What is a tiny house?
The definition of a tiny house is subjective, but for me, it’s a home of 400 square feet or less, either on wheels or a foundation. I consider a home of between 400 and 1000 square feet to be small. Due to size specifications for rooms, clearances and distances between fixtures, building codes are a little more difficult for tiny houses to meet. (However, it is possible. Please see “Navigating Minimum Square Footage”.) Small homes can easily meet building codes. Zoning is a challenge for both tiny and small homes, as many communities require houses to be 1,000 square feet or more.
What is an ADU?
An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a second small dwelling on the same property as a larger single-family house. An ADU can be a tiny house (on a foundation) in the backyard, an apartment over the garage or a basement apartment. ADUs are allowed in many towns, but the rules vary as to size, permitting, and placement. In addition, some towns restrict who can live there (e.g., only family members of the main house, or only people providing long term care for someone in the main house).
Here are two website devoted entirely to ADUs:
I need help starting my tiny house!
- Research online: blogs, forums, books.
- Join meet-up groups and talk with people in person.
- Consider attending a workshop.
- Book a weekend visit in a tiny house.
- Contact builders and designers with specific questions.
- When you’ve narrowed down your list of designers & builders to just a few, read reviews and check with the Better Business Bureau in your local area.
- Develop a budget. Here’s a spreadsheet you can download.
- If you like to write, start a blog or a journal. Writing can help you organize your thoughts and keep you focused.
- Decide whether insurance is essential – if you need it, and if your tiny house will be on wheels, it’s best to buy a tiny house from a builder who is a certified RVIA manufacturer.
- Decide where you want to live: on your own land, someone’s backyard or an RV park? If you think you’d like to live in an RV park, it’s best to buy a tiny house from a builder who is a certified RVIA manufacturer.
- Find a place to park your tiny house.
- Decide whether to build or buy.
- Choose a design and/or builder.
- If building, create a project plan timeline: allow at least three months if working on the tiny house fulltime, and a year if only working weekends. Decide where you’ll build and create your bill of materials.
3. Go for it!
- If buying, sign your contract with the builder. If building, buy your materials and get to work!
- Start to downsize while building your tiny house or waiting for it to be built.
- Keep calm, patient, and determined amidst delays and aggravations. Commiserate with friends; ask for advice if needed.
- Complete your build or take delivery of your home.
- Begin living your tiny dream!
Stalled or have cold feet?
- Consider buying a used tiny house. Like an RV, tiny houses on wheels depreciate. Sometimes you can get a great bargain from someone who tried tiny living and decided it wasn’t right or ran into trouble with zoning. You can find used tiny houses on Craigslist, eBay and Tiny House Listings. (Note: if you find a house you like on Tiny House Listings, it’s best to search the web for another source for responding. From my own experience and that reported by others, the contact form on this site may never reach the recipient. Try searching Craigslist or use Google image search instead.) Be sure to inspect the house before buying (some are very poorly built) and find out the status of the title and registration before you commit. Prices often drop from the first listing, so unless you really love the house, you might do well to wait a couple of weeks and watch it.
Big Tiny, The: A Built-It-Myself Memoir (Starting at $11.99)
The Big Tiny is the story of how one woman built her own house with her own two hands – all 84 square feet of it – and discovered that the important stuff in life isn’t stuff.
“Admitting that I am ‘happy enough’ makes me wonder if I’m falling short of my potential as a middle-class American; like I should want more out of life than this tiny house and the backyard, and the way it feels to sit on the porch and watch the sun come up…
But the fact are the facts: I found a certain bigness in my little house–a sense of largeness, freedom, and happiness that comes when you see there’s no place else you’d rather be.” – Dee Williams
Amazon carries many formats for this book: from eBook to paperback to hardback. Click buy now to see the different options.
Should I build or buy my tiny house?
- Skill: Building a safe, durable tiny house takes skill. Do you currently have construction knowledge and experience? If not, do you have the patience and commitment needed to acquire the skill? If you’ve never built anything, consider building something simple, like a set of shelves or a table, to test your skill and gain confidence before beginning your tiny house.
- Insurance: Insurance can be obtained fairly easily for tiny houses built by certified RV manufacturers. For other tiny homes, finding insurance can be challenging. See the more detailed insurance info below.
