Archive for the Tiny House Category

Tiny House Office Setup Guide: Work from Home in a Small Space

Tiny House Office Setup Guide: Work from Home in a Small Space

tiny house office

With more and more people working from home these days, I’ve been asked about my tiny house office—how do I stay productive? How do I work from home in a small space?

One of the biggest things that attracted me to tiny houses and simple living in the first place was having more control over how I worked and earned a living. I wanted the flexibility with my time that a remote job and financial freedom could bring.

But remote work from a tiny house isn’t without challenges. Planning and organization make all the difference. Here’s how I set up my tiny house office, and a realistic overview of how to create a small workspace that works!

My Tiny House Office: How I Stay Productive

How I Stay Productive in my tiny house office

I’ve been working from home for over a decade now—being self-employed, I don’t have an employer that I visit. That means I don’t have to leave my tiny house (ever) if I don’t want to. While this control over my work location is excellent, I’ve discovered over the years that working from a tiny house office is HARD.

To be totally candid, I don’t always work from my “tiny house office.” I often work from either a coffee shop or a coworking space. I like the shift of being able to go into a designated workspace when I need to be productive. But that said, it’s not always realistic. There are times when I need to work from home, like when the weather’s bad or if I only have a few things to do, so I’m free the rest of the day to spend how I see fit.

Working Remotely In A Tiny House

working remotely in a tiny house

If you live in a tiny house on wheels, you may also be working remotely from the road. The freedom and flexibility of the tiny life allow you to work from anywhere you want in the world. Plus, a tiny house means fewer bills. You can live on less. But of course, you still need to find a way to earn something, which often means working remotely in one form or another.

I know many people who switched to a work-at-home job when they downsized to a tiny house just because they wanted to change their lifestyle. Some people are willing to take significant pay cuts to enjoy that quality of life.

The thing about tiny houses is that the space is very limited, so you will rarely see a dedicated tiny house office. Often it will be a desk or workplace set up on a countertop, in a closet, or on a drop-leaf table on the wall. Because you’re trying to maximize your productivity (and minimize your work time), you must keep your tiny house office organized, no matter the setup.

Elements of a Good Tiny Home Office

elements of a good tiny house office

There are certain elements that every great office has, no matter the size. It’s essential that you incorporate these features in your tiny house office because it will make a practical, functional space. If you want to get the most accomplished and own your schedule, you’ll need to create an office space designed with everything you need.

Here’s what I suggest when you set up your small space office.

Desk or Workspace

Desk or Workspace in a tiny house

If you’re spending 8 hours a day on work, you should have a designated space to work in. Having a desk is crucial. Many people are comfortable working from a laptop on their lap for a few hours per day, but if you’re working full time, this position can begin to take a toll on your back. Generally, you’ll need a desk and perhaps even a standing desk solution so you can enjoy the benefits of healthy ergonomics while working.

You’ll need a desk that’s big enough for your computer and screen, and that is large enough to accommodate the work you do. If you use a lot of paper for your job, you may need a bigger desktop.

CHOOSE A DESK TYPE

  • Wall-mounted
  • Fold-away
  • Seated desk
  • Standing desk
  • Adjustable height desk
  • Lap desk

BUILDING A WALL-MOUNTED DESK

Making your own dropleaf desk is simple

  1. Determine the size desk you want and location.
  2. Purchase the right-size fold-down brackets.
  3. Choose your desktop material.
  4. Cut desktop material to size.
  5. Determine the height and mount brackets.
  6. Attach desktop.

Natural Light

natural light in atiny house office

I really like natural light, so I have a lot of windows in my house. Believe it or not, I have 21 windows in my 150 square foot tiny home! I also love working outside. My outdoor home office often consists of a setup on my picnic table in my patio area. I feel more focused with sunlight, and it definitely helps boost my mood.
natural light in a tiny house office

Comfortable Seating

Comfortable Seating for a small office space

Again, this is where some people think it’s feasible to work from anywhere in any position. Often an office chair seems like an unnecessary investment, but if you’re working for several hours a day, you need to be comfortable, even in a small space. Look into the best ergonomic office chair you can find, with plenty of lumbar support. A comfortable chair is well worth the investment (and you can always use it as extra seating in your home).
tiny house office comfortable seating

Storage

storage space in a tiny house office

tiny house stoarge ideasI keep a minimalist office. I don’t use a lot of paper or extra items. I easily store most files within my computer. Depending on your work line, it’s important to plan enough storage and space to have room for all the items you need to do your job well.

