“Most tiny houses are a, “white-knuckle,” towing experience.”
I have been in communication with Bill Kastrinos, owner of Tortoise Shell Home LLC, and put to him the following questions:
Tiny House Wisdom: Do you believe that Tiny Houses can be towed safely?
Bill Kastrinos: Yes, with the proper sized vehicle, and a driver experienced with towing.
Tiny House Wisdom: How often are you comfortable with people towing their tiny houses?
Bill Kastrinos: One of my competitors recommends professional towing only. This is the safest answer. Let’s say you were told, “this unit should be towed by a professional,” if I were the customer, I would assess the situation, my vehicle, my experience, and make my own decision. So 9 times out of 10, my advice is, “professionals only.”
Tiny House Wisdom: Is there a design style or size that you would think the average person could tow more frequently that would be safe?
Bill Kastrinos: Let me answer your question with an example from my own experience. I built the same unit for a customer, only the bathroom was at the rear of the unit instead of the front, (where they normally are), because that is what the customer wanted. Looking at the finished unit, I felt it was ok. As soon as I reached highway speed, the unit started to fish tail, badly. No big deal. I stopped, mounted a galvanized trough on the tongue, and put in 300 pounds of concrete mix in bags. Then it towed beautifully. The customer had no intent of towing the tiny home, it would be parked permanently. I informed them of what they needed to do to safely tow it, should they choose to do so in the future. This might seem like a poor design, but remember, most of us do not pretend to be building a unit that is to be operated as an RV. Also remember, typically these houses are 13 feet or taller in height. They are not streamlined. Your gas mileage will really be poor. So this is not a replacement for an airstream RV. If you are moving it to Idaho for the summer and Arizona for the winter, maybe fuel is less of an issue.
Tiny House Wisdom: Is there anything else you would like to add to this on the topic of towing safety, or any other safety issue that you want to tell us about regarding tiny houses?
Bill Kastrinos: If you choose to tow your own house, follow the rules. In California, if the vehicle weighs 3,000 pounds, it must have brakes on the trailer axle, as well as a brake equalizer for the tow vehicle. U-Haul vehicles do not have the equalizer installed. I have towed a small house this way, but the house tends to push. So if you were in this situation, a downhill grade would need to be approached carefully. If you have an incident in California, you are breaking the law. You must have the proper class hitch for your vehicle, and tongue weights of 700 or 1,000 pounds are not unusual. If your house weighs 6,500 pounds, and the vehicle limit is 6,500 pounds, (like a Jeep Grand Cherokee), you are on very thin ice! The vehicle I use is a Ford F-350 with 12,000 GVW, (heavy duty springs and overload springs). I do not think I would be very comfortable with a smaller vehicle. I have towed at 60 mph in 70 mph winds, down a mountain pass, and it tracked straight as an arrow.
If you know what you are doing, you also know I am being extreme here. But if you have to ask the question, it is probably safe that you do lack the experience. So proceed cautiously.
If in doubt, a group like http://www.interstatehaulers.com can move your tiny house for $1.40 to $1.60 per mile, (8ft 6in or under, not wide loads). They know what they are doing, and they are properly insured.
Hope this helps.
Tiny House Wisdom: Thank you Bill for actionable information that my readers will undoubtedly find useful.
Bill Kastrinos builds a Tiny Home to your desired stage of readiness, and they are reasonably priced. These unique homes feature a steel frame. For more information about how to get touch with Bill and Tortoise Shell Homes, go to: http://tortoiseshellhome.com/.