This has been 8 years in the making! I know it goes against todays ‘convention’ (or at least the one I hear quite a bit) of not building the tiny house until you have a place to put it. For me that just didn’t make sense. I didn’t have land. I didn’t even have an idea of where I could temporarily park my house when I started building. Asking about options got me laughed at without having the actual tiny house to show. Kind of like how you can’t get the job without the experience and you can’t get the experience without the job. I had a hard time finding a place without the house and I couldn’t just wait for the right spot to come alone before building the house. So I chose to have faith that it will work out.
And It Has Worked Out!
After living for years on temporary property, we found the permanent property! All that comes next is the move, right? Sounds simple enough. This particular tiny house is 8+ years old. It was built on a used (and old), home built trailer to begin with. I didn’t use all the recommended bracing (Simpson Ties). I am confident in my own abilities but I am less than confident in how they hold up over time. This whole thing has only ever been a learning experience. I just hoped what I learned wouldn’t be that I was about to crash my house!
I posted my house, with as much information as possible, to UShip.com to try to get bids for how much it would cost to ship the 300 miles. While I was at it I reached out to the company who helped me move it a year ago, Boise Valley Towing. I got 9 bids from Uship. They started high, just under $2,000 but quickly got competitive down to about $700. I didn’t hear back right away from BVT and was just about to expire on UShip (so about to have to pick) I got a call back from BVT. Their bit was $1,500. I asked if they could go to $1,400 simply because I could justify paying double (the low bid) but it was harder to justify more. They agreed!
Jason came and picked up the house the night before the big move and we made plans to hit the road first thing in the morning!
It all went off without any major issues for the first half. Jason opted to use a semi for the added power on the steep grades. The house swayed a lot because the axles were too far forward. The initial design didn’t have an enclosed room on the patio. We positioned the axles to be weighted correctly before the patio addition. After the kid’s room addition we never repositioned them. Still, with plenty of power in the semi it seemed things were going fine enough. We meet halfway in New Meadows to exchange some documentation and get on our way.
Jason said to not follow because he knew it would make me nervous. So we scoot along to Moscow. We literally pull into the property, do a quick walk to look over the progress Hawg had made (making the road and the pad the tiny house will sit on). Then I get a call from Jason’s boss.
Me: “How’s it going?”
Him: “Well, it’s been better.” (shockingly my heart didn’t exactly drop, I just went into assessment mode) “Jason is stuck on White Bird pass with a broken leaf spring”
Me: “Hmmmm. What can we do?”
Him: “I’m not sure… oppp, Jason is calling, let me chat with him and I’ll call you back.”
I go into fix it mode and start calling every trailer supplier around to find a new leaf spring without the specs. I called 4 places, none of them service mobile home axles. That is the only thing I know about those axles. Then I remember there is an abandoned mobile home park down the road! I grab my tools and walk down to see if I can source one to bring to our poor driver stuck 2 hours away! Then I get a call from Jason.
Me: “Hello Jason, how’s it going?!”
Him: “Well, you know, I have the prettiest view!”
Him: “I just heard this HUGE pop! and was right next to a pull out so I pulled over. I saw the axle dragging and the tire rolling away. I was able to grab the tire before it rolled down the mountain”
Me: “You caught the tire!?”
Him: “Here’s what I am going to do, I’m going to chain up this broken axle and try to make it up to the top of this hill. If it goes well I’ll just keep coming. It seems like the axles are handing it, I have no idea why a leaf spring would break.”
Me: “Me either! A bunch of other parts seem much more likely to break first! I am currently at an abandoned mobile home, I am going to take a leaf spring off and head your way. Those axles are rated to handle 7,100# each as far as I can tell. My best guess is that the house weighs 12-13,000#” You are about 1.5 hours away, you can stop in Grangeville and get something to eat and I’ll be there soon?”
Him: “Well, I don’t want to just do nothing, I’ll head that way and see how it goes. Grab that spring and head this way.
Just as I was getting to work Hawg drove by and (rightfully) wondered what was going on. I told him and he said it would be easier to grab a spring off his place up the hill. Not only that, he got out his tools and got one for us! Away we go!
We passed each other about 45 minutes down the road! He was able to keep going and got a LOT farther than I expected. When he spotted us he pulled over and I could see for myself. Dude was bold! Being halfway back we left it to him. He was balancing getting to the weigh station in time (he was following DOT rules to not drive more than allotted). We were about 15 minutes from the weigh station. He said it was going alright and being so close he’d like to just keep trucking since he knew it didn’t need fixed for another trip later.
The house came in around 15,000#
He arrived at the property
We followed him from in front as we made our way up the Lewiston Grade. That way he could follow us in the wonky turns to get to the property. When we got there he could make the game plan to see about getting it to it’s final place.
Frankly we were fine with it getting to the property. I have no idea how we’d get it up the hill with a broken tractor but we could have time to figure that out. Being the badass he is though he was willing to give it a try to get it up the hill into place.
Just as this happened, Hawg came down the hill to grab his tractor. Being the badass he is, he helped make sure it was all ok!
The semi as it turns out is not an off road vehicle. It is heavy and powerful. but pulling dead weight up and newly graveled road is not it’s strong suit! Lucky for us, Hawg was there with his equipment to lend a hand! First he used his tractor to help push. It was too heavy and ended up spinning out in the gravel too. Next plan was to use his excavator. He could push it with the arm instead of spinning out the tires. And that is just what worked!
Once up there, the semi was trapped! He couldn’t go forward anymore because the road ended. He couldn’t back up either because the tiny house wasn’t all the way up on the pad. Hawg tried to pull the butt end of the tiny house over. That didn’t work. Then, he used his excavator arm to lift the tiny house hitch off the semi and swing the front end around. That worked and gave Jason enough room to back out and head down the hill! On top of that, Hawg moved the house forward into the perfect position to be exactly where we wanted it to be!
All before sunset!
We are unbelievably lucky to have made it. We spent the week undoing ‘travel mode’. We set up the heater and the gas. We slept on an air mattress in the tiny house again!! Even Denver was stoked! The first night tradition is movie and pizza so that is what we did. We pulled things out of the camper to be comfy, lit some candles and watched a movie from the comfort of our loft once again!
So, down the hill from us was this metal rack. It was all grown over and looked junky. We assumed it was some broken truck rack or something to do with the tractor that used to be on the property. It was just a leftover. You know what it was? A set of aluminum steps! The exact right height to get into the tiny house! How unbelievable is that?! This property gives us exactly what we need, it feels totally meant to be!
Then it snowed!
It was the most gorgeous day, we marveled at the beauty. Then we went to bed and woke up to 2 inches of snow! Hahaha! The amazing part is how well insulated the tiny house really is compared to the camper. That would have woke us up in the camper. We would have been frozen, turned up the heat and then been ok. In the tiny house, we didn’t even notice, we were just warm! So if you want to know the difference between a tiny house and a camper, my go to answer is insulation values. Now I mean it!
The best part
Nothing broke but the leaf spring! Shockingly. There is a split in the drywall that will be a very quick and easy repair (and more was expected!). No tiles popped, all the electrical is untouched. No broken glass. Nothing. I made a lot of choices in the build that were more about pretty than movable. They all worked out!
Really though, the best part is we’ll never have to move this tiny house again! While it made the move, this particular house was not designed to move often. My stress levels just can’t handle it! This is her final destination. If this property ever leaves our family, the tiny house will go right along with it! I don’t foresee that happening though!