Trailers. This is where we start getting real.
There are a lot of options you can go with when it comes to choosing a foundation for your home. That being said, I'm only familiar with one of those options, so that's what I'm going to share with you. By all means, if you're not into it, there's some pretty talented folks over at Google that I'm sure would be willing to help you out.
I decided that the best option for me would be to purchase a custom trailer specifically made for a tiny home. My dad and I did a marginal amount of research in our area, made some calls, and found a custom welder within 50 miles that could sell me a trailer ready for a tiny house. Seems too good to be true right? RIGHT.
The first thing I'll say is this: Buying a flatbed trailer isn't as easy as going to the car dealership. You can't go somewhere and look at a bunch, point to one you like and say "I'll take it!" At least not where I live, especially if you want any kind of custom retrofitting. There I was, galavanting around Ireland with my family in early spring of 2016 thinking, meh, as soon as we get home, we'll go buy a trailer. Ok so that was dumb. I should've researched all of my options way in advance. Like way WAY in advance. Because the fact of the matter was, I wanted to start building in early spring. The time to purchase your trailer should not be at the same time that you plan to start building your home. I had put myself in a bind against Mother Nature's ever ticking clock. The more time it took me to shop for a trailer, the less time I'd have before the icy grip of winter returned. This of course, put the pressure on to just make a choice and get started. I finally succumbed to increasing anxiety and decided to go with one of these babies.
So let's back up for a second. How did I choose? I had mentioned in my previous post that I started designing a rough floor-plan that I assumed would be sort of average sized. It just so happened that an 8x20 ft trailer seemed to be able to accommodate my plans. The next consideration was height and width. I was drawn to the idea of a custom built tiny home trailer for this reason: The welder I was purchasing from agreed to weld a custom 6 inch flange outside the perimeter of the trailer bed. This would be used to hold the frame of my house, and allow me to save that extra foot of floor space for usable interior (see photo below). This particular trailer was also only 2 feet high. Again, the less height my trailer was taking up, the more head room my design would be able to accommodate for the interior. By legal road limits, tiny homes can measure at 8.5 ft wide and 13.5 ft high from where the rubber meets the road, to the peak of the roof. I had planned on a living room ceiling height (under the sleeping loft) of 6.5ft high. After taking 6 inches into consideration for the thickness of the loft platform, this left a comfy 3.5 ft of headroom in the bedroom area. With the frame of the home sitting on the flanges outside the trailer floor, this would leave me just over 7 feet of interior width. You may not be surprised when I tell you that floor space gets eaten up very quickly when you start designing. I became pretty much unwilling to budge on these parameters and therefore this trailer was looking pretty ideal. After all, a big condition of my design was that it wouldn't FEEL too small or cramped.
Ready for the part that was not so ideal? This trailer was going to cost me NINE GRAND. That's right, Nine. Thousand. Dollars. Nine big ones, nine smackers, aka, tons of dough. Here I was, thinking this would cost $5000 at the high end. So you could imagine my surprise when I'm up against the wall and I'm faced with spending half of my budget on just the trailer. Here comes the next unfortunate piece of news: This trailer would not be ready from the manufacturer until the 4th of July. Uggghhhhhh....it was April...
I decided to justify the high price tag figuring that if I was going to spend a crap ton of money on something, it might as well be the foundation of my home. So on a brisk mid-spring morning, I got in my car, turned up "I Need Dollars" by Aloe Blacc, and drove 45 minutes to Rochester. When I arrived at the welding shop, I took a deep breath, slapped down my new credit card (opened just for this purpose, with a heck of a sign on bonus), and with one final cringe, did the dead. A 20ft CAM Superline Full Width Equipment Hauler with a 13,000lb weight capacity would soon be mine. I drove home in a cold sweat.
I should mention that at this point I had already quit my full time job to move home and start building. Instead of building, I ended up twiddling my thumbs, waiting for some dudes somewhere in Pennsylvania (I didn't know the manufacturer wasn't local) to build and paint my trailer. Then, as I came to find out, it wouldn't be shipped to the shop in NY until there was a shipping trailer full enough to bother transporting. As luck would have it, I ended up getting some last minute inspiration and changed my entire floor-plan during the long wait. While it was hellish at the time, I do believe that everything happens for a reason. See my previous article for the story.
**At this point for all of you wondering how to make your trailer buying experience easier than mine was, I suggest hopping right over to Tinyhomebuilders.com to check out their selection at a much better price than I got!
Finally by the end of July the trailer had arrived in town and I could drive back to the shop and see it. It was already a month late and it still wasn't finished. When it arrived in Rochester, my guys welded on the exterior flange, pulled up the floor boards, and flashed it in with galvanized steel sheeting. This would save me a heck of a lot of time getting started. I was feeling a little better about getting this trailer from someone who had done it before. The dream was becoming a reality. No turning back now.
After several long months of waiting, the day finally arrived. On the sunny afternoon of August 6th, 2016, my trailer was towed into my driveway. By the end of that evening, it was parked in it's new home by the water, carefully tucked in against a stand of spruce trees. I was ready. I sat down in the middle of the empty steel bed and watched the moon come out over the lake, imagining how it would all look by August of the following summer.
And so it began. End of day, August 6th, 2016.