Building a tiny home on wheels can be an overwhelming process. You have to understand how to do the construction, wiring, sewage, and lighting.
There is some information scattered out there that tells you how to build a tiny home on wheels. They include videos, tutorials, guides, and books. They can be awfully confusing with tons of dense information that might make you consider giving up before you begin.
We’ve done the major part for you and have broken it into bits, step-by-step. In this article, you are going to read and understand how to build a tiny home on wheels in the simplest and most effective way.
Why Build a Tiny House on Wheels?
The primary reason to build a tiny house on wheels is that it is mobile. If you want to move or relocate, you can move with your tiny home.
Secondly, a tiny home on wheels costs less to build when compared to a conventional home. You need less square footage and can use recycled materials. Also, you can build a tiny home yourself to save costs.
Thirdly, a tiny home requires fewer utilities. You can collect rainwater, install smaller panels, and use smaller appliances. This means extra savings for you because you will spend less on utilities.
Other reasons to build a tiny home on wheels include:
- It is customizable
- It is eco-friendly
- Not subject to zoning codes and building regulations
What Are the Different Options for Tiny Home on Wheels?
The different options for tiny homes on wheels include:
- Park Model (PMRV)
- Tiny House on Foundation (THOF)
Apart from these two, tree houses, cabins, and bus conversion are other options. You can also consider using:
- Cob houses
- Shipping container
How to Build Your Tiny Homes on Wheels
To build a tiny house on wheels, you need to do the following:
- The planning phase for your tiny house
- Finance your tiny house
- Start the construction phase
You should also know how often you can move your tiny house.
Start The Planning Phase
The planning phase is the most important part if you want to build a house on wheels. Look at the tiny house on wheels’ plan and designs. It will give you an idea of how you can build yours.
You will see several options that will help you imagine what yours would look like.
In your planning phase, you’ll have to:
- Decide what features you need
- Create a draft with a floor plan for your tiny house
- Search for ready-made floor plans
- Find a place where you want to put your tiny house
- Consult builders to get construction quotes
This step will help you avoid extra expenditures and future regrets.
Decide What Features You Need
The major features you will need in a tiny house are:
- Natural light
- Storage solutions
- Multipurpose uses
But, you will need to decide on other features that might not be compulsory but will be important for your house.
This includes the furniture, appliances, cabinets, and visual dynamics. If you have an idea of this, you will be able to know what design and size to consider for your tiny house.
Create a Floor Plan Draft for Your Tiny House
A floor plan draft is a scaled diagram of a room. The draft can be viewed above. Your floor plan draft should include accurate measurements, appliances, and furniture. You should include any other necessary factor in your floor plan draft.
Your floor plan draft will help you properly design your furniture layout and wiring systems. When you want to create a floor plan draft:
- Research and brainstorm designs that determine the look of your tiny house
- Then take measurements and be careful to draw the plan to scale
- Draw the walls too, after which you should include other architectural designs
- The architectural part of your floor plan should be specific. This means that you must include specific locations for each design
- Include furniture in your draft
Search for Ready-Made Floor Plans
You can search for a ready-made floor plan for tiny houses. If you are unable to draw a floor plan for any reason, you do not have to worry. There are tons of ready-made floor plans available online. Some of these floor plans are while you might have to buy some.
After you have created your floor plan draft, you might also need a ready-made plan. This will help you find out if you left any essential detail. The ready-made floor plan can also augment the floor plan draft that you have drawn.
Find a Place Where You Want to Put Your Tiny House
The next phase is to find a place for your tiny house. You can’t put your tiny house anywhere. There are certain regulations that govern tiny houses.
If you have a piece of land ready, you can build. Most cities will not sell land for a tiny house. This is because the land required is small and selling can affect the layout. So, you might have to rent.
You can look for a place to build in five ways:
- Ask around – there might be people who know a free space for a tiny house
- Facebook Marketplace – Search for land for rent on Facebook Marketplace. Some land owners might want to rent theirs
- Facebook Ads – You can run Facebook ads that ask for a space. These ads should target the region where you hope to live
- Post a Craigslist ad – You can tell a landowner what you want exactly.
Consult Builders to Get Construction Quotes
This is the final phase of planning for your tiny house. You should consult builders, architects, and contractors for quotes. Often, they will:
- Request the details of the project. This includes your budget and location.
