Archive for the Tiny House Category

Tiny House Plans For Families

Tiny House Plans For Families

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As more and more people join the tiny house movement, a lot of folks with families are looking to make the leap. But of course, fitting more people in a small space presents a big dilemma. Tiny home floor plans don’t always accommodate multiple people.

I get the question a lot: “How do I make a tiny house work with a family?” People want to know how they can enjoy the family life and still live comfortably in the small space of a tiny home. Plus, there are additional considerations that come along with children—toys, learning space, storage. Yes, kids are small, but they also come with a lot of “stuff.” It seems tough to live in a tiny home as a family.

Well, never fear! There are plenty of families who embrace tiny house living successfully. It’s all about having the right tiny home floor plans and doing some careful preparation before you move. Here’s what you need to know as you explore tiny house plans for families.

What to Consider Before You Start Designing Tiny Home Floor Plans

what to consider when choosing a tiny house floor plan for your family

Of course, moving into a tiny house requires planning. There’s the general planning—how to go solar powered, dealing with water and septic, and of course, finding land for your tiny home. The planning needs of living the tiny life are especially relevant if you’re moving with kids and multiple people. Before you begin designing tiny house floor plans and looking for land, there are some considerations to explore.

If you’re looking to move into a tiny home with your family but aren’t sure how to handle the logistics of tiny house living with kids, you have options you can explore. There are many ways to make small space living work with a family, here are a few methods consider:

  1. Rent or buy a small house with enough minimum room for the family to live comfortably. As you’re looking for space, aim to keep the per person square footage reasonable (and cost-effective).
  2. Build a slightly bigger tiny house; maybe expanding to 10-feet-wide and up to 40-feet-long. Remember, most tiny houses are well under 400 feet BUT, there’s no rule that says you MUST fall under that 400 foot house guideline. If you’re wondering how to live in a small home with a family, you may simply need a slightly bigger (but still small) space.
  3. Start with a single tiny house when your kids are small, then add on or move to a bigger house later as your kids get older and need more room. Babies need less space than older kids, and it could be a great time for your family to explore tiny home living with a starter house.
  4. Consider building multiple tiny houses: adults’ and kids’ houses, sleeping houses, or living and kitchen houses. You aren’t limited to only one structure. Create multiple tiny homes on the same plot of land or add another structure to accommodate the needs of your family.

The point here isn’t to get tied up in what a tiny house is supposed to be, but what works for you and your family. People email me all the time wondering what is considered a tiny home, or worried they must live in a traditional tiny house that’s around 150 square feet. Nope!

The “best” tiny house floor plans for families look different for each situation. Each tiny house family is unique, so if you’re considering moving into a tiny home, forget the square footage rule unless it’s right for your situation. Tiny houses have thrived because they are flexible housing solutions, not a rigid definition. There are no strict rules saying your tiny house floor plans must follow a certain square footage. Create your own guidelines for a tiny home that works for your lifestyle.

Considerations To Choose Your Tiny Home Floor Plan
Tiny house floorplan considerations

Whether you choose to go with a pre-designed floor plan for your tiny home or you customize tiny house floor plans for a family, it’s important to consider all your needs. When it comes to designing tiny house floor plans for families, there are unique factors to think about when planning the layout.

The first step is to create a list of needs. What does your family need to function? To put another way, what does a house need to provide you with to live your life? What needs does your tiny house floor plan cover? Could you combine ideas using several tiny house plans for families?

I like to think of this room by room as I look over tiny house floor plans. When I’ve helped people decide on their tiny house needs, I’ll go around the person’s current space and look at what function and activity takes place in each area.

tiny house for a family of 4For example, when you assess the kitchen, you may want to consider: pantry storage (10 ft3), food prepping area (a sink, 6 ft² counter top, a trash can, a cutting board), dish storage, dish washing area (4 ft² for a dish drying rack, a place to hang towel, soap and sink storage). You see the idea here. Remember to consider: storage, number of rooms, and the needs of each occupant (including the small ones).

The goal is to operationalize every action in the tiny house, making sure to only write down the core functions, true needs, and the minimum space needed to achieve them. This is challenging, but it will give you a clear picture of exactly how much space you and your family will need to plan for in your tiny house.

Needs to consider as you look at tiny house plans for families:

  1. Play and sleep spaces for kids.
  2. Storage for toys.
  3. Food storage.
  4. Large enough prep and cooking space for bigger meals.
  5. Area for learning, quiet study, or homeschool space.
  6. Winter clothing storage for kids.
  7. Extra bedding and blanket storage.
  8. Storage for outdoor toys, sports equipment and bikes.
  9. Bathroom needs (washing out dirty diapers, for example).
  10. Laundry and sanitation needs.

For a full picture and examples of how to make tiny house living with a family work, check out this video. These two parents used smart strategies for designing tiny house plans for their family. They designed the tiny house they’ve lived in for the past few years along with their two young children. They’ve come up with many creative ways to make the tiny house lifestyle work with kids:

It’s certainly possible for a tiny home to accommodate all the needs of a family, but it will require additional planning and consideration (and probably some creativity). For example, if you live in an area with warm weather for most of the year, you may be able to have your homeschool lessons outdoors in nature’s classroom. If you need to store extra outdoor equipment or winter items, you could consider renting a storage space, or using a trailer to store extra items when they aren’t in use. Tiny house living means thinking outside the box.

Sample Tiny House Floor Plans for Familiessample family tiny house floor plans

Here are samples of small house designs with multiple bedrooms that might work for you and your family. These tiny house plans for families will help you get started with the brainstorming process and give you an idea of the layouts that are possible to accommodate multiple people.

