This is a design idea I’ve been playing with a lot lately. Most tiny houses don’t travel well because they are heavy, brick-shaped, and built to maximize the building envelope defined by the size limitations of 8.5-feet wide and 13.5′-tall. So most tiny houses ride low, drag their butts on steep driveways, and are not usually very aerodynamic. This design is different.
I wanted to imagine a tiny house that was built to travel and explore, so I started with the trailer design. This trailer would have a 40-foot trailer bed, an 8-foot gooseneck, dual tandem wheels, 12,000-pound axles, trailer breaks, and hydraulic self-leveling jacks like a commercial fifth wheel trailer.
The trailer would have very good ground clearance and would be much nicer to tow on a regular basis than the typical tiny house. The sacrifice is limited ceiling height due to a floor so high in the air. The ceiling is 8 to 9-feet tall, just not tall enough for a true loft. The overall height of this design is just under 13-feet so you could take it on a Ferry to Alaska if that was in your budget (most ferries I researched have limits of 13-feet tall for trailers and RVs).
Due to it’s length, a tiny house like this would likely weigh a lot, like 16,000 to 20,000 pounds with the 4,000-pound Jeep loaded on the back. One drawback of this design would be that it would be tricky to balance the trailer for towing if you were missing the Jeep counterweight.
For sure it would take a heavy duty truck to tow this tiny house, like a RAM 3500, Ford F350/F450, Chevy or GMC 3500. Big trucks like that are built for highway towing, so it might be fun to travel with a Jeep for backwoods exploring, which is why I added a large porch out back that’s deep enough for a Jeep.
It would be driven up and down on ramps just like a flatbed car-hauler trailer. When you’ve setup camps, and the Jeep is parked nearby, the porch would be a nice place out of the mud for hanging out and cooking.
The shape of the home’s nose is meant to be aerodynamic, or at least more aerodynamic than the typical brick-shaped tiny house.
In the center of the house is the heaviest stuff: kitchen, bathroom, pantry, clothes storage, water tanks below the floor, etc. The utility items like batteries, solar power gear, generator, and water heater would be in the nose over the gooseneck.
The frame of the house should be steel for it’s light weight and strength. For sheathing I’d choose Huber ZIP R-Sheathing even though its a bit on the heavy side. It provides the shear strength, plus a thermal break, vapor and water barrier all-in-one. The siding and roofing should be lightweight aluminum or steel panels with furring strips behind the panels for the air gap.
Behind the furring strips, siding and roofing should be a continuous inch or two of foam insulation for maximum insulation performance. The wall cavities should also be insulated with lightweight foam.
I like the modern look of plywood for interior walls, so I think I’d sheath the interior with furniture grade plywood. I wouldn’t hide the seams with trim, I think that looks tacky. Instead I’d bevel the edges with a router to accentuate the joints and use nice looking fasteners. If you’re going to use plywood, be proud of it and show it off.
Since I’m just having fun imagining the perfect traveling tiny house (and apparently on a limitless budget), it should also have a huge solar system too. The roof is big enough for 12 425 watt solar panels for a whopping 5,100 watts of power. There should also be a lithium battery bank properly sized to store all that sunlight. I’m guessing we’re talking like $15,000 to $20,000 of solar power here.
Why so much solar? Well in that hallway between the kitchen and back room would be a full size stacked washer and dryer hidden behind cabinet doors. There should also be a two head mini-split to keep both ends of the house cool. All of that would require a huge solar system – especially if you wanted to stay cool while boondocking in the desert in your completely off-grid tiny house.
The 7-foot sofas in the front and back room are on castors and can be pushed together to form a bed big enough for two. The sofas have three large drawers each (total of 12) for clothing storage for the whole family. The hallway has full length closets for hanging dresses and other clothes. In the back room is a small 2-foot deep loft just big enough for a young child (or hanging out and chilling). The house could sleep a maximum 4 adults and 1 child comfortably.
The bathroom is small, but typical for a tiny house. The shower shown is 36-inches square. The bifold glass door would allow easy access to the shower even when standing inside this small space.
This design is actually #35 in a series of tiny houses I’ve been drawing quietly and privately. I’ve decided to take my hobby public again and will begin to share more designs here in the near future. It was drawn with SketchUp Pro 2021 and rendered with SU Podium V2.6.
Stay tuned for more and feel free to tell me what you think in the comments.