you may find the build thread on the trailer. As I recall, there was lots of good info posted.

 

Take a look at the custom builder websites (Spacecraft and New Horizons) they usually have photos of work in progress trailers.

 

If you decide to build, post photos. I think there is a website called "follow my build."

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