- Build space: Do you have, or can you find, a place to build your tiny house?
- Time: Building a tiny house takes between 400 and 1,000 hours, depending on your skill level and the complexity of the house. Do you have this much free time? Can you be comfortable extending your build timeline as necessary to fit it into your existing work and family commitments?
- Money: If you have savings and know where you’ll park your tiny house, buying one that’s already complete may be the best path. If money is tight and/or you’re not sure where you’ll live, take it slow and work through your options.
- Can you afford to buy a new, completed tiny house (about $45,000 to $80,000)? Some companies build to RV standards and can offer financing, but it would be RV-type financing, which means shorter terms and higher interest than a conventional 30 year mortgage.
- Can you afford a used or partially built tiny house? These can offer cost-savings, but be careful. If the house is used, get as much information as possible on how it was built (construction methods and materials). If new but partially built, ask why the owner decided not to finish it. Were there issues with the construction? Also, be aware that finishing a tiny house is expensive. Adding walls, flooring, cabinets and shelves can cost as much or more than the house shell.
- Can you afford to buy tiny house plans, materials and tools? If the answer to these is no, proceed only with caution.
- Scavenged materials are of variable quality and can be hard to find. If you’re going to rely on free materials, you’ll want to double or triple your timeline.
- Do you already own tools? If not, add those to your budget. While a tiny house can be constructed with hand tools, power tools will make the job quicker and easier.
Still unsure? Look over these build tips for more useful info. Whether you decide to build or buy, be sure to review the design and detailed plans. A great tiny house begins with a great plan!
How can I prevent theft of my tiny house on wheels?
There have been a few instances of tiny houses on wheels being stolen. The risk is greater during a build, when the house is left unattended for long periods, but there’s still some risk even when you’re living in your tiny house. Here are tips for securing your tiny house.
Where can I insure my tiny house?
Insurance can be obtained fairly easily for tiny houses built by certified RV manufacturers. For other tiny homes, finding insurance can be challenging. If you’re going to build your own tiny house, contact potential companies before you start, as they may want to do inspections or see pictures of your tiny house as it’s being built.
- Foremost Insurance, a division of Farmers Insurance, will cover personal-use tiny houses that are either RVIA or NOAH certified.
- In the western USA, Lloyds of London provides limited insurance (for residents of AZ, CA, CO, NV, OR and UT) and is considering expanding to other states. Contact Darrell Grenz of Grenz Insurance at www.insuremytinyhome.com. Grenz Insurance also offers policies that cover your tiny house while it is under construction. It can be challenging to reach Darrell and you may need to try multiple times.
- Strategic Insurance Agency, a unit of Martin Burlingame Insurance Agency, Inc., is now advertising tiny house insurance. They use an affiliate marketing program, so you may see them promoted by a lot of people hoping to earn a commission on new policies.
- In Florida, Blackadar Insurance Agency can provide insurance for tiny houses on wheels or foundations, even those that are owner-built. Contact Stephanie Lewis at 407-571-6421 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Stephanie estimates that the rate to insure a $30,000 home in an RV park in Orange County, FL would be about $800 a year.
- Shelter Insurance has expressed an interest in insuring tiny homes in central states (Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee).
- In Jacksonville, Florida, Whitco Insurance can provide insurance. Call Pablo Mauricio Silva at 904-827-7806 or email email@example.com.
- Michael Carmona in Portland, Oregon represents Farmer’s Insurance which can write policies in 40 states.
- In the United Kingdom, insurance is available through Love Your Hut.
- In Australia, CIL provides insurance for tiny houses that were made in Australia by Australian builders. Tiny houses must be compliant with RV standards for gas and electricity.
What type of toilet should I use?
I have a regular flush, toddler-sized toilet in mine, but some people swear by incinerating toilets, and others love the composting type. Read opinions here:
- TinyHouseBuild.com – Composting Toilet Options
- Logan Smith of Smalltopia – Composting Commode Questions Answered
- Tumbleweed – Top 3 Manufactured Composting Toilets
Ready to shop? Here are links to incinerating, dry-flush, and composting toilets.
How long does it take to build a tiny house?
