What is a Tiny House?
A tiny house is a small but fully functioning home, often built on a portable trailer. Though the footprint of a tiny house is typically under 200 square feet, there really are no rules. The two main considerations behind tiny houses being built on trailers are zoning and portability. In some jurisdictions, building on a trailer is the only way to get around outdated zoning laws regarding minimum square footage. If you plan on moving, being able to take your tiny house with you is also a huge benefit!
Why are Tiny Houses getting so popular?
In addition to being transportable, many people are choosing to live in tiny houses to reduce their environmental footprint, and to save money. Tiny houses take less materials to build, less energy to power, and less furniture to fill. In addition to the low upfront cost of building or buying, Tiny House owners save thousands of dollars a year with reduced maintenance costs, energy usage, and property taxes. In the US, 68% of Tiny House owners are mortgage-free, compared with only 30% of traditional homeowners.
Is a Tiny House right for me?
Tiny Houses aren’t for everyone, but there are great reasons to consider this option. If you are considering living in a tiny house, begin by asking yourself these questions:
Where are you going to put your tiny house?
What utilities are essential to you, and how will you incorporate them into your tiny house plans?
Are you ready to get rid of any 'stuff' you don't absolutely need?
Could you actually live in a tiny house without going crazy?
If you're on the fence, try spending a few nights in a Tiny House Airbnb rental. If portability is not a factor for you, you may want to consider a Micro Home, Yurt or Cabin as tiny house alternatives.
How much does a Tiny House cost?
The price of a tiny house can vary greatly depending on design, materials, appliances, and whether you choose to build or buy. If you have the skills to build your own tiny house, and can get your hands on salvaged or donated building materials, it is possible to keep total costs under $10,000. If you are looking to purchase a prebuilt custom tiny house decked out with top of the line appliances, you could easily end up spending six figures.
Depending on your budget, you may need to consider coming up with financing. If you are exploring loan options you may want to check out this Tiny House Lending article by 'Tiny House Build'.
This excellent blog post by Ariel McGlothin is another great insight into how she financed her beautiful tiny house 'Fy Nyth' in Wyoming!
What are the regulations with Tiny Houses?
Tiny House regulations are continuously changing as the tiny house movement continues to gain momentum. Common regulations affecting tiny house builders include minimum square footage requirements, secondary laneway house zoning, and camping or RV parking regulations. As land-use regulations vary, you will have to do some research into zoning restrictions in your area.
To get an idea of your local zoning climate, check out these great resources for tiny house regulations in both the United States (Tiny House Society and Money Task Force) and Canada (Tiny Homes Canada).
So... what about the toilet?
As tiny houses are usually built on portable trailer bases, most tiny home owners do not use flush toilets or traditional septic systems. The most popular option for these mobile housing structures is the composting toilet. A composting toilet is a dry toilet that uses aerobic processing to break down organic waste. At first the composting toilet concept may seem a little strange, but the modern designs really work great.
Composting toilets are also a great option for environmental reasons. Waste is transformed into nutrient-rich compost that can be safely returned to the environment, or even used in agriculture.
The best way to decide if a composting toilet will work for you is to hear from somebody with first-hand experience. If you are interested in the details, Ariel McGlothin has also written some of most comprehensive composting toilet blog posts that we've seen.
What about storage?
Tiny houses are definitely not for hoarders. There simply isn't enough room in a tiny house for anything that doesn't serve a purpose. For most people, this means that the transition to tiny living will require purging a lot of 'stuff', and adopting a more minimalist lifestyle.
That being said, creative storage solutions are one of the most important features to incorporate into your tiny house plans. A clever storage compartment or unique shelving design can become a beautiful design feature; use your imagination and have some fun! For inspiration, check out these great storage ideas by 'Live Big in a Tiny Home'.
Are people actually doing this?
Absolutely! The tiny house movement is gaining momentum all over the world. Check out this amazing tiny house map to find some of the tiny houses, tiny house businesses, and tiny house communities in your area.
Tiny Life Supply is proud to take a leadership role in the tiny life community through our ambassador program, the 'Tiny Life Renegades'.
Several of our Tiny Life Renegades are building amazing tiny homes. Follow along with Matt & Sarah, Ocean Robinson, and Rémy Lamotte as their projects unfold. Feel free to reach out to the Renegades if you get stuck on something with your own project!
What Systems will I need?
Choosing the perfect systems for your tiny house is one of the most exciting steps! From customizing your tiny kitchen, to selecting your power and heat source, picking the perfect systems is the key to designing a tiny house that works for your lifestyle. Use the links below to browse through the best appliances, gear, and supplies.
There are a variety of resources available that can help you ensure all factors are considered before making a decision on, for example, what type of toilet you will use in your tiny house. One such resource is The Solar Advantage's blog entitled "11 Essential Tips for Off-Grid Solar Systems".
Don't let the options overwhelm you; take the planning process one step at a time, and get a hold of us if you need any help!
Ok, I'm in; what's next?
You've decided to go tiny... awesome! The first decision you need to make is whether to build or buy your tiny house. Tiny House Blog lays out some good considerations in their article 'Before you Build or Buy a Tiny House: What you Need to Know'.
By the time you have a design in mind, you will most likely have decided whether to build or buy. If you are going to buy, check out our Tiny Home Builders Index to find a builder near you.
If you're going to build, the first steps include designing your tiny house building plans, making a budget, and sourcing your materials. An excellent resource to check out is the Tiny House Building Checklist created by Ryan from 'The Tiny Life'.
There are a variety of resources, both free and paid, that you can use to get your hands on some tiny home designs. Check out Tiny House Society for some paid design plans and The Spruce for some free design plans. If you're feeling creative, try using Sketchup to create your own custom design.
Once your Tiny House is complete, it is time to move in! This in itself can be a daunting task and you have to take a lot into consideration. Reading this "How To Move Into a Tiny House" guide by MyMove is an excellent place to start. They discuss a variety of important aspects of the moving process that are often overlooked from the financial implications to changing your address.
If you have any questions please drop us a line! We love meeting new tiny life enthusiasts and would love to hear from you.