Please note, these are just floor plans, not step by step instruction guides or building plans, but they should help give you an idea of the available tiny house plans for families.

8x24 tiny house floor plan for a family

This 3 bedroom tiny house floor plan includes an upper and lower level. It’s suitable to accommodate two twin beds AND a queen-sized bed. It would be a great tiny house floor plan for a family of four, with a dining/workspace that could be converted for play or study as well. The kitchen and bathroom are small but cover all the basic needs of a family. There is also some storage space and options to add storage under and above the beds, in the kitchen, and throughout the home.

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This 2 bedroom tiny house layout is one of my favorite tiny house floor plans for families. With bedrooms and a nice-sized great room, this space offers all that you would need for a small family. Best of all, there’s a covered porch, which is great for a little privacy to use as a learning spot (it could be a great option for homeschool). There’s a dining area and kitchen with prep space as well. This tiny house floor plan packs a lot of functionality into a small area.

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These tiny house plans for families offer a one or two-bedroom layout. The one bedroom would be perfect for a couple or a family with an infant. The two-bedroom layout gives space for families of three or four. This floor plan features a shared dining/living space that’s roomy and offers extra spots for storage of items like blankets, books, clothes and toys.

Two Bedroom Tiny House Plans for a family

This 2 bedroom tiny house floor plan is another option with a longer, narrow layout. The covered porch is roomy enough for reading, study, or play. There’s two nice-sized bedrooms, and with some creative bedding options (bunkbeds, or even a Murphy bed) there could be enough room for several kids in addition to two adults.

simple small house for a family to live in a tiny house

The footprint of this tiny house floor plan is squarer, but similar to the option above, with a nice-sized covered porch. The living room is roomy and the bathroom (with a bathtub) is right off the two bedrooms. The kitchen opens into the living room, which is nice for a busy family—one space for all your needs.

The Challenges of Designing a Tiny House for a Family

challenges designing for a family in a tiny house

If you choose to design your own tiny house floor plan (or work off a plan that you adjust for your family), the possibilities are endless. Decide on a layout that will accommodate your family’s needs and preferences.

I think the two biggest challenges when it comes to designing a tiny house for a family are: eating and sleeping. In the kitchen, you’ll need more storage and a larger food preparation and eating area. For sleeping, each kid will need their own bed and possibly even their own bedroom. There’s also clothing storage, toys, and other needs to consider.

When it comes to family-sized storage, realize not all your possessions need to get crammed into your tiny house. As I mentioned before, you can use a trailer or off-site storage if you need more space in your tiny house. You can read about my extra storage space, which is a cargo trailer, here. Families could easily do something similar with storage: maybe even sub-divide the trailer into compartments for each person.

wardrobe in a tiny houseAlso think about rotating wardrobes if you need more living space for your family in your tiny home. Many people keep a winter set of clothes and a summer set of clothes, which works well for families with kids. You can store bulky winter clothes like coats, boots, gloves, and snow pants out of your home to create more room. Store out-of-season clothing in another spot too, like a trailer or storage unit if possible.

Families have more mouths to feed, of course. Bigger meals mean you’ll need to consider extra cooking space for your family in your tiny house. Each family has different cooking habits and preferences, so design your tiny house kitchen around your needs. If your family enjoys freezer meals or you use frozen food storage, you’ll need to include space for a freezer. If you prefer canned vegetables, include a can rack and storage space. Design a space to accommodate your preferences.

The extra bedding spaces is a major challenge for families in a tiny house. When you design or decide on your tiny home floor plans, I think there are two approaches to sleep space: 1) Plan for bedrooms for every person (or a parents’ room, boys’ bedroom, girls’ bedroom). Or 2) plan spaces that are multi-functional and convert into a bedroom or sleeping space (see ideas for convertible spaces below).

Tiny House Plans: Convertible Spaces

tiny-house-convertible-spaces

Making a tiny house work for families means creating multi-function areas that can be used in many different ways. Beds take up one of the largest footprints in your home, so naturally, finding a way to make bedrooms convertible is a big space-saver.

When it comes to bedding and sleeping spaces for kids, look for furniture and designs with multiple functionality. Many of these furniture design ideas are commonly used in apartments and other small-space dwellings and they work great when adapted for tiny homes. You can often find convertible furniture at stores like IKEA, with multi-use pieces.

Think outside the bedroom too. Use convertible furniture in the living room or in an office workspace during the day. At night, using multipurpose pieces, the room can become a kids’ bedroom or sleep space. Homeschool parents can use a dining table as a workspace, or a porch as a classroom.

Here are some great multi-function convertible furniture pieces to consider:

Day bed for kids beds in a tiny house on wheels

A futon that lays flat to become a bed, then a trundle comes out for another bed.

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A trundle bed (I like the tent which is fun for kids, but also allows them to close the flap for privacy or alone time).

Here is a elevated trundle that has two beds and storage for kids in a tiny house

An elevated trundle that has two beds and storage.

A standard trundle bed for childrens bedroom

A standard trundle bed

A double bed, bunk bed Murphy style for kids in a tiny house

A double bed, bunk bed Murphy style

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Two bedrooms in a small space.

samll space pantry in a small house

Space-saving pantry and kitchen storage that folds away.

kitchen storage in a tiny house

Stairs that convert into extra kitchen storage.

classroom storage for homeschooling kids in a tiny house

Classroom storage for homeschool.

Is a tiny home possible for a family? You bet! It simply means thinking of new ways to use and maximize small spaces. While it requires storage strategies and creativity, much of tiny living success starts with your tiny house floor plan. Review the tiny house floor plans for families and consider what your family will need for their space. With planning and research, a tiny home can work for everyone!