- Charge a fee for the quotes
- Give you one or two quotes so that you can compare
This phase is important. It will help you get a total estimate of the entire construct.
Finance Your Tiny Home
The market for tiny homes is bigger than it used to be, but financing options are limited. You are mostly limited to borrowing from credit unions and online lenders. You can also get home equity loans or loans through a builder. So you will have to:
- Find a lender
- Qualify for the best interest rate
This way, you will be able to get financing for your tiny home.
Find a Lender
Find a lender that fits your goal for your tiny house. Some lenders offer personal loans. These loans are specifically designed to fit tiny house purchases. You might find a lender that offers you funding immediately after you apply for the loan.
A tiny house costs less than a traditional house. As a result, some lenders offer you the loan in bits. This means that you can take the amount that you need for each phase. The benefit is that your interest rates are lower and the repayment amounts are smaller.
Qualify for the Best Interest Rates
You’ll need excellent credit scores to qualify for the best interest rates. You should have a credit score of 670 at least, to get an unsecured loan. You need a good credit of 580 at least, to get a secured loan. If you have higher credit, your interest rate will be lower.
If you do not have good credit, you might not get access to a loan. This means your best option will be to save up for your tiny house.
Start the Construction Phase
The next phase for your tiny house is the construction phase. The construction phase is the second most important phase when you want to build your tiny home. It affects the outcome of your tiny house on wheels.
Learn Construction Skill
You want to DIY your tiny house, so you will need to learn how to construct it. It’s not all difficult, you only need to learn. You can learn how to construct your tiny house in two ways:
- Watch YouTube videos
- Hire a company to teach you
Watch YouTube Videos
One easy way to learn is to watch YouTube videos. This way, you can have a first-hand experience of what it looks like to build a tiny home. When you watch YouTube videos, you can see a preview of the overall process. It will also build your confidence because it looks less tough. It doesn’t look as complex as when you just try to read.
There are several videos of tiny homes on YouTube. These videos give you in-depth knowledge of how to build tiny homes. You can also watch the building process of different plans and layouts.
Hire a Company to Teach You
If you find YouTube videos tasking or time-consuming, you can hire a company to teach you. There are companies that teach people how to build tiny houses. You can search for them online or in your locality. They’ll charge a fee, but you’ll learn all you need to.
When looking for a company:
- Get quality references
- Ensure that the company has expert teachers
- Make sure all the details are in place. Some companies will want to teach you practically. This means they may charge higher fees.
Purchase Your Plans or Hire an Architect
You can buy custom or premade plans for your home. You do have a draft plan, but you can choose not to go with that. Some experts design tiny house plans and put them online.
You can download these plans at a set price. You can find free tiny house plans. But they are usually incomplete and need tangible experience. Tiny plans cost as low as $100 and as high as $1000 or more. On average, you can find a suitable tiny house plan for about $250.
You can hire an architect to draw a tiny house plan for you. Architects are usually more reliable. They also know how to construct many size options for most designs. When you consult an architect, you can also let them know your budget. They’ll consider that when drawing a plan for your tiny house.
Some architects also give you a satisfaction guarantee that lasts between seven to thirty days.
Customize Your Plans
You can customize your plans for your tiny house on wheels. You can make your draft plan better if you consider it good enough. You can also check out several plans and put together different aspects of each to make your plan.
When customizing your plan, you should follow the state guidelines for tiny houses. This guideline is provided by the state where you plan to build your tiny house.
Select the Place to Build it on
Storage facilities, large warehouses, and barns are ideal for tiny houses. When you want to select a place for your tiny house, ensure it is available whenever you want to use it. If you are not sure about this factor, consider building it in a portable condition in case you need to move it.
Your tiny house can also be in your backyard or on the edge of a property. You just have to select a good place.
Purchase the Tools You Will Need
You will need to buy tools for your tiny house. They include an oscillating cutting tool, thickness planer, and an auto hammer. You will also need an auto saw, a sled kit, a screwdriver, and a drill. Work lights and a metal nibbler are two extra tools you cannot do without. You can buy these tools in an online store. Some of them can also be gotten from stores in your locality.
