Tiny Home Resources

Behind the Scenes of Tiny Home Shipping: A Conversation with Taylor Tefft from One Call Logistics

Written by:

Wind River

March 17, 2024

Back to all Blog Posts.

In this interview we delve into the world of tiny home shipping with Taylor Tefft from One Call Logistics, a renowned nationwide transport company. With their expertise in transporting tiny homes all across the country, One Call has become a go-to choice for many homeowners. We’ll be exploring the intricacies of tiny home shipping and discussing the factors to consider when choosing a shipper.

Q:

We are here today talking about tiny home shipping. Taylor is with One Call Logistics, a nationwide transport company based out of Florida. One Call has taken probably dozens of our homes all across the country, so we’re going to take a moment today and go through a few questions about tiny home shipping. Tell us a bit about One Call Logistics.

A:

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me Amelia, I appreciate it. We specialize in tiny house transport all over the nation. We have a large carrier base, and have networked and built strong relationships with tiny house builders all across the country, including Wind River. I personally enjoy helping customers get their tiny homes delivered, and I really like the tiny house living and tiny house community. I actually just recently purchased a tiny house for my mom to live in, too. So, it’s always cool actually getting to do it yourself, and actually having a delivery come to your property too.

Q:

Having a tiny home shipped is a special process, and we want to talk about all the things that go into it. It’s more complicated than just a simple transaction or simple scheduling, so we’re going to start from the top here. What kinds of things should someone look for in a shipper?

A:

One of the first questions I would ask a shipper if you’re shopping around doing some online research, is if they’ve ever moved a tiny house before. Tiny homes aren’t like RV’s, like a lot of people may think, and they have totally different aerodynamics, so I think that’s one of the most important questions to ask. Another question is are they a broker or are they a carrier or are they both. I like to tell everyone about One Call. One Call is both a broker and a carrier, so we can do both sides, which I feel is extremely important. Another thing is to ask the experience that they have in the industry. Like I said, tiny homes are extremely different from most other shipping categories, so that’s one of the most important parts.

Q:

One of the main things we look for when we’re vetting the logistics companies that we partner with is talking about insurance. There’s different levels of cargo insurance, and the tiny home is considered cargo when it’s in transit. It’s really common for someone to just have a blanket insurance of $100,000.

A:

Correct.

Q:

With the current state of the construction industry, it’s actually getting pretty rare that we ship homes that are less than $100,000, so we’re actually starting to look for certificates of insurance that have more like $250,000 to safely cover replacement costs, really making sure that someone’s home is covered while it’s in transport.

A:

That’s extremely important as well. You’re correct, most carriers’ insurance starts at $100,000. One thing that we and a lot of other carriers do is we’ll keep it at $100,000, and then once we know we have an upcoming tiny house for you or another company we increase it to make sure it’s covering that value of the house. Because like you said, we haven’t been moving many tiny homes under that $100,000 mark. Most of the time they’re closer to $200,000, so having the right insurance is critical. When you’re hauling an expensive tiny home that you just purchased, it’s a big investment, you want to make sure it’s covered throughout transport, absolutely.

Q:

What are some of the factors that come into play when you’re quoting a route for a tiny home. What kinds of things can affect the cost for someone?

A:

This list is ongoing. There are so many things that come up. The first thing is the size of the tiny home. Is it a wide load or is it a standard 8.5’ wide tiny home. Is it tall? Is it over 14’ tall? Where is it going? Is it going up into Maine or is it going over into the Colorado badlands in February, full of snow, up a steep mountain. There’s so many things to look for when it comes down to getting a quote for a tiny house. I also always typically ask the value of the home. Most of the time we take all of those factors into consideration when sending out a quote. But, basically it’s going to be the weather, the size, and the value. Another thing I always ask is who built the tiny home. Because we have backyard builders and there’s nothing wrong with backyard builders, but if I see a tiny house that comes from a company like yours versus a tiny home that may be built on an old trailer, the quotes are going to align differently.

