12 Things to Consider Before Building a Tiny Home
So you’ve had enough of the big house, big yard and the responsibilities that come with that. You’ve got your mind set on downsizing in a big way. Before you jump into building a tiny home there is plenty to consider outside of just picking the design you want and what you want to use to build it. You’ve got to consider the legality of a tiny home, how well the tires are going to hold up, plumbing and other waste disposal. Here’s a look at 12 things to consider before building a tiny home.
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Know the Code on Where you can Stay in Your Tiny Home
Municipalities are still wrestling with developing code for tiny homes across the country. This site helps dispel some building code myths but don’t expect to just plop your tiny home anywhere. If you build your own tiny home the path to calling your home an RV is fraught with difficulties. Check out these tips for new homeowners.
Also, consider the zoning ordinances in the community you want to live before you get excited about learning how to build a mini home. You’re likely going to need some land to settle into your tiny home and if you plan on living on the land of a friend or family member, figure out the specifics. Some towns allow accessory dwelling units. For the most part, a tiny home is allowed to temporarily park places but you must remain on the move every two weeks or so. It might be best to seek out tiny home communities where zoning laws allow. Whispering Aspen Village in Colorado is one tiny home community that sells lots for tiny homes.
Research What Others Have Done
Fortunately, there’s a dearth of information out there on how to build a tiny home — designs, issues that arise as you build, ideas on where to get the material, etc… There aren’t as many step-by-step guides out there on how to build your own tiny home but it’s worth finding a good one to follow rather than try to plan out each step in your mind because you’re bound to overlook something. But just to be sure, check out these common building code violations.
For a more comprehensive guide from the beginning, as in clearing land for a homestead, seek out this site.
Check Your Tires
Tires are a serious concern (so check out our expert tire guide) with tiny homes and if not properly addressed can leave a tiny homeowner in a lurch. Most tiny homeowners park their homes on planks of wood or cement blocks to avoid issues with tires.
Tires will deteriorate over time because they spend so much time in the sunlight. Slow down the aging process by getting them out of sunlight, filling them with inert gas or keep them filled to the recommended pressure level. Also, beware that if the wheels from a tiny home are removed, it’s no longer considered a recreational vehicle in some locations.
In addition to the tires, keep a close eye on the wheel bearings. Make sure they are properly lubricated, serviced and repacked. If a wheel bearing fails you suddenly don’t have a home that rests safely.
Figure out Power Options
Many tiny homeowners opt to go green with their energy options and the tiny home lends itself well to those ideas. Price out the cost of installing solar panels, so you can understand how the conversion to usable energy works, and so you know what to do on cloudy days.
Go for a Test Drive
With a tiny home, there is no other room to retreat to when partners have disputes and want to cool off. So give living in close quarters a few test runs to see how it feels. The test runs won’t cover every situation that might arise but it will help couples envision what life in a tiny home looks like.
Get Ready to Get Rid of a lot of Possessions
You simply won’t have the room to house all of your possessions in a tiny home so getting rid of the unnecessary items (check out our clutter-busting strategies for every room) could present a challenge. Find a home for those items and learn to live without. According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, the average household has 300,000 items.
Will You Start a Family in the Tiny Home?
Your tiny home might start with you and a partner but could expand to include children in the future. You’ll have to plan on how to accommodate another person in the tiny home, not to mention figuring out educational options. Depending on where you plan to place your tiny home, family resources to help with the care of a child might not be close.
Weight Restrictions for Car and Trailer
If you plan on putting your tiny home on a trailer, pay attention to how much weight the trailer is rated to handle. A 10,000-pound weight rating for a trailer includes the weight of the trailer. So the weight of the home, the possessions inside the home and the trailer have to be monitored closely. You’ll also have to pay attention to how much your vehicle can pull behind it.
Reduced Cooking Space
A tiny house probably also means a smaller fridge (here’s our refrigerator buying guide) and even more attention paid to food consumption. Tiny house dwellers have to choose carefully what will go in their fridge because there won’t be the luxury of hanging on to as much food. That’s especially true for baking materials. The reduction of storage space means a reduction in items you can store like flour and sugar.
Then there’s the preparation of food. You might have to sacrifice burners in a tiny home and that could increase cooking time.
Unless a tiny home is located on land the owner has purchased, there won’t be any additional value to the home. A tiny home isn’t necessarily going to increase in value because the neighborhood suddenly becomes a hot market. But then again, ideally, a tiny home isn’t paying property taxes either.
The price per square foot for a tiny home (500 square feet or less) averages $201 a square foot, according to realtor.com. A home between 501 and 1,000 square feet averages $96 per square foot. The average cost of building your own tiny house is $25,000, according to The Tiny Life.
How to Insure a Tiny Home
How do you insure a tiny home? It’s a good question, especially if you’re building it on your own and it has wheels. RV insurance companies look for RVIA certification in order to insure tiny homes. Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) certification is only given to manufacturers who have passed specific testing requirements.
If you plan on building your own tiny home on wheels plan on documenting the whole process. Some insurance carriers require an on-site inspection or an inspection from an electrician.
If you want to build a tiny home you’re going to have work with local planning and zoning officials in some capacity. It’s best to give them a heads up on your plans to build a tiny home if you’re going to put it on a chunk of land. You’ll need to submit architectural plans and it’s best that those look professionally done. The tiny home is going to have to meet code. The problem with tiny homes is all buildings must meet state code as well.
If you want a tiny home on wheels then it’s going to fall under RV requirements and needs to be parked in mobile home zoned areas.