Purchase The Materials
You need to be careful when you want to buy materials for your tiny house. The materials you buy will determine the quality and durability of your tiny home.
If you want to buy materials and stick to a little budget, you can:
- Check junkyards in your locale for salvaged materials
- Use the materials you already have. These should be the materials that you can repurpose
- Look for recycled materials in good condition
- Check online stores for cheap supplies
- Look out for local garage sales
- Buy unused materials from friends at cheaper rates
- Keep track of demolition sites in your locality. You can either scavenge for the demolished materials or buy them at lower prices.
Find The Metal Trailer Supplier
A trailer is necessary if you want to build a tiny house on wheels. You need to find a metal trailer supplier who you can buy a trailer from. Most of them sell different custom trailers that you can choose from.
You can make arrangements with them and they will ship it to your building spot. Also, you can either buy a new or used trailer. It depends on your choice and budget.
Choose the Trailer Type
You can either buy a new custom tiny house trailer or restore one that is already used. But, if you choose used trailers, you might not achieve your desired results. Some used trailers are neither time effective nor cost-effective.
There are several types of trailers that you can choose from. They include:
- Gooseneck trailer – easy for a platform bedroom. Easy to tow.
- Deck over trailers – no need to worry about cabinets’ strategic layout. Has maximum weight restrictions.
- Bump over trailers – most common type of trailers. Easy to build on and tow.
There are must-have features for your trailer while some other features are not necessary. The trailer you choose must have a Gross Weight Vehicle Rating.
It must also be equipped with heavy-duty axles and emergency brakes. High-load radial tires, steel beams, and flange are important for towing. It must also have running lights and a flat deck to prevent tilting.
Choose the Materials
The right materials are important to build a tiny house on wheels. When choosing the materials, you should consider:
- Type of home
- Building codes
- Personal taste
Start With the Framing Materials
For framing, you’ll most likely use wood. The average cost of the wood you will use depends on the size of your house. If you hire help to put the wood together, you might spend more.
You can use lumber that is in good condition from an old shed. Someone might want to give theirs away too. You might also find lumber on a demolition site and not bother to spend anything at all.
Other materials are screws to hold the wood and sheathing. Usually, the total cost for all is between $2500 -$3,000. These materials are what hold the frame and the exterior part of the tiny house. It’s also an important part of the aesthetics.
You should also choose materials for plumbing, sewage, water and electrical. Your electrical system would consist of the appropriate:
- Wire sizes
- Plug for power outlets
- Light switches
- Lighting Fixtures
All these are necessary connections you should select with care.
For your kitchen cabinets, you’ll most likely use wood. Ensure that the wood is treated to prevent termites. Your kitchen sink should also consist of aluminum. It’s cheap and durable.
Materials For Roofing
Roofing is important for your tiny house. It controls air, rain, vapor, and thermal transfer.
When roofing, you need to consider wood for the deck, eaves, and rafters. Also, consider using weather-resistant materials.
Find wood for the deck – ensure it’s treated.
Eaves and Rafters
Eaves and rafters are best for flat ceilings. After decking, it’s next to install. The rafter is a support beam that runs to the exterior of the cabin. It is the most common method used to support a roof.
Weather Resistant Materials
The best weather-resistant materials for roofing are shingles and metals. This is due to the weight of the tiny house and concern for mobility.
Weather-resistant materials are important. They prevent quick wear and tear and are less costly than other types of designs
Start the Installation
Frame the Walls
To frame the walls, mark the top and bottom plate properly. They’ll ensure the frame is straight.
Whenever you include a window or door in your frame, create an opening. This opening will prevent the doors and windows from breaking.
Work on your frame one part at a time. Drive in framing nails wherever two pieces of wood meet. Then square the wall and fix them on the bottom plate. Do these for each part of the square frame until it’s up.
Build the Spaces for Doors, Windows, and Vents.
Next, build spaces for doors, windows, and vents. Ensure that your measurements are accurate and that they follow the required guidelines. It’s also important to follow your plan
Flashing is important between the trailer and the sub-floor. This will prevent insects in your floor insulation.
Install Floor Foundation
This is also called the subfloor. You can build the subfloor directly onto the trailer. You can also set a frame and build on top of the subfloor.
Install the Second Floor
Concrete slab foundations are good options for tiny houses. This is because they offer tons of advantages, which include quick drying time and affordability.