Q:

What you say about the location matters. When you are quoting for a destination, if it’s oversized, you have to take specific routes that the Department of Transportation from each state gives you. So, depending on someone’s location, you might have to quote a route that’s going the long way around during a certain time of the year if roads are closed for the winter. Another thing with oversized transport – if it’s over 8.5’ wide or it’s over 13.5’ tall, it’s oversized – those loads can only move during daylight hours. It’s very common for those transports to take longer, especially in the winter when the days are shorter. That’s something that someone who’s not in the transport industry or isn’t around it wouldn’t typically realize comes into play when shipping their tiny home.

A:

Right, exactly — the permitting process and ensuring you’re on the right route, especially for wide loads. If you’re moving a tiny house up into the mountains and it’s a wide load, it may only seem like it’s twelve hundred miles, and it should only take a day, but typically with the route the Department of Transportation provides, the load would take two to three days to deliver. We have to abide by the route the Department of Transportation provides because it’s the route they designate the safest for the transport.

Q:

Something that people ask all the time is if the driver is going to set the home up on site. So we want to talk to our customers and define what a professional driver does and where their duties end. Can you walk us through that?

A:

Every company is different. When the customer comes to us and they need a quote, we give them the quote and that’s going to be us planning the route for transport along with scheduling a roundabout time for pick up—like a day—and then an estimated date for arrival. I like to say “estimated” because obviously we know things come up. We can give prep expectations, so for a lot of builders you guys already know how to prep your tiny houses because you’ve been doing it for a long time. For other customers, they may not know, so we’ll give them a prep checklist on how to ensure the tiny house is ready for transport. Then we communicate the overall timeline with the customer on how everything’s going to go throughout the transport and then obviously the delivery date is so important. That’s where it comes down to expectations on how and where the customer wants the home placed. This is a big deal because a lot of customers have these precarious locations where they want the house placed, which I totally understand. Our duty is to get it to the safest spot closest to your chosen spot as possible. As far as the setup process, every transport company is different, we typically will put the house in the spot you choose or as close as possible. We don’t do a full level service. A lot of customers want these units actually jacked up with blocks under all four corners, up at the tongue, and even in the side components on each side in between the jacks just to ensure it’s leveled, which is no problem. But, that’s not something we include in the transport costs, that is actually additional labor for the driver to do, and typically that’s something we would charge extra for. We don’t hook up any plumbing or electrical lines or anything like that—that’s more of a liability. We recommend finding an actual licensed and insured plumber and electrician to do any of that.

Q:

I think it’s important for customers to realize they’re professional drivers and that’s what they’re good at. Granted, some of the drivers are pretty handy and they could probably set the home, and sometimes they’ll offer those additional services, but that’s not under their responsibilities for transport. If they’re not moving or driving then they’re not making money. They’ll get the home as close as they can to the spot that’s desired, but like you said, tiny homes often go hand-in-hand with remote locations and mountainous roads with crazy switchbacks. It has happened with our homes, and I’m sure it will keep happening, that a customer’s placement requires bringing in other heavy machinery like a skid steer to get the tiny home in place depending on the land.

A:

I would recommend getting in touch with us or getting in touch with the company they’re thinking of going with for transport. Most of the time if you’re dealing with a licensed and insured professional transport company to ship your house they’re going to be able to tell you if it can get to that location, and most of the time it can. Basically, you should be able to give them the address or coordinates. We use technology just like everyone else. We use Google Maps and a few different sites to zoom in and look at the navigation. If it’s really tough, and Google Maps isn’t giving us much or it’s not cleared out yet, we’ll ask the customer to send us a video. If they’re on a roadway that leads up a mountain, we’ll ask them to start the video at the roadway all the way up to the property so we know exactly what the terrain looks like so we can get an idea of what it’s going to take to get there. That usually helps out a lot. Technology is your friend these days and if you can use your camera to show us it really helps. I’ve even done FaceTime with customers who were unable to send long videos to show me exactly what the terrain looked like so we could get it figured out for them.

