Thom Stanton

Co-Founder/President

Timber Trails LLC, DBA: GoTiny!

Thom Stanton will help you "future proof" your tiny house with 3D design, planning, estimating, code compliance, and construction consults.

Call Rates

Duration Price
6 minutes (SixFree Call) $0 (No charge)
15 minutes $20.00
30 minutes $30.00
60 minutes $50.00

Tags

Tiny House Tiny House on Wheels Tiny House Design Tiny House Construction Tiny House Plans Tiny House Planning Tiny House Community Development Movable Tiny House Tiny House Trailers Tiny House Shells DIY Professional GoTiny!

Biography

Thom Stanton

Designer, Builder, Educator, Consultant

Thom Stanton, is a long-time advocate of “legitimizing and legalizing” movable tiny houses as code compliant dwellings and permissible full-time residences. 

A small space visionary, 11th generation builder, and tiny house how-to educator, Thom and his wife Midge live on the road as “full-timers” helping DIY builders plan and prepare to "go tiny." To help further formalize the tiny house industry and foster its intentional growth, the Stantons support DIY and professional tiny house construction companies with tiny home planning and consulting services. They also work with state housing and community development administrators, municipal zoning and building officials, and local advocacy and planning groups to help expand access to affordable housing through tiny houses and tiny house communities.


Thom brings a humorous, energetic, and enabling open-source approach to his speaking engagements, builder coaching sessions, and 1-on-1 planning consultations, working hard to provide insightful how-to information that enables practical can-do decision-making.

Thom and Midge's company, Go Tiny, offers Purpose-Built Tiny House Trailers, Finish-Ready Tiny House Shells, and a unique DIY Assist program to help you "future proof" your tiny house for use as your Permanent Residence, Accessory Dwelling Unit, or Portable Dwelling Unit.

Thom is eager to share his knowledge, experience, and options to help you Go Tiny!

Get the answers you need... schedule your session today.

Live Large -- Go Tiny!

Thom Stanton, Tiny House Designer and Go Tiny Consultant

Thom Stanton

Co-Founder/Chief Executive
Timber Trails LLC & GoTiny!

Deputy Director
Housing Development Institute

State Chapter Leader (Alabama)
American Tiny House Association

Email: GoTiny.com@gmail.com

Tel:     804.714.6247

Experience

Co-Founder/President

Timber Trails LLC
January 2013 - present

Timber Trails offers custom design & planning services focused on cabins, cottages, and tiny houses.

Co-Founder/President

GoTiny.com
January 2017 - present

GoTiny resources include Purpose-Built Tiny House Trailers, Finish-Ready Tiny House Shells, and a unique DIY Assist program to expand the availablity of "safe, effiient, and affordable housing" for DIY builders, tiny house professionals, and community developers. 

Deputy Director

Housing Development Institute
October 2016 - present

An arm of the Ashland Housing Authority's non-profit, HDI was founded with a goal of "Enabling a Workforce to Build Community" through job skills training, code-compliant tiny house construction, community housing development, and advocacy efforts for the development and adoption of an industry-wide uniform building code for DIY- and Pro-Built tiny house construction activities. 

Is there any way to get a DIY Tiny Home Certified to be able to park it in RV parks?

I am struggling to find any information on how to build a tiny home myself and get it certified. I love the idea of building myself because it will be exactly what I want and I will be in control of the budget. It seems like tiny houses began as a way to own a home outright, but now its this huge money maker for builders who charge crazy amounts. 

6/8/2018 5:06:14 PM,
Thom Stanton replied:

Great question that will require a bit of a detailed response as this is essentially the crux of our current shift from a grassroots movement into a bona fide industry.

The recreational vehicle industry provides certification of their units through facility inspections provided by the industry Association, RVIA. Unlike residential construction, for which an independen on like residential construction, for which each dwelling unit must submit plans, receive authorization to proceed along a schedule of inspections that follow the "permit process, and "recreational vehicles are most typically produced in a factory environment. As such it makes the most sense for inspection agencies like Pacific West Associates to review each facility for their adherence to industry standards for quality assurance and construction compliance.

The tiny house industry has some early adopters in the inspection realm, including Bildsworth and Pacific West tiny homes. As for a few others, both of these firms provide an inspection process of that reviews compliance through a series of stages on an individual unit. Both firms are DIY friendly, and the cost for the inspections is reasonable, Especially when you consider how the inspection of your tiny house will help "future proof" what you construct on your own.

