Making the decision to simplify supersized lifestyles and go tiny full-time can be very exciting (and very scary). However, many singles, couples, growing families, and retirees are seeing the minimalist trend growing, gearing them toward reducing their impact and their “stuff”. Some, however, are moving too fast without first considering some of the major influences on long-term tiny living.
Here is a list of important questions to ask yourself if you plan to go tiny for the long haul. These should be considered whether you are in the first thoughts of downsizing or people who’ve already been through several purges and are already planning to build or buy their tiny house. In whatever stage you find yourself, be sure you have solid answers to these questions before taking the tiny plunge.
How Often Will We Move Our House?
This is a real issue for most considering downsizing because, while living tiny provides some incredible freedoms, building a permanent home on wheels comes with its own list of things to think about. THOWs generally weigh over 11,000 pounds. This will require more than a standard pickup truck to haul. That is something to add to your list of investment planning. Do you want to upgrade to a large pickup truck or pay a professional hauling company each time you move? Do you want to build in a stationary location with a deck to expand your outside living area? If so, do you have a plan to insulate the bottom during winter?
The freedom and fun associated with being able to be mobile in a THOW can be a game changer and is why most tiny homes are built on wheels. Be sure to choose a builder certified specifically for tiny houses so they can help educate you on the technical side of things to consider for hauling your home such as weight, axles, framing, and foundation.
Do We Know How to Downsize?
We aren’t talking about which jeans make the cut and which are donated. Your wants and needs list is a serious strategy of what to consider when you are building your forever tiny home. Tiny living isn’t like regular home buying. You have to think about what type of heat/air system you want—many are not equipped with gas/propane so a split AC unit, window AC, or even a wood stove may be options to consider. This provides opportunity for you to budget for need items and move wants to a discard list when necessary.
Additionally, you should think about what type of toilet you and your traveling companions are up for because standard flushing toilets require different hookups when parked than a composting, dry flush, or incinerator type of commode. All appliances should be considered on your list as well since standard, residential sized appliances usually won’t fit or weigh too much for a THOW (Tiny House On Wheels) and the cost of special sizing can get pretty pricey if you keep them as must-haves on your list.
Will You Hire a Builder, DIY, or Partial DIY?
It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new house and new lifestyle with freedoms and simplicity that no other traditional home has to offer. Many people rush into decisions like choosing a contractor and end up suffering from codes not being met, certifications not being in place, or—worse yet—leaving with an unsafe tiny house. Others opt to attempt a DIY build because it is presumably easier with such limited square footage. However, this can be a dangerous decision if you aren’t a skilled carpenter or have extensive knowledge in skills like plumbing and electrical. Remember, you are building everything you would put into a traditional home but fitting it into 100-399 square feet.
When choosing your builder you want to pick someone who is right for you. You may be looking for a turnkey build that you can go pick up tomorrow. Others might want to custom design everything from consultation to the day they drive away. Choosing a specialized contractor gives you the peace of mind that the technical aspects will be met as well as codes and requirements exceeded, while also allowing you to build the house of your dreams and be a part of the process.
Where will We Park?
While the tiny house movement continues to grow rapidly, many U.S. states still prohibit parking tiny houses because of land laws, building codes, and taxes. When buying used or building your tiny, you want to be sure that it can be licensed as an RV if you plan to travel with it. This will allow you to park in most RV campgrounds without much hassle (some are more tiny house friendly than others). This is also an extra precautionary measure to help in allowing you to properly insure your tiny house. With that in mind, be sure you know your home state’s regulations on living in an RV as a permanent residence.
Finding a place to park, depending your type of tiny as well as how it is set up for utilities, will affect your need to consider having proper hook ups and considerations for the type of toilet you have.
Going tiny can be an incredibly freeing experience. However, it can be overwhelming to consider all of the options and costs, just as with any home buying or building experience. Be sure you educate yourself and take the properly researched steps so that you can enjoy your tiny house for years to come.