Q:

Sometimes, even if they do all that—the route is fine and you guys have a plan—there can be external factors that impact the move on shipping day. The weather is a big factor. If it has been raining for four or five days and the ground is super soft, even if it’s a navigable route, now the ground is too soft for the home to go through there. Because we’re talking about fifteen, twenty, twenty-five thousand pound tiny homes dragging through the mud. In cases like that, let us know what the conditions look like. Let’s reschedule if we need to, otherwise they may not be able to get it there and you’ll have extra costs for heavy machinery. It’s just good to be aware of all of those things.

We talked a bit about customers we’ve had in the past who have had to get some extra help to get their home to the place they want it. How often do you feel like that happens with tiny homes?

A:

I would say about fifteen to twenty percent. It’s not excessively happening, but we do have one offs where we can’t get it there. We will then recommend a crane to come in. Unfortunately, it’s expensive, but we would rather recommend this crane that can physically lift it up from the bottom with its full frame and set it down into the spot rather than try to weave it in and out of mountain passes and things like that where we can’t squeeze it in. There have been a lot of different things that have come up, whether it’s mountains or fences. Customers don’t want to take nice vinyl fences down. Maneuverability! A lot of people like to put these tiny homes in backyards, and they’ll give us instructions, which is why I say it’s so important to get us videos to see what it looks like, because customers will send me instructions and show me everything and when the driver gets there, we have a septic tank in the way, along with a tree, which we couldn’t see in the video. Then I have to communicate with the driver that we didn’t know there was a septic tank there, and there’s no way to get it there. It’s unfortunate, but we have to put it somewhere safe until they can figure out how to get it into the spot they want.

Q:

I’ve been slowly compiling photos from our customers who have had to have heavy machinery come in to show people what that looks like. What can people do to prepare for delivery on their end? A couple of things we tell our clients is to make sure limbs are trimmed. It’s a public service if you call and ask for trees to be trimmed on the road leading up to their driveway. Most of the time they’ll do that for free. I call here locally and have our trees trimmed on the state and county roads when we’re shipping homes in the summer when limbs are growing a lot. Then we tell them to make sure their driveway is graded appropriately. What are some other things people can do proactively to prepare for the shipment?

A:

So you hit the nail right on the head. The trees are the most important part, which is what we see most often. Those low lying tree branches that you think are super small that look like they’re not going to do much may look like just leaves, but they’re normally not just leaves and can scrape up the sides of the tiny homes pretty badly. They can even put some dents in the roofing if you’re not careful. Another thing is if you’re not using gravel or if the gravel you’re using has been sitting a while and it’s raining, soft sand is a huge thing. Here in Florida we have a lot of tiny home communities where it’s grassy and gets muddy when it rains. If it’s raining hard and you know you’re in a grassy area, we should probably postpone the delivery until the sun is shining and we can get it through without creating a mud bath all over the back of the tiny house, because that’s what happens when you start to sink and you have a twenty thousand pound tiny house behind you. Soft sand too! It’s not throwing mud all over the tiny house, but basically you’re just sinking completely into the sand.

Q:

We’ve talked a lot about the need for flexibility during the process, things that impact the timing, route considerations, and those are all really important. The culmination of those things is why we caution our customers against scheduling any onsite contractors like your plumber or your electrician around a hard delivery date because we do see those dates move relatively frequently. We don’t want our customers to lose any money scheduling contractors. We advise them to wait until the home gets there and then take care of it. At most it’s a couple days or a week or so until someone comes and gets you hooked up. Why not be cautious and wait? Most of the time things go off without a hitch, and the home gets there on time, but we don’t like to have people banking on that. Would you agree?

A:

Yes, I try to give an estimated delivery window. We have a lot of customers who are super excited! They just bought this beautiful new tiny house and they want it delivered and to use it the day it gets there, but we never know what’s going to come up on the roads. Whether it’s bad weather or a permit not coming through for the oversize load. For example, the permit may come through for the state of Tennessee with no problem, and then the next state over doesn’t get approved. Then we have to stop at the state line. Those are a couple of things that can happen and the driver has to stop and it’s going to postpone your delivery by at least a few hours, if not a day. So don’t schedule contractors until the tiny house gets delivered. Like you said, you don’t want to pay a deposit for a contractor to set up your plumbing, and the tiny house is late. I recommend just waiting until it gets there to ensure the tiny house is delivered. You just really never know what’s going to come up on the road.