About 120 hours for a professional. For the average DIY-er, building a tiny house takes about 480 hours, either concentrated (3 months of full time work) or spread out over a year or more, fitting construction into spare hours on weekends. Here’s a more detailed discussion from a professional.
How can I register my tiny house on wheels with the DMV?
The registration process varies state-to-state and also varies depending upon the way in which your tiny house was built and purchased. If your tiny house was purchased from an RVIA member, you can register your tiny house as any other RV. If your tiny house was purchased from a non-RVIA member, ask the builder whether he or she will register the house before transferring the title to you. If yes, your registration should be straight forward. If you built your own tiny home, registration may take several steps. Please check with your local DMV to find out the rules that will apply for you.
Below is one example of how to register a self-built tiny house on wheels:
To begin the registration process, bring with you to the DMV, proof of identity (driver’s license, passport, etc.) and proof of ownership (receipts and/or title).
- First register the flatbed trailer:
- If you purchased the trailer, an MSO* is required. The trailer will be registered as a TL.
* An MSO is a Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin: a receipt for a component such as an engine, frame, etc. MSOs are required by state DMVs as part of the inspection process for home-made vehicles to ensure that components were not stolen. Frame and engine manufacturers usually stamp serial numbers into their components. Even if filed off, the serial numbers can be revealed via special techniques.
An MCO (Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin) is similar to an MSO, but a more formalized document. Some states require MCOs; some are fine with MSOs.
- If you built the trailer, you will register it as an ASPT (Assembled from Parts). Receipts and photographs showing how the trailer was built may be required. An inspection is required.
- If you purchased the trailer, an MSO* is required. The trailer will be registered as a TL.
- Once the home is completed and put onto the trailer, complete an affidavit describing your build.
- Tow the tiny house to a weighing station to obtain a certified weight.
- Come to the DMV with receipts and photographs showing how the home was built. Your tiny house may be inspected.
- The title might then be converted to a Travel Trailer (TV) designation or a Park Trailer (PT)*.
*Note: some states will change your title showing conversion and some will not. Even within the same state, practices vary because tiny houses are still a new type of structure and standards are being developed. Please check with your local DMV to find out the rules that will apply for you.
Go House Go! DIY Tiny House Building Guide ($20)
By Dee Williams
Go House Go is Dee Williams’ compact how-to manual for tiny houses. This 52 page PDF eBook is the do-it-yourself (DIY) tiny house building guide that Dee wished she’d had when she built her first tiny house in 2004. It’s short, sweet, and loaded with enough technical information and resources to get you started on building a tiny house plan we’ve designed, or one you’re dreaming up all on your own. The text covers a broad spectrum of tiny house design and construction considerations and recommendations, and there are photos and diagrams throughout so you can see just what we’re talking about.
The contents include:
What type of truck should I use to tow my tiny house?
The typical 8′ X 20′ tiny house weighs 7,000 to 9,000, but larger tiny houses and those that are “decked out” can weigh closer to 15,000. Towing goes best with a truck that has extra power, since wind drag often hampers performance. A 3/4 or 1 ton diesel truck often works well. Here’s a handy calculator.
To find out the exact weight of the tiny house, have it towed to any truck scale. These can be found at sand & gravel yards, farms & feed mills, moving & storage establishments, RV Rallies, and commercial truck stops. Some may charge a fee to use the scale.
Have the tiny house weighed with the truck attached, then park, detach, weigh the truck alone and subtract that weight from the total.
Many tiny house trailers need a 2-5/16″ hitch ball, which is larger than the standard 2″ ball. When looking for a truck to tow your tiny house, make sure you know what type of ball it has. Rental trucks like U-Haul, Penske, and Budget have the standard 2″ ball. With U-Haul, the ball is welded to the truck and can’t be swapped out for a larger size.
Rather than buying or rent a truck, you might want to consider hiring someone to tow your tiny house. UShip can provide quotes from a variety of shippers. Be sure to check their reviews before making a commitment.
Do you have traveling tips for a tiny house on wheels?
- Be sure you know the laws of the state(s) you’ll be traveling through. Depending on the height, width, and weight of your tiny house, you might need special permits and/or a commercial driver’s license.
Generally, a commercial driver’s (CDL) license or other special license will not be required if you are towing your own tiny home, even if it weighs more than 10,000 pounds. In most states, a motor home or recreational trailer operated solely for personal use is exempt. However, this is not true everywhere. (For example, California requires a special Class A license for towing heavy RVs.)
