Tiny House Trailer FAQ

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Tiny House Trailer FAQ from Munford Industries.

What is a tiny house?

A tiny house is a house built to fit within the New Zealand Transport Agency’s light trailer (TB class) specifications.

What is the difference between a tiny house and a caravan?

Caravans are designed as temporary accommodation, built as light as possible and aerodynamic for ease of travelling. Tiny houses are designed to provide a permanent living environment with character, insulation and materials that breathe to help control humidity.

How wide can my tiny house be?

2.5m is the limit for light trailers. (Although there are special allowances with limitations for over-width vehicles). 2.4m is a practical maximum width for building specifications, ply sheets for flooring etc. and this allows 50mm outside of the wall-frame for cladding and any other exterior fittings.

How long can my tiny house be? NZTA light trailer specifications say my tiny house trailer can be 12.5m long. I’d like mine to be as big as possible.

It is not practical to do so because:

  • The maximum length from axles centre to rear is 4m, therefore, at more than 8m of body length the trailer cannot be balanced and the drawbar weight increases.
  • The largest galvanizing plant in NZ is 9.5m long. With a 1.4m drawbar, gives a maximum 8m body length. (Longer can be achieved with multiple dipping but increases cost dramatically)
  • Keeping your tiny house within the maximum allowable GVM of 3500kg will be difficult to achieve at 8m. As the chassis gets longer it also gets heavier leaving even less margin to build your tiny house within.
  • Roads. New Zealand has many very small roundabouts and tight intersections and lumpy, bumpy roads. The clearance angles reduce as length increases.

We recommend a maximum frame length of 7.8m (7.2 is better) with a 1.5m drawbar.

How high can my tiny house be?

The maximum height allowable on New Zealand roads is 4.25m. Not all bridges and other overhead structures allow for this. Plan your route carefully!

How high will the floor be from the road?

This will vary according to the finished weight of your tiny house and the resultant compression of the suspension. Plan for 500mm to the top of the chassis. (It may end up at around 480mm)

How heavy is a tiny house trailer?

Depending upon the length and individual specifications, you can expect your tiny house trailer to be between 700 and 750kg as a bare rolling chassis.

Does my tiny house trailer come with a WOF and registration?

As the registration is linked to your driver’s licence, you will need to register it yourself. If you are not picking the trailer up yourself, you can register it anywhere and send us the plate. We will affix it and arrange the WOF for you. This way it will be road ready.

Will my tiny house trailer need to be registered?

Your tiny house, as a TB class vehicle, is required by law to display a current licence (registration) and current Warrant of Fitness when on public roads.

Can I tow my own tiny house?

Your standard class 1 New Zealand driver’s licence currently allows for 6000kg GVM. If your tiny house is 3500kg, a vehicle that is rated to tow it* and any load within will be more than 2500kg. Therefore a HT licence will be required when completed. You can with a class 1 licence and a suitable vehicle*, tow the rolling chassis as it will be approximately 700kg.

*Check with your vehicle manufacturer for its towing capacity.

Will my tiny house need brakes?

Yes. As a TB class vehicle greater than 2500kg, your tiny house requires

Direct acting service brakes. That is controlled by the driver, not the overrun of the trailer.

A breakaway system to engage brakes automatically upon breakaway.

A parking brake

What options are there for brake systems?

Electric drum brakes are the most cost effective solution for your tiny house. These are actuated with a varying voltage 0~12. For the most basic system, a controller is wired into your 12 volt towing vehicle.

The more elaborate setup is a radio controlled multi-volt system. This is great should you not wish to own a vehicle with a 3500kg towing capacity, but comes with a higher price.

Does the trailer come with a floor?

No. Due to the many types of flooring available and the exposure to weather, we do not include flooring.

Will the spacing of the cross-members suit a plywood floor?

Yes. We space the cross members at 600mm centres to suit 1200mm wide ply sheets.

For this reason, the optimum lengths are 5.4m, 6.0m, 7.2m and 7.8m

How do I attach my tiny house to the trailer?

We use a cold formed channel for the perimeter of the trailer, on edge, with a 51mm top face. This allows for the wall bottom plate to be bolted through the flooring and into the trailer frame

How big are the mudguards and where will are the mudguards positioned?

The tandem mudguards are 1570mm long, 220mm higher than the chassis, 300mm wide (leaving 1900mm between) and positioned nominally 75mm aft of centre (depending upon weight distribution)

How long will it take to build a tiny house trailer?

Although the actual build time is around six weeks, Construction must be fitted into the factory’s schedule. At the time of writing, completion time is approximately nineteen weeks. Call us for the current estimate on this.

How much will my tiny house trailer cost?

As an indicative starting figure $8500 + GST for a 6.0m, galvanised, rolling chassis. There are a few variations to this for differing specifications.

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Glossary of acronyms:

GVM                Gross vehicle mass. The total weight of the vehicle and its load.

NZTA               New Zealand Transport Agency. (Government department.)

HT                    Heavy Transport

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Other things to consider when planning your tiny house project…

How often will my tiny house be moved?

How many people will live in my tiny house?

What building materials and how much will they weigh?

How will my tiny house control heat and ventilation?

Will my tiny house be off-grid? Solar / wind power?

Will my tiny house need LPG for cooking / water-heating?

Will my tiny house catch and store water?

How will my tiny house deal with wastewater & sewage?

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Disclaimer:

Some of the views expressed here are the opinions of the author at the time of writing and are based upon the knowledge and experience thereof.

Any references to council regulations may be different in different regions and subject to change without notice. Similarly, NZTA regulations are subject to change without notice.

The author accepts no responsibility for conflicts with authorities relating to the opinions herein. Always confirm the relevant regulations with the authority in your area.

For more information on Tiny House Trailers visit Monoway Trailers.

 

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