If your job requires books, files, or certain supplies that aren’t digitized, be sure to plan room for what you need. Be realistic about the items you need to keep (especially paper) and form a plan to store the items and keep them organized.

Power

tiny house electric power outlets

tiny house electricalIf you’re building your tiny house, it’s crucial to plan plenty of power outlets wherever you think you will need them. Since you’re building your house to suit your needs, you have control over the placement, especially if you’re doing the building. So take advantage of the situation to add plenty of outlets. You don’t want to string cords around your house, especially if floor space is limited.

Also, consider the amount of power you will need to use work equipment. If you’re using solar off-grid, you’ll need to be sure you’re powering enough to charge all your devices, run the lighting you need, and accommodate any resources like a printer.

Internet Connection

internet connection in a tiny home office

We live in a world where almost all information is in the cloud and can be accessed remotely. Having internet access means you can travel around and still do your work. Internet access is vital, especially if you live in a tiny house on wheels or a skoolie. You’ll need to ensure you have a strong hotspot device so you can get internet from (almost) anywhere.

If you need details on setting up the internet in your tiny home, I’ve created a guide to off-grid internet access. This post will help you plan for internet access from your tiny home office.

off-grid internet for tiny houses

Lighting

tiny home office lighting

While natural light is essential to a productive workspace, there will be days when the sun isn’t shining (and, of course, nights, where you’ll need light too). For those times, you need to have good lighting for your workspace.
I have LED puck lights on my workspace, which keep the area bright and easy-to-use. Good lighting is vital to prevent eyestrain and stress. You’ll feel much better about your work when you can see well.

Wall Space

wall space in a tiny home office

tiny house office wall spaceDepending on the tiny house office space you have, it can be useful to have a whiteboard, calendar, or bulletin board on the wall. Again, it’s dependent on the work you do, but keeping important information front-and-center can help keep it from falling by the wayside.


My Tiny House Office Setup

my tiny house office setup

As I said before, I have a minimalist approach to working in my tiny house office, so I keep my setup simple—my computer, my phone, and sometimes my bullet journal. As you can see below, I often work outside, and other times I work inside my tiny house.

ryans backyard tiny house office
ryans tiny house office setup

While I don’t have many office supplies and equipment, I need a few things for my office. As with my tiny house furniture, I try to be very careful about what I purchase. I make sure I get exactly what I like, and I’m willing to spend more on high-quality. I’d rather buy an expensive item once than several inexpensive items over and over.

My Tiny House Office Equipment Recommendations

best home office laptop

Laptop: MSI Prestige 15 A10SC-010 15.6″ Ultra-Thin

Of course, you can get any laptop you like and feel comfortable using. Some people might prefer a MacBook, while others may have other brand-preferences. I encourage you to get a high-quality, lightweight laptop, especially if you plan to work in multiple locations. A Microsoft Surface or an iPad Pro can also be very valuable for remote work.


folding laptop stand

Folding Laptop Stand

Of all my work items, I get asked the most about my laptop stand. This simple design is inexpensive, folds flat, and allows you to change from a sitting to a standing desk in seconds. It works great for small spaces because it’s so easy to use and store.


logitech wireless mouse

Wireless Mouse

I, for one, am not a fan of the trackpads on most laptops. While they’re sufficient for using the internet, if you’re doing design work, organizing spreadsheets, or clicking around documents, it’s often worth it to invest in a wireless mouse. You’ll get greater precision, and it’s a little more user-friendly than most trackpads.