Here’s a handy but unofficial summary of driver’s license types.
Who must have a commercial driver’s license? Anyone who drives a commercial motor vehicle. In most (but not all states), the definition of a commercial motor vehicle is:
- a) a combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds (So, for example, if your truck weighs 9,000 pounds and your tiny house weighs 13,000 pounds, the combined weight is 24,000 pounds and a CDL would not be required in most states, even though the tiny house weighs over 10,000 pounds.)
- b) a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds;
- c) a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver;
- d) a school bus; or
- e) any vehicle that is transporting hazardous materials and is required to be placarded in accordance with State and Federal regulations.
In most states, commercial motor vehicles do not include: a) implements of husbandry; b) any motor home or recreational trailer operated solely for personal use; or c) motorized construction equipment, including, but not limited to, backhoes, compactors, excavators, tractors, trenchers and bulldozers. But even where RVs towed for personal use are exempt from CDL requirements, state troopers are not always aware of it. Research and print out the state laws before you go.
- As mentioned above, be sure your truck is powerful enough for your tiny house.
- Make sure the weight is properly distributed. Tongue weight should be between 10-15% of the total tiny house weight. To determine your tongue weight, purchase a trailer tongue weight scale.
Many tiny homes have a heavy tongue weight because of the loft. You can counter balance your tongue weight by placing some of your heavier items in the back of the trailer (like water tanks or solar batteries). You may also want to use a weight distribution system.
If you don’t have enough weight on the trailer tongue, the tiny house may sway from side to side, making it difficult to control. If you have too much weight on the trailer tongue, it can overload the rear tires and push the rear of the vehicle around. You might not be able to go around corners and curves properly, and your truck might not stop fast enough when you press the brake pedal.
- To avoid bridges and overpasses with low clearance, make a detailed plan of your route in advance. Also purchase and use either an RV GPS (Rand McNally RV GPS) or an add-in set of maps (like Low Clearances) for your regular GPS.
- When considering how much space you need for parking, include the trailer tongue. For example, if you have a trailer that is marketed as 20 feet long, that 20 feet is just the bed. Add another 5 feet or so for your total length.
- For exceptionally good and detailed advice, read Tiny House Moving Tips from professional haulers. If that link doesn’t work, try this one.
- Level your tiny house when you’re parked: For front to back leveling, use the tongue jack; for left to right leveling, use Anderson levelers.
To make it easy to see when you’re properly leveled, attach two small bubble levels to your tiny house: one at the back center of your tiny house (for left/right leveling) and another one on the left or right side of the tiny house (for front/back leveling).
How long can I expect the tires to last on my tiny house?
The life of tires is about 4 years, less if in direct sunlight. Some folks think tires wear out only through usage, but tires degrade over time even when not used. To get the longest life from your times, you can jack the tiny house up, level it and secure it, remove the tires, and store them somewhere cool, dark and dry. Alternatively, you can cover the tires.
How much will it cost?
Cost varies greatly from a low of zero (if you can get all your materials donated or find free salvage and build it yourself) to a high of $80,000 or more with a luxury builder. The latest trend in tiny houses is to make them bigger and fancier. Tiny houses of just under 400 square feet with a price tag of $70,000+ are increasingly common. In general, a truly tiny 20-foot house on wheels will cost about $25,000 in materials and an additional $20,000+ in labor. Here’s a helpful article on cost from Tiny House Talk. Be sure to create a budget.
Where can I live? (Zoning, Codes, & Legal Issues)
- Below is a discussion of different types of places to live.
For links to specific zoning regulations and building codes by region, please go to the American Tiny House Association.
- Places to consider:
- Your own land – very difficult to achieve, due to zoning regulations.
- Backyard – possible either as camping (tiny house on wheels) or an accessory dwelling unit (see below).
- RV Park – tiny houses are gaining acceptance in RV parks.
- Tiny house community or ecovillage.
- Cities where there are already small homes – if you’re having trouble finding a legal place to put a tiny house, you may want to consider buying an older, small home. There are many across the USA. Here’s how to find them.
