Setting Up And Leveling Out

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Whether you travel with your Tiny House or keep it parked for long periods of time there will always be a little bit of a setup process when you get to your new parking spot. Of course unpacking the inside is important but in this article we are are going to focus on setting up on the outside by leveling the tiny house using tools and equipment that we have found to be extremely useful in the process.
After you purchase your Ultimate Tiny House Traileror Tiny House Shell from Tiny House Basics and you find a new place to park. One of the first steps you need to do is orientate your tiny house in the ideal direction. When we first moved our tiny house to our new home, we knew we wanted to face south but the limiting factor was really the access for our tow vehicle and how it could position us in that ideal direction. Although we did get it to face mostly south we wish we had the following tool at that time to fine tune the position. This new tool is the Trailer Valet XL. This tool has greatly helped in the task of positioning any tiny house or any trailer (under 10,000 lbs.) in and out of tight spots or changing its orientation with out the need for a truck. We recently added this valuable tool to our tool belt when we had the need for moving our custom built tiny house shells in and out of our builder’s workshop. The tight space and corners would have been impossible to navigate with a truck pulling one of our tiny houses so we are so happy to have been able to find such a useful tool as the Trailer Valet XL. You can operate the Valet with a supplied hand crank or the included drill adapter to use with your own personal drill for a powered dolly! For more info please visit their website.
   Trailer Valet XL
Watch This Video Of Us Moving A Tiny House Shell

 

Once you have your tiny house positioned just right. The next piece of gear you will need is leveling jacks. I have found the best way to level your tiny house or RV is by using high quality scissor jacks likes these that can be found at Etrailer.com. Some trailer manufacturers will have these welded on for you but it is ideal to bolt them on yourself so they are easy to replace in the event that one fails. I am a welder of over 12 years and I still bolted my scissor jacks on instead of welding them and I was glad I did because during the construction of our tiny house it slipped off the supports and bent a few jacks. No problem for us, I easily swapped out the broken jacks and bolted up a new one using Stainless Steel hardware. There are many types of jacks available but the Scissor jacks are best suited for this application because of the focused downward force they provide. Steer away from the type of jacks that will swivel down and lock because there is too much play in the locking mechanism and it will not give your tiny house the stable support it needs. When setting up the scissor jacks at your new parking spot it is best to not fully extend them out because that can make them unstable. In order to give them a good footing and large surface area for support i recommend using a concrete pier under each jack (pictured on the following page). The concrete deck piers cost less than $4 each at your local hardware store and they provide a sturdy footprint for your jack to rest on. The next piece of gear you’ll need to easily level your tiny house from side to side is the Anderson Camper Wheel Chock And Leveler. This tool is very easy to use and can support any trailer up to 30,000 lbs. When you pull into your new parking spot take out a level and and lay it right between the wheel wells to check how level it is side to side. If there is a difference between sides, placed the AndersonLeveler Chocks on each of the axles on the low side of the tiny house and slowly drive up on the levelers until the tiny house is level side to side, slide in the chock wedge to lock the wheel at that height, then once it is just right you are ready to continue your setup.
https://www.etrailer.com/Camper-Jack/Ultra-Fab-Products/UF48-979002.html
With the tiny house level from side to side you are ready to balance out the rest of the house. With the Tiny House Level Side to side you are ready to balance out the rest of the house. Most Tiny Houses seem to only have a Scissor jack on each corner, which may be fine for most smaller tiny houses, but since our tiny house is 28 ft. long we felt it was necessary to have more than four scissor jacks to stabilize the structure so we installed eight scissor jacks and four corner jacks. We wanted to eliminate the “trailer shake” that is common in RVs and travel trailers so that is why we choose so many stabilizers
to secure our tiny house. With all your jacks installed, place the piers under each jack and lower the jack onto the piers until they are nice and snug. You can use a hand crank that is
included in the linked kit, but the fastest way is a corded impact wrench or the battery powered Milwaukee Impact wrench pictured
https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories-and-Parts/Trades-Pro/ALL836714.html
Once all the jacks are snug on the piers you are ready to fine tune the leveling of your tiny house. (Keep in mind, the scissor jacks are intended to Stabilize, Not Lift) With our tiny house being 28 ft. long I checked for level in three locations: the center between the wheel wells, the kitchen and the bathroom. Each spot I checked, I did so in both directions, side to side of the trailer and front to back. Once I placed the level down in each
location I adjusted the jacks on the outside in their respective locations.
Tiny House Level
Tiny House Level
The whole process takes about a hour and with all the jacks we installed it eliminated the dreaded trailer shake and gave our tiny house a very sturdy and level foundation!
Please check out the following link for more info on us and our tiny house trailers and tiny house shells
Tiny House Trailer

16 Comments on “Setting Up And Leveling Out”

  1. Alek

    Hey Joshua —

    Scissor jacks are not designed to hold much weight. They are for stabilizing only and say so right on their packaging and instructions. Just to be clear to your readers: If they are trying to get the weight of the house OFF of the wheels, then a more permanent jack stand is far better (with proper weight rating of course). Scissor jacks can collapse under too much weight. If, however, you are just leveling, or stabilizing to park temporarily at an RV park, etc. then scissor jacks are perfect. They should not be recommended as a permanent way to support the full weight of a tiny house.

