My Trailer Is Ordered!

My excitement, however, is dampened by the extra $800 I’ll be paying.

Here’s my trailer ordering story:

After finally finding a trailer company nearby that has made tiny houses , I contacted them (last May) to see if they could do everything I wanted and at what cost. The owner, Randy, estimated $5400 plus tax, plus a little more if the cost of materials went up. I budgeted for about $6200 and crossed my fingers that materials wouldn’t go up.

Then, this January, I went into the RMV to ask some questions about trailers. I wanted everything to be as legal as possible. Since tiny houses aren’t something they deal with everyday, they told me that it wasn’t their department and gave me a phone number. After getting transferred several times and given a bunch of different phone numbers, I ended up talking to Nova Scotia’s structural consultant, David, who is an engineer in New Brunswick. He was familiar with tiny houses and suggested two main things: that my trailer be made with tubing instead of channel, and that I build with 2×4’s or even 2×3’s to keep the weight down. He also knows Randy and has worked with him before, so David told me to have Randy contact him when I was ordering my trailer. I was reluctant to involve a third person who could potentially talk to Randy and change my design without my knowledge.

Fast forward to this month. A couple of weeks ago I emailed Randy with my trailer specs and mentioned that David had said to contact him. I received a forwarded email back with some questions. I replied, answering the questions as best I could. That all happened within two days. Then, after a week with no response, I sent another email asking if my previous email had been received. I got an immediate response from Randy requesting my phone number. He called and told me that he had been waiting to hear from David about his consulting, which costs $175 per hour. I had (naively) assumed that David would just have a quick chat with Randy to say, hey, I’ve seen this type of project before, it’s best to use tubing, buhbye. I told Randy firmly that I was not going to pay David for consulting; David had never discussed any costs with me and I had not been in touch with him in months. Randy was to go ahead with the trailer.

The next day, Friday, the phone rang minutes before I was about to leave for work. I recognized the number as Randy and answered; he was supposed to contact me with a quote. Materials had gone up, he told me, and gave me a price. He told me that he had been in contact with David that morning, and that the consulting fee was included in the price of the trailer. I asked exactly how much David’s part was: $300-$400. I asked Randy to send me the payment details in an email because I had to go. Randy asked if the trailer was a go, and since I still wanted it and there’s no where else for me to get the trailer I need, I told him to go ahead with it.

I raced out the door to drive to work, and on the way berated myself for okaying the price with David’s consulting. I didn’t want David’s consulting, I had said that very clearly. I was angry and stressed until it was time to go home and fix my mistake. I was hopeful to get out of the consulting that I had not wanted but had technically agreed to in my rush to get off the phone. I wanted to save myself the week’s pay for two hours of the engineer’s time who had tricked me into paying for his services. I had told Randy that I didn’t want to pay for consulting and the very next morning he spoke to David and arranged for consulting!

When I called Randy, he told me that it was too late. As soon as he got off the phone with me he sent his sketches to David, who sent them back with a few minor changes and a bill. Since David knew about my trailer and what I planned to put on top of it, Randy told me he couldn’t make the trailer without his okay. Oh, and by the way, my trailer will be channel, not tubing as David suggested, because tubing, especially in the Maritimes, rusts from the inside out. Randy has made at least 20 other trailers for tiny houses, but because I went and tried to do the right thing, because I tried to ask permission, I had to pay for someone else to okay my trailer.

In the long run, I’m sure it will be worth it to be able to say to anyone who comes asking, “My trailer has been approved, for the purpose of putting a house on top of it, by an engineer,” but for right now, it sucks. The material price increase cost me another $400, so in total, with the 15% tax, my trailer will cost about $7000. Not only is it the most expensive purchase of my life so far, it’s also the most expensive 23 foot tiny house trailer I’ve ever heard of.

My next big challenge: when and how I’m picking up this trailer.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tinyportland
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 13:22:45

    Very excited for you! We just started building on our custom trailer. It cost us $7200 USD and they had to take it back after delivery to correct some errors. But…we are super happy with the end result. Once your trailer arrives, you will know your project is real!


  2. Trackback: Shell Budget: Trailer/Floor | Lovely Little Dream

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"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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