Let’s get into the details
Legally, a tiny house on wheels is considered an RV, and a tiny house on a foundation is considered an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). We tiny housers need a new legal definition for a tiny house, separate from an RV or ADU, but that will take time. For now, we need to work within this framework.
Tiny house on wheels
If you’re building your own tiny house on wheels and plan on getting it registered as an RV with your state, then research the DMV regulations ahead of time. In most states, a self-built RV will need to be inspected before the DMV will issue a license plate. Some states (for example, California) require that your tiny house be built to specific standards. Have detailed plans drawn up and take photos at each step of building, so that you can show electrical and plumbing work without having to cut into the walls at the DMV! Please see How do I register my tiny house?
RVIA (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association):
If you purchase a finished tiny house from a builder, he or she should provide you with a Vehicle Identification Number and a title so that you can register your tiny house. The DMV will still likely need to inspect it. If your builder is a member of the RVIA, your tiny house should have a RVIA decal. This will make it easier to be accepted by RV parks and obtain RV insurance, but is not essential.
THOW Documentation and Inspection
We have created construction guidelines for tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) and suggest that builders document how their houses are constructed, including plans, materials and methods. Included on the guidelines page is a link to a third party inspection service which can provide an alternative to RVIA certification for the DIYer or small builder.
Once registered, where will your house stay? Choices include someone’s backyard, an RV park, your own land, or a tiny house community-ecovillage. Tiny houses on wheels are allowed as caregiver dwellings in the backyard of a person who needs assistance in Sonoma County, CA, as well as Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Alameda, Contra Costa & Sacramento, according to Sonya Tafejian of Tiny House Consulting Sonoma County. And on Nov. 20, 2015, Fresno city zoning approved tiny houses on wheels as backyard cottages without the requirement for the tiny house dweller to be a caregiver.
If not in a caregiver cottage, you’ll be considered to be camping and regulations in some areas limit camping to a particular number of days; check with your local zoning office. Backyards and RV parks have the advantage of offering utility hook ups. It may be possible to camp on your own land, particularly if your land is classified as recreational rather than residential, but it’s rare to be able to get utilities. North Yarmouth, Maine is exceptionally friendly to private camping.
Tiny house on a foundation
In most towns, a building permit isn’t required for a structure of 120 square feet or less. However, these small structures are considered sheds or workshops. Full-time living in a tiny building is generally not allowed. Some people live successfully “under the radar” but it’s risky. A grumpy neighbor or diligent official could make your tiny life untenable.
To be a legal residence, a structure must be built in accordance with local building codes. Most states have adopted the International Residential Code for One- and Two- Family Dwellings. However, there is great diversity in the specific versions. Scroll down to see the US map. In addition to the IRC, a state, county or city may have additional codes that must be followed. Rare exceptions do exist. This book, No Building Codes, written in 2010 by Terry Herb, provides information on areas where building codes are absent or rarely enforced.
While the 2015 IRC has eliminated the requirement for a house to have at least one room of 120 square feet or more, states will need to adopt the new code in order for it to be effective. In addition, the IRC still contains other minimum size specifications that prove challenging: rooms (except for bathrooms and kitchens) must be 70 square feet, ceiling height must be 7 feet, etc. (additional code discussion). Accordingly, while it is possible for a tiny house to meet building codes, a house built on a foundation on its own land is more likely to be small (more than 400 square feet) rather than tiny. In addition, a building permit will probably be required.
Zoning regulations pose more of a challenge than building codes. Many cities and counties have minimum size requirements of 1,000 square feet or more for construction of a new home on its own land. The specific minimum will be determined by your zone. For example, in Manatee County, Florida, new houses in zone R1 must be at least 1500 square feet, but in zones R2 & R3 only 800 square feet. In contrast, in Sarasota County, Florida, there is no minimum house size. Call your local Zoning or Planning Department to find out what the minimum is for your land.
If a tiny home on its own land isn’t possible, explore building your tiny house as an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or granny flat in the backyard of an existing home. Here’s a handy guide on How to Build a Tiny House (ADU), written by The United Way in Brevard, NC. While the information is specific to Brevard, much of it would also be applicable to other states. Be sure to check zoning in your neighborhood as only some areas allow ADUs.
Tiny houses on foundations are also welcomed in tiny house communities and ecovillages.
