Road act 2

01 / 09 / 2015

The charts

I’ve been in contact with a technical consultant from A-katsastus and an inspector officer from Etelä-Savon Katsastus concerning registration of a mobile home in Finland and presented my case with the following information.

STARTING POINT OBJECTIVE MANDATORY ATTRIBUTES
A type-approved and registered 3500 kg trailer with brakes A building on the trailer with no changes made to the trailer body Electricity, pressurized water, a sink, a shower, a composting toilet, a cooker, an oven, a foldable bed, storage, furniture

I proposed four different options for the registration (a tow-able device, a recreational trailer, a trailer with a customized cargo hold and a trailer with detachable construction). Apparently the home can be registered as any of the mentioned, though the tow-able device was ruled right out since it isn’t allowed to carry any loose cargo inside when transported. I put up a chart comparing the different options.

FEATURE RECREATIONAL TRAILER A CUSTOM CARGO HOLD A DETACHABLE LOAD
Inspection interval 2 years 2 years 2 years
Change inspection or type approval Change inspection sufficient when trailer body isn't modified Change inspection sufficient when trailer body isn't modified No change inspection
Must contain Bunks, chairs, table, a cooker No restrictions
Mustn't contain No restrictions No restrictions
Installing electricity, gas and water Allowed Allowed
Taxes and insurances No taxes, traffic insurance mandatory No taxes, traffic insurance mandatory No taxes, traffic insurance mandatory
Trailer body width overflow Yes, with a solid structure Yes, with a solid structure No
Additional information - - Load must be detached for inspections, no fixed installations

Confusion and conclusion

I’m totally blown away of how easy the bureaucratic process will be. The regulations concerning adding parts to a trailer seem non-existent. Before I contacted any authorities, I read online topics regarding building your own recreational trailer and found mostly opinions stating that it’s not really worth the while. People wrote that you’d need to send it to testing for type approval and I totally bought it, which is why I approached the registration issue from an angle where I tried to avoid changing the registration (hence the detachable load). Of course if the home was simply a load on a trailer it would require some sort of declaration for insuring it, which would lead to a fight with constructing legislation. A tiny house on wheels couldn’t be counted as a legal house by no means because of it’s size, so I was prepared to declare it as a storage building or an outhouse. I’m not sure whether I’m happy or sad that it doesn’t seem necessary anymore 😀

Basically consulting professionals taught me the opposite of what I read online. If there were changes to be made to the already type approved trailers supporting structure (typically two large beams underneath it), the process would get more complex. But since I’m only going to attach a separate piece of construction on top of it, it’s not going to be a problem. The cost of the change inspection is around one hundred euros and it’s doable all around Finland.

Road_act_2-1

At this point I think the wisest choice might be registering the home as a recreational trailer. It might allow getting a proper insurance and it’s the closest definition of what the finished product will actually be. I guess that when leaving a notification or applying authorization it’s at least going to make the process more clear when I’m parking a recreational trailer instead of a huge cargo trailer with someone living inside it. And yes, that is something you need to do every time you park the trailer anywhere for a longer period of time – to notify the local Public Works Department or apply for a permit to park.

Hints aside the main issue

Both of the professionals I discussed with seemed interested what I was up to and offered some new and some already accounted advice that popped up around the subject. I was recommended that the width of the home should be 2.5 meters for convenient and safe towing instead of the legal maximum. Electricity and gas installations need to have legit audit documents. The construction needs to be straight and safe for pedestrians with no sticking sharp objects (drip edges for instance). Weight needs to be balanced above the axis and at in no circumstances should the trailer lift the vehicle.

I was very pleased to be met with an open and interested reception for my project. I’ve witnessed many cases in which the law and regulations allow an event taking place but the authorities respond negatively, rationalizing their reaction on grounds such as “that’s not how the system is meant to be used”.

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.”
– Ashley Montagu

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