Resources for Families Considering the Tiny Life

My most popular posts of families who live in small spaces are:

I’ve also posted ideas for small houses that could lend themselves to being used for a family or adapted:

Tiny House Builders – The Complete Tiny House Builder Directory

Tiny House Builders - The Complete Tiny House Builder Directory

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Looking for quality tiny house builders is an important step if you want someone to build you a tiny house on wheels.  In this tiny house builders directory, I’ve tried to share the best of what’s out there.

While I’ve listed this tiny house directory by state, don’t forget that since tiny houses are mobile, you can have your home built almost anywhere and then driven to its final home.  Builders typically charge between $1-$2 per mile to deliver, so the cost can add up, but if you have your own tow vehicle, you can pick it up yourself and save.

This also means you can shop for the best builder, getting quotes for prices, learning from previous customers and meeting the builder face to face.

What To Look For From Tiny House Manufacturers

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Choosing a builder or manufacturer for your tiny house is a big decision and not something you should take lightly.  In my time working in the tiny house world I’ve continually heard horror story after horror story of how things have gone wrong.  Don’t let your dream home turn into a nightmare.

If you want to buy a tiny house, you must do your homework and be skeptical at every turn, because I’ve seen my fair share of tiny house builders come and go.  In fact I’d say it’s the norm, not the exception.  Many people are wanting to cash in on the trend and not all are honest about it.  So here are a few steps to make your tiny house buying experience safer.

Ask For References

It’s really incredible how many people don’t do this, it’s one of the best ways to safeguard yourself from a bad builder.  A good custom tiny house builder is proud of their work and encourages you talk with their past customers.  I once had a builder who wanted to come to the Tiny House Conference and I notified he had some bad builds, so I asked him “can you send me some references?”

He hemmed and hawed, gave excuse after excuse.  Red flag!  Its an easy thing to do, call several of the past customers.  Ask how their house is today, how was it like working with the builder, where they communicative, how did they deal with problems that arrived, etc.  Don’t just make one phone call, make several.  Tiny Houses are expensive and you should leave this up to chance the best you can.

Get A Contract From Your Tiny House Builder

Time and time again I’ve seen this, people don’t get things in writing.  They jump right to the build and they don’t spend time getting everything down on paper.  This is the best time to find out where you and the builder are thinking differently.  You want to make sure you have a solid plan laid out and agree on how you’re going to resolve disagreements.  Read my post here about Making sure you always have a contract

Have A Payment Schedule Tied To Progress

When it comes to building a tiny house, you want to make sure you just don’t write a blank check.  Make sure you spread out the payments over time and then tie those payments to milestones.  If you have 4 payments along the way, you can check in on it and then they’re incentivized to keep moving on the project.  Being very clear on when they get paid and what they have to do in order for you to pay them will let you safeguard them running off from all your money.

Spend The Time & Money To Draw Tiny House Plans

The first step in every build should be the design stage.  You need to be very clear on what you want and get that on paper.  Having real plans drawn up by an architect is critical as it is an addendum to your contract which allows you to better specifically call out each detail of your house.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people not do this and get a house very different than they were expecting.  All because they didn’t work it out on paper.

Include A Detailed Material List

Here is one area that scammy builders get away with things.  Let’s say you want a window in a certain place, you want flooring of a certain color, or a light in the loft.  What are the details of those things?  I can buy a cheap window that looks awful for $60 or I can buy a fully custom window that costs $1,000; how have you documented which it should be?  You need a full material schedule for everything.

If you don’t take the time to do this a builder can charge you a high price for something saying it will be “high quality”, but then choose a budget option to meet the requirement.  What does high quality mean, what were you expecting?  Define each material and quantify the quality as best as you can.

Learn How To Build A Tiny House

You need to actually know how to build a tiny house, even if you aren’t going to build it yourself.  Why?  Because I’ve seen a lot of “professional builders” building houses incorrectly.  In some cases I’ve seen “tiny house builders” build them unsafely!

You need to know and you need to check their work at every step.  Take photos of the process and make sure to get the details.  Develop a paper trail for your own records and to have a way to make sure the work is being done properly.

If you don’t live in the same location as your builder, require them to Skype or Face Time you with video each week of the process.  Then make the trip, no matter how far, to go see it in person after the framing has been done.  Ask for this up front.

Hire A Building Inspector

Yup, that’s right.  Hire someone to come in and assess the tiny house.  Do this at the end of framing and then right before delivery.  This lets you have a third party evaluation, plus it let’s the builder know that there is a certain quality expectation.

You want to know how to make a bad builder turn tail and run?  Tell him you’ll have a building inspector checking their work along the way.  A good builder will welcome the review, a bad one will make excuses or disappear.

Should I Get A RVIA Certified Tiny House

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The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) is a association of builders that make RV and those with the certification means they meet certain standards.  Many people ask about this because they think it’s required, but it actually isn’t.  Builders like it because it sounds impressive and they can charge a higher fee, it allows some to get financing and in some cases it let’s you find a parking spot more easily.

There is a catch.  If you get an RVIA certified tiny house you are then officially a RV, sounds good right?  Maybe not.  In my city it is illegal to even park an RV in any residential area and you’re not even allowed to “camp” or live in it, even for 24 hours.  People who try to live in a RV in my city will get a fine and this is a very common thing across all of the US.

So being defined as an RV actually hurts you in many places.  It often means that you have to be in a campground, which many places limit your maximum stay.  Once you’re designated an RV, it cannot be undone or changed.  In my opinion it limits you to much and for most people in the USA, its actually a deal breaker because your city won’t allow it under any circumstance.