You may also want to consider purchasing a older, small home.
Some people recommend the book, Cracking the Code, but it’s not a complete reference. The author himself has experienced quite a few challenges. It’s important to do your own research. My tiny house has successfully been situated in backyards (with friendly neighbors) and an RV park (with a welcoming attitude).
Frustrated with regulations in your area? Here are some alternative paths:
- Ask for a conditional use permit.
- Work toward an exception for the whole neighborhood (example: overlay district).
- Develop a pocket neighborhood of tiny houses.
- Join the nonprofit American Tiny House Association and participate in tiny house advocacy.
For more help with where to keep a tiny house, see places to stay.
Life In A Tiny House: 10 Inspiring Stories About How Your Home Can Change Your Life ($10)
What is it really like to live in a tiny house? Curiosity about tiny homes is exploding, yet it’s still hard for most people to wrap their heads around what it’s like to build or live in one. Isn’t it just too kooky, too risky, or too hard? Not once you see it through the eyes of the people who already call tiny houses home.
Billy Ulmer from PAD and Unlikely Lives wrote this ebook to collect stories and advice to inspire people to take action on their own tiny house dreams, and to think differently about the way our homes can help us lead lives we love. It features over 200 pages of photos and interviews with people who live in tiny homes, discussing questions like these:
- Why did a tiny house feel right to them?
- How did they go about designing, building and moving in?
- What is life like now that they’ve been living there, for between a few months and ten years?
It also shares why tiny houses aren’t as “extreme” as some might think, offers useful perspectives on how people overcame the challenges in their own journeys, and recommends practical steps to help anyone create some of the benefits of tiny house living, no matter where they call home.
Buying Land for Tiny Houses
If your tiny house will be on wheels, then in order to be able to live legally on your own land, zoning regulations must allow year round camping. This is rare. Most towns restrict camping on one’s own land to 30 days; some towns prohibit it altogether. Even where it is possible to camp on your own land, it’s rare to be able to get utilities. However, a few places do allow a tiny house on wheels on its own land. Please see http://tinyhousecommunity.com/places.htm#tinyfriendly”.
If your tiny house will be on a slab or foundation, then to be a legal residence, it must conform to building codes and most likely, go through the permitting process. If you follow this path and build in accordance with zoning & building regulations, I recommend using a realtor to help find your land. It can be tempting to try to save money by searching for cheap land from eBay or another auction site, but buyer beware! Without a professional involved, you’ll need to be extra diligent in researching for issues like back taxes, liens, hazardous waste, former meth labs (especially with burned out buildings), mineral rights, water rights, moratoriums on building due to water scarcity (mostly in CA), depth of well needed to get water (mostly in the desert), minimum lot size required to build, whether there are wetlands on the property, whether there are endangered species there that prevent building (scrub jays in Florida), whether the property is landlocked or otherwise inaccessible, whether the photos are of the actual property or just the area, zoning, what the HOA rules are, etc. This information is rarely disclosed on eBay or Craigslist.
If your tiny house will be so small that it won’t need a building permit, then it will likely be considered an auxillary building by your town. An auxillary building is usually not permitted unless there is already a legal residence on the property. It may be possible to get a variance for a shed or other outbuilding, but it will not be considered a residence and you won’t be able to get a street address for the property.
For counties and towns that allow a tiny house on its own land, see places to stay.
How do I downsize?
Excerpted from BA Norrgard’s blog, A Bed Over My Head, “My criteria for choosing what to keep and what to sell”:
- Clothing: Does it fit? Does it look good on me? Do I wear it? If I couldn’t say yes to all three questions, it went.
- Household items: Does it have a real purpose? Or, do I really love it? If I couldn’t answer at least one of these questions, without hesitation, it went.
- Living Large in our Little House by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
- The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay
- You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) by tiny house dweller, Tammy Strobel
Looking for more personalized help with downsizing? Lora Higgins offers coaching at the Tiny House Teacher.
Where can I obtain financing for a tiny house?
Here are six paths to a tiny house loan:
- Traditional Mortgage: If your tiny house will be on a foundation and meet building codes, you may be able to obtain a construction loan or mortgage. However, some banks won’t loan money for a house that is under a certain square footage (often 600 square feet) or a certain price (for example, $50,000).
