In short yes, a tiny home can very easily be mobile. Just in the way a caravan, shepherd’s hut or trailer can be towed from place to place, so can a tiny home.
However, you can’t really make a tiny home mobile retrospectively as an after-thought. It should be fitted with the correct chassis and wheels from the start for it to be fully mobile and legal.
Tiny homes and tiny mobile homes don’t have to be two distinct entities.
If you’re designing your own tiny home, or working with a manufacturer, it can well and truly be made mobile and legal to be towed on the roads. It’s important to plan this right from the start though as it will affect the rest of the build. Mobile tiny homes are built directly onto the chassis rather than adding this at the end of the build.
Putting an already existing tiny home on to some kind of trailer to be towed to a new location is more or less a non-starter, although not entirely impossible depending on the size of it. It’s certainly not advisable.
The Tiny Home Basics
A ‘tiny home’ isn’t just a semi-arbitrary term to describe a rather small house. With the idea making its way over from the US to the UK, tiny homes are generally those with under 400 square feet of living space.
When put on to a trailer, tiny mobile homes tend to have a footprint of around 200 sq ft. The overall living space can be made greater inside by utilising build height and creating lofted space.
In the UK, tiny homes need to be designed to comply UK planning regulations and road traffic laws if your tiny home is going to be portable. As ‘tiny homes’ doesn’t have its own section within the UK legal sphere, they’re often considered in the same way as a caravan or mobile home.
If your tiny house is going to be positioned within the grounds of another primary property, it’s considered a mobile home and won’t need planning permission.
With this being the case, certain size restrictions will apply, which are the same for any garden building:
- If your tiny house has a duel-pitched roof (an apex with two slopes) then it can be 4 metres high,
- If your tiny home just has a single flat or sloped roof it can be up to a height of 2.5m
Note, these heights also include the chassis that it sits on.
Your tiny house must sit more than 2m away from a boundary if you want it to be a duel-pitched building up to 4m high. If your tiny home is closer than 2m to the boundary, it can only be a single pitched roof of up to 2.5m in height.
Tiny Mobile Home Size & Trailer Restrictions
Building or owning a tiny mobile home means it has to be road legal and safe is you plan on towing it on UK roads. It will need to meet a number legal standards and dimensions.
Here’s an overview of the three main standards:
- The maximum trailer width is 2.55 metres. This means your tiny mobile house cannot be any wider than 2.55m or 8 foot and 4 inches.
- There’s a maximum trailer length of 7 metres or 23ft. This length is just for the tiny home itself and doesn’t include the A-frame and coupling attaching it to the towing vehicle.
- There’s a maximum trailer weight limit of 3,500kg or 3.5 tonnes – this is the maximum authorised mass (MAM) of both vehicle and trailer.
These roadworthy restrictions mean your mobile tiny house can be a maximum of 2.55m wide and 7m in length. The planning regulations mentioned at the beginning generally mean a maximum height of 4m.
So that means your tiny mobile house can have the dimensions of 2.55m width, 7m length, 4m height.
What’s Needed To Make A Tiny Homes Mobile?
Now we’ve identified the maximum dimensions for a mobile tiny home, your building will need to have a couple of features for it to be fully transportable. Namely:
- Suitable wheels
- Trailer chassis
- Type approved tow bar or A frame
The chassis is without doubt the most crucial part for your tiny mobile home.
Your chassis should be custom built to fit the structural properties of your tiny home. Using a second-hand chassis, such as that from a caravan or an old flatbed trailer, generally won’t be up for the job.
For example, flatbed trailers often have leaf springs, which are really not suitable for towing a mobile home as they will heighten the risk of tipping, making it extremely dangerous. A tiny home chassis needs to be rigid and able to take a load of at least 3,000kg.
Tiny homes chassis are generally a little under the maximum 2.55m towing width to account for a little overhang from the external building walls and roof. They also tend to come with a wide wheel base to give the construction and low centre of gravity and make safe during transport.
Towing bars and A-frames need to be type-approved for your towing vehicle, conforming with EU regulations.
Making your tiny home mobile generally adds a few £1,000 on to the build cost. However, if you’re buying an already constructed home, the ‘mobileness’ will already have been taken into account within the price.
Towing Restrictions for Tiny Homes
As mentioned earlier, there’s a maximum trailer limit of 3,500kg, which is the total weight of the load. Your car or towing vehicle may not be able to tow this much depending on the make and model, so please look into your vehicle’s own maximum towing weight limit before going ahead with anything. You’ll be able to find this towing limit in your vehicle’s handbook, spec sheet or on the Vehicle Identification Number physically located somewhere on the vehicle.
If these are not adhered, the tiny home you plan to tow will be illegal. The government website explains all in more detail – https://www.gov.uk/towing-with-car
There are a few more important points to take into account if you’re thinking about owning or building a tiny mobile home.
When towing with a car, you need to make sure your tow bar is ‘type approved’. This means it has been designed for your car and meets EU Regulations.
Towing mirrors and brakes
You also need to make sure you have a good view of the road behind you. If your view is restricted by your tiny home, then you need to fit suitable towing mirrors that give you a view wider than the rear of your car. Towing without proper mirrors can lead to a £1000 fine and 3 penalty points on your licence.
It’s important that your trailer has a working brake system if it weighs over 750kg when loaded, which a tiny home will do. These brakes should obviously be in good working order and you must use a breakaway cable or secondary coupling just in case your tiny home becomes detached from your car. Again, the maximum gross weight of a trailer that has brakes is 3,500kg. Brake lights should be fully visible on the backend of the trailer.
There’s no specific legal limit on trailer height, however there is an ‘accepted guideline’ or 3 metres. Anything higher than 3m needs a notice to give the height details.
Lastly, your car’s number plate must be displayed on the back of the trailer.
It almost goes without saying, but always ensure you’ve been through the correct safety checks before you tow a trailer. Here’s the government’s guidance on that – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tow-a-trailer-with-a-car-safety-checks
Tiny Home Builders in the UK
With the tiny home movement still catching on, there are only a handful of tiny home builders in the UK.
Tiny home builders can either provide a tiny home kit for self-build or a pre-built, ready to go tiny home. Of course, customisation is always possible too. If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, check out this post on amazing tiny house interior designs to whet the whistle.
You can also get other types of tiny homes that are fully mobile, such as Shepherd’s Huts. The same size restrictions and dimensions will still able to any type of mobile home that is going to be towed on UK roads.
Read more on tiny homes…
Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.
Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.