Another big thing people don’t think about is traffic, especially when you’re going across the country, and you’re hitting traffic in every state. There’s always going to be five o’clock traffic and morning traffic from people going to work. It may not seem like it’s a lot, but when you’re going through multiple states it adds up, and always adds time to that running clock for your expected delivery window.

Q:

Because of heavy traffic, the Department of Transportation will actually prohibit oversized loads during certain hours, as well. Another thing I don’t think people think about is how common it is to blow tires. The likelihood of that happening increases with the distance, and also the number of axles. For example, we sent a quad axle home from here in Tennessee to San Diego, and we blew two tires along the way. That’s just the nature of pulling in and out of gas stations—turning the truck and dragging those tires. It has nothing to do with the driver or the integrity of the tires. That’s something you’ll want to budget for.

A:

We actually see that a lot. Most customers do ask, “Well this is a brand new trailer, why did it blow a tire?” It’s a difficult question to be asked and answered, but basically the driver could run over a nail on the road, or just from pulling in and out of gas stations, there’s all sorts of things that can come up. You will always have the chance for a tire blowout, even on a short one hundred and fifty mile haul. It may seem like it’s an easy twenty to thirty minute fix, but usually that’s not the case. Tire blowouts typically take a few hours to fix because the driver has to jack the home up and make sure the new tire is put on properly. There’s a lot of moving parts that go into it that’s for sure.

Q:

The permits you mentioned a little bit ago are also out of the customers control. You can put in and request your permits for an oversized transport, but sometimes those departments get really backed up. It used to be that you could rely on them to turn the permits around in a couple of hours, but that’s not the case anymore. It’s not the shippers fault, but it does happen.

A:

It does. Permits can also expire, too. If there’s ever a delay and we already pre-ordered your permits, then we have to put in a request to get new permits since your old permits may have expired. Each state is different. So, there’s a lot of moving parts that we have to stay on top of to ensure things go smoothly.

Q:

Just to clarify for people listening, the oversized permits only apply to loads that are wider than eight and a half feet and loads that are over thirteen and half feet tall. And you’ll need one oversize permit per state that you’re traveling through.

A:

Exactly. If you choose a transport company who specializes in doing this, they will be able to ensure your permits are in-line and ordered ahead of time so you won’t have to worry about planning the permits. It’s super simple if you work with a professional transport company who has done it before. You won’t have to do anything extra, they’ll take care of everything for you. It’s not as hard as it sounds to put in for the permits, it’s just making sure they all get approved and in-hand before the home ships.

Q:

This all great and helpful information for people to understand all of the complexity that goes into shipping a tiny house. With all of this said, I think we can agree that our number one concern while shipping a tiny home is safety throughout the whole process. We spent weeks building the tiny home by hand, and now we’re ready to ship it to a customer who is very excited to receive their home, and we want that to be a really memorable and happy moment! That requires a bit of patience and flexibility from the customer. We want you to have your home in pristine condition and it’s valuable to understand everything that goes into making that happen. Can you think of anything we’re missing or anything else we should cover?

A:

I think it’s really important to do your research and choose the right logistics company. I know you guys work with a few different transport companies and using a referral is always great, as people don’t recommend a company that isn’t good. Check the reviews and make sure you know who you’re working with. I always tell our customers that the cheapest quote isn’t always the best quote. I know your customers understand that because they’re not purchasing the cheapest tiny home. They chose Wind River because of the quality of your homes and the way they’re built. Just make sure you’re choosing the right transport company that’s going to care and treat your tiny home as if it was their own.

Q:

Great point. That’s exactly what we look for when we’re vetting shippers. We have lengthy conversations with transport companies in the beginning and tell them we value our customers more than anything. Transport is often the last point of contact for us. We’ve spent months fostering a relationship with someone and built this home to their exact specifications, and now the last part of the journey is to hand it off to a third party logistics partner for the moment the customer sees their home. It’s very important that our customers have the best experience possible. This is why we only work with a handful of logistics providers and One Call has been on that list the longest.

