The Tiny house Blog

Do It Yourself (DIY) Guide on Building Your Dream Tiny House on Wheels (THOW)

Updated on:
September 22, 2023
tiny house on wheels bay cottage

View Bay Cottage by Pacifica Tiny Homes

The trend of tiny living has swept the nation, and it's no surprise why. Converting a 32ft Trailer into a 20ft Tiny House on Wheels allows for the freedom to travel while carrying a piece of home with you. This guide aims to provide you with questions such as how to build a tiny house on wheels, and a roadmap to build a custom, dream mobile home entirely by yourself.

Preparing for Your Dreamy Tiny Home Project

The transition to Tiny Living requires a commitment to simplicity and a non-materialistic lifestyle. Planning a 14x40 Mobile Home project is a practical approach to making your dreamy tiny home a reality. 

Remember, great things weren't built in a day, so focus, diligence, and music backed hard work will make your dream materialize. Factors such as size, weight capacity, and suspension should be taken into account. You should have researched various information and tips such as, for instance, a 32 ft trailer provides ample space for a roomy THOW, while a trailer with a 20 ft tiny house on wheels floor plans offer a more compact option. Really, it won’t hurt trying out a 32 ft trailer!

Essential Skill Set

Before embarking on your DIY THOW venture, it's imperative to evaluate your own skill set and knowledge base. While you don't necessarily have to be a seasoned builder, possessing some fundamental skills will significantly facilitate the process:

1. Carpentry Proficiency

Being comfortable with woodworking tools and techniques is crucial, as you'll be responsible for constructing the frame, walls, and various interior components of your THOW.

2. Understanding Plumbing and Electrical Systems

Familiarity with basic plumbing and electrical systems is essential for efficiently connecting utilities within your tiny house.

3. Proficiency in Design and Planning

The ability to efficiently plan and design the layout of your THOW is vital for maximizing space utilization and ensuring functionality. 

4. Problem-Solving Competence 

Expect to encounter challenges during the construction process. The ability to adapt and devise creative solutions is paramount.

tiny house on wheels bay cottage
View Bay Cottage by Pacifica Tiny Homes

Necessary Tools

To undertake a THOW project, you must have access to a wide array of tools. Below is a list of essential tools for your DIY endeavor:

1. Power Tools

  • Circular saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Router
  • Power sander

2. Hand Tools

  • Hammer
  • Screwdrivers
  • Measuring tape
  •  Level
  • Utility knife

3. Safety Gear

  • Safety goggles
  • Ear protection
  • Dust mask
  • Work gloves

4. Specialized Tools

  • Welding equipment (if custom trailer construction is part of your plan)
  • Plumbing tools (pipe wrench, PEX crimp tool, etc.)
  • Electrical tools (wire strippers, voltage tester, etc.)

Possessing the right tools and knowing how to employ them safely is crucial for a successful project.

Time Investment

Constructing a THOW is a time-intensive endeavor, with the timeline dependent on factors such as your level of experience, design complexity, and the number of hours you can dedicate each day. On average, a DIY THOW project can span anywhere from 3 to 12 months. Here's a rough breakdown of the time commitment:

1. Planning and Design: 1-3 months

2. Foundation and Trailer Construction: 2-4 weeks

3. Framing and Structural Work: 2-4 weeks

4. Exterior and Roofing: 3-6 weeks

5. Interior Construction: 2-3 months

6. Plumbing and Electrical: 1-2 months

7. Finishing and Furnishing: 1-2 months

It's important to keep in mind that this is merely a general estimate, and your actual timeline may fluctuate. Patience is key, and accounting for unforeseen delays is prudent.


tiny house on wheels interior
View Bay Cottage by Pacifica Tiny Homes

Material Selection

The selection of appropriate building materials is a pivotal step in creating a functional and visually appealing THOW. Consider the following crucial aspects:

 1. Lightweight Construction: Given that your tiny house will be mobile, weight becomes a paramount concern. Opt for materials that are both lightweight and durable, such as:

  • Framing: Utilize lightweight steel or aluminum for the frame.
  • Insulation: Consider closed-cell spray foam or rigid foam board for effective insulation without adding excessive weight.
  • Exterior Siding: Materials like cedar, vinyl, or lightweight composite panels are suitable choices.

2. Durability: Keep in mind that your THOW will be exposed to various weather conditions while on the road. To ensure durability, focus on the following:

  • Roofing: Employ robust roofing materials like metal or rubber roofing.
  • Windows and Doors: Invest in high-quality, weather-resistant windows and doors.
  • Exterior Finishes: Apply weatherproof paints and sealants to safeguard against moisture and UV damage.

3. Aesthetics: Although functionality is of paramount importance, the appearance of your THOW also holds significance. Opt for materials and finishes that resonate with your design preferences:

  • Interior: Choose finishes and materials that reflect your personal style and contribute to the creation of a cozy living space.
  • Exterior: Contemplate siding colors and designs that harmonize with the overall aesthetics of your tiny house.

