How to convert a semi-trailer into a tiny house?

In this blog post, we will answer the question: “How to convert a semi-trailer into a tiny house?” We will talk about the required steps and discuss the details like measurements and layouts. We will also talk about choosing a trailer for building a tiny house and discuss the important things to consider like the zoning ordinance and a few extra tips.


How to convert a semi-trailer into a tiny house?

If you want to convert a semi-trailer into a tiny house, you can use the following steps described in detail.

  • You will first need to know your priorities beforehand
  • You will then need to record the measurements and the layout
  • Finally, you will need to install the right doors, windows and the flooring

Know your priorities beforehand

The most important thing is to list out your priorities. Stick to what is important and what is required. You can always add extra features to your tiny house. The most important part is to get all the basic requirements to live comfortably. It is important to create a checklist of what you need before planning on converting a semi-trailer into a tiny house.

Here are some of the basic requirements listed below.

  • Access to water and storage
  • Option to connect to an external sewage system
  • Electrical system and plumbing
  • Kitchen accessories
  • Appliances
  • Grey, black, and freshwater tanks
  • Water heater
  • Air conditioner
  • Fridge
  • Bedroom accessories
  • Battery/solar
  • Bathroom appliances
  • Insulation
  • Interior and exteriors amenities

The above-mentioned list is just the basic requirements but is the most essential for converting a semi-trailer into a tiny house. The easiest way to go ahead with this process is by splitting the conversion work into parts. This can be done by getting the layout and overall plan in place and using it as guidance.

Measurements and layout

Once you have all the priorities listed the next step is to measure the entire trailer and create a proper layout. The interior layout must have enough space for the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living area. Be sure to keep some space for the kitchen counter and add enough storage options including cabinets. Here are a few tips listed below.

  • Before measuring, be sure to remove any extra fittings in the trailer.
  • Clean the interiors properly and remove any rust, dents, or other unnecessary dirt.
  • Measure the length, width, and height of the interior.
  • It is also important to measure the exterior of the semi-trailer.
  • Once you have completed the measurements, you will need to design a layout.
  • Start by measuring the space for the bedroom since that is important.
  • Keep enough space for a queen-size bed and keep the bedroom simple.
  • Measure the kitchen including the counter.
  • Depending on the type of bathroom, you will need to keep enough space for a toilet and a shower.
  • Have enough space for the living room, but try not to add extra things except for all the required appliances


Doors, windows, and flooring

Be sure to measure and draw out the layout exactly how you want it to be. When it comes to the doors and windows, be sure to stick to the standard size. You can still explore other options and design bigger windows if required. As for doors, it is always better to stick to the same size. While you can still customise the doors, be sure not to have extremely huge doors.

For the flooring, you will need to lay a subfloor at the bottom of the semi-trailer and add the type of flooring that you desire. Some people use Vinyl flooring after laying the sub-floor while some add plywood over the sub-floor and add Vinyl over it. The flooring is more important since the doors and windows will not consume time.

It is important to get the electrical work completed before fixing the walls and ceiling. On the other hand, you will need to work on the plumbing simultaneously. The wiring and the pipes need to be hidden behind the wall. The same goes for the ceiling and the insulation can be done after fixing the walls and the ceiling.


Understanding the zoning ordinance

When converting a semi-trailer into a tiny home, one of the most important things to do is to know the zoning regulations in the city where you live. The zoning ordinance might require an application for a Residential Plan Review for a tiny house. Be sure to get the application form and inquire about the fees associated with permits and applications.

It is also important to check the rules in your locality to avoid running into any problems once you start living in your tiny house. Once you know the zoning laws in your area, you can move forward with the conversion of your semi-trailer. Ensure that your conversion does not violate the city zoning rules.

Choosing a trailer for building a tiny house 

When choosing a trailer for your tiny house, make sure to consider how much weight it will hold. There are two main factors, the weight of the house and the weight of the trailer. The house will weigh more than the trailer so be sure to have a lighter trailer if you plan to move it a lot. Here are some tips to follow while choosing a trailer for a tiny house.  

  • The trailer must have a flat deck and a licence plate slot to keep the tiny house stable on the ground.  
  • It is essential to choose a trailer that has a GVWR that will support the entire structure of the tiny house.
  • Choose a trailer with appropriate emergency brakes and high-load radial tires.
  • Avoid buying a trailer with extra rails.
  • Do not buy a trailer with tilt or ramp functions.
  • Choose a trailer according to the size of the tiny house.
  • An extremely long trailer is going to be hard to manoeuvre.
  • If you are going to move your tiny house to a new location, it is important to consult a structural engineer beforehand to ensure that everything is safe and legal.
  • The height of the trailer’s deck can affect the interior ceiling height. Avoid going more than thirteen feet as it can be a problem with oversize vehicle restrictions.
  • Make sure to consider the thickness of the roofing structure when choosing a trailer.
  • If the trailer is too tall for the tiny house you are building, you will be limited by the size of the trailer.

Gooseneck trailers 

If you are thinking about building a tiny house on wheels, gooseneck trailers are one of the best options. There are two types of gooseneck trailers, a deck-between, and a deck-over model. The name gooseneck comes from the special hitch that is used for this type of trailer. A gooseneck trailer is towed by a pickup truck with a ball hitch, and it reaches over the tailgate to attach itself to the ball hitch.

Cargo trailers

A cargo trailer is much smaller than a typical tiny house, but it is still large enough to have the amenities that you need. Additionally, a cargo trailer is affordable and easy to pull. The advantages of a cargo trailer over a traditional tiny house include a larger closet, energy windows, and even a deck with a hammock.

Tips to convert a semi-trailer into a tiny house

Before starting to build your house, make sure you know how much space you need. A subfloor built in a trailer will leave little room for plumbing, and you may need to build the house much wider than the trailer. If you need to build a wider house, you can cantilever it over the trailer. While the subfloor is not a major factor, it can impact the overall width of the building.

Before starting to look for a gooseneck trailer for your tiny house, remember that it’s important to check the weight rating of the trailer. Generally, the weight limit for tiny houses is ten thousand pounds, but you should be careful not to exceed this limit. Remember to check the weight rating of the trailer with the contents of your tiny house.



In this blog post, we will answer the question: “How to convert a semi-trailer into a tiny house?” We have talked about the required steps and discussed the details like measurements and layouts. We also talked about choosing a trailer for building a tiny house and discussed the important things to consider like the zoning ordinance and a few extra tips.