What size truck do I need to pull a Tiny House?

Recently a reader asked the question, What size truck do I need to pull a Tiny House?

It’s a little tough to say since the final weight has a lot to do with how the tiny house is finished – like choice of siding, roofing, flooring, cabinets, etc. As a general rule of thumb you can estimate the rough dry weight by multiplying 450-pounds by the length.

So a 16 foot house should weigh about 7,200 pounds – which is about the limit of a base level full size truck (like a Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra or GMC Canyon). But most full size trucks often come equipped with bigger engines and towing packages – which can bump their capacity up to 10,000-12,000 pounds or more. So if you have a use for a big truck, owning a vehicle that can also tow your house might make sense.

But most folks prefer driving things like SUVs and trucks like Toyota Tacomas, which can usually tow only 2,500 – 3,500 (or with a towing package up to just about 7,000). So while these vehicles can be great for day-to-day activities, they are just a bit too small for towing a tiny house.

If you don’t need to move the house much it may be a better option to rent a moving truck to tow the house and simply keep a smaller car (or bike!) for getting around town. Many tiny house folks choose to take this route actually.

But if you’re set on buying a truck to tow your tiny house on a regular basis, I highly recommend reading about the journey’s of Jenna and Guillaume at Tiny House Giant Journey. They travel full time in their tiny house and have shared the true cost of towing a tiny house. Their house weights 10,100 pounds and they tow it with a Ford F-250 Diesel 4X4.

Photo by Jenna and Guillaume at Tiny House Giant Journey.

6 thoughts on “What size truck do I need to pull a Tiny House?

  1. Nancy Zehetner says:

    I have horses and it is always emphasized in the horse world that it is not how much you can tow rather how much can you stop. There can be a difference which is important to consider.
    I have never hauled a tiny house but I have hauled horses and RVs and I would much rather haul an RV than a tiny house but I would rather live in a tiny house. My choice would be to build on skids (is that the terminology) and have someone move it for me.

    • Michael Janzen says:

      Skids is the right word, yes. The other advantage of wheels is that building inspectors often don’t look at it – on skids or blocks, they might. Depends on the community.

  2. Kevin says:

    You might say I grew up on the road. My father was a pipeline welder and when high school was finished, I too worked pipeline until I began college five years later. We also always had a farm. I have pulled a livestock trailer with an El Camino and I have pulled a 35 foot travel trailer with a heavy half ton pickup as well as a first gen toyota tundra. I have pulled tongue type and fifth wheel and I have pulled them across the continental divide and all over the the US. Here is my advice, get at least a one ton capacity truck with massive brakes and don’t skimp on the trailer brakes.

    As alluded to above, stopping is the primary issue with some of these homebuilt and custom builder homes coming in at more than 10000 pounds.

    There is nothing worse than coming to a stop and realizing the trailer is going to push you into the intersection. It would be hard to decide if that is actually worse than coming down from a 12000 foot pass and not being able to slow down.

    Wait, I do have one worse, you have been pulling your trailer all day into a 30mph headwind from eastern Montana starting before sunup so you miss the morning rush in Bismark and the best speed you can make during the day is 35mph. It is hot and you are young and you have a schedule to keep so when darkness falls and the wind dies, suddenly you can easily pull the trailer at the posted limits (or greater because you are young and in a hurry). Feeling good, you decide to push through until morning but just outside Hamburg, Iowa around 3 in the morning, a Semi passes you at better than 80mph and sucks in your trailer. End result, though no one is hurt, your trailer is spread along three football field lengths of interstate. the truck was undamaged and it was only our home. but we picked up a little u-haul type tongue type to hold all we could find that was not destroyed.

    When we got home, we replaced the tongue type with a 29ft fifth wheel and the difference in towing and control was night and day. if I ever tow a trailer again, it will be a fifth wheel.

    There is no substitute for horsepower and massive brakes.

  3. russell says:

    My TH is right at 16 feet with wind breaker on front . I pull it with a Ranger 2 wd, to 45 mph with no pushing. It is still just a shell. When I final go to Fl to live I plan to go back roads as much as I can. My plan will take a week per truck . I have two trucks and a car with a TH for each. Not to forget the boat, four wheeler’s and massive sets of tools. Still got a bunch more to do. I plan to build another TH almost as big as my main one. That way I can box them together for different jobs that I do.

  4. Mike Geyer (HikerMiker) says:

    To Kevin: Please tell me more about the advantages of a fifth wheel trailer weighing in at 15-17,000 lbs. w/ three axles and electric brakes.

  5. Alex Hall says:

    With this wonderful blog you have given a best knowledge about truck need pull tiny house. This is really an interesting post for us. Thanks for sharing this best information.

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