Tiny Houses in the News
Tiny houses are becoming increasingly popular around the world, and have been featured in national media outlets like The Today Show. According to a segment on The Today Show, the average square footage of today’s “tiny house” is about 150 square feet.
According to the International Residential Code (IRC) from the International Code Council, you are legally allowed to live in a tiny house that is no more than 400 square feet on land zoned for residential use.
If your tiny house is located in a commercial zone or an area where it’s not possible to build a permanent structure, your home must be even smaller—no bigger than 120 total square feet.
The IRC also outlines requirements for having a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area.
Benefits of Living in a Tiny House
- Tiny Houses are affordable.
- Tiny Houses can be built with reclaimed materials to minimize the impact on the environment.
- You can customize your tiny house to suit your needs.
- Your tiny house doesn’t need a mortgage like a larger home does, so you don’t have to worry about property taxes or things like that.
- Tiny houses are easy to maintain because you don’t need as many utilities and appliances as a larger home would require. And when you’re there, it feels cozy and comfortable – it’s not crammed full of heavy furnishings!
- When you live in a tiny home, you always have a place to call home.
- Living in a tiny house works great for those who want to design their own home and build it from the ground up. A larger house may be too big and too expensive for this kind of customization.
- Many people who live in tiny homes have no interest in owning a lot of stuff.
Passive Design-A Better Way to Live Large in a Small Space?
Passive design is used to reduce the amount of energy needed to power and cool a building.
This type of design focuses on making it so that natural materials can be used to provide a sense of warmth in the building, while also reducing the need for climate control. This type of design has been popularized by Richard Bosley’s book, “Passive House Planning“.
This type of design is used in many high-end homes. To be called a Passive House, a home must meet strict guidelines.
The building design must consider how the building will be built, as well as how it will be heated and cooled.
To do this, the building will feature materials that tend to maintain higher temperatures throughout the year.
These include thick timber walls and insulation. The windows are designed to allow for natural light, but not much airflow during colder months.
Tiny House Laws Every Owner Should Know
Tiny houses abide by the same building codes and building regulations as conventional homes. In most states, a tiny house does not need to be hooked up to external utilities like sewer and water lines.
This is especially true of many countries where these utilities are not available or too expensive for individuals.
Many people opt for off-grid living to reduce their energy consumption, make their home more environmentally friendly, or save money on utility bills.
“You can live in it, you can store your stuff in it, you can do whatever you want to do with it, and get rid of your rent.”
Many people who build tiny homes are motivated by financial or lifestyle reasons. People who build tiny homes are seeking to achieve financial independence.
People who build tiny homes wish to travel more often or have an affordable home on wheels that they can move around the country.
In the United States, many people are now looking at tiny houses as a viable option to be fully sustainable.
There are many benefits to living in a tiny house: low cost, energy efficiency, and storage space.
A lot of people have concerns about safety and fire hazard of small spaces. In response to these concerns, several national organizations exist that certify tiny houses as safe for living.
Dream of a Tiny Home? 10 Things to Consider
- Will you have enough space for all your stuff?
- How much will your tiny house cost to build and maintain?
- How soon can you start living in it, and will it be finished in time?
- Do you have the skills to handle any home repairs or upgrades when they need to happen?
- What about utilities like water, gas, and electricity? If not connected to public utilities, how would you pay for these things with a tiny house that doesn’t require as many appliances?
- Can you live comfortably with less floor space than traditional homes provide–especially if children are involved who need more room or things like an indoor play area or outdoor playground?
- How will you feel about the lack of space to move around when company comes over or a party is organized?
- What would you do about waste and recycling if your tiny house is not located near municipal services?
- Will your tiny house provide enough space for all your schedules and needs, like home-based work that could be done in office space?
- How would you feel about the lack of storage space for important items–like a safe to store your important papers and information?
How to Build Your Own Tiny House: A Step-by-Step Guide
- You should look into building permits and zoning laws before you buy a lot or start to build
- It is possible to build a tiny house for $10,000, but they can cost upwards of $60,000 depending on the materials used
- Plans for your tiny house will need to be reviewed by an architect before construction starts
- The average square footage of today’s “tiny house” is about 150 square feet. Smaller houses will have higher ceilings and more open space.
- While it is possible to build a tiny house, you will need the right tools in order to succeed
- You should consider a list of things you’ll want to buy for your new project before beginning construction
- You will need to decide whether you want an A or B-frame structure
- The ability to build with wood is limited in tiny houses; builders often use plywood and OSB in these spaces.
- Get some friends together and get ready for a lot of hard work before you see any results.
- Your tiny house will follow a basic plan, but there are many options for the types of materials used and where they go in your home.
- You should consider building a tiny house if you enjoy working with your hands or want to save money on living expenses or housing costs – but it is not for everyone.
How to Start a Tiny House Community
The idea is to start a community of tiny houses in a neighborhood owned and managed by an organization or group.
You would then own your tiny house but pay a monthly fee for the lot, and you would have access to shared amenities that are paid for by the organization.
1) Research if your city allows tiny homes on your lot size.
2) Find out what zoning districts exist in your area, may need to get an exception from zoning board of adjustments if it is not allowed.
3) The main thing you will need is land, usually you can find potential lots at auction or classifieds websites like Craigslist (check under “real estate”).
4) What type of occupancy does the property allow? (There are different types, such as seasonal, short term vacation, etc.)
5) Can you get water and power to your lot?
6) What is the neighborhood like? Is there a community association? How are the neighbors?