Build the Roof Deck
You should use treated wood for your deck. This will increase the lifespan of the wood. It costs an average of about $14,000 to build a professional wood deck.
You can use an untreated wood deck, but it will cost you in the future. You should consider city regulations and zoning codes if you want to build your deck.
Skylights allow natural light into space. This can open up the tiny house and make it feel much bigger. When the space feels small, this illusion can make a big difference.
Install Reflection Barrier
Reflection barriers consist of highly reflective material. This material reflects radiant heat instead of absorbing it. It doesn’t reduce heat conduction but provides good thermal performance.
Ice and Water Shields
An ice and water shield is also called a protector. It is a waterproof underlayment for the roof. Professionals design it to protect vulnerable parts of a roof from damage due to water.
Shingle or Metal Roofing?
This depends on your choice. Both are, in fact, great. Shingle roofing costs between $100 – $300 per square. Metal roofing costs between $75 – $350 per square.
While shingles can withstand fire, metal roofs are more resistant. Metal roofing can also handle hail impacts better than shingles. When we’re taken care of, both have the same lifespan of seven to ten years.
Install Windows and Doors
You should have cut your windows and doors according to proper measurement. You can measure the space you cut out for both. Once you get your measurement, install it with nails and a hammer. You can use a screwdriver and drill too.
Install The Exterior Protective Barrier
This protects the walls of the tiny house from air and water infiltration. It also prevents moisture accumulation within the wall systems.
Install The Siding
There are several siding materials. You need to consider two factors when choosing: They include:
- Your home
- Your budget
Siding is one of the largest exterior surfaces of your tiny house. You should make a good decision because it demands good upkeep. It also protects your wall framing and sheathing. The average cost for siding is between $500 – $1000. A good siding can last up to ten years.
Install the Plumbing
For plumbing, you’ll need:
- Hot water lines
- Cold water lines
- Drain lines
You’ll also need a manifold, pressure gauge, and plumber’s tape. Plumbing drains are also necessary.
You can color code each water line for easy recognition. We divide Tiny House plumbing into:
- Rough plumbing
- Finished plumbing
For plumbing, you’ll need pipes. You should use 1/2″ PEX. You can use larger 3/4″ PEX pipes too. But 1/2″ pipes are enough for most tiny homes.
PEX is affordable and easy to install. It is also durable, and easy to fix and maintain.
Sewage and Drains
You can run waste pipes in and out of your tiny house. It is also okay to run the waste pipes underneath the tiny house. The grey water pipes will converge at a point and connect to a septic tank or sewer system. We use a sewer tap point. Some states offer septic tank options.
You don’t have to worry about any of these. All you need to do is hook your pipe point to the sewer or septic pipework.
Some states offer an underground water source. This means you can get water directly like a traditional house.
If you have water tanks, you can fill them with potable water via a hose. You can also pay for a water truck to come to fill up your house. This option is expensive. The most inexpensive option is to collect rainwater for your tiny house.
This includes wire sizes, power outlets, and switchgear. Breakers, light switching, lighting, and conduit are also important.
For wire sizes, you should use between 30A and 50A. This means a minimum of 30A and a maximum of 50A. You can use lesser sizes such as 15A or 20A. But, it should only be for refrigerators, lighting outlets and circuits.
You can connect to an existing power source with an electric cord. You can simply plug in your tiny house to a home that already exists. You can achieve this through a cord that can handle high current. You can also include a RV hookup in the side of your house. There you can plug an extension cord and a charger.
The switchgear comprises fuses, circuit breakers, and disconnect switches. It is used to protect electrical equipment. Switchgear can also be used to de-energize equipment and clear downstream faults.
Breakers breakdown electricity amperes. They allow different amounts of electricity to flow in and out through them. This occurs through wires.
The light switch controls the circuits that feed the lamps. You can use a manual switch in your tiny house.
For the under-cabinet, you’ll need task lighting. It should be ambient and placed in the middle of the ceiling. Accent lighting is good for living rooms. It helps to create a sense of separation. For the bedroom, wall-mounted task lighting is suitable. LEDs or nightlights work well with bathrooms.
If your tiny house has an outdoor landscape, illuminate the area well. You can use led strips or dedicated light paths.
