Tiny houses have certainly captured the imagination of many people, but they also seem to provoke a raft of questions. This article answers 30 popular tiny house questions.
What is the usual size for a tiny house?
The size can vary, but they are not usually less than 120 square foot (for a 16' long tiny house). The maximum tiny house size is debatable, but many people consider it to be 400 square foot. This size home would usually be a fixed-foundation tiny house, since tiny house on wheels rarely go above 32' on a standard trailer, or 40' on a gooseneck trailer.
How much do tiny houses cost?
Anything from $12,000 up to $100,000. Just like the size can vary, so can the price. But it's not just the size which affects the price; the standard of finish (including cladding and appliances) will also have a big impact on the price. We take a look at this question more here.
How do you finance a tiny house?
When tiny houses first became popular, financing options were limited so most people saved up and bought it themselves. But since then a range of finance options have appeared, including big names in the community like LightStream and Lending Tree.
Can you insure a tiny house?
Just like financing, tiny house insurance has become more accessible in recent years. The most popular company would be Strategic Insurance, although other insurance companies can insure tiny houses (with some exclusions) - especially if it is built by a reputable builder or is RVIA compliant.
Can you buy them or do you have to build them yourself?
You can do either, whichever you are most comfortable with. Our builder directory has hundreds of builders listed for you to look into more, however you will naturally save money if you build your tiny house yourself. It just comes down to how much DIY expertise (and free time) you have!
Where can you park a tiny house?
This is where tiny houses can be a bit frustrating. Local building/zoning codes can cause some issues here, especially in states which are unfriendly towards tiny houses (see the next FAQ for more). Most - but not all - RV parks are usually fine with parking tiny houses there, plus if you have private land then you should be fine to park there as well. But it's certainly not as easy as finding a place to park with a standard, RVIA-compliant RV.
Are tiny houses illegal in my state?
The Tiny Society have a great article on this. Most states are friendly towards tiny houses, however 20 states are considered unfriendly to them - especially states like Connecticut and New York.
Are tiny homes difficult to tow to a new location?
The general answer is no, they are not difficult to transport. But you do need to plan things out in advance, and the bigger the tiny house, the trickier the transport process will be. Gooseneck trailers do help with stability, of course, but if you are nervous about moving your tiny house, you can always contact a professional tiny house mover.
What are the most common tow vehicles to use?
Standard tiny house tows will usually use a Ford F-250 whilst much larger tiny houses may require a beast like the Ford F-450 Super Duty with a 32,500 towing capacity. In terms of weight, a furnished tiny house weighs around 500 pounds for each 1' of length - using this you can determine whether your tow vehicle should be able to tow adequately.
How is water provided and sewage handled?
This varies depending on whether you are on-grid or off-grid (read much more in our water guide). On-grid parking means that this will be provided to you, whilst off-grid parking means that you will need to be more self-sufficient - or batch things up and head out periodically to get fresh water and empty waste water.
How is electricity provided/generated?
This similarly depends on where you have parked. If you are off-grid, you might need to look at a generator or solar panels to generate your required electricity. Some tiny house owners even live an electric-free life (apart from the odd solar-powered device), but this requires lifestyle compromises.
Can you truly live off-grid in your tiny home?
Yes you can, and we recently written about this. A mix of generators, solar panels, rain water reuse (after filtering) and passive solar heaters can yield a great off-grid life with few compromises.
Do composting toilets stink?
Thankfully they do not! Composting toilets maintain a negative pressure, meaning that any smells will not waft back up the waste pipes. The process of converting the liquid and solids into compost will not smell either, apart from when emptying the tank (unfortunately!).
Where can you store all your stuff?
Most tiny houses have two lofts; one for sleeping in, and one for storage. A storage loft will offer quite a lot of storage and so is a valuable part of a tiny home. Separately to that, full-height storage units and kitchen cabinets can be a great way of having storage, as you tansu stairs.
Are tiny houses child friendly?
This is the age-old question that many people wonder; is it fair to bring young children up in a small living space? And the answer is that it varies. Children have been bought up in small spaces for millennia, however children do seem to need (and want) more stuff nowadays so this could be a challenge since available space will be very limited. In short, it depends on you and your family.
Can't someone just steal my tiny house by towing it away?
They could if you took zero security precautions. But if you failed to ever lock your front door, you could also be robbed that way too! In other words, some basic, common sense security steps should always be taken to protect your assets. For tiny houses, wheel locks, clamps and more will be essential.
Are tiny houses pet friendly?