logitech bluetooth headset

Logitech Bluetooth Headset

For many of us, a big part of working remotely are video conferences and calls. Communication is essential when you’re working from a distance, so I suggest investing in a quality headset. The wireless aspect is excellent, so you aren’t tethered to your computer. If you need privacy and silence while you work, you may want to look into noise-canceling features too.


portable headset case

Headset Case

Should you invest in a headset, I suggest investing in a storage case, especially if you’re working on the go. This case is semi-waterproof, so it will protect your headphones if you take your tiny house office outdoors too.


bluetooth keyboard

Bluetooth Keyboard

Again, depending on your personal preferences, you may want to get a wireless keyboard. A detached keyboard is ideal for working in different positions, or if you work from a tablet and need a keyboard to be efficient. I type faster from different angles, so I like the remote keyboard when working on a document or post.


keyboard case

Keyboard Case

Like the headset case, the keyboard case protects your Bluetooth keyboard from damage and allows you to transport it when you’re on the go.


cellphone stand

Cell Phone Stand

When I’m working from my tiny home office, I like my cell phone front and center. I often add notes through my phone, take calls, listen to music, and more. Having a cell phone stand helps keep my phone screen in easy view while I work—no worries about it falling off a small desk or balancing it on my laptop.


Setting Up Your Tiny House Office: Ideas & Inspiration

tiny house office ideas and inspiration

Once you have the right components, your office is all about finding the setup that helps you work the most productively. For some, it might mean working outside sometimes. For others, a designated, organized office space (even small) may help you feel focused.

These tiny house offices have many great features and ideas. As you can see, they range from very simple to more complex setups. Hopefully, they give you a good idea of what you need for a great office in a small space.

tiny house home office ideas
tiny house office inspiration
inspiring tiny house office spaces
tiny home office photos
tiny house office ideas
tiny house office examples

Choosing a Spot for Your Tiny House Office

Choosing a Spot for Your Tiny House Office

Should you put your office in your loft? Work from your kitchen counter? While your space choices might be a bit more limited in a tiny house, I would suggest you do your best to strategically locate your tiny house office near a window. Getting the natural light will help you stay alert and focused while you work.

In these tiny home office examples, you can see how windows really make a small office feel expansive and much larger, whether it’s a loft office or a spot under the stairs.

where to set up your office in a tiny home
tiny home office with a view
office location in tiny home
office setup in tiny house
tiny home office location
office under stairs in tiny home
tiny house office location
tiny house stairs

Make Use of Any Space

Make Use of Any Space in your small office

With a drop leaf desk or a small table, you can turn almost any spot into a workspace. With most tasks on a laptop, you don’t need a huge space to get stuff accomplished. A small corner of your tiny home can make an excellent satellite office or work-from-home space.

space in a tiny house office
tiny home office space
organizing space in a tiny home office
making the best use of space in a tiny house office
making use of space in a tiny house office
how to build a tiny house

Office Nooks and Closets

tiny home office Office Nooks and Closets

The “cloffice” or closet-office has become a popular solution for working-from-home in any size space. Whether you have a small nook in your tiny house or want to convert a closet into an office space, you can easily do it with only a few adjustments. The nice aspect of an office nook is that you can tuck it away or close the doors when you aren’t working, especially if it’s a converted closet. Tucking your office away can help you shift out of work mode (something that’s so important if you’re trying to balance working from home).

Here are some examples of well-organized small office nooks.

tiny home office in small nook
office nook in tiny house
office set in tiny home closet
tiny house office in a closet nook

The other nice aspect of the “office nook” is that you will often have built-in shelving across the top of the desk. This allows you to organize books, files, or if you prefer, décor to create an inspiring and workable space.

small office nook
office nook in small house
tiny house office nook in closet space
small office setup in tiny house

Office Organization in a Small Space

office organiztion in a small space

As I said before, I take a very minimalist approach to working from home. This means I don’t have a lot of “stuff” tucked into drawers and setting around my workspace. But of course, my work doesn’t require a lot of accessories and office supplies either. If you engage in certain hobbies (like crafting) or you’re dealing with paper projects in your office, you may need some more robust organization.

