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Choosing Between an RV and Tiny House for Traveling

Should I Choose a Tiny House or an RV for Traveling?

 

tiny home investment additional income New England

The Hudson Tiny House Kitchen

How big can my tiny house be if I plan on traveling frequently?

For frequent travelers, the smaller the tiny house, the easier it is to move.  A general rule of thumb is that anything over 24′ doesn’t travel easily– it’s best to hire a professional driver for those tiny houses.  Check out our blog post on the best size tiny house for traveling and the best vehicles for towing a tiny house.

Silver Lake Tiny House 1950s style

 

The 32′ Silver Lake isn’t meant for travel due to its large size and weight, while the 20′ Hoosic can be towed. 

Should I get an RV? What’s the difference between a tiny house and an RV?

There are many similarities between tiny houses and RVs. They both offer the option to travel and have a place to stay. B&B Tiny Houses also use the same water and electric systems as RVs and are certified by the RVIA, which is the organization responsible for setting RV standards and building codes; because of this certification, legally B&B Tiny Houses are considered RVs. In addition, both types of movable dwellings can be financed through RV financing.

The major differences between tiny houses and RVs are the building materials and the ways they are used.  Tiny houses, other than the trailer, are built using traditional home construction materials using either wood, steel, or SIP framing, drywall or shiplap interior walls.  RVs are built using lightweight and vibration-resilient materials, like fiberglass, aluminum, and laminated sidewalls.

It is important to consider that if you plan on moving around with your tiny house that you need to have an appropriate vehicle. If you do not have a vehicle that is able to tow a tiny house, then you will need to consider the additional cost of purchasing a new truck.

arcadia tiny house

The Arcadia Tiny House: 20′ long with a 4′ porch

Although both options allow you to travel frequently, at B&B Tiny Houses we recommend that you choose an RV if you plan on moving your tiny house more than once every few months. This is because RVs are built with fiberglass, plastic, and other lightweight materials that make them lighter and easier to move around.

If, however, you plan on only traveling with your house occasionally or not at all, many prefer the character and homelike atmosphere that a tiny house provides compared to an RV.

Tiny houses also offer you the option of completely customizing the furnishings of the interior and exterior. This means that you can have your dream tiny house, while your options are much more limited if you choose to purchase an RV.

How do I find campgrounds?

As a general rule of thumb, any campground that will accept RVs will also accept RVIA-certified tiny houses; however, it’s always important to call before hand and double check that tiny houses are allowed. Here is a list of tiny house approved campgrounds from a family that regularly travels in their RV.

What’s the price difference between tiny houses on wheels and RVs?

We decided to look for an RV of a similar size to one of B&B’s tiny houses and compare.  Airstream is one of America’s most well-known RV brands, so we chose a 20′ long Flying Cloud by Airstream to compare with a 20′ Hudson by B&B Tiny Houses.

Both houses have a bed on the ground floor rather than a loft bed, a kitchen with a propane oven/stove, sink, and mini fridge, a bathroom with a shower, toilet and sink, and a small seating area.  The Airstream’s basic model also comes with a microwave, while a microwave is considered an upgrade in a B&B Tiny House.

An Airstream will be much easier to travel with due to its light weight, while a B&B Tiny House has customizable building materials, colors and appliances.  The Hudson by B&B has more interior height (6’7″ in an Aistream versus 10’4″ in a Hudson).

What’s the price difference? For the same length with similar appliances, a 20′ Airstream Flying Cloud travel trailer starts at $72,400 while a B&B Tiny Houses 20′ Hudson starts at $39,000.

20′ Airstream Travel Trailer

Hudson Tiny House Exterior

20′ Hudson Tiny House

Ultimately, the choice between a tiny house on wheels and an RV travel trailer is up to you, depending on how much you plan to travel.

Tiny House Security

How to Secure Your Tiny House Against Break-Ins and Theft.

