If you’re just getting started on your tiny house journey, there are many choices you have in your future. From nails or screws, type of flooring, or even window sizes, you may already have decision fatigue. That’s okay. Many people before you have built a tiny house and we want you to learn from our mistakes. Anything we can do to help your journey be more pleasant and successful in the long run is our goal. Here are some common mistakes that novice builders may make.
1. Choosing the Wrong Heater
Your heater is a very important feature in your tiny house if you plan to live where winter exists. (For those in the summer-only areas such as Florida, then replace “Heater” with “Air Conditioning” because it still applies to you!) If you purchase a unit that is too small, you may be overwhelmed by the cold air lingering in pockets of your home. If you choose a unit that is too large you’ll be sweltering hot. A larger unit will also take up more valuable space.
Be sure to check the specs for the unit before you purchase or cut holes! Once you have a unit that will heat or cool the square footage of your tiny, be sure to position it in a location that is going to give it the allowances it needs for air flow. Putting it on one side of your tiny could make the opposite side unbalanced.
2. Buying the Wrong Windows
It is important to buy windows based on the climate you plan to live in. You may need multi-layered windows to keep the freezing air out if there will be snow or you may need a simple single-pane window if you’ll be in warmer or more mild climates. Always be sure to purchase the type of finish for your window as well. If you are ever lost, you can always ask another tiny house builder or even the employees from where you are purchasing the windows.
If you plan to travel, always know the possible weather conditions you could encounter on your travels. You wouldn’t want to buy summer windows and travel through a winter climate. Climate shock!
3. Building on the Wrong Size Trailer
Estimating your finished trailer weight is very important. What is even more important is have the proper amount of axles to support that weight properly. An overweight trailer can be dangerous to move (it shouldn’t be moved at all!). Even a trailer that is pushing maximum capacity will wear out tires faster causing travel to become expensive.
You can lower the weight of your trailer before you build by choosing lightweight materials. For example, forgo the tile flooring due to weight and choose vinyl tiles instead. You get the same look for less weight. There are many ways you can substitute materials for lighter versions. Just ask around!
4. Not Utilizing All of Your Space
If you have never been inside of a tiny house it can be hard to imagine how much space you’ll actually have once it’s built. One common mistake is choosing a smaller sink over a full size. If you wash dishes or use your sink frequently in your current living arrangements right now then do yourself a favor and plan on putting in a full size sink.
Another misuse of space is the bathroom size. If you are living with another person, perhaps a larger bathroom size would be more beneficial. A sink with a counter so two people can stand there, or one person in the shower and another at the sink without getting into each other’s way. Always think about your current living routines. They won’t change when you go tiny. You will still do the same things, just in a smaller space.
5. Not Insulating to Your Climate
This one is especially important. If you insulate improperly it will mean you are using more resources to heat (or cool) your home. Improper insulation can also leaving you wanting more.
For the colder tempuratures, another option you have is a heating system that runs through your floor. While there are several different types, most will still require another heat source to warm your tiny house. Don’t plan to use it as your only source of heat, but it will take the edge off of that super cold floor.
There are many common mistakes that can be avoided just by learning from other builders. Ethan Waldman has written a book just for you called Tiny House Decisions. From many experts in the tiny house world, he has collected information about common mistakes and other information that is invaluable to the learning tiny house DIYer.