Download Our Builders Directory PDF

TINY HOUSE BUILDERS DIRECTORY

Alabama Tiny Home Builders

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Alaska Tiny House Builders

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Arizona Tiny House Builders

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Arkansas Tiny House Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

California Tiny House Builders

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Colorado Tiny Home Builders

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Connecticut Tiny Home Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

Delaware Tiny Home Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

Washington DC Tiny House Builders

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Florida Tiny House Builders

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Georgia Tiny Home Builders

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Hawaii Tiny Home Builders

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Idaho Tiny Home Builders

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Illinois Tiny Home Builders

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Indiana Tiny Home Builders

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Iowa Tiny Home Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

Kansas Tiny Home Builders

kansas

  • None currently: consider nearby states

Kentucky Tiny Home Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

Louisiana Tiny Home Builders

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Maine Tiny House builders

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Maryland Tiny House Builders

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Massachusetts Tiny House Builders

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Michigan Tiny House Builders

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Minnesota Tiny House Builders

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Mississippi Tiny House Builders

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Missouri Tiny House Builders

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Montana Tiny House Builders

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Nebraska Tiny House Builders

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Nevada Tiny House Builders

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New Hampshire Tiny House Builders

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New Jersey Tiny House Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

New Mexico Tiny House Builders

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New York Tiny House Builders

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North Carolina Tiny House Builders

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North Dakota Tiny House Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

Ohio Tiny House Builders

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Oklahoma Tiny House Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

Oregon Tiny House Builders

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Pennsylvania Tiny House Builders

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Rhode Island Tiny House Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

South Carolina Tiny House Builders

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South Dakota Tiny House Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

Tennessee Tiny House Builders

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Texas Tiny House Builders

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Utah Tiny House Builders

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Vermont Tiny House Builders

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Virginia Tiny House Builders

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Washington Tiny House Builders

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West Virginia Tiny House Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

Wisconsin Tiny House Builders

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Wyoming Tiny House Builders

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  • None currently:  consider nearby states

Download Our Builders Directory PDF

Want to be on this list?  Know a good builder?

 

Framing My Tiny House

Framing My Tiny House

Framing your tiny house is a really exciting time in your building process. When you tip that wall up for the first time the change is dramatic, the next wall goes up, then the rest and before you know it your home has a form. It’s an inspiring time in building your home, so here are some of the details on how to frame a tiny house.

how to frame a tiny house on wheels

Framing your tiny house is an important step because it’s the bones of your home on wheels. Don’t rush through this and make sure your walls are all straight, square and plumb before starting. Before you even start building you first wall, make sure your base is level, taking your time to level the trailer will go a long way to making sure your walls will be straight.

Marking Your Top Plate & Bottom Plate:

In this video, I get into how to lay out all my studs on the top and bottom plate. It’s important to do this planning to make sure your walls are straight and well laid out.

Building Your Tiny House Wall:

Once we’ve cut our studs to the right length and measured out all locations on your top and bottom plates, it’s time to start actually framing up the wall. We use ring shank nails and some screws to make this happen, check out this video for the details on how to build a wall for a tiny house:

Raising Your Tiny House Walls:

When you frame your tiny house, I find it best to lay the wall down on the trailer and use the flat bed of the floor to keep everything straight while you frame. From there you’ll need to raise the walls up onto the edge of the trailer and then lift it up and drop it on top of your anchor bolts. I had help from my father and brother to lift the walls into their place, with three people it was easy and went up fast!

Tiny House wall framed on trailer

how to frame a tiny house on a trailer

Lifting a framed wall on my tiny house

 

Framing Over Your Fender

The fender of your trailer is a tricky spot because it’s a large span and can be a major area where water and bugs can get in. Below you can see how I did it on my tiny house. If I were to do it all over again, I’d make that board spanning over the wheel well a header. Framing it with two 2×4’s with a 1/2 inch piece of plywood sandwiched between them. You want to leave an air gap so that water can get out if it does work its way in.

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Roof Framing For A Tiny House:

Framing the roof of my tiny house was the hardest part of the whole build in my mind. Being up high plus compound angles make it complicated. There is a fair bit of math involved and even pros have to take a second to think about it when you get to framing any complex dormers or bump-outs. The big trick here is taking your time and build a template for your roof rafters.

Cutting your rafters requires you to make “birds mouths” which are notches that will rest on top of the wall’s top plate. This is a complicated cut because you need to get the angles, position, and size of the cut perfect. Use a speed square (which you should own at least one!) to make these cuts.

birds mouth for froming a roof on a tiny house

Advanced Framing For Tiny Houses:

This is a technique that uses materials more efficiently and reduces weight, while still providing reasonable structure. Instead of your normal 16 inches on center, you’ll frame your walls 24 inches on center.

advanced vs traditional framing

Advanced Framing Vs Traditional Framing:

ADVANCED FRAMING

  • Studs are placed 24” on center
  • 2×6 studs used
  • Header hangers
  • Headers are insulated
  • Single stud for rough opening
  • No cripple studs for windows
  • Corners have just two studs
  • Single top plate

TRADITIONAL FRAMING

  • Studs are placed 16” on center
  • 2×4 studs used
  • Create headers with two boards
  • Headers um-insulated
  • Double up at windows
  • Cripple board under the window
  • Corners have four studs
  • Double top plate

Framing Your Loft In A Tiny House

When it comes to the loft you want to make sure it’s sturdy, getting your loft framing is critical for a few reasons. First, you want to make sure it can support you, a mattress and anything else that might be kept in the loft area of your tiny house. The loft rafters also act like collar ties in some ways, preventing the roof from pushing out and collapsing in on itself.

The below video is about framing the roof, but you can see how I did my loft framing with 4×4 fir beams.

