I’d been looking to build a tiny house for quite some time. I liked the idea of simple and efficient living. I also liked the fact that you can move a tiny home whenever you like.
After hours upon hours of watching videos of tiny houses, my only question was would I be able to tow a tiny house?
How much does a tiny house weigh?
The average tiny house has a dry weight of 10,000 pounds. This is without any personal belongings, people, furniture, etc. The smaller models start around 3,000 pounds (1.3 ton) and the biggest models weight around 15,000 pounds (8.8 ton).
How much your tiny house actually weighs and whether or not you can tow it will vary greatly based off which tiny house you decide to buy and what your vehicle’s tow rating is.
Tiny House Weights Explained
There are different weights to consider when looking at tiny houses. These consist of the tiny house’s dry weight, the trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating, the trailer’s actual weight, and the tongue weight.
The Dry Weight
The dry weight of a tiny house is the total weight before you add water to the water systems, people, and personal belongings.
On a side note, never tow a tiny house with people inside.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (also known as the GVWR)
The GVWR is the total weight that the trailer can safely hold. This includes the weight of the trailer, the weight of the house, and the weight of everything you might put inside.
You’ll want a nice spread between the dry weight and the GVWR. This is because water weighs in at over eight pounds a gallon.
This means that even if you have a small 30-gallon water tank, you’ll still need over 240 pounds just to carry your water with you.
How Much Does The Trailer Weight?
The trailer weight is the actual weight of the trailer before you put anything on top of it.
It might seem amazing, but a 2,000-pound trailer can often have a GVWR of up to 10,000 pounds.
Different trailers will have a different GVWR based on how they are made, what type of materials they are made from, and how many axles the trailer has on it. For example, a trailer with four tires will be much stronger than a trailer with only one axle.
The tongue weight is how much the trailer’s tongue weighs. For the uninitiated, this is the part of the trailer that connects to the vehicle’s hitch.
Tongue weight should be around 5 – 10% of the total weight of the trailer. This may change depending on what you’ve loaded your trailer with and where you’ve loaded it.
A trailer with a tongue weight that is too heavy or too light will be less stable and more difficult to tow. Always keep this in mind as you load your tiny house before travel.
The Weight of Small Tiny Houses
A small tiny house will usually range anywhere from 10 feet to 18 feet long. They’ll usually weigh between 2,500 to 8,500 pounds.
Here are some examples:
- Don Vardo Tiny House – The Don Vardo tiny house is 10 feet long and it does not have a loft. This gives it a lightweight of about 3,200 pounds. Link to the Don Vardo – https://padtinyhouses.com/product/don-vardo-tiny-house-plans/
- The Boulder – The Boulder is 16 feet long and weighs in at 5,400 pounds. It has a kitchen, a bathroom, and even a loft. They were able to keep the weight down by using lightweight corrugated metal for a strong and durable exterior wall.
- The Tumbleweed 18 – This tiny home is 18 feet long and weighs 8,000 pounds. It has loft space and a lot of headroom. You’ll also find a kitchen and a bathroom.
The Weight of Medium Size Tiny Houses
These tiny houses will range in length from 19 to 25 feet. Unlike smaller tiny homes, they’ll almost always come with a full bathroom and kitchen. Lofts are more often the norm rather than the exception.
Expect these homes to weigh anywhere from 8,500 pounds to 10,500.
Here are some examples:
- The Aspen – This tiny home is 20 feet long. The unique aspect of this length is that 4 feet of this are deck space and 16 feet is living space. They’ve basically taken a small tiny home and added exterior space to it.
The Aspen weighs in at 8,800 pounds which is surprising considering 4 feet of it is just a lightweight deck.
- The Tumbleweed 24 – The 24-foot Tumbleweed has a dry weight of 10,500 pounds. Its GVWR rating is 14,000 pounds, so you can take a lot with you. Just be sure your tow vehicle can handle everything first.
- The Suryan – The Suryan is 20 feet long and weighs 9,800 pounds. It has full RV hookups and sleeps up to 6 people. Its height offers two loft space areas that you can use as bedrooms or living rooms depending on your needs.
The Weight of Large Tiny Homes
Large tiny homes are anything over 25 feet. These homes can comfortably fit entire families and are often more spacious than a studio apartment.
They’ll typically weigh over 10,000 pounds and can go as high as 15,000 pounds.
Here are some examples:
- The Escape Trailer XL – This massive tiny house boasts over 319 square feet of room. It is 35 feet long and weighs 13,000 pounds. It features a ground-floor bedroom as well as a loft bedroom and still has room for a living room, kitchen, dining table, and a bathroom with a full-size bathtub.
- The Tumbleweed 26 – This Tumbleweed house is 26 feet long and has a dry weight of 11,500. While it is longer and heavier than the Tumbleweed 24, it has the same GVWR.
This means you won’t be able to use the extra space for added belongings. In fact, you’ll need to pare down your belongings by 1,000 pounds compared to the Tumbleweed 24.
- The Red Mountain 34 – This tiny house is 34 long and weighs 14,000 pounds dry. That’s around 6.3 ton. It is rustic both inside and out and features a wood-burning stove. The house also has a folding deck, which adds additional outdoor space to an already large house on wheels.
Additional Weight From Furniture And Stuff
You also need to add the added weight from furniture, appliances, etc.
You can quickly add another 500 pounds (226 kilograms) when you put in sofas, Murphy beds, etc.
We have made a list of the best furniture pieces for tiny houses. It’s a must-see if you are thinking about whether a tiny house is something for you. These solutions are so well thought-through!
How Do I Tow A Tiny House
When it comes to towing a tiny house, you’ll have three main options. You can buy a tow vehicle, you can rent a tow vehicle or you can have someone else tow your house for you.
For those of you who won’t be moving very often, I’d suggest you go with the third option. Why worry about towing your house when you only move once a year?
If you plan on moving every few months, you may want to rent or buy a tow vehicle. This will depend largely on logistics and pricing. For example, a couple with one vehicle can easily rent a tow vehicle and have one person tow while the other person drives the personal vehicle.
A single person renting a tow vehicle, however, would have to move the house and then go back for their vehicle. Depending on the distance traveled, this could end up being a costly and time-consuming endeavor.
The person who wants to remain mobile at all times, moving every month or even every week, will want to own their tow vehicle. It just doesn’t make sense to constantly rent a vehicle that you will need on a monthly basis.
What Will My Tow Vehicle Need
If you’ve decided to buy a tow vehicle, you’ll want to start out by looking at tow ratings. You’ll need a tow vehicle that is rated to tow the entire weight of your tiny house as well as any personal belongings you’ll have in your tiny house as well as your vehicle.
Once you have your tow vehicle, you may need to add better brakes, a brake controller, and a better suspension system. You may even need to add a cooling system to your transmission. Your dealer should be able to help you with all of this.
Additionally, your side mirrors may need to be upgraded. Tiny houses can be wide and your mirrors may not be wide enough to function properly.
What Else Should I Get
Optional equipment to consider would be an RV GPS, backup cameras, and backup sensors. These items will make driving and parking much easier for you.
Tiny houses can vary greatly in both sizes and weights. Smaller houses tend to be lighter and more mobile. Larger houses, on the other hand, are more difficult to move but often provide much better amenities.
If you already have a tow vehicle, you may want to search for a home that you can tow with what you already have. This way, you’ll have a vehicle you’re already comfortable with and you’ll save money as well.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.