Role of Professional Builders

While the primary objective is to construct your THOW through a DIY approach, there may arise instances where professional builders play a pivotal role:

1. Custom Trailer Construction

If you are not entirely comfortable with crafting the trailer foundation yourself, consider enlisting the services of a professional welder or fabricator to fashion a custom trailer tailored to your precise requirements.

2. Specialized Systems

For intricate plumbing or electrical systems, it is advisable to consult or collaborate with professionals to ensure safety and compliance with local codes.

3. Inspection and Certification

Certain regions necessitate certification for tiny houses. Professional builders can assist in the inspection and certification processes.


The Process of Installing Tiny House Wheels

Remember – the key to a successful DIY construction is careful planning and execution. It will be a labor of love building your house on wheels. With that said, let's now look into the step-by-step procedure for installing your dream tiny house on wheels!

1. Choosing the Trailer

Commence by meticulously selecting a trailer that aligns with the size and weight prerequisites of your tiny house. Ensure it possesses the requisite load capacity, axle configuration, and brakes.

2. Custom Trailer (Optional)

Should you opt for a custom trailer, closely collaborate with a proficient fabricator to formulate the foundation. Ensure it adheres to road safety regulations.

3. Preparing the Trailer

Thoroughly clean and inspect the trailer for any signs of damage or rust. Undertake any essential repairs or alterations to guarantee its impeccable


4. Securing the Trailer

Position the trailer within your workspace and immobilize it using stabilizing jacks to prevent unintended movement during construction.

5. Constructing the Subfloor Frame

Construct the subfloor frame atop the trailer. Utilize pressure-treated lumber and guarantee that it is level and square. Securely affix the frame to the trailer via anchor bolts.

6. Installing Insulation

Incorporate insulation into the subfloor to ensure effective thermal insulation within your tiny house. Secure the insulation using adhesive or fasteners.

7. Subfloor Decking

Apply subfloor decking material, typically plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). Affix it to the subfloor frame using screws or nails.

8. Attaching Wheels and Axles

In case they are not already in place, affix the wheels and axles to the trailer in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines. Confirm that they are adequately aligned and securely fastened.

9. Wheel Wells

If your design incorporates wheel wells, fabricate and enclose them to provide protection for the wheels while creating a polished, finished appearance.

10. Structural Framing

Construct the structural framing for your tiny house on top of the subfloor. This encompasses the walls, roof trusses, and other essential structural components.

11. Securing the House

Thoroughly anchor the house to the trailer, ensuring it is bolted or welded securely in place. This step is of utmost importance for safety during transportation.

12. Plumbing and Electrical Access

Establish access points for plumbing and electrical connections through the subfloor. Ensure that they are meticulously sealed to forestall potential leaks.

13. Exterior Sheathing

Incorporate exterior sheathing onto the walls and roof for both structural integrity and to create a barrier against the elements.

14. Roofing

Apply the chosen roofing material, ensuring it is securely fastened and sealed to prevent any potential leaks.

15. Exterior Siding

Implement the selected siding material on the exterior walls, adhering to the manufacturer's stipulations for installation.

16. Windows and Doors

Fashion openings for windows and doors and install them securely. Employ proper flashing and sealing techniques around these apertures to deter water ingress.

17. Plumbing and Electrical Systems

Conclude the installation of plumbing and electrical systems, including their connection to the trailer's utilities.

18. Interior Finishing

Conclude the interior finishing of your THOW in accordance with your design blueprint. This encompasses insulation, wall coverings, flooring, cabinetry, and fixtures.

19. Utilities Hookup

Establish connections for the necessary utilities, such as water, electricity, and sewer, predicated on your intended utilization.

20. Quality Inspection

Before embarking on your journey, rigorously inspect your THOW to verify its structural soundness, safety, and operational functionality. Ascertain that all systems are in proper working order.

21. Road-Readiness

Ensure that your tiny house is roadworthy and complies with local regulations pertaining to transportation. This might entail securing the requisite permits and certifications.

22. Embarking on Your Journey

Once you have satisfactorily accomplished all these steps and possess unwavering confidence in the readiness of your THOW, you are poised to embark on your nomadic living experience.


Constructing a DIY Tiny House on Wheels represents a challenging yet immensely rewarding endeavor. It allows you to create a customized mobile home that aligns with your lifestyle and values. By acquiring the requisite skills, tools, and materials, and thoughtfully considering the role of professional builders when needed, you can embark on this journey with confidence. Whether you aspire to build a 14x40 mobile home or a THOW with a 20 ft floor plans, success hinges on thorough planning, diligent construction, and a dedication to sustainable living while on the move. Armed with the right knowledge and determination, your DIY THOW can become a reality, offering you the freedom and simplicity of life on wheels.

Begin your Tiny House adventure with a thoughtful plan that prioritizes mobility, personal style, space efficiency, budget-friendly DIY projects, safety, and the joy of embracing a captivating new lifestyle worth sharing.

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