A sheath encloses conduit wires and protects them from damage. You use conduit to run electrical wiring both in covered and open areas in your tiny house. Conduits come in different styles. They include:
- PVC conduit
- PVC flex conduit
- Flexible metal conduit
- EMT conduit
- IMC conduit
- Rigid metal conduit
Install the Insulation
The areas of your tiny house where you’ll need to insulate include:
- Interior Drywall
- Baseboards and Trims
- Doors and Windows
- Kitchen Cabinets
- Vanity Cabinets
- Bathroom Sink
- Kitchen Sink
You should insulate your roofing and walls. To insulate your walls, drill holes in the wall. Then blow loose cellulose into the drilled wall to create insulation. It is important to insulate your floors also.
For appliances, use insulation with thermal protection because they give off heat. You can use insulating foam for furniture. If you insulate properly, you will be able to reduce the money you spend on heating costs.
Install the Dual HVAC
Here, you are open to several options. You can either decide to use the:
- Ductwork and vent
- HVAC unit
If you do not have access to any of these, you can try other things. These include:
- Wood stoves
- Terminal air conditioners
Install the Ceiling
There are several ceiling types for tiny homes. Whichever you choose to use, it must be at least 6 feet, 8 inches in height. This is according to state laws and regulations for ceilings in tiny houses. High ceilings are yet ever best because of space.
Install the Drywall
Drywall is often required for separation. Drywall is important in the corners of the tiny house. It prevents cracking when you need to move.
Finish The Flooring
This is one of the final stages of your tiny house. You can choose between:
Tiling is ceramic and so it has a longer life span. Vinyl floors serve better when you have pets because of cleaning. Hardwood floors are best for insulation. You can choose which works best for you.
Install Kitchen Cabinets, Bathroom Vanity, and Multipurpose Furniture
You should install kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanity, and multipurpose furniture at this stage. Your tiny house plan already states the areas in your house where they are going to be. You need to stick to the plan at this point. Apart from state regulations, it will be more comfortable for you.
How Often Should You Move Your Tiny House?
You should move your tiny house at least every four to six months according to recommendations. if you must. Tiny houses should not travel often to increase their lifespan.
Ways to Prevent Wear and Tear
To prevent wear and tear of a tiny home, it should be on leveled ground. Also, the foundation should be firmly fixed to the trailer. You must ensure to properly fix the sides together too. That is during the construction phase.
How to Protect Your Tiny House
To protect your tiny house, do the following:
- Get a Hitch Lock
- Use Wheel Locks
- Use GPS Tracking
- Install Security Camera
- Restrict Access
- Put Your Tiny House on Blocks
- Install an Alarm
- Pretend to be Home
Best Measures To Keep Your Tiny House
These are the best Measures to keep your tiny house:
- Be organized
- Clean your tiny house daily
- Avoid pouring dirt and water on the floor
- Avoid moving often from place to place
- Use the right cleaning equipment
Finding Tiny House Friendly Places to Park and Live
One option you have is RV parks or campgrounds most especially if you are on the move. Undeveloped sections of federal lands can also allow you to park your tiny home for a while.
If you want to live in a tiny home, your best bet is in cities that allow accessory dwelling units. Here, you get to pay a small fee. There are also tiny house communities specially designed for tiny living.
The step-by-step process to build a tiny house is not laborious. You can create your own plan or hire an architect to design one for you.
You simply have to:
- Learn from the right source
- Proper Planning is a must
- Get good financing with good credit scores
- Buy the proper materials
- Start the construction
In every phase of your construction, you have to ensure that you stick to state regulations. Also follow any other rules for tiny houses in your locale.
How Much Does a Professional Tiny House Cost?
Tiny houses built by professionals cost between $30,000 and $50,000. They sometimes go over $50,000; it depends on the taste and budget.
Can I Buy a Tiny House?
You can buy a tiny house. There are several tiny house listings available online you can choose from. These tiny houses are often built by professional builders for sale. On average, they might cost more. You can also look out for people who want to sell their tiny houses.
Where Can I Park or Build a Tiny House?
You can park your tiny house on your property or relative’s place. If you travel around, RV trailer parks may be an option too. This is best especially if the tiny house has RV or conventional plumbing.
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