Archive for the Tiny House Category

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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photo 4

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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?

 

Cob Houses: A Simple Guide To Building A Cob House

Cob Houses: A Simple Guide To Building A Cob House

Even though I am busy building my own tiny house, I still find myself thinking about building a cob house… is that cheating on my tiny house?

cob houses

I have been coming back to cob houses again and again because I love the curves of cob walls, the organic feeling that the cob mix brings and the price is also very attractive.  I have thought about building a cob house if in the future I decide I need more space if I get married or just want more space.

 

What Is Cob?

Cob is basically clay, sand and usually straw mixed together to be used as a building material, kinda like bricks, but the advantage is that most of the materials can be sourced on site or purchased cheaply.  Having the right ratio of these three ingredients will let you create a study mix.  It’s basically like mud castles for adults, that is a building technique that’s been used for over 10,000 years!

Why A Cob House?

why choose a cob house

A Cob House is natural building material that has lots of beneficial properties that lend itself to a very comfortable home.  With the thick walls of the cob house, you have a lot of thermal regulation happening.  So in the heat of summer, the walls keep things cooler.  In the cold of winter, the walls can carry heat late into the nights.

Cob Lasts A Long Time

Cob is also very durable if it is properly sheltered from the rain.  A good roof will protect the walls and last for hundreds of years.  Even when the house has started to weather, you can actually re-apply a new layer of cob on to the outside to make it brand new!

simple cob house with lots of natural light

Cob Housing Is Affordable

Cob is also very affordable, in many cases all the materials can be found on your own land or can be obtained in large quantities for quite cheap.  You’ll need to do a soil test on your own dirt to see if it’s suitable for cob building, but in general most sites have some usable soil.

Cob Houses Are Pretty Fire Resistant

Because it’s mainly clay and sand, you don’t have much for forest fires to burn up.  Cob is a popular choice for areas that prone to wild fires or other extreme weather.

cob house with arched roof

Cob Houses Are Healthy

Creating a cob house often creates a very healthy home for air quality.  The one area you’ll need to spend some attention on is moisture levels.  Once you make your cob, it will need to dry out full and that can take months to years.  The bulk of the moisture will dry out of the walls in the first year, but will not fully cure for 1-2 years past that.

interior cob walls of house

Once you build the house and add a roof, you should allow it to breath for many months before moving into it. Then I’d do your internal sealing process. When you do move in, a dehumidifier will be important to draw the large amount of moisture out of the air.

Curved Walls And Round Cob Houses

The thing I love most about cob houses is the curves of the walls.  There is something so cozy, so appealing, so comforting about the curves in a cob house.  You can have these organic forms that allow elements just flow into each other.  It is hard to put your finger on exactly what it is about cob houses, but they have this magical quality that seems to resonate with some part of our brain.  I love it

How Do You Mix Cob?

how to mix cob the right way

The important part of cob is getting the mix right, you want roughly between 2 parts clay, 1 part sand, sprinkling of straw and a little water.  To mix these together the favorite method is with your bare feet!  I love the feeling of the cob squishing between your toes, so much fun!  You want the ingredients to be very well mixed, moist, but not wet and the straw well worked in.

The mix should hold its form solidly and not look like its melting or slump.  Make a test set of brick and allow them to dry.

Building A Cob House

building a cob house step by step

A cob home has a lot of benefits, the one down side is that it’s very labor intensive and takes a good while.  Unlike traditional houses which can got up very quickly, cob is a slow process, so be prepared.

Set The Foundation For Your Cob House

No house is any good without a solid foundation to build upon and that goes doubly for cob.  Because your cob walls are so thick, around 24 inches thick, we are talking about a lot of weight.  Literally thousands of pounds of weight from the walls alone.  We want to have a good clear site to build the house.

cob house foundation

Start by clearing the top layers of soil to get to the solid base layer soil.  You want to dig down to below your frost line which can be 2-3 feet in some areas.  From there build your base with quality materials and tamp down with a powered tamper as you build your way up.

Consider water flow, so that water will be channeled away from the house site and any water that does come to the house can drain away quickly.  Use french drains and swales to handle this water.

Build Your Cob Walls

The walls in a cob house are super thick, which is what gives it’s strength.  Your walls will be thicker at the base and get thinner as they rise.  At the top, your walls might be around 18 inches, but your cob wall at the base will be 24 inches.  As you build, poke holes int the top of the wall to allow you to integrate the next layer into the bottom layer.

layer of cob mix to create a cob wall for the house

In general you can only build your wall 2-3 feet vertically at a time before you’re going to want to let it set and dry some.  This is an important step and is what takes so much time with cob.  Allowing it to dry will make sure the wall doesn’t slump over.

Windows And Doors In A Cob House

You can absolutely have windows and doors in a cob house.  The main approach here is to have a solid timber act as the header for the span of the top of the window or door.  Basically have a big beefy piece of wood at least 6 inches thick and go for as wide as the wall.

install of windows into a cob house

You want the header to cross the gap of the opening and then extend at least one foot on either side so it rests firmly on the top of the wall, transferring weight onto the wall.  The larger the span, the larger you need to extend your header to be supported by the wall.

Built In Cob Shelves, Stairs, Etc

Because you’re making the walls out of cob, you can form steps into the floor, you can have the cob flow so it has places to put books and other storage spaces.  You are also able to have wood stoves, fire places and other cooking surfaces part of the actual cob structure.