Keep Your Desktop Clean and Tidy

Keep Your Desktop Clean and Tidy

One thing I love about the desk below is how neat and tidy the space is. The magazine organizers and file boxes blend in with the décor, making it feel uncluttered, even with a lot of stuff on the desk.

keep your desktop tidy and clean
designing your tiny house ebook

Use File Boxes to Corral Papers

Use File Boxes to Corral Papers

These file boxes and cabinets are excellent for keeping your papers hidden away. Paper clutter is the biggest issue for a tiny house office, so keeping it under control is crucial. I really like the roll-away printer too.

using file boxes to organize papers
corral papers with file boxes

Set Up a Designated Spot for Everything

Set Up a Designated Spot for Everything in your home office

Every item in your office should have a home and should be something you use. For example, sometimes we might think we need to have paper clips or a stapler on hand, just in case we need them. But if you rarely work with paper, then that’s another item to store. Pare down to precisely what you need for work, and then make sure each item has a home.

designated spots for storage in office
store office items in designated spots

The Backyard Tiny House Office: Setting Up a Satellite Office

backyard tiny house office

Recently, the idea of a tiny house AS an office has become quite popular. I see many people who are setting up small houses or even sheds as backyard office options. Should you consider a satellite office if you’re working from home?

There are a lot of pros to the idea of a tiny house office or a shed office. Now, if you’re new to the concept of the tiny house office, you might be thinking: can I use a shed as an office? How do I convert a shed into office space?

Some people have converted sheds into actual tiny homes. The legal aspects of living in a shed vary from place-to-place, but the advantage is that a shed is usually pre-built and not uncommon. People have them in their yards everywhere, and you usually don’t need a permit to set one up.

If you outfit a shed, a trailer, or a pre-fab tiny home with electricity, insulation, and lighting, you can easily convert it into a nice workspace. People like this option because it creates a clear boundary between home life and work life. You’re still “commuting” to a different spot to work, and it can help you shift your mindset into work mode.

If you have a tiny house already, a shed or trailer can work as a tiny satellite office. A separate office may be beneficial if you’re living with another person and need to focus and stay productive while you work.

backyard tiny house office
backyard tiny house office setup
convert shed to tiny house office
tiny house office shed conversion
install a tiny house office in backyard
tiny house office in yard
backyard shed office space
design and build a tiny house book

Working from home in a tiny house office comes with a few challenges, but it’s also very freeing. Many people dream of being able to work when they want and where they want. With today’s advances in technology and cultural shifts, working from home full or part-time is becoming more and more common.

If you’re able to embrace the flexible office lifestyle, make the most of it with a well-organized and user-friendly tiny home office.

Your Turn!

  • What’s your biggest work-from-home challenge?
  • What are your tiny home office must-haves?

Tiny House Furniture: A Room-by-Room Guide to the Furniture You Need for Your Tiny Home

Tiny House Furniture: A Room-by-Room Guide to the Furniture You Need for Your Tiny Home

tiny house furnitureIf you’re considering the tiny life, you may be wondering what tiny house furniture you will need for your new home. Can you use the furniture you already have? Should you rely solely on built-in items?

By and large, people mainly choose built-in tiny house furniture because it takes up less space. Tiny houses have unique margins and size constraints, so you’re limited with your furniture selection. If you have a tiny house on wheels, you’ll also need to ensure your furniture is tied down and secure because you don’t want it crashing around when you move.

TINY HOUSE FURNISHINGS BY ROOM

tiny house living roomLiving Roomtiny house bedroomBedroomssleeping loftLofttiny house dining roomDining & Kitchentiny house patioPatios & Outdoor

When I built my tiny house, I didn’t have a lot of built-in tiny house furniture, per se. I built my clothes closet and some storage areas, but other than that, I purchased furnishings. I know it’s not that way for everyone.

So, what type of furniture should you consider for your tiny house? What can you buy, and what should you build-in? Here’s the tiny house furniture I recommend room-by-room.