One last question: Can you share with us one crazy delivery story? One that encapsulates everything we’ve talked about today?

A:

Yes, I have a lot of crazy delivery stories and I can share one with you. We moved a lot of homes for reputable tiny house builders and we had this one that was shipping out of Pennsylvania. It was a large home on a triple axle trailer and it was going three thousand miles across the country to Washington state, but it was actually going to Orcas’ Island. So, to get there you have to jump on a ferry in Seattle and take the ferry over to Orcas’ Island. The customer was very nice, but they were really pushy about getting the tiny house delivered. They didn’t understand that the truck had to go up I-80 through Wyoming, and it wasn’t the best time of year, so we were delayed. But we would rather get it there late than try to rush through icy roads in the middle of winter. The truck arrived in Washington and was just about to board the ferry when the ferry administration wouldn’t let the truck board because something happened with the paperwork. When you’re a commercial vehicle you have to schedule your booking in advance, but like I mentioned earlier, things come up and you don’t always make it there on time, which is the reason why we don’t like to book things in advance, we’ll instead wait until we get there. So the driver had to end up waiting until the next morning to board the ferry and everything was going smoothly. They made it off the ferry and were close to the final destination, and the customer was very excited, but it was a new address at a new location on the island where we couldn’t find anything on Google Maps, just like I had talked about earlier. In the video I received from the customer I couldn’t see there was a steep grade with gravel, and the home was a heavy-duty tiny house. The driver had a big, four-wheel drive dually, and had no issues pulling the house, but the driver had to try to pull the house up a steep incline and it didn’t make it and started rolling backwards. Thankfully, nothing happened to the house, but we had to figure out how to get the truck and house up this mountain. It took hours to figure something out. The site we were delivering to was still under construction and had a large excavator on the property. We ended up having to get the excavator operator to come out to the site. He hooked up a large chain to the excavator and connected it to the truck and tiny house and pulled both up the mountain to park the tiny house. The driver said it was the craziest thing he’s ever had to do.

Q:

That’s so crazy. That scenario is obviously an outlier, so most people’s situations won’t be like that. It’s good to inform yourself about these things, though. The more someone knows about what goes into shipping their tiny home the better.

This is meant to be a resource for not only our customers, but anyone who is thinking about a tiny home or who already lives in one. Tiny homes are heavy! They’re not like standard RVs, which are lightweight. These are wood-framed construction, and not meant to be moved frequently, so when you do move them you want a professional doing it. It’s very rare for us to have a customer moving their own home, and I don’t think we’ve ever had a customer move their own oversized home because it also requires a CDL license and permitting. We highly recommend using a professional transport company that knows what they’re doing. One Call knows what they’re doing, and we’ve used you guys so many times and I want to say thank you for shipping our homes all over the country and thank you for providing this resource for us.

A:

Yeah absolutely, I really appreciate it! Thanks for having me and if you or any of your customers or anyone watching this has any questions about tiny home shipping, feel free to reach out to us. We would rather you ask as many questions as possible and get the details so we can help you out in the best way we can. Thanks and have a great day.

Thank you, Taylor, for sharing your insights on tiny home shipping and the valuable services provided by One Call Logistics. It’s evident that the transportation of these unique homes requires specialized knowledge and attention to detail. From assessing the right shipper to understanding insurance coverage, route planning, and the setup process, your expertise has shed light on various aspects of the shipping journey. We appreciate your time and expertise in helping us navigate the world of tiny home transportation.

Share This Post.

Previous Post

next post

Check Out Similar Pieces.

Looking to read more articles like the one above? Follow the links below to peruse similar content now.

Tiny Home Resources

March 17, 2024

How Much Space in Your Home is Wasted?

read post

Tiny Home Resources

March 17, 2024

How much should my tiny home cost?

read post

Tiny Home Resources

March 17, 2024

Setting Up Your Tiny Home – Blocking, Anchoring, and Skirting

read post