- Bank Loan: The Lightstream division of Suntrust Bank offers loans for tiny houses on wheels (they don’t have to be RVIA certified). Phone: 619-744-8100.
- RV Loan: If your tiny house will be on wheels and you are buying it from a certified RV builder, you can get an RV loan. Terms are generally shorter and interest rates higher than for a conventional mortgage.
- Your Builder: Some tiny house builders offer loans on their houses.
- Credit Union: Tiny house enthusiast Joan Watson was able to obtain financing for her tiny house on wheels by providing her credit union with this creative, customized loan application.
- Private or Peer-To-Peer Lending: Lending Club, Prosper, or Tiny House Lending.
Can I convert a shed into a tiny house?
It is not recommended. Ready made sheds are easy to find and may look like a good way to start your tiny house construction. However, the framing of the shed might not be sturdy enough for a house, especially if you intend to put it on wheels. In addition, it may not meet your local building code. In some states, it’s illegal to convert a shed to a habitable structure. Be sure to get the specs of the shed and know your local laws.
Tiny House Decisions: Everything I Wish I Knew When I Built My Tiny House ($39)
Tiny House Decisions is a comprehensive field guide to help aspiring tiny house builders (like you) make the right choices for their unique homes. In it, Ethan takes you through the decisions he made, what he ultimately decided for his own house (and why), and how those decisions affected the overall project. He’ll help you:
- Identify key choices and understand the relationships between them so you can plan your house effectively — without spending countless hours researching.
- Save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your tiny house by avoiding common mistakes.
- Feel confident about the choices you’re making, because you’ll know they’re the right decisions for you.
It’s hard to figure out exactly which questions you should be considering when you’re faced with so many choices. That’s why Tiny House Decisions starts at the very beginning of the decision-making process. Here are just a few of the things you’ll know by the time you finish Tiny House Decisions:
- Is a tiny house right for you? Why (or why not)?
- Should you build it yourself?
- Should you build it on wheels?
- Should you buy pre-made plans or go the custom route?
- Should you buy a used trailer? (Hint: I wouldn’t!)
- When should you start building?
- What are the best water, heat, and ventilation systems for your space?
And plenty more!
The right investment — even if it’s small — can save you time and money while planning and building. Tiny House Decisions just might be that investment for you.
Tiny House Magazine ($5/mo or $48/yr)
Tiny House Magazine is a wonderful source for every tiny house enthusiast, no matter which stage you’re in. Articles from some of the biggest names in the tiny house movement, you’ll always find what you’re looking for in this wonderful magazine. There is a new issue released every month, so subscribe to receive an annual discount of 20%! Issue 56 has over 90 pages! Best part is you can always purchase back issues if you can’t get enough of this great magazine.
Available in Apple, Android, and PDF formats.
Tiny House Parking (Starting at $5.99)
No doubt, you’ve heard about someone being forced to move from their tiny house due to complaints by neighbors, zoning issues, or conflicts with landlords.
The good news is that these kinds of issues can be minimized by finding the right piece of land for your tiny house. Whether you rent land, buy it, or trade your time or services, you need to lay out your exact requirements so you’ll know exactly the right space when you see it.
Tiny House Parking will help you navigate the confusing legal landscape that surrounds tiny houses so you can find exactly the right place for your tiny home.
Inside Tiny House Parking: How to Find Safe, Practical, and Affordable Land for Your Tiny House
Tiny House Parking answers these questions and more:
- Where can I put a tiny house?
- Where can I legally build a tiny house in my jurisdiction?
- Will it be legal to live in my tiny house?
- How do I find landowners willing to let me rent a place for my tiny house?
- How do I avoid brushes with the law or local authorities?
In Tiny House Parking, you also get:
- A crash course in zoning basics so that you know how to find your town’s zoning bylaws and make important decisions about your tiny house.
- Information about the legality of different types of tiny houses.
- Advice how to deal with the law (if you have to).
- Exact requirements of what you’ll need on the land where you live.
- General strategies (and a huge list of resources) for finding exactly the right place.
Finally, Tiny House Parking features extensive interviews with three other tiny house dwellers so you can learn exactly how they went about finding land. These tiny house parking stories are followed by a list of tiny-friendly cities, and details about the tiny house movement in other countries.