It’s no secret that I love tiny houses. I built Tiny 1 in the driveway of my house in Davidson, NC, learning all I could from online resources and from others in the Tiny House community. Tiny 1 was built over 2014 and completed in 2015.
And right after finishing it, I started making plans for Tiny 2. The first time I built a Tiny House, there were questions and concerns that I didn’t know I had to address. But after completing the first house, those concerns and questions became apparent. My goal for Tiny 2 was to solve a lot of these issues.
If you’re planning to build a Tiny House, do yourself a favor (and save yourself $20,000-$40,000) and answer these five questions before you put hammer to nails:
1). Where will I put my Tiny House?
This can seem like a bit of a nebulous question when you’re first planning your Tiny House build. There’s the allure of traveling with Tiny, the idea of parking it in a friend’s backyard, or even looking for a more semi-permanent solution like what we offer here at DIY Tiny. With so many options, does it matter?
The reality is that where will often dictate the what of your electrical and plumbing solutions. Your Tiny House can be off-grid, with solar power and water storage systems. Or it can be wired to draw power from a plug, run off propane, have no running water…the choices are up to you and where your Tiny House will live once it’s finished.
Where it’s parked can also dictate how these systems are placed throughout your house. If your Tiny House is to be mobile, you’ll need certain systems. If it’s going to be stationary, you can use others. And then there’s the whole issue if you’ll be living in your Tiny House legally or off-the-books on a remote plot of land in the mountains.
When I built Tiny 1, I designed it to be both off-grid and connected like an RV. This created a multitude of complexity as my systems had to be designed for both. And while I enjoy the flexibility my systems have given me, it also increased my headaches when building, traveling, and parking my Tiny House.
2). How Do I Want To Cook?
Eating is a big part of life. And it doesn’t go away in a Tiny House. Matter a fact, the whole issue of cooking is much more complex because you have less space. While it is possible to build a high quality kitchen in your Tiny House, you’ll end up sacrificing something else in your build.
So will you microwave? Will you cook outside? Do you just want a stove top? How many burners? What about food storage? Do you need a pantry? Do you need a full sized fridge (which means different things to different people! Most Tiny House builders means an apartment-sized, full sized fridge)?
There are a few fantastic companies that build small apartment appliances that are perfectly sized for a Tiny House, but they’re expensive. And if you don’t intend to use a full oven, is it really worth buying?
Take the time to consider how you eat, how you like to cook, and what tools and appliances you’ll need in your kitchen so you can plan your cooking space well.
3). How Do I Want to Heat My Tiny House?
Tiny Houses are famous for needing very little energy to heat and power. But just because it won’t take much doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to consider.
If you intend to live in your Tiny House where it gets cold, you probably will need some sort of heat source. Will it be wood? Propane? Heat lamps? Also, what systems will you need to winterize and protect water and power systems during the cold? What if you intend to leave your house for a few days when it’s cold enough to freeze?
For every system there are pros and cons. Taking a proactive mind to think forward for what you’ll need when the weather gets cold will help you choose the right heating system for your Tiny House.
4). How Will I Do With House Guests?
This part is probably the area where most folks do a lot of day-dreaming, but not necessarily a lot of actual planning. We all long for the day when we can show off our Tiny marvel, but do your daydreams include where those guests will spend the night?
If you intend to host inside your Tiny House, you’ll need space. So do you include space for an extra bed? Or for more room at the table? What is the max number of folks who can fit in your Tiny House and still feel like humans rather than sardines?
Maybe it’s just easier to ask overnight guests to bring their own tent and let you save the space of a sleeper couch for other useful tools like an extra water tank.
5). How Much Will It Weigh?
Tiny Houses, no matter if they’re stationary or mobile, have to think about weight and where it’s distributed along the frame. You’re carrying more than just the metal hulk of an RV; you’ll most likely have solar power, a wood stove, water storage, battery banks, kitchen appliances, tile in your shower, wood walls and ceilings…all of this adds up.
Weight and its distribution becomes critical when building a Tiny House that will be towed. Heavier components should be over the tongue of your trailer, but you can’t put everything on the tongue either. Too much weight on the back can cause other issues.
Learning to think about this kind of weight distribution is a challenge, and definitely one that I wish I had more help with when I built Tiny 1.
Conclusion: Answering these five questions before you start building will help you in your planning process, as you plan your building budget, and prevent you from making costly mistakes with your Tiny House.
And if you’d like more help planning and executing your Tiny House build, be sure to check out my three-month build consultation here: Expert Build Advice: http://www.diytiny.com/expert-build-advice/