 

A thief would have to be pretty determined to steal a whole house.  A tiny house on wheels is a highly visible item and most are custom-built, making it an easily recognizable theft. It’s not the type of thing a thief can slip away with in the night and sell on the internet, never to be seen again.  There are only so many places on the internet to sell one, all of which can be monitored to see when the house comes up for sale. Additionally, to transport a tiny house, one can take it on certain roads, but it has to have a license plate, and any tiny house owner can attest that tiny houses on the road generate a lot of buzz.

However, two recent thefts of tiny houses have popped up in the news, reminding us that while rare, it can happen.  On that note, it’s important to find a way to secure one’s tiny house and prevent or at least deter thieves from breaking in or stealing it.

The best course of action to ensure your house’s security is having multiple theft deterrents.  The idea of theft deterrence is realizing you can’t do everything possible to ensure your house will never get broken into or stolen altogether, but there are many small things you can do to discourage criminal activity.  Many thefts are crimes of opportunity: if you make it a difficult and time-consuming for a thief to quietly drive away with your house in tow, they are more likely to pass your tiny house up.

Just a note: we’ve included links to certain products in this article.  We aren’t being compensated for posting any of these products and we don’t necessarily recommend or guarantee these exact products: the links are here so you can get a feel for what they are and how they work.


Trailer Hitch Lock:

A hitch lock is an easy, quick theft detterent.  It can be cut off, but not without spending some time and creating some noise.  This will at least slow down a potential house thief, and some have the added benefit of preventing runaway trailers.

There are numerous types of trailer hitch locks, ranging in price from about $17-$45.   Here’s a list of reviewed trailer hitch locks from thetoppro.com.


Wheel Lock:

These work in many different ways, but the one pictured here covers the wheel, rendering it immobile.  You can also purchase locks for the lug nuts themselves.  Here’s a list of wheel locks from etrailer.com: they range in price from under $10 to $180.


GPS Tracker:

God forbid someone actually gets away with your tiny house, it would be easy to track if you have one of these in or on your tiny house.  Hundreds of discreet GPS trackers are on the internet, and many are inexpensive enough to make the purchase worth the peace of mind you’d get from having one.  The tracker pictured here, from Brickhouse Security (here are their best GPS trackers), is less than 2″ x 3″, so you can place it inconspicuously so a thief doesn’t know it’s there.  You can track its location on your phone or computer.


Security Camera:

As the economy forces package thieves to become bolder and bolder, the market for home security has exploded, and security cameras are getting cheaper every year.  Even if your security camera doesn’t prevent the most determined thief, it is certainly a theft deterrent.  Some security cameras use motion detection to start recording a ten-second video; others record all the time.

Security cameras that store the images and/or video inside them are only helpful after you recover the camera itself.  A smarter choice is either a wifi-connected home security camera like Arlo or Nest, or a trail cam, which operates on cell data (you’ll have to pay monthly).  Both a wifi-connected cam (here are PC Mag’s top picks for 2019) or a trail cam (here are Trail Cameras’ Reviews for 2018) allow you to see the images in near-real-time on your phone or computer.


Smart Home Security System:

If a security camera isn’t enough, you can have a whole integrated security system in your tiny house, as long as your house gets constant power.  Smart home security systems like Honeywell’s allows you to choose a la carte what features you’ll use, such as notifications when windows or doors are opened, motion light activation, facial recognition of those entering your house, and voice control with Amazon Alexa.

(Full disclosure– Honeywell’s not paying us to post this, but we did build a tiny house for them integrating their smart home tech, so we’re familiar with their technology and we like their brand).


Timed Lights:

These lights are great for when you’re not at home but want to give the impression that someone is there.

The simplest and cheapest option is a light timer, which can either be plugged into a wall socket (this one’s by Dewenwills, pictured at left) or integrated into the light switch plate (this one’s by Honeywell, pictured at right).  It turns a lamp or electric outlet on and off at a specific time or times every day.  The mechanical ones make a clicking sound that will drive you nuts in a small space, so we recommend an electronic light timer.


