Why is the Unified Construction Method® necessary?

A safety standard for tiny house vehicles.

A tiny houses on wheels is both a vehicle and a building.

Tiny houses that are built on trailers are vehicles. Even though they are not motorised, they are vehicles, which means they need to be built to withstand the physical forces that they encounter during transportation. 

Many tiny house builders design and build their tiny house vehicles the same way that they build houses on solid foundations. They have not thought about the significant road vibrations or wind-forces that the house will be subjected to or how to keep the whole structure together in the face of these forces.

The Unified Construction Method® is the only tiny house vehicle building method that considers these forces. The Unified Construction Method® considers every connection point in the construction of the house and it uses building materials and fastenings to create a solid, unified whole that is vibration resilient and super strong and will last the long life of the tiny house vehicle.

Safety

Tiny house vehicles are subjected to incredible forces during transport that conventional houses are not. 

Wind-force: On the road, tiny house vehicles may have to withstand hurricane winds above 90km per hour, known as ‘storm-force’ winds that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology states is ‘seldom experienced inland’ and from which we can expect ‘trees uprooted; considerable structural damage’. This is because conventional houses built on foundations are not built to withstand this kind of wind force. So conventional building standards cannot be relied upon to build safe tiny house vehicles.

Vibration: Tiny house vehicles also have to withstand long-lasting vibrations that stress every connection point in the whole structure. Think of the road vibration as being like that in an earthquake. But earthquakes only last for about a minute. Tiny house vehicles have to withstand earthquake conditions for hours and hours across their lifetime.

The Unified Construction Method® was developed to create the strongest possible tiny house vehicle, protecting it against the significant transportation forces and making the structure lightweight and liveable year-round. It is also a method that is build-able by DIY builders as well as professionals and uses readily available building materials in unconventional ways.

Consequences of using inadequate building methods

There are several layers of consequences for using inadequate building methods when building tiny house vehicles.

For the tiny house owner: You don’t want your tiny house to break or endure any damage during transportation. It would be such a shame to see all the hard work, time and money you put into your beloved tiny house to be ruined or damaged during transport. Just imagine the cracked facades or leaks because of road vibration that your tiny house couldn’t withstand. You don’t want the disappointment, expense or embarrassment of having a tiny house vehicle that’s not built for purpose.

For fellow travellers on the road: No-one wants to cause a road accident. Unfortunately, if inadequate building methods are used to build tiny house vehicles, parts of the tiny house may break or come loose during transport and cause major road accidents.

For the whole tiny house movement: A road accident involving a tiny house vehicle will be cause for a lot of negative attention in the media. Worse yet would be a road accident caused by a problem with a tiny house vehicle. That kind of front-page news would spur regulators to crack down on the tiny house movement and implement any number of rules or regulations that could threaten the tiny house movement from growing or from tiny houses being a viable option for most people.

Everyone who builds a tiny house vehicle carries the responsibility of the tiny house movement on their shoulders. When you build a strong, vibration resilient tiny house vehicle, you are acting responsibly on behalf of yourself, others around you and the whole tiny house community. 

Current lack of building regulation for tiny house vehicles.

At the moment there are a few regulations that determine the parameters of tiny house vehicle construction. They are:

  • VSB1 = Roadworthy guidelines for all vehicles in Australia. ie: Where the door has to be placed on a caravan.
  •  The VSB1 is underpinned by the Australian Design Rules = Set out Australian Standards for everything. ie: Minimum standards for vehicle lights to make sure it is safe on the roads.

There are NO building regulations for tiny house vehicles that cover the construction methods used.

The closest thing to a building regulation that could be applied to a tiny house vehicle is the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The BCA defines the minimum standards of building techniques to be used on buildings (think conventional buildings on foundations). But, as we said before, tiny houses are not buildings. They are vehicles. 

Since the BCA outlines standards that are designed for buildings, not for vehicles, it is not safe to rely on the BCA for building a safe tiny house vehicle. 

So how do I know if my tiny house vehicle will be safe to tow?

At the moment, tiny house vehicles are being built with a wide range of building techniques. The responsibility for determining the quality of the build rests solely on the shoulders of the consumer.

That’s right. If you buy a tiny house and it falls apart on the road, that is your responsibility. It is all up to consumer discretion because there is no regulatory body overseeing the building standards of tiny house construction.

So how do you know if your tiny house vehicle will be safe to tow? Find out how the builder is constructing it. If they are using the Unified Construction Method® and have a license to prove it, then you know that it is built strong, vibration resilient and designed to withstand the incredible forces undergone during transport.

“But I’m only going to move my tiny house once or twice…”

If you lived in an earthquake zone, you would build your house to be earthquake proof. You wouldn’t build it for completely stable conditions and think: ‘I will only experience one or two earthquakes… I’ll get away with this design.” 

Well, travelling down the road is equivalent to an earthquake for a tiny house vehicle. So it needs to be built to withstand earthquake conditions. Even if you didn’t plan on moving it ever.

This is because if a tiny house is built on wheels someone will want to move it. Whether the tiny is in your possession or after it changes hands, it is valuable when it is in the right location. And there’s no way of knowing when a poor design will come apart. So it doesn’t matter if you only move it once or never at all. If it is built on wheels, chances are someone will try to move it, and that needs to be safe as… houses.

Get the Unified Construction Method® when you order your Fred’s Tiny Houses trailer.