Tiny House Sub Floor Framing

The subfloor is the base of your framing, which will eventually sit right underneath your actual finished floors, but until you trim out your house it will be kept a raw floor. You want to frame your floor like you would a wall, doing 16 inches on center, but instead of sheathing, you want to use tongue and groove subfloor decking. Make sure that you glue and screw your subfloor decking to each stud to prevent squeaks later on.

 

A detailed guide on how to build your own tiny house using any set of plans or your own design. Learn what tools you’ll need, make the right choice with critical decisions, and understand key building techniques.

 


Wall Framing For A Tiny House FAQ

 

Can I frame my tiny house with aluminum framing?

Absolutely! Steel or aluminum framing are all viable options if you’ve done the engineering right. Metal framing is very strong but can flex and twist a bit more than wood would, especially if done incorrectly. Your go-to source for this type of framing is a company called Volstruckt, which does on-demand steel frames for tiny houses.

What about 2×2 wall framing for a tiny house?

For interior, non-load bearing walls you can absolutely go with 2×2 walls if you’re not running any electrical through it. It may get caught by an inspector for a code violation, so check your local building codes. Outside of interior and non-load bearing, you need to use at least 2×4 studs for your walls.

How Thick are tiny house walls?

Tiny House walls are about 4.75 inches thick. This includes your interior cladding (1/4″ thick), your wall framing filled with insulation (3.5″ thick), your sheathing (1/2″ thick), and your outer siding (typically 1/2″ +/- depending on your siding).

How Much Does Framing A Tiny House Cost?

A typical tiny house that’s 8 feet wide by 20 feet long will cost $300-$800 to frame. That is for only studs and fasteners. Sheathing will add around $800-$1,000 to that. Windows can run anywhere from $60 each to several hundred. Doors typically go from $300-$2,000.

What about house wrap?

My best advice is to look around your city and see what other builders are doing when it comes to house wraps and vapor barriers. These things are very climate specific, so tap into that local knowledge. I’m a huge fan of skipping the house wrap and using zip panels by Huber instead: they’re cheaper, more durable and don’t blow off in the wind.

My walls aren’t straight or square, how do I fix it?

First know that there is no wall that is 100% square, straight and plumb. We want to get as close as possible. First, make sure your trailer is actually level, just because it was a few days ago, doesn’t mean it still is. From there get a 6-foot level and look at your corners and how the stand. Then take a large carpenters square or laser level and check how square the wall are to themselves. Finally, fix them with ratchet straps, figure out which way you need to pull and use the straps to pull the wall into square.

 

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Rent To Own A Tiny House On Wheels: How Much Does It Cost?

Rent To Own A Tiny House On Wheels: How Much Does It Cost?

As tiny houses get more popular people are looking for more affordable housing options and a rent-to-own tiny house is one option to move into a tiny house today!  Rent-to-own is an agreement, in which you rent a tiny home for a certain amount of time, then have the option to buy it before the lease expires.

rent to own a tiny house on wheels

So today we are going to break down all the key parts of a rent to own agreement and what you need to know when it comes to paying for a tiny house on wheels with this method.

How Does Rent To Own Work?

how does rent to own work

When it comes to renting a tiny house to own there are two main types: Lease Purchase and Lease Purchase.  The main difference is that with a Lease Purchase at the end of the time period you have the option to buy the tiny house.  While the Lease Purchase at the end of lease, you’re legally obligated to buy it.

In some cases when your lease window comes to an end there may be an agreed upon amount you’ll have to pay to finalize the purchase and in other cases you can make it so when the lease payments are completed, you’re the owner with no more additional money.

What Is The Cost To Rent To Own?

how much does it cost to rent to own a tiny house on wheels

Like many things in life, it depends.  Generally speaking a completed tiny house will cost the builder between $20,000 and $60,000 to build, with that in mind you’re going to typically see a monthly payment between $120 per month up to $460 per month depending on terms and cost of the house.

When you rent to own you’ll also be required to pay a down payment, which is between 2%-5% of the loan, so plan to put down at least $500 up to $3,000 as your down payment.  This number is often negotiable and can be worked out, but the more you can put down the better.

Tiny House Mortgage Calculator:

tiny house mortgage calculator

To get an estimate of your future tiny house that you’re going to mortgage or rent-to-own, you can use this mortgage calculator to get a rough idea of what you’re going to be paying for monthly.

For interest rates, figure 1 to 2 points higher than the going mortgage rate because tiny house loans often come with terms above market.  Also consider a shorter term for the loan: 5 year, 10 year and 15 year are most common, while most places won’t do more than 20 years and that’s rare.

Rent To Own Tiny House Shells

rent to own tiny house shells

A tiny house shell is another really great way to save even more money.  A shell is simply all the exterior elements (roof, siding, windows, and doors) built on a trailer.

I recommend tiny house shells to people who don’t have much building experience because it lets all the really important parts be built by a professional tiny house on wheels builder, but not going through the expense of all the interior work which really should be customized to your needs.

About a third of the labor that goes into building a tiny house on wheels is in the shell, while the bulk of the time spent on building goes into the last steps of finishing the inside.

Buying a tiny house that is already built can be tricky because if it isn’t designed for you, then it won’t meet your needs and you’ll be looking to move out.  So make sure you know the layout that you need to enjoy life and meet all your day to day needs.

Tiny House Builders That Offer Finance

tiny house builders that offer financing

At the time of writing this post there are several tiny house builders who do financing.  It should be noted I make no claims on their craftsmanship, business practices and this shouldn’t be seen as an endorsement.

