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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tiny House Update: Moving the Tiny House (Austin or Bust!)

Alisha McDarris
Our tiny house all packed, hitched and ready to go in Troy, Ohio.

Moving day! It seemed like it was such a long time coming. I mean, there were times we just laid in bed, mentally exhausted from measuring and mismeasuring and nailing and renailing and researching and re-researching, listening to my parents scream at the Cincinnati Bengals in the living room, wondering if we would ever make it to Austin. Then, all of a sudden, the inspection was over, the VIN plate was in, and we were calling Horizon Transport to schedule our pick up. We were moving the tiny house to Texas!

But we weren't going alone. There was a hot minute that we considered renting a full size, one-ton pickup truck and having my dad tow it to Austin for us, but we quickly decided against it. More or less. We kept the option on the shortlist, but we had pretty much written it off by the time we found Horizon Transport. For one, they knew what they were doing, my dad didn't. Secondly, they had relocation plates and insurance to cover anything that might go wrong during transport, and we didn't. But maybe most importantly, if we hired a company we wouldn't have to worry about the tiny house for the entire 1,250 some miles between Dayton and Austin. The last thing I wanted was additional stress watching it try to clear bridges and low hanging power lines.

Before we booked Horizon, we searched high and low for every possible option, each with varying levels of success. Uhaul doesn't have vehicles that tow anything over 10,000 pounds, Enterprise and Herc did, but they charged per mile over 75-100 miles per day (yikes!) and they didn't allow one-way rentals, so someone (my dad) would have had to drive it back. Blech. We tried local companies, but the few that did have such large vehicles had them contracted out to the city for snow removal. Winter in Ohio, ya know. We also posted a Craigslist ad, which generated scads of interest, but they either charged way more than a professional company or were freelancers, which made us nervous. I mean, this is our home we're paying someone to move! Our last attempt involved placing a listing on uship.com, which allows companies or towing professionals to bid on your "project." I didn't like it for one main reason: You couldn't speak with bidders in person, only via message on the website.

I liked Horizon Transport for one main reason: They were wonderful on the phone (and I hate talking on the phone). From the very first phone call they were super helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable. I was initially transferred to Rich who gave me his direct line, which I called several times over a month or so to ask questions, get clarification, offer more info, and eventually schedule our transport. Some of the other similar companies I called either never called me back or only replied with vaguely uninformative emails. Plus they were all more expensive.

So Horizon found us a driver (Dru), gave us his contact info, scheduled the pickup and drop-off, and we were set! We got to talk to Dru about the trailer and route beforehand, decide on a time for him to come get it all hitched up, and that was that. He was super friendly and all the way to Texas he kept us updated on the progress and the condition of the tiny house (good all the way). Except the lock on the sliding glass door apparently didn't keep shut, so Dru had to tape it closed somewhere along the way. We should have put a block of wood behind the door to keep it from sliding open. Our bad. We'll know what to do next time. In any case, the trip was entirely stress-free (partially because we didn't follow the house) and I couldn't have been happier with the whole process.

Josh and me with our Horizon Transport driver, Dru, in front of a safely delivered tiny house in Austin, TX.

And God bless him, Dru had a challenge when we got to our destination. We didn't know what the driveway/yard looked like when we selected the spot, but it couldn't have been a trickier sell. Two of the three driveways into the yard were impossibly steep, but paved, and the third was partially gravel and partially mud. Now, that may not have been a problem except that it had hardcore stormed the night before and not only was most of the yard and third drive a mud pit, there was standing water in several strategically obnoxious places. Dru examined his options, we all decided on which drive provided the best chance of not bottoming out, and I covered my ears as the back of the trailer scraped the driveway for a few very long seconds. Fortunately nothing was damaged, we'll just have to touch up some paint to keep rust at bay.

Navigating the muddy sinkholes in the yard in Austin.

Then the mud played its part by getting the trailer and Dru's 4WD stuck and after several attempts to get both moved to a less squishy spot of earth, we gave up and decided to leave the tiny house where it stood until the ground had a chance to dry out a bit, maybe in a week. So as I write this the trailer is sitting in a slightly sunken, mostly level, awkward diagonal angle to where it should be, waiting to be eased back onto its proper site and stabilized (let's just say the dishes on the shelves did not appreciate how much the washer vibrated the house).


We backed it up until we couldn't back it up any more. There's no fighting mud after a storm like that.


But we're here in Austin, back eating delicious vegan food, catching up with friends, and loving the home we built, our little Serenity. So we're happy.

All in all the towing took two and a half days (we drove it in two in our little Prius) and cost $1,960. A chunk of change to be sure, but renting a truck and doing it ourselves was only a couple hundred less, didn't come with insurance, but did come with a whole lot of stress and inexperience. Not worth it.

Have any questions about relocating a tiny house? Ask in the comments below!

Alisha McDarris / Author & Editor

Alisha has been a writer and photographer forever. OK, maybe not forever, but at least for more of her 20-something years than she hasn’t been those things... [Read More]

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