Sometimes you will need to make sensible adaptions to ensure your pets have a happy tiny house life, but in general tiny houses can definitely work well for them. Just remember that cats and dogs can get bored easily, so exercising them regularly and providing toys for them is key.
Do you keep banging your head in your bedroom?
For those who aren't away, the master bedroom in a tiny house is usually in the loft space. It only has 3-4 foot of headspace, so you are unable to stand up in it. As to banging your head, this can sometimes happen, yes - especially when you're still quite sleepy in the middle of the night! But like most things, you do get used to being unable to stand in the loft (or fully crawl around at the edges).
Are tiny houses a pathway to financial independence/early retirement (FIRE)?
When looking at whether tiny houses are too expensive or not, we calculated some figures that show that a tiny house could be as cheap as $500-$1,000 per month including the actual building and the land cost, which would then drop to as little as $150-600 per month after 5 years (when the building is paid off). This is substantially cheaper than buying a 'normal' house, and these extra savings (potentially thousands of dollars each and every month!) will quickly help to build up an FU and then FIRE fund!
How much do tiny houses weigh?
A furnished tiny house will weigh approximately 500 pounds (226 kg) for every 1 foot (30cm) of length. So a 22' tiny house might weigh 11,000 lb (4,980 kg), under the towing capacity of a Ford F-150 even when taking into account the 2,000 lb trailer.
What is the difference between a tiny house and an RV?
An RV is designed for temporary living, whereas a tiny house is designed for permanent living. As a result, an RV will usually have an outside electric point (providing electric to the whole RV), water hookup via a hose and actual sewage connections. This compares to a tiny house which can be designed for off-grid living, with generators, composting toilets and water tanks.
Why use a gooseneck trailer for your tiny house?
A gooseneck tiny house is built around a gooseneck trailer, which provides extra stability as the tow hitch is along the whole body of the tow vehicle. A gooseneck house will often have a full-height master bedroom (instead of a bedroom in the loft) and - due to the increased towing stability - gooseneck tiny homes are usually made bigger than ones on a standard trailer.
How can you get internet access?
Tiny houses can nowadays get internet from various sources, with 4G mobile-based internet and satellite internet giving faster and more reliable internet connections than ever before.
Are tiny houses too hot (or cold) due to the insulation levels?
They shouldn't be. The insulation used in a tiny house should be tailored to the climate, meaning that thinner insulation will be used in warm climates and thicket insulation in colder climates. The only real limitation is that the wall thickness can limit how much insulation you are able to put between the walls. So if you live in a really cold climate, you either need thicker-than-average walls (at the cost of less internal living space) or skimp on insulation and potentially be a bit too cold.
When did the tiny house movement start?
One of the first mainstream mentions was in the book 'Tiny Houses, Or How to Get Away From It All' by Lester Walker, published in 1987. This summed up various tiny house related ideas and concepts from previous decades, although it was only really from 2002 onwards (when the Small House Society was established) that tiny houses slowly but surely started to get more mainstream attention.
Why do some people use tansu stairs instead of a ladder?
Tansu stairs are based on a Japanese concept of having wooden boxes with in-built storage. When you put all these boxes together in a stacked formation, you end up with a staircase (hence tansu stairs). These are sometimes used in tiny houses instead of a ladder because they are a safer way of getting to the bedroom, and they provide a lot of storage room.
Are tiny houses terrible for privacy?
The small space of a tiny house does hinder privacy, especially when walls are often omitted to give more internal space. This is one of the big reasons why some people think that tiny houses are fine for single people or couples, but not for families or lodgers. You will have less privacy in a tiny house, even when you install ceiling-mounted curtains to give yourself some privacy in your bedroom.
What design software should you use when planning your own tiny home?
If you are designing your own tiny house, there are dozens of floor plan programs you can use. Some are aimed at professionals, some are free and aimed at beginners. Funnily enough, The Sims 4 is a popular tool among the tiny house community! Beyond this, Floorplanner, SketchUp and Punch Home are the top 3 programs that we recommend you use.
Do tiny houses only have a single bedroom?
No, they can have multiple bedrooms. The most popular way of doing this is either to convert the storage loft into a second bedroom, which is good for growing families but not great for storage space! An alternative is to have a slightly smaller kitchen, bathroom and living area downstairs and then build an extra room which can house a twin bed.
How can they be heated?
A wall mounted mini-HVAC unit is the most common. HVAC stands for 'Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning' and this multi-purpose device can give full control over your internal climate in all temperatures and humanities. Beyond this, wood and pellet stoves are a popular way to heat a tiny house in a sustainable way.