This is where your creative side comes out and you can work in beautiful curves, artistic elements and anything else you can come up with.

Sealing Cob Walls

plastering cob walls

There are a large number of natural ways to seal the walls of your cob house.  Various plasters, finished mud layers and white washes can all be used in the final stages of the walls.  This helps seal the walls and keep them lasting a long time.  It also lets you color the walls in artful ways.

Seal Your Floors

My favorite way is to do several finish layers of finishing mud and plaster.  From there, 5-10 coats of linseed oil applied directly to the dirt floor.  Finally come in and polish the floor with bees wax.

bees wax sealed cob floors

This approach brings a reasonably durable floor that is healthy from an air quality perspective, but also beautiful.  There is something so satisfying as that finished waxed floor rests under your bare feet.

What Can Cob Be Used For?

Cob is a great multi purpose building material.  Basically, most of what you’d normally build into a house, you can also build out of cob.  Cob has been used for thousands of years, so we have learned a few things about how it can be used in various way.  Here are a few of the big ones:

Cob Structures

Obviously cob can be used to build a house out of, but it’s also good to make other elements.  In the distant past, this was the building material of choice, so barns, well houses, out buildings, animal pens and storage buildings were all made out of Cob.

Cob Ovens

My favorite use of cob is building cob pizza ovens… because, pizza.  A cob oven can get to 800 degrees and is key to making a really good pizza.  It’s also really good for baking breads.  The oven is able to have a very consistent heat that also has some moisture to it.  This is way better than your home oven that has wild heat swings.

me building cob oven

Typically what I’ll do is get the oven heated up full, then put a little door on the front to let the heat fully soak into the mass of the oven.  From there I’ll stoke this a bit, then clean the bottom floor with a wet rag, making sure the coal bed is pushed to the back of the oven.

From there I’ll cook my pizzas which can fully cook in as little as 30 seconds!  I’ve been able to raise my small cob ovens up to 800 degrees for really fast cooking times that make delicious thin crust pizza.

After pizzas, I’ll toss in a few loafs of break to bake as the heat starts to tapper off.  I don’t add any wood, just let the heat bleed off, which it will still be around 500 degrees at this point.

Finally I pull the bread and slide in whole chicken, a beef roast or other large meat with vegetables.

Rocket Mass Heaters

A rocket mass heater is just a high efficiency wood fire that the heat is piped through a large mass of cob and sometime rocks.  The cob will heat up and the larger the mass of the cob, the better.  This is usually done as a cob bench, which allows you to have a useful large mass in your house.

bench in a cob house with a rocket mass heater through it

 

Cob House Tours

Here is a collection of some of the best cob house tours I’ve seen.  Take a look at these video tours:

Cob Design Inspirations

One of the wonderful things about cob homes is the ability to have a lot of artistic flair to them.  The natural curves of the house are one of the best features of cob homes.  Here are some photos for you to get some design ideas for your own cob house.

Cob house interior

Cob houses can be big and 2 stories

cozy bedroom in cob house

use a rocket mass heater to heat your cob house

organic shapes for handmade cob house

natural curved cob stairs

Cob house interior with wooden beams and stone floor

cob house exterior

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?

 

Design Inspirations For The Perfect Tiny House On Wheels

Design Inspirations For The Perfect Tiny House On Wheels

Looking forward to building your own tiny house on wheels? Before you ever start build your tiny house, the first step is to figure out the perfect design for you!  Here are inspirations for your future tiny house design.

Tiny House Models You’ll Love

The outside of your tiny house is almost as important the inside.  One of the reasons tiny houses have been so successful is that they pay attention to details.  The outside of a tiny house if often a modern aesthetic or a more traditional look, coming from the roof lines, window selections, color pallet and other important architectural features.

Click Here For Our How To Build A Tiny House Book!

 

Tiny House Storage Ideas

Storage is a big deal in a tiny house because you don’t have a lot of space.  It’s important to capitalize on every nook.  For storage in your tiny house make sure that you design the storage around what you need to store.  This begins with downsizing your possessions now so you know what to store later.

  • Use vertical space to maximize storage: extending the storage area up adds up
  • Have a home for everything:  Everything has a place and everything in its place
  • Capitalize on any empty spaces: under stairs is a great place to add storage
  • Use multi-function items to maximize the impact of an item in your tiny house
  • Ask yourself do you even need the item?  Less you have, the less you store

 

Click Here for our free tiny house plans including materials list and budget sheet!

 

Amazing Tiny House Kitchens

The kitchen is the hub of the house.  Nothing brings family and friends together like a good meal.  For your tiny house kitchen consider how much you like to cook, if you’re a master chef wannabe then it makes sense to build out a bigger kitchen.  If you manage to burn toast, then a kitchenette might be right for you.

  • Consider your favorite dishes and how they impact your kitchen setup
  • Even if you like to get fancy, keep a minimalist kitchen
  • Consider your stove heat source: gas, electric or induction burner
  • Choose your kitchen equipment and build your storage around that
  • Don’t forget to have a place for trash that’s out of the way
  • When it doubt, have a pantry that’s bigger than you think you’ll need

Click here to learn more about how to wire a tiny house the easy way!

Great Video Tours Of Tiny Houses

 

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Tiny House PlansThe complete tiny house plan reviews, find the right one for you!

solar oven review guideEver wanted to find the best solar oven?  Here is our complete guide and reviews!

building codes and zoning for tiny houses

Click here to learn all about tiny house building codes!