You're Going To Build A What?

The saga of J building his tiny off-grid house

One step forwards, two steps back.

with 13 comments

My tiny house is officially on hold for a while. While looking for brake shoes to replace the broken ones this morning I found that they’re an old, out of date design, and will cost £50 per wheel to replace. Worse than that though, the guy at the trailer place finally managed to uncover some information about the suspension hubs that are on my trailer and the news isn’t good.

When I bought the trailer I was told it was rated to 2700Kg which is quite a long way from the truth. The absolute max these hubs can take is apparently 2000kg, and they may not even be rated that highly. The hitch is rated to 1700 and the manufacturer won’t sell me an upgrade unit without having proof that the hubs can match it.

Replacing the hubs and suspension unit would cost in excess of £700, plus another £250 for the hitch. This is in addition to any welding work still to be done on the trailer. I’m looking at £1000 just to get the running gear sorted and the trailer still wouldn’t be ‘as good as new’.

I’m currently evaluating my options but I’m seriously considering what I should probably have done in the first place, which is increase the budget and instead of finding a trailer designed for another purpose and modify it to my needs, just have a trailer custom made to be exactly what I want. To this end I’ve sent out enquiries to some trailer manufacturers today to have one built to my design, with a full 3500kg load rating, an 18′ length (2′ longer than the current one), all new wheels/suspension/brakes/tires etc, a brand new chassis with the load bay built to take a flat floor and extended around the wheel area for the house which I can then get on with building straight away.

I’ve had one reply already with a price of £2500 + tax (15%) and I’m waiting to see if the others are significantly higher or lower. It would take 5-6 weeks to be built which would put me well into November before I could do any work on it, so I also have to decide whether to get started straight away or try and get whatever work I can find over the winter and start again in the spring.

As you can imagine, I’m incredibly fed up and somewhat despondent right now, but I’m trying to see this as a good thing in that I may end up having a really good foundation to build on and one that I know will last me many, many years to come, even if it does put me an entire year behind my original schedule and add 50% onto my budget. I’ll let you know my thoughts over the next few days, but I think this is probably the best way forward right now.

Peace, out.

Written by justin

September 15th, 2009 at 6:05 pm

13 Responses to 'One step forwards, two steps back.'

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  1. Hang in there. A good solid foundation will bring you freedom of mind for many a year. That old trailer is eating at you both emotionally and financially. There may be more benefits to doing it right …

    But absolutely you need to build it!! :-)


    16 Sep 09 at 2:17 am

  2. Thanks Freth,

    yes, I think you’re right and that a new trailer will be a good way forward with a great deal more peace of mind. It’s sad that building’s on hold for a while as I was just getting to the part that I’d been looking forward to all along which was the walls going up and it looking like a real house at last.

    I’m definitely still going to build it though, no doubts on that at all. Thanks for your support,



    16 Sep 09 at 8:54 am

  3. Bad news, but I suppose it’s better to find out now – before you’ve put up walls and got further along in the build, or even are living in there! – rather than later. I hope you’ll keep blogging about your ideas and thoughts in the meantime, though, as I’ve been finding this project really interesting.


    16 Sep 09 at 10:51 am

  4. Hi Chris,

    yes, best to know now. I’m in a better mood today and thinking about how I’ll redisign to take advantage of the longer trailer length and add some extra things to the revised design. Silver linings and all that.

    I’ll be posting some new ideas after next week’s holiday and keeping you up to date with progress, even if it’s the progress in my head.



    16 Sep 09 at 6:18 pm

  5. J!! Feck and buggery!! You know you can always call on me for whatever help you’re likely to need whenever you need it. It does seem all things considered that the custom build may be the way forward and although it may be a financial burden right now, in the long run I think, as I’m sure you’ve evaluated, it will be less of a strain mentally and will give many years of good service.
    Unless tax is different for some reason on trailers, remember thaT HMG have put VAT back up to 17.5% – bring back Guy Fawkes I say!!!!


    18 Sep 09 at 7:43 pm

  6. Oops – my bad! The VAT doesn’t change til January 2010. DOH!!


    19 Sep 09 at 11:16 am

  7. What shit! My chin’s up to you, best wishes as you continue in your saga. It’d have been a saga any which way though, no? I sold my first trailer after realizing the max load on the tires wasn’t up to snuff, and calculating the price on new tires and all the other changes needed led me to go ahead and hold my breath and purchase a new trailer—NOT something I imagined myself doing as I began the project of building a house on a trailer. Just wanted to send my empathy, albeit over the ocean. -Jenine


    20 Sep 09 at 7:37 am

  8. Oh you poor man! What a saga. Thanks for posting–I think you may have steered us into an actual house with a foundation…. IF nothing else, you will have at least saved us from your troubles. So thanks. IF you are in Denver Colorado USA any time, let us know and we’ll buy you dinner…

    Right… wheels can crack and trailers can break. We’ll note that.

    (we are trying to build a 250 square foot accessible home…

    Deena Larsen

    20 Sep 09 at 4:42 pm

  9. Thanks Jenine, yes it’s been a setback but in the long run it’ll be a better house for it. Just wish I’d done it 6 months ago, I’d be living in my house by now. Still, learning things along the way has been useful.

    Deena, if you don’t need the mobility then a foundation would be cheaper and simpler to build, with less to go wrong in the future. However, you can’t take the house with you if you need to move. Mind you, an accessible home wouldn’t be as easy in a mobile structure due to height differences. If you have a place to settle I think it’s a better option to go the fixed route. If I’m ever back in Colorada I’d love to take you up on the offer of dinner, I loved your state and spent a happy couple of weeks touring round it when I lived in Texas for a few years.



    28 Sep 09 at 9:42 am

  10. Talk to us. Don’t leave us in limbo.

    What are you doing in the meantime? What are your considerations? What progress are you making to resolve the issues? Are you merely working? How’s life? :-)


    9 Oct 09 at 3:22 am

  11. ditto, what’s the latest?


    4 Nov 09 at 4:44 am

  12. Love this blog. Just wondering… are the batteries sitting on concrete/rock while they are charging? Not an expert on this but have been told that is not a good situation for batteries as the concrete/rock sucks the energy right out of the battery. Have been advised to always set batteries on wood or plastic pallets. Just a note, if someone else has the definative info, please speak up.


    19 Jan 10 at 6:07 pm

  13. Dear Fellow Tiny House Fan,

    I thought you might be interested that I am holding a free Virtual conference on Tiny Houses, VirtualTinyHouseCon, on Saturday, Nov. 13 from 8-9 pm. I hope you can make it! Anyone from around the Tiny House world can be there – think of all the awesome people you’ll meet. I’ll be contacting as many people as I can and any help you feel you can provide in spreading the word is very much appreciated. It’s been mentioned to me a number of times that people feel they need advanced notice. so that might be something to keep in mind if you put up a blog post.

    I have an announcement post up at this address:

    All the best,


    7 Nov 10 at 4:55 pm

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