Motion-Sensor or Remote-Controlled Lights:

Most people have been familiar with motion sensor lights for decades.  Not only can they be a theft deterrent by attracting attention to the house when there’s movement, they can also increase the security of the tiny house dweller when coming home and fumbling for keys in the dark.  Here’s The Spruce’s list of best motion sensor lights for different outdoor areas.  Some of these contain the sensor within the bulb, so the bulb can be screwed directly into any light socket, which means you won’t have to do any wiring to make them work.  Some of the lights on this list run on their own solar power which is nice for when your tiny house isn’t connected to a power system.

Like timed lights, remote controlled lights help create the illusion that someone’s home, but they’re a bit “smarter” in terms of going on either when they sense motion or when you decide to activate them from afar via your electronic device.  Remote-controlled smart lights, for when you’re far away to your wifi-connected tiny house, allow you to turn on a light in your home via an app on your phone. Here are a couple ways to integrate smart lights from Make Use Of, whether your house hasn’t been built yet and you can install these during the building process, or you’d like to install plug-and-play smart lights in your exisiting tiny house.  You can also get remote control of the lights in your tiny house by incorporating them into your existing smart home security system.

 


Neighbors:

This one’s pretty simple: although not all tiny house owners are parked near neighbors, those who are and have a friendly rapport with them can ask their neighbors to keep an eye on their tiny house.  Having possible witnesses close by is a major deterrent to break-ins and thefts.

(Pictured: The Hoosic Tiny House flanked by two other tiny houses. Photo by Try It Tiny)


Location and Recognition:

When choosing a location for your tiny house, from a theft deterrent standpoint, consider how easy it is for someone to get away with your tiny house.  Anyone who’s ever towed a tiny can attest that tiny houses attract a lot of attention on the road.  People peer out of their windows, take photos, post them on the internet.  Whether you want to attract attention or not, it’s like being in a single-float parade.

Likewise, if your tiny house is easily recognizable, it’s more easily recovered.  An unusual looking tiny house can’t go as far and long without being reported.


Tiny House Anchoring:

For those who do not travel with their tiny house, tie-downs aren’t just a good idea for theft deterrence.  They’re also a great idea to keep the house from rocking or even lifting during a hurricane.  Although one can remove the house from the anchors (with varying degrees of difficulty depending on which type of anchor you’re using), this takes time and is another way to deter theft.

Additionally, building a porch onto the front of your tiny house not only expands your livable space in nice weather and creates a more welcoming entrance, it makes it more difficult for a thief to quickly steal your tiny house.


Tie-in to septic and sewer:

Like anchoring with tie-down straps, it’s not impossible to remove a septic or sewer tie-in, but it takes longer, requires tools and knowledge which means it takes longer to steal someone’s house.  Of course, not all tiny houses stay in one location– they are on wheels, after all– but for those that do, this is a great option.

Image from My Camper Home on Youtube 


Remove tires:

When the tires are removed, a thief can’t just hook up a tiny house to their truck and roll away with it.  It takes time and tools to attach four or six tires to the wheels of a trailer: time that exposes a thief to witnesses.

You can’t say for certain that your tiny house will never be broken into or stolen.  However, the chances of that are very slim; you can make them slimmer by taking some of these simple precautions.

What’s the Best Size Tiny House for Travel?

Tiny Houses on Wheels are sized for the road.

An 8 1/2 foot width is standard in tiny houses because that’s the maximum width that can safely travel down roads without an oversize permit.  We also build some tiny houses on wheels 10+ feet wide as Park Model RVs and procure oversize permits in every state they’ll travel through to get to their destination.  10+ foot wide houses, of course, aren’t recommended as houses that will travel more than once.

While the length of tiny houses is variable (we’ve built everything from 16 feet to 32 feet) the height is also restricted by the road.  13 1/2 feet tall is the maximum, which means the ceiling can be just over 10 feet from the floor inside the tiny house.  That’s why we can’t build a sleeping loft you can stand up in– unless you’re only two feet tall.