7) Are there shared or common areas (like a pool or gazebo)? Do you need to get permission for building codes for these items that will be on the shared property? Since it’s a community of tiny houses it would make sense for things to be cohesive.
8) What restrictions and rules would be placed on your tiny home?
9) Find out how you can reserve your lot, what fees are required.
10) Are there amenities required as part of the deal? (gazebo, community pool, etc.)
11) Get a building plan from a local architect or engineer. Must be engineered to code for structural integrity and wind resistance.
It’s Not Cheap Living Big in a Tiny House!
- You have to pay for the land in a tiny house community, which can be pricey and the area may have difficulty finding enough land to provide affordable housing.
- If you live in an expensive town, it is not cheap living big in a tiny house because you would still need to pay for items such as groceries, utilities, and gasoline.
- It is not cheap living big in a tiny house if you want your own car because insurance is expensive (at least $1500 per year) and gas will cost an average of $80 to $100 per month just for one vehicle (plus parking).
- It is not more affordable dwelling big in a tiny house unless you are renting at below-market rates, especially if you are a couple.
- If you are retired, it may not be cheap living big in a tiny house because you may need income to supplement social security.
- If you are disabled and cannot work, it can be extremely expensive to live tiny because your expenses will be higher and there is no supplemental income from a job (unless Social Security is considered income).
- It is not cheap living big in a tiny house if you have children and cannot afford day care.
- It is not cheap living big in a tiny house if you own your home and cannot afford the mortgage.
- It is not cheap living big in a tiny house unless you have extra income such as part-time work, rental income from travel trailers or RV’s, or part-time work on the side.
10 Things to Consider when building a tiny house?
- How much space do you really need?
- How much will it cost to build?
- Do you want a building permit?
- Where will you get the materials for construction?
- What equipment do you have on hand to get started on the project?
- Do you have a truck and trailer or vehicle to haul away debris as your work progresses ?
- Are there any zoning laws or ordinances in your city that would restrict the size of your tiny home, related structures such as decks, ramps/stairs, etc.?
8: Is there anything else that would affect whether or not a tiny house is right for you at this time and place in life?
- How much experience do your have with construction and remodeling projects?
- How long will the project take to complete?
Can tiny houses be parked in RV parks?
Numerous options exist for parking tiny houses, including RV parks. There are a few things to consider when choosing an RV park to store a tiny house.
First, it is important to know if the RV park will allow for storage of a tiny house. In some cases, there are restrictions on the length and width that might apply to vehicles that park at the facility.
Also, if you have come across a perfect tiny house community, you may be worried that connecting to the power grid (if available) will cost too much.
Since an RV park has access to electricity and water hookups, this may be the most affordable option.
In your research of RV parks, try looking for one with easy access to utilities and consider how much space is available for storage or parking of RVs and similar vehicles.
Do tiny houses have bathrooms?
Yes, tiny houses can have bathrooms. One example of a common bathroom for a tiny house is a composting toilet. This is often referred to as a “humanure” toilet.
Further, there are numerous other technologies for the bathroom that depend on the home owner’s needs and preferences. For example, there is an alternative for a tiny bathroom that is called a “porta-potty.”
Do tiny houses have plumbing?
Yes, and it is a useful thing to have. I’ve always assumed that since tiny houses are so tiny, they don’t have plumbing.
But as I began to research them further, it became apparent that the lack of plumbing can be a serious problem!
And not because of a cultural aversion to plumbing; many tiny house communities show their dedication to sustainability by avoiding waste and recycling everything.
Many tiny house dwellers do this by reusing old stuff. For example, we use a compost toilet and a greywater system that reuses shower water to water our garden.
Do tiny houses have kitchens and dining?
Yes, some small houses do have full-size kitchens and dining areas. The kitchen/dining room may be a full-sized apartment or apartment style kitchen that has conveniences such as cabinets and an oven, sink, and refrigerator.
It may also be a simple table that is used for eating meals with more people or family members.
Does Indiana allow tiny houses?
So, I’m planning a tiny house in Indiana (a.k.a. Hoosier State). My research so far has led me to many articles that suggest you can’t have a tiny home here because of zoning regulations – is this true?
Yes, we’re afraid they are correct. At this time, tiny houses are not legal in most zoning districts in Indiana. While it is illegal to place a structure on your property that is not specifically allowed by the zoning district, it is sometimes possible to receive a variance if there is no applicable policy or if the tiny house fits into one of the more general policies.
What states have tiny houses?
There are many states in the United States that have “tiny houses”, also called micro-homes. A tiny house is a very small dwelling. The first state to pass legislation allowing tiny houses was Montana.
The size of a tiny house varies depending on how one interprets the word “house.” A tiny house can be as small as 120 square feet or as large as 2,600 square feet.
The country’s leading advocate for tiny houses is Michael Janzen who runs the largest website about tiny houses online. He owns two tiny homes and lives off the grid near Seattle. He wrote his own book about building them.
Michael Janzen’s book, “A Tiny House Primer: How to Build Your Own Tiny House in the United States”, offers easy-to-follow instructions for designing and building tiny houses as small as 120 square feet.
It was published in 2003 and is out of print. The book covers every aspect of tiny house construction, from the basics of how to start a small business to the design process for developing a home that fits your lifestyle.
How are tiny houses heated and cooled?
Many tiny houses are heated by natural gas or propane, or electric heating coils.
To cool a tiny house will use passive cooling techniques like shade cloth to reduce heat and ventilation (windows open) to create an air exchange.
Other cooling techniques for a tiny house might be using AC, swamp coolers, evaporative cooler, ice-water chiller pads in windows and wall/ceiling fans.