Your question involved RV parks, which exercise a degree of autonomy within their own industry, which is related to RV manufacturing, but is yet to have been independent. There are several large groups that manage RV parks, and pass down some of their own standards. As such, a tiny house may have no issue parking in the large majority of RV parks throughout the US. That said, it will be both frustrating and a bit embarrassing to be told you cannot park your tiny house alongside RVs.

This is a new industry born from a movement that stemmed from needs that are not being met by existing industries. While we may be enthusiastic, and completely believe in the quality of our product, it takes more than good faith for finance companies and insurance companies to underwrite A new product, especially one that wasn't built by a licensed and/or otherwise credentialed contractor.

In summary, if you plan to ever use your tiny house as a permissible dwelling unit, it may be wise to forgo the wheels and move to a foundation from the get go. If you are set on building a movable tiny house, please give heavy consideration to working with a professional inspection company.

When the day comes where more municipalities allow tiny houses as permissible residential structures, many DIYers, and those who have bought tiny homes from professionals will want to seek admittance into these new tiny house focused communities. While there may be a degree of "grandfathering" allowed by some, most code enforcement officials are going to require some proof of compliance.

Having your tiny house inspected during construction — from the trailer through framing, into integration from trades, and ultimately finishing — appears to be the best way to future proof your DIY based tiny house as having proven conformance to establish construction codes.

If you have additional questions, or wish to request more specific information, please feel free to give me a call.

Wishing you all the best.

GoTiny! - Thom

What are good transportation options for a Tiny House?

I don't want to buy my own truck to haul my TH infrequently. Are there companies that can move it for me? 

9/27/2017 6:58:54 PM,
Thom Stanton replied:

Portability of a Movable Tiny House (MTH), Tiny House on Wheelsl (THOW), is one of the greatest attractors to the concept of a Portable Dwelling Unit (PDU). Transportation options vary based on a few key details of a specific unit.

Know Your Home - Here are the basics to consider when designing your tiny house. 

  • Width - If your Movable Tiny House is less than 8'-6" in width in "travel mode," you shouldn't need a Wide Load Permit. Remember, this measure is from the greatest distance measured from outside-to-outside of your home. In most cases, this will be the drip edges on the long edge of your roofing, though other items may protrude (like exterior lighting), so be sure to measure items at the outer most extreme. When designing a tiny house, all aspects of a home's finished construction should be considered and addressed early. 
  • Height - A unit that is less than 13'-6" in height usually won't require an Oversized Load Permit. Oversized in this case could simply be called "too tall," and that's not a good thing. Here too address your height early in the design phase to ensure the upper most elements of your home -- ridge cap, vent pipes, stove pipes -- are below this upper most limit. 
  • Length - For this metric, the overall length of your tiny house is a contributor to its weight, and therefore has some impact on your towing. The longer your tiny house the more important it is to appropriately size your "power unit." Size in this scenario is both the power unit's towing strength, bulk compared to the house, and wheelbase. A longer and heavier power unit is less likely to become jack-knifed by a long heavy house. 
  • Weight - In the US, weight isn't currently an issue. During design be certain to give careful consideration to your overall weight, as well as the distribution of weight. Purchase a purpose-built tiny house trailer with axles matching your anticipated Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio (GVWR), which is the total weight of your trailer, finished home, all appliances, and other cargo you anticipate towing with your tiny house. When in doubt, always "round" your anticipated weight. 
  • Axles - The total weight of your tiny house will often dictate varying types of wheel/axle assemblies you could consider for your house. Of course, you'll want more capacity of your total GVWR than your anticipated weight. Adding more wheel/axle assemblies has tradeoffs such as a more distributed load (a good thing) balanced against the extra up-front cost of adding extra equipment and long-term maintenance (most notably tire and brake replacement). 
  • Braking - Having brakes on your tiny house trailer is critical. Your house is heavy and should be able to slow itself during braking. Most trailers with less than 10,000 GVWR may only have on braking axle; adding a second braking axle to your tiny house trailer may add more up front cost, but you'll be glad you have the extra stopping power when you need it. If you step up to a 14,000 GVWR trailer or more, consider having your metal fabrication team use brake axles for all wheel/axle assemblies. 

Do-It-Yourself or Go Pro - Now let's talk about types of tiny house transportation. 