Whatever you do, it’s important to get a contract with a tiny house builder.  This is very much buyer beware as I’ve seen many less than honest builders.

How To Find A Used Tiny House For Sale

how to find a used tiny house

Another option is to find a house that is second hand.  You can save a lot of money this way and since tiny houses are often difficult to sell, you could find a seller that will consider a lease to own arrangement.

This is really a win win for people because you can get a house that’s very affordable, below market value often, and get it on a rent to own lease.  For the seller they may have struggled to sell the house and they’re able to sell the house if it’s been sitting on the market for a long time.

Make sure you do your homework on the house before you buy it.  Get a home inspection, check to make sure they have a full title and their ID matches the name on that title, and finally request all the documentation they have for you to review. Even if you aren’t going to be doing any construction yourself, it’s really good to know how to build a tiny house, because if you understand the process, you can spot where people built the used house incorrectly.

Buying a used tiny house isn’t for the faint of heart, but you can find such amazing deals that it’s a really attractive option in my book.

Rent To Own Storage Buildings

rent to own storage building

A storage building or shed can be another option you should consider.  For many of the same reasons as the tiny house shell, a storage shed is pretty similar.  The added benefit is most storage building companies very commonly do monthly payment.  Typically they have terms of 36 months (3 years) and require between $300-$1,000 down payment.

This is another great option because you can quickly get finishing the inside and start living in a shed.  These storage buildings are commonly available, a quick search shows I have over 30 companies that build and sell these in my city alone!

The one downside is that they aren’t as mobile, but they still can be moved on a flat bed or many tow trucks with beds.  Realistically this is a great option for people.

Renting Land For Your THOW

renting land for a tiny house

Getting a tiny house is just one part of the puzzle, you also need a place to put it!

Some things to consider when it comes to finding a place to park your tiny house is what access do you have to the property, you need a big enough space to get it on the property.  What utilities are available or included with the rental?  Where will you park your daily driving car once you live there? How will you get mail, host guest and dispose of trash?

There is a lot that goes into setting up land for a tiny house, so do your homework.

To find places to park your tiny house on wheels you should check out my article about how to find land for a tiny house post.


Tiny Home Rent To Own FAQs

rent to own FAQ

Is It Good To Rent To Own?

Rent to own is one option out of many when it comes to buying a tiny house, it really depends on your financial history and budget.  For many people there is simply no other way that they could rent.

For some it’s because they have bad credit, others can only afford so much, for some they want a smaller monthly payment.  The one downside to rent to own is you’ll typically end up paying more for the same house over the long term because it’s seen as a riskier loan to make.

Is Rent To Own Cheaper Than Renting?

At this point I’d say yes, mainly because it’s hard to find a tiny house that is done as a rental with the exception of those run as a hotel which carry a high cost per night.

What If I Miss Payments On My Lease?

Depending on your lease agreement, you could be at risk to loose it all, including your down payment.  Different lease terms stipulate different things, so know what you’re signing and make sure you understand what you’re getting into.  Always make sure you keep 3-6 months expenses saved in case of job loss so you’ll never be in that position.

Can You Rent To Own With Bad Credit?

In many cases yes, but not always.  A rent to own agreement is treated like a loan and credit scores are used to asses your financial fitness to repay that loan.  Those with bad credit should expect to have to put down more money and pay a higher interest rate on the lease.

Who Pays Maintenance During The Lease?

In most cases the person who is renting to own (the one living in it) pays for all repairs and upgrades.  Different agreements will stipulate different things, but typically it’s on you.  Any upgrades and repairs typically aren’t factored into payments and if you end up walking away, you loose all that money you put in.

Your Turn!

  • What are your plans to live in a tiny house?
  • How are you planning on funding your tiny house?

 

Heating a Tiny House: How To Heat Your Tiny House And Stay Cozy All Winter Long

Heating a Tiny House: How To Heat Your Tiny House And Stay Cozy All Winter Long


Heating a tiny house in the winter has it’s challenges. Now that we’ve moved to Vermont from the sunny South we’re doing research into heating appliances. We have been talking to folks in the area about what they use and we’re pondering between a few options.

Choosing Which Tiny House Heater Option Is Right For You:

There are a few things to consider when it comes to choosing a heater for your tiny house and it boils down to a few key things. First off will you be on the grid or off the grid. Off grid winter heating will narrow your options to a few, while if you are on the grid, you have many other options.

Once you’ve determined your grid status, you’ll need to consider the practicalities of your lifestyle. What do you want your life to be like day to day and what is and isn’t going to work for you. Many people idealize a wood stove, but they don’t think about waking up in the morning to a cold house before they can stoke a fire up again. For me I just wanted the simplicity of pressing a button, so I opted for a heat pump in my tiny house.

Sizing your heating system is critical to keeping your house nice and warm without getting too hot. I’ve been in my fair share of tiny houses where a heater either couldn’t keep up with how cold it was outside and I’ve also been in an equal number of tiny houses that were so hot we had to open windows in the dead of winter to prevent us from sweating. For me, I needed a tiny house heater that made about 3,000 BTUs for where I live in N.C. Use a BTU calculator to figure out what is right for you tiny house.

cost of heating fuel

 

Finally price, money is important. Some setups cost more on the front end and less over time, while some are cheaper to start with and require on going costs or the costs are higher over the long term. I’ll dig into each of these as we go through all the options.

