Here at Wind River we know that getting your tiny home delivered is just the beginning of the journey, not the end. This post will cover some technical information about setting up your tiny home, including (1) setting the tiny home on blocks and supports, (2) anchoring the tiny home to the ground, and (3) skirting around the base of the tiny home. Please note that Tiny Homes on Wheels (THOW) certified as recreational vehicles are meant to be mobile and the information in this post is only presented as best practices and not meant to be authoritative. This information should be taken into consideration along with any advice or plans from your engineer, site planner, or contractor.
Also, remember that Wind River does not do site installations. The scope of our services includes a site plan diagram showing utility connections. With regards to the ongoing maintenance of your tiny home, we recommend that you create a network of service providers that can help you with your overall site plan, whether that’s grading, decking, or the installation topics covered here. Surround yourself with a team that can help you succeed.
blocking and pier pads
Our tiny home chassis are built from thick gauge steel and reinforced at various points to provide rigidity. The tiny home itself is engineered to provide additional rigidity. Even so, there will still be some flex in the frame, particularly around the wheel wells. If the home is not properly leveled the flexing of the frame could, for example, bite into door frames or cause other problems. See our blog post How to Feed and Water Your Tiny Home for more information about leveling. Blocking is a semi-permanent solution for maintaining a level and secure tiny home.
Now for the details. You can find the blocks and pier pads needed for these tasks at your local hardware store. The cinder blocks we refer to are your typical 8” x 8” x 16” blocks you commonly see. The pier pads are 16” x 16” x 4” or 8” x 16” x 4” depending on the configuration (as we will illustrate below). Note that the pier pads are 4” thick rather than the 2” thickness of common pavers. Blocks can be single stacked or double stacked. The figure below illustrates a single stack configuration versus a double stack configuration.
Your Wind River tiny home weighs approximately 500 lbs per linear foot (550 lbs for 10 ft wide homes). For example, a 30 ft Wind River tiny home will weigh approximately 16,500 lbs. To address the issue of bearing loads, see the figure below. This chart includes single and double stacked block configurations. See footnotes regarding overall heights and number of pier pads.
|Block Configuration||Height||Configuration||Maximum Load|
|Single stacked||* Less than 36"||Long side perpendicular to frame||6,500||7,600|
|Double stacked||** 48"||Double interlocking||13,000||15,300|
|* Maximum height of 36" includes 4 blocks plus the 4" pier pad. We do not recommend exceeding 36". **Maximum height of 48" includes 5 sets of double interlocking blocks, plus two stacks of 4" pier pads.|
Blocks and pier pads can be in various arrangements. The important point for stability is to not let the pads extend too far beyond the load of the blocks relative to their overall width. The figure below shows various pier pad configurations for 8”, 16”, and 24” pier pads. On a side note, there are now various plastic pier pads available on the market. While we have no experience with these, they may be worth looking into if you find that they are validated by experienced users or professionals.
Now let’s look at the positioning of the stacked blocks underneath the chassis. On a level surface, there is typically about 18” of space to the ground under the tongue beams and 24” of space to the ground under the other beams. This distance to ground level will vary depending on the slope of the ground, but additional blocks or pads can be added as needed. (Continue reading to the next section for a discussion of lifting the home off the suspension and removing the wheels.)
Note that the stacks are capped with a capping block and then shims are used to tweak the remaining space between the blocks and the frame. Obviously, when using 4” pads and 8” blocks you are going to have some spacing considerations. Differences should be made up using concrete caps and pressure-treated lumber for blocks and shims. With the exception of the shims, all treated lumber should be 2x material or thicker.
Rule of thumb for spacing of stacked blocks is spanning an area of approximately 8 feet. By this rule, a 24 ft tiny home should have 3 points on each side, a 30 ft model should have 4 on each side, and a 38 ft model should have 5 on each side. The setup below is illustrated for a 30 ft tiny home and shows the placement of blocks under the chassis.
Again, we want to emphasize that an experienced contractor is recommended. Tiny homes are very heavy and require special considerations for stability and safety. We hope this information will get you oriented and serve as a tool for further considerations.
wheels, jacks, settling, and monitoring
What to do with the wheels? This is a question we get a lot — whether it’s necessary to remove the wheels from the tiny home. The answer is that it depends and comes down to a matter of preference. A lot of people leave the wheels on their tiny home and purchase wheel covers. If you’re setting your tiny home up like described above, however, the wheels can be removed and placed into long-term storage. This way you don’t have to worry about rot, rust, pest damage, etc.
Remember to check the weight rating of any jacks you use on the tiny house. The jack on the tongue of the trailer is the only frame jack we recommend be used full-time. A treated lumber or concrete block should be placed underneath the tongue jack to disperse its pressure on a greater surface area. If your home came with corner jacks, these typically are rated at 3,000 lbs and should only be used for stabilizing the trailer and tweaking the corners. Corner jacks are not meant to be used on a long-term basis. We do not recommend using a scissor jack for any purpose around the tiny home. These tend to slip and are dangerous. 8,000 lb hydraulic bottle jacks can be purchased at many big box stores and are much safer and easier to use. Purchase extra pier pads for setting the bottle jacks on while leveling the tiny house. You may want to consider leaving these ancillary pads in place for tweaking the leveling at a later date.
Once you’re finished and the home is level, you’ll want to check for settling. Recheck the leveling of the tiny home at least one week after setup. Check it again after one month, then as often as needed for your ground conditions. If the entrance door is beginning to stick or if you notice other things not functioning properly, it may indicate the home is out of alignment. Use your bottle jacks and pier shims to adjust accordingly.
We highly recommend hiring a professional for anchoring your tiny home. The cables that anchor the tiny home are very strong and their adjustment can move the entire house.
Your Wind River tiny home is equipped with steel D-rings welded onto the frame of the trailer. These can be used as anchor points. There are different types of ground anchors: auger anchors, drive anchors, hard rock anchors, and concrete anchors. The type of anchor will depend upon the type of ground surface. The ground anchor point will connect to the tiny home with either a turnbuckle or some kind of strap. Again, we recommend that you consult a contractor and do your own research about hardware that is available.
Now that you’ve got a plan for securely setting up your tiny home, it’s time to think about dressing it up. Skirting can be any type of barrier around the base of the tiny home that closes in the area underneath the home. Tiny home dwellers use a wide range of materials, from hay bales to lattice and from treated lumber to painted strand-board. Not only does skirting give you a great opportunity to add to the curb appeal of your home, it aids as a critter barrier and keeps continuous air from flowing under the home, creating better insulation for your home.
The pictures below show two examples of skirting. One home utilized exterior rated lumber and created what is essentially a crawl space under the tiny home. The water connection is underneath the home and hidden from the elements. The other home did grading and used fill dirt and river rocks on the higher side of the slope. The other side of the house where the ground slopes down has a deck and treated lumber to create the crawl space. Again, there are many different ways to do this. We’ve seen a lot of tiny home setups that look hastily done and appear to be an afterthought. Planning ahead for your site plan is very important and should not be neglected.
At Wind River we strive to be a thought leader in the industry and we’re participating with other industry partners to help create best practices. We all have a part to play in the growth and success of the tiny home industry. Let’s do our part to make sure tiny home site plans are well thought out, provide a safe dwelling place, and are aesthetically pleasing.