My interest in all-things-tiny-and-old started at 12 years old when I became fascinated with a tiny abandoned farm house near my parent’s home...and I've been sketching floor plans ever since. My Tiny Houses are the culmination of a life spent dreaming of a tiny reclaimed space, all my own.
How Much Money Did I Save by Buying a USED Trailer?
If you’re planning on building a tiny house on wheels (THOW)
you have probably looked at flatbed trailers on craigslist (or elsewhere) and
considered buying a used trailer.However, you’re likely concerned that it might not be strong enough, or
have enough capacity to haul your tiny house, or it might have damage.And then you might have gotten some prices on
new trailers and considered if the expense is worth the peace of mind.
So many questions, so few answers!!!!
For “My Empty Nest” I bought a
previously-wrecked-but-repaired trailer and then altered my floor plan to accommodate
it.And, I thought I would be buying a
new trailer for “My Tiny Perch” but then I found it….the one….the deal of a
century that I couldn’t pass up…..even if it would take a ton of effort and
time to make it work….it would be worth it.
If you have ever wondered how much it might cost or what
steps might be needed to utilize a used trailer for your tiny house on wheels,
this blog post is for you.
Instead of telling you a traditional “story”, let’s follow the money,
$3,000.00 - New Trailer Bid
This is the LOWEST bid I received from a reputable trailer
manufacturer, for an 18 foot long, deck over (the deck of the trailer sits
above the fenders) flatbed trailer.The
highest bid was $4,700.00. Yikes!?Yes,
there are many pros and cons for each design and feature but when I was
reviewing them I was thinking to myself “It’s gonna’ take me a looong time to
save this much money to even get started on my build!”
$80.00 - Gas Money
That’s what it costs to fill my gas tank, and Mark’s truck’s
gas tank, to get me the 250 miles to go look at a trailer I found on craigslist.Yes; 250 miles. It was a day-long investment.
$600.00 - Cost of Used Trailer
After a visual inspection and review of the paperwork for
legitimacy, I paid only $600.00 for a dual-axle 2014 flatbed that used to be an
RV that had flipped over on its maiden voyage with the new owner.By the time I saw it, however, the RV body
had been stripped off, leaving only the floor, subfloor, tanks, axles, wheels,
tires, and frame intact.The tires were
almost new and there was NO rust to be seen.
Tah Dah! So proud!
$30.00 - Trip Permit #1
A WA trip permit was needed to avoid getting a ticket for
towing a non-licensed trailer.
$20.00 - Dump Fees
After a bit of demo to remove flooring and rock guard and whatever
else I could get off in two days, we made a trip to the dump.The good news was that I discovered the
location of the VIN plate in the process.Yay!I was hopeful that licensing
in Oregon would be easy.
$50.00 - More Gas Money
More gas money for Mark’s truck, to tow the trailer the 165
miles to Oregon where it needs to be registered and licensed.
$30.00 - Trip Permit #2
Yep, another WA trip permit for the trip to Oregon.Sheesh!?
Not sure if I should have done this much demo to the floor.
$138.00 - New Wheels
The previous owner warned that the two wheels on one side
were bent in the accident and although he’d used the spare tired for one of
them, I would likely need two new wheels.I also wanted someone to do a more thorough inspection so this was money
well spent. It was during the wheel
replacement that we discovered the axles were off center by an inch.
OK, so far, I’ve spent $948.00.
Still a bargain!!!
$160.00 - New Tongue Jack and Brake Cable
I took the trailer to a local company who manufactures and
repairs trailers; for a more thorough assessment of the axles, their locale,
and the rest of the braking system.And,
also, the tongue jack was broken so I’d need a new one because not having one
is a pain in the butt!They replaced the
tongue jack, rewired the braking system, determined that the axle location
would not affect the load, and replaced the emergency cable which was ripped
off during the accident.The trailer is
$10.00 - Trip Permit #3
While I was optimistic that the trailer would pass
inspection since the paperwork clearly matched the VIN plate, the guy at the
DMV was being VERY difficult and insisted that he had never seen a VIN plate in
that location before.So, he referred me
to the State Patrol office for an inspection and to ensure that I had not,
instead, stolen the trailer. (insert rolled eyes here!)And, yes, I needed to buy another trip
permit.At least the OR one was cheap!?
Looks questionable to me! NOT!!!
$10.00 - More Gas Money
In direct contrast to the DMV guy, the OSP was very accommodating
and signed off the paperwork without incident or questions.Another several hours, and more gas down the
drain (merely because of a DMV employee’s out-of-control-power-tripping ego) and
back to the DMV I go….
$119.00 - Licensing Fee and Title Transfer
licensed, trailer that I can use for my tiny house!I have no concerns, or questions, regarding
its stability or ability to be used for my THOW. The GVW (gross volume weight)
is only 7,000 lbs so we may need to replace the axles, but won’t know that
until the house is framed and weighed. And I’m crossing my fingers that we can
take enough steps to avoid having to buy new axles but if we do, we do.I have a supplier so it’s just a matter of
find the money, and the time.