What size vehicle do you need to own to tow your tiny house?

You should have a vehicle with a towing capacity that exceeds the weight of your tiny house.  This article will help you determine what towing capacity you’ll need based on the estimated weight of your tiny house.

It can be helpful to take lessons first.

If you don’t have experience towing, see if there are classes offered in your area before you set out on the road with your tiny house in tow.  If you don’t want to take an entire course, have someone you know who’s experienced in towing give you a few pointers.  Having someone watch what you’re doing in-person is more helpful than YouTube videos, because they can tell you what you’re doing wrong and right.

Shorter tiny houses are lighter.

We recommend a house up to 24 feet long for towing.  Anything larger (or heavier) gets unwieldy for travel.  (We can still build a bigger house if you’re not planning on traveling with it!)

If you don’t want to tow your house, hire a professional.

There are companies that do this all day, every day so you don’t have to.  If you’re only moving your house once, it may be best to leave the towing to the pros.  If you’re on the east coast, email us at info@bbtinyhouses.com for a towing company recommendation.

 

Choosing the Right Towing Vehicle for Your Tiny House

Choosing the Right Truck for your Tiny House

All of our tiny houses on wheels are able to be towed; however, if you will be moving around regularly, we recommend purchasing a tiny house under 24 feet long.

The weight of B&B Tiny Houses depends on the size and materials used.  A vinyl-sided 20′ Hoosic weighs around 9400 pounds, while a solid wood clapboard-sided 20′ Hoosic weighs around 10,000 pounds.  The 20′ Brodie Office/Studio with T-111 siding weighs the least of everything we’ve weighed so far, at 8,000 pounds, and the 30′ Stony Ledge with solid wood clapboard siding comes in at around 14,000 pounds.

As a general rule, our tiny houses weigh between 400-500 pounds per foot, so to determine the weight multiply the number of feet by 400 and 500 to give you an estimate.

new tiny house construction

Pictured: The Arcadia Tiny House

Our tiny houses can be delivered anywhere in the United States, so if you plan on staying in only one spot, then you do not need to ever worry about towing your tiny house.

We tow our tiny houses that are under 24 feet with a Chevy Silverado 2500. For larger tiny houses, we hire a professional shipping company. As always, our customers are welcome to pick up their tiny house at out manufacturing plant. If you are looking for trucks with large towing capacities, then check out this article on the trucks with the highest towing capacity.

Smaller Tiny Houses for Those on the Move

All of the houses below allow you to customize the interior and exterior finishes to your choosing.

The 20′ Brodie

Perfect For: a mobile office, art studio, backyard guest house, mobile clinic

Features: The Brodie can be used as an office, guest house, and much more. The Brodie features an electric in-wall heating system, half-bath with a dry-flush toilet and sink, storage and countertop space, and a freshwater tank and water heater.

The Hudson 20′

Perfect For: a weekend getaway for 1-2 people, guest house, rental property

Features: Enter the Hudson into a small sitting area.  A queen size bed with nightstands is to the left on the same level. To the right is a kitchen, with a sink, mini-fridge, cabinets, shelving, and a two-burner cooktop.  Through the kitchen is a full bathroom, with a macerating toilet, sink, and shower.

The Arcadia

Perfect For: full time luxury living for two, sleeps an additional two guests on a sofa bed

Features: The kitchen has premium fixtures and appliances, including poured-in-place sealed concrete countertops, a three-burner propane stove and oven, a range hood, and under-counter refrigerator and freezer drawers. The sofa slides out on rails to convert into a full-size guest bed, allowing the house to sleep four. The bathroom has a rain shower head, subway tiles in the full-size shower, a macerating toilet, and a porcelain hand washing sink.  The loft fits a queen-sized bed with a little extra floor space.  The loft has 360 degree views with windows on all sides, plus skylights. An optional built-in Bluetooth audio system connects to your smartphone.

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