Electric Heater Options For A Tiny House:

electric heat

Electric Heater Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to find at any store
  • No installation, just plug in
  • Can find the right BTU size for you

Electric Heater Cons

  • Takes up floor space
  • They’re not particularly good looking
  • Expensive to run, draws a lot of electricity
  • Not practical for off the grid

Electric
Cost

  • $40-$100

Probably the easiest, cheapest option right now and fairly efficient in terms of heating a space our size. We could get through the rest of the Vermont winter comfortably with our current electric heater but it’s certainly not attractive and it takes up floor space. This option also requires you to be on the grid, most of these heaters start at 1,500 watts for a around 5,000 BTUs and go up from there. With electrical loads like that, you’d have to have a very expensive solar array to power that in the winter.

The great thing about electric heaters is that they’re super cheap, we picked our us for around $45 and you can find that at any major big box retailer. The do work well to heat a space and you have two main options: forced air and radiant heaters.

Forced Air is for when you want to heat up a space fast, the fan in them often is pretty loud, but you can heat the space quickly which is nice when we come home from work and want to turn up the heat. While they are noisy, this is a good option for us because we are out and about often, so we turn down the power while we are gone.

Radiant Heat is for when you can take the time to let a space to heat up. These are often oil filled radiators style heaters, which are near silent in their operation and gently heat the air around them. If you’re on the grid and going to be spending a lot of time in the house this is a good option because you can heat the house up and then let it coast.

Since this would only be a temporary situation right now, seeing as we will be hooking up our solar panels this summer and investing in a small wind generator later in the year. We’re also contemplating micro-hydro electric but that’s for another post!

Heating A Tiny House With A Wood Stove Or Pellet Stove:

wood stove and pellet stoves to heat your tiny house

Wood or Pellet Stove Pros

  • Cozy fire is nice
  • Less impact on environment
  • Can be used to cook, heat and more
  • Fuel generally cheap

Wood or Pellet Stove Cons

  • Medium to high initial cost
  • Needs large clearances
  • Hard to find one small enough
  • Takes work and can be messy

Wood or Pellet Stove Cost

  • $800-$2,000

We met a tiny house dweller on a farm nearby who uses a wood fired stove. She loves it because she enjoys the processing of the wood and the look of the wood stove in her tiny house. She’s also able to heat water on top for tea making or dish washing. When electricity has gone out during the winter she has had no problems keeping warm and heating food.

There is a homey feeling to a wood stove that you just can’t quite achieve with gas fueled units. However, a wood stove is messier, with ash falling through and wood chips and bark trailing in from the wood.

Tiny House Wood Stove Options

It’s not easy to find a small wood burning fireplace, most are just too big for a small space. Jotul is a popular wood and gas stove company here in Vermont and folks tell us they are the best. We’re not sure they make one small enough for our space so we’re going to check out their showroom this week. We’ve also been looking at Dickinson Marine wood stoves as well as Woodstock soapstone stoves made regionally over in New Hampshire. Kimberly Stoves are also an option, but are expensive.

Finally Hobbit Wood Stoves are a popular options because it’s one of the few best heating options for small homes due to it’s size. It’s designed for small spaces so it’s a serious contender for wood stoves for your tiny house.

get the most out of your tiny house

There are a few considerations you need to make when it comes to having a wood stove in your tiny house. First is getting a stove small enough for you tiny house, if you don’t size it right, it will generate too many BTUs and leave you roasting inside your tiny house. This happens to most people when they try to heat their small house with wood because it’s hard to find a wood stove that’s small enough.

Next is the space it takes up. Wood stoves require a lot of space just in their size, but also in clearances. You often need to give a good amount of space around the wood stove to make sure it’s safe and doesn’t catch nearby surfaces on fire.

Finally consider your lifestyle and how a wood stove will impact that. Wood stoves require frequent tending, wood needs to be chopped, stacked, then hauled in and finally the stove needs to be cleaned. It’s a lot of hard work and it can be a messy affair when soot gets out. Pellet wood stoves I’ve found to be a happy medium between ease of use, easy temperature maintenance and ease. You can’t really make your own pellets, but there is a strong case to be made for them.

Kerosene Heaters For Indoor Use:

kerosene heaters

Kerosene Heater Pros

  • Vented or un-vented
  • Thermostat Controlled
  • Burns very clean

Kerosene Heater Cons

  • Medium to high initial cost
  • Uses fossil fuels
  • Hard to find fuel sometimes

Kerosene
Cost

  • $80-$1,500

Several people have told us that kerosene is worth the set-up and cost of fuel. It burns really hot and it is 90% efficient according to a local gas supplier. In terms of BTU output kerosene beats out propane, but it’s not as clean burning and is more polluting to the environment although they make filters now that reduce emissions.

Kerosene is the cheaper option when compared to propane, but we have found it’s not as easy to find. I’m also most concerned about carbon monoxide so a vented heater would be essential in such a small space. The Toyotomi Laser kerosene heaters are an option, but I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews. Another option is a free standing kerosene heater like a Dyna-Glo heater, which is nice because you can remove it when not using it. The main downside is that it isn’t a direct vent heater, so you need to be careful about air quality and safety. Overall, kerosene seems like a good option for back-up to electric heating,m but after more online research we are considering this option less and less.

Tiny House Propane Heater Options:

propane heat sources: heaters

Propane Heater Pros

  • Vented or un-vented
  • Thermostat Controlled
  • Burns very clean

Propane Heater Cons

  • Medium-to-high initial cost
  • Uses fossil fuels
  • Hard to find fuel sometimes

Propane
Cost

  • $80-$1,500

Clean burning, efficient, relatively inexpensive and easy to find we’ve seriously considered the propane option. Our stove currently helps heat our house and it’s run off propane so hooking up a heating element wouldn’t be too difficult.