    1. Joshua Engberg

      I do agree they should be used for stabilizing and not for lifting, we have been using our heavy duty scissor jacks to stabilize and level our tiny house in its semi permanent spot for the last year and a half.

  2. Rachel

    Besides the Jack Stands on piers at the four corners and the Scissor Jacks for stabilizing do you recommend additional Jacks elsewhere for a longer Tiny Home (32′)? If so, where do you recommend they are placed?
    By the way I would love to see a video out there showing how this is done. We are novices to this and we have a pretty heavy Tiny Home arriving that will need setting up. We are finding instructions on this is limited for us newbies 🙁

    1. Joshua Engberg

      i would really recommend lots of jacks to stabilize a longer tiny house, i feel one jack every 4ft is ideal. under the main frame rail or outrigger with the wall sits would be the ideal spot since it is where the load of the roof is placed.

  3. Ricky

    I recently built a tiny house of a 38 foot goose neck trailer with 3 axles…we are guessing it’s about 20 ‘ lbs…I’m on a concrete slab …and the city wants me to remove tires….

    What is best way to stabilize home? All weight will not be on tires anymore?

    Ricky gonzalez
    Johnson city, tx

  4. susan

    I am COMPLETELY lost on how many jacks and which kind to setup, and level a close to 20k house. This will be permanently parked in rv park, so do I need two kinds of jacks, one kind to level and one kind to leave on long term> what about wood or rectangular pavers? is there any resource showing me how to do everything step by step I am lost!

  5. Laurie

    So, just to clarify, which jacks are recommended to lift a 28′ Tiny house up off its wheels? (i’m assuming if my house is to be parked for a long time, i should get the weight off the tires, right?)

  6. Derenda Gardner

    Please provide instructions..”how to remove tiny house from trailer and set up on blocks”..my house is 20 feet long and bolted onto trailer

    1. Joshua Engberg

      Hello Derenda, Im sorry we dont have those instructions available, we recommend leaving your house attached to your trailer foundation.

  7. K-Po

    I am about to build a tiny house on a custom built 20′ trailer.
    my question is… Should the trailer be blocked up during the build or just on wheels and tongue jack?

  8. Amy

    Hi,
    I just had my 20 foot tiny house delivered. I am going to follow your instructions. One question I have is regarding the tongue jack. Is that part of the leveling process? Does the tongue jack touch the ground once it is removed from the truck? Mine is sitting on a piece of wood right now and I have not yet lowered the scizzor jacks. What do I do with the tongue jack? Thanks in advance!!

    1. Joshua Engberg

      Hello Amy, yes the tongue jack should be the first component to touch the ground to level out the trailer

  9. Lily

    Awesome Joshua, thank you. Max is nearly complete with my build on one of your trailers and I went looking for info on how to orient and set up my trailer in my space. Thanks for this great post. I have a few questions, if you get a chance to follow up:

    – I will be leveling the ground i park in with a bobcat. I will compact it the best i can, and there is a large amount of river rock in the ground since I’m near a river, so it’s pretty hard. I noticed you don’t have a concrete pad—do you like that decision? I think I’ll be fine without one, but I’m not sure.

    -I will need to move my trailer into an area without a lot of tongue clearance for a truck. Can the tool you used to move the trailer be used on ground (not pavement?) the wheel looks rather small, I’m not sure if it would get enough traction.

    -can the tool be rented?

    – I see on the reddit tiny house thread that many people recommend getting the weight off the axles. And even removing the wheels and storing them away from sun, or at least covering them. What do you think about this? I’m assuming that the scissor jacks can’t be used for this since they aren’t for weight, so your weight is still on your axles.

    Thank you Joshua,

    Lily

    1. Joshua Engberg

      Hi Lily!!!!

      Awesome so happy to hear, please do send pics when you get a chance, we would love to see the tiny house max built!

      Our compacted dirt where we have our tiny house has worked out great, it was compacted with a tractor before we parked and has been very firm every since, even in very heavy storms it doesn’t affect the landing pad under the trailer so i would give that a solid recommendation for what you have planned.

      The trailer valet can work on hard compacted dirt if its really well compacted, its kinda hard to tell for sure if it will work for your ground unless i saw a picture. With loose gravel it will tend to spin its tires. You are welcome to borrow one of ours with a small deposit to see if it works well for your situation and bring back when done.

      We always recommend keeping the trailer on the axles, all trailers are designed to live their life on the axles and its no issue to always keep a tiny house on its tires when well supported around and covered to protect from UV rays. You are right, scissor jacks are intended for stabilization and loft lifting. They will alleviate weight off the axles but not intended to raise the trailer off the ground. There are circumstances where you can raise the tiny house trailer into a foundation totally off the axles like you would do with a park model or a mobile home, that is totally acceptable as well but not necessary for all tiny houses

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