  • Roll Your Own - Towing your own tiny house is a great way to handle tiny house transportation. You won't typically need special permits if: A) your tiny house trailer is legally licensed and B) is less than 8'-6" and 13'-6" in travel mode. An Oversized Load where height is exceeded my require an excort vehicle (AKA: Pole Car). While you may "pull permits" on your own, some conditions may require your driver to have a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). 
  • Pro-Towing - This is great option if you are unfamiliar with trailer towing, especially a large, bulky, hard-to-stop towed vehicle (like a tiny house on wheels). Professional transportation companies handle all the details for you. They are likely to ask questions related to the items outlined above (especially height, width, length, and weight). 

Size Matters - Let's take a look at vehicles typically considered for tiny house transportation.

  • Passenger Car - May be used to pull light loads including pop-up campers, teardrop trailers, and other small campers. 
  • Van/SUV - Same as above though may have greater towing capacity. These are a great option for vardos and other small campers, but not likely a tiny house. Some SUVs may have greater towing capacity than they can reasonably stop; this is espcially true of shorter SUVs (e.g. Jeep or Toyota FJ) where the short wheel base makes it easy to become jack-knifed by a load it cannot appropriately stop. 
  • 1/2 Ton Truck - Same as above, though may have the capacity to pull slightly larger campers and a very small tiny house like a 12' of less than 5,000 GVWR. Examples of 1/4 ton trucks are the Ford F-150 and 1500 series trucks from Dodge, Chevy, and GMC.
  • 3/4 Ton Truck - A larger towing capacity is generally the hallmark of the Ford F-250 and 2500 series trucks from other US manufacturers. You may be able to pull a small to medium sized tiny house (12'-18' with 5,000 - 7,500 GVWR) with a 1/2 ton truck.
  • 1 Ton Truck - These are your best bet for towing your own tiny house. Vehicles in this class are readily available in the aftermarket as a Ford F-350 and 3500 series from other manufacturers are used as light duty commercial vehicles. 

Fuel Type - Hands down, when towing diesel power wins over gasoline engines. 

2WD vs 4WD - 4 wheel drive isn't an imperative part of the recipe for towing your tiny house. That said, if you ever need 4 wheel drive, you'll wish you had it. If you don't have 4-wheel drive, consider beefing up your tires so you have some grip on roadways where you might need some extra traction, like gravel driveways and grass covered camp sites.

Tire Choice - Blowouts are the bane of trailer towing. The heavier your load, the hotter your tires will become during travel. Your purpose built tiny house trailer should come with new mult-ply tires made for utility trailers. For your truck, check out a commerical quality 10-ply tire like the Michelin LTX or other quality brands. 

Which One's the Best? - Opinions on the best tow vehicle vary. Check discussion boards for opinions on the best make, vehicle year, engine type/size, and transmission type/gearing. RV discussion forums include lots of great details (and back-n-forth banter) on what's the best. See what folks are using for big RVs as the principle's the same.

Double-Check Specs - Of course, check the owner's manual of your vehice or any you consider buying for stock specs. 

Extra Equipment - If you're planning to tow a lot, there are lots of things you can do to protect your investment in tow vehicle and a portable home. Where a house hates water, heat is generally your truck's worst enemy. Start with a tuner so you can "drive by the numbers." You might also add oil and/or transmission coolers, which are like little radiators to help keep things cool. 

When it comes down to it, there isn't one right answer, but hopefully the above will help you start making selections to meet your needs. For our part, we have a 10 year old Ford F-350 long bed with a crew cab, 6.4L diesel, and bomb proof transmission. We have a tuner on the dash, and when things go from green to yellow, we simply slow down to keep things cool. Below the minimum speed, we'll kick on the flashers and drive with the trucks in the right lane.

Got more questions or want to discuss your needs? Just give me a call. 

Live Large -- Go Tiny!

Thom Stanton
GoTiny | Timber Trails | Housing Development Institute

9/27/2017 7:16:21 PM,
Thom Stanton replied:

With regard to the second part of your question (are there companies that can move it for me)...

Yes - There are companies that will move your tiny house for you. Search for keywords "tiny house transporter" and "RV relocation" and you should find several companies you can call. 

Professionals will often have a Commerical Driver's License (CDL) and may also be registered with the US DOT. If your tiny house is taller than 13'-6" or wider than 8'-6" in travel mode, be sure the company can pull Oversized Load and/or Wide Load permits. Check to see that they carry insurance that will cover your tiny house from accidents.

Hope all the details help. Glad to provide a few more direct transportation options via phone.

Live Large -- Go Tiny!

Thom Stanton
GoTiny | Timber Trails | Housing Development Institute