The Dickinson heater is an attractive and efficient option and was a contender to the wood stove option in our deliberations, but after talking with many other tiny housers, we heard a lot of bad things. Mainly that they look nice, but don’t put out enough heat. Even though the Dickinson heater says it puts out 4,000-5,500 BTUs, many people have called that into question. It also lacks a thermostat which was a deal breaker for us.

The other really good option if you’re considering this is a Mr. Heater propane heater. This was great in the south because we didn’t always need a big heater, so we could store it away when we needed to, but on those colder than normal nights we could break it out and heat our tiny house up fast. While it uses 1lb propane canisters, we felt it was very wasteful, so we got the 20lb propane tank connector hose (the size your grill runs off of).

What I like about propane is that it’s pretty cheap, I run my tiny house off of it and we spend about $100 per year heating the house, using it to cook and for my hot water heater for my tiny house. The other thing is you can get the tanks refilled almost anywhere and I prefer to use the 20lb tanks because even when they are full, I can carry them pretty easily.

Tiny House Heat Pumps:

heat pump and mini split for heating and cooling

Heat Pump Pros

  • Can heat and cool
  • Thermostat Controlled
  • Takes up no floor space
  • Very efficient

Heat Pump Cons

  • High initial cost
  • Requires some professional help to setup
  • Doesn’t work in very cold climates

Heat Pump Cost

  • $800-$3,500

This is a good option for people who live on grid, because heat pumps are getting more and more efficient. In really cold locations this should generally be avoided because the system functions by capturing any available heat from the air and concentrating it to heat the home. Once you get to around 30 degrees, most units have electric heating coils to boost the system, but that puts you back in the boat of standard electric heating.

The upside to heat pumps is that the provide heating and cooling for your tiny house, which is what I ultimately decided for my system. While it is difficult, you can run a mini split off solar with a large enough system and an efficient enough system.

The main brands you want to look for is Mitsubishi and Fujitsu, both make good units that are a high SEER rating which is a measure of how efficient they are. You’ll want to find a unity that is at least a SEER 20 for on grid use, if you’re off grid you want to be as high of a SEER rating as possible. At the time of writing this, Carrier just launched a new mini split that is a SEER 42 which is astounding.

What’s great about mini splits is you can mount the air handler on the wall so it doesn’t take up any floor space. It is also programmable, so the thermostat can turn on and off when you want and some even allow you to control via your phone so you can turn it on remotely to come home to a toasty house.

Best Heating Options For A Tiny House:

The best heating options for a tiny house

Now that we’ve broken down some of the major types of heaters for a tiny house, I want to share what I think are the best options when it comes to heating a tiny home.

1. Carrier Infinity Heat Pump – $2,500

Heat pump by carrierIt’s hard to beat these heat pump mini splits because that can heat and cool all in one unit. Their high efficiency inverter heat pump with a SEER of 42 is insane, I have yet to setup one, but I’m guessing it can heat at around 500 watts which is unheard of.

2. Heat Storm Deluxe Indoor Infrared Wall Heater – $80

convection electric heaterThis is the best alternative I’ve found to the popular Envi Flat Panel Heater which is no longer made. What’s great about this heater is it plugs right into an outlet, its very low profile so it doesn’t take up much space because it mounts right on the wall. The kicker is that since it’s just a plug in heater, you can remove it easily and store during the warmer months. At $80 and a 10 minute install it’s hard to beat it if you’re on the grid.

3. The Hobbit Small Wood Stove – $1,100

hobbit small wood stove for a tiny houseFor those who want to go off grid with your heating you’ll need a very small wood stove and the Hobbit Wood Stove is one of the smallest ones out there. While you could go with the Kimberly Stove, its very expensive. At 18 inches x 12 inches you can’t get much smaller and still feed it wood, so this is a great option for those who want to heat and cook with wood.

4. Mr. Heater – MH9BX Propane Heater – $69

Mr. Heater propane portable heaterThis is a great heater and super practical. It runs off of propane which you get almost anywhere, it’s easily portable and it puts off a lot of heat when you need it. I think everyone should have a Mr. Heater regardless of what heating option you go with as a back up heating source. It can be fuels by 1lb tanks or you can get the hose for grill size tanks.

5. Oil Filled Radiator Heater – $72

oil fille radiator heaterThis is another good option and make the cut for my list because they’re good at heating spaces, you can wheel it in when you need heat, but still store it when it’s warmer weather. The oil filled radiator means you have a nice even heat that doesn’t make much noise. The down side to these is that use up a lot of energy, so if you’re off grid it’s not an option and if you are on grid, power bills can be high.

Considerations When Heating Your Tiny House:

What considerations you need to make when choosing a heater

The last few points here to consider are safety, indoor air quality, and insulation. Obviously safety is paramount and many of these flame based heaters can lead to fires if you’re not careful. If you have smaller children, a heater on the floor presents a hazard to kids touching it. Indoor air quality is something to consider too. When in such a small space, as you burn fuels you’re using up your oxygen and putting out gasses like carbon monoxide which is serious business. Venting is always preferable, but it’s a trade off because venting takes up a lot of space and need to be done correctly.

Finally if you’re build your own tiny house, it’s important to make sure your house is well sealed and spending more money on insulation upfront will result in a lot less money being spent later on. Don’t skimp on your insulation and choose the highest quality windows that you can afford.

Ultimately our main criteria for heating units include efficiency, safety, cost and environmental impact. We are deliberate in every choice we make with the house and want to make the best choice for our space, the environment and our wallets. It’s not an easy choice but a very necessary one now that we live in a state with actual winter. It’s definitely going to be easier to heat the tiny house than it was to cool it in the hot, humid Southern summers!

which fuel option is the best for a tiny house guide

Your Turn!

  • What do you recommend for heating a tiny space?
  • What options have you considered?