Tiny House Furniture: Living Rooms

Tiny House Living Room Furniture

My biggest tiny house furniture goal was to have a really comfortable, nice piece of furniture where I could relax and unwind at the end of the day. I wanted the perfect tiny house sofa. I found a comfortable “sectional” at IKEA and bought only one section (which you can do with almost any brand). Later I upgraded to a small recliner chair. I love it because it’s perfect for sitting, relaxing, reading a book, or even taking a nap.

Tiny House Sofa Or Built-In Couch?

Tiny House Sofa Or Built-In CouchThe most pressing question when it comes to living room furniture is built-in vs. buying ready-made. As I explained above, I opted for a ready-made option. In the examples below, you can see how choosing a stylish loveseat or a portion of a sectional can look really cohesive in the space and make your tiny house living room feel very homey.

tiny house living room couch
tiny house l;iving room sofa
tiny house couch
tiny house living room sectional

When you choose a tiny house sofa, you may also want to look for one that converts to a bed. As I’ll explain when we discuss tiny house bedroom furniture, accommodating guests in a tiny home isn’t always the easiest option. A pullout couch (or simply a comfortable sofa) can offer guests an occasional place to stay but might not be an ideal solution for sleeping all the time. Still, if you find a great-looking convertible sofa that fits the space, go for it.

tiny house living room sofabed
tiny home living room sectional sofabed
tiny house living room furniture
tiny home couch
tiny home sofa
tiny-home-living-room-furniture

Let’s think outside the tiny house sofa for a moment. Another living room furniture option is to simply go with chairs. I really like the recliner that I got for my main living room. It’s comfortable, and it doesn’t take up much space. If you only have one or two people living in your tiny house, then a great chair or a set of chairs might be your preferred way to go.

tiny home chair
tiny home living room furniture
tiny house living space chairs
how to build a tiny house

Now let’s get to the big tiny house furniture question: built-ins or no built-in benches? So many people do built-in bench seats in their tiny houses. Let me tell you, I’ve been in a LOT of tiny houses, and sat on a LOT of bench seats, and frankly, they’re rarely comfortable. People put a lot of time and effort into building these seats only to discover that they’re impractical compared to a couch or a recliner.

That said, there are some ways to do built-ins right. The big advantage is that you can size the piece perfectly to the rest of your house. It will stay in place, no matter where you move your tiny house. The biggest bonus about choosing built-in benches for your home? You can design them with plenty of storage.

Here are some examples of bench seats that seem to work well for the space. Notice that they’re wide enough for comfortable seating and feature plenty of pillows and comfortable padding.

tiny house living room bench
built in benches tiny house
tiny house living room built in seating
built in bench seating tiny home

I also like the idea of combining a built-in piece with another chair or small sofa, so you get the best of both worlds—a nice reading nook with storage and a comfortable couch or chair to chill in. Below you’ll see how a bench seat can work well with other tiny house furniture.

tiny house built in seating
tiny home living room built in seating
built in bench and chair tiny house
tiny house living room bench built in

Other Living Room Furniture for Your Tiny House

Other Living Room Furniture for Your Tiny House

What else do you need in your living room besides seating? Depending on your layout, you may want to include a coffee table that can double as a dining space. A lift-top coffee table can double as a kitchen workspace or a place for your laptop. Watch movies from your couch and then tuck it away when you’re finished.

I keep a small folding table tucked away for when I need some extra surface space. It’s nice because I can use it as a card table, a TV tray, or a workspace.

If you want a built-in table for dining, look for something slim and easy to work around. You still want to access the storage of your bench seat, and you’ll want to comfortably sit and relax when you’re not using the table. The examples below fit the space without being obtrusive.

tiny house built in seating with table
tiny home seating with folding table

Make your living room your own with pillows, wall décor, plants, and anything else you like. Built-in bookshelves can be a nice touch. Rugs and lamps will go a long way to making the space feel cozy and welcoming. Remember that any tiny house furniture you put out will need to be stored or tucked away if you move your home. Being a minimalist, I’ve adopted a less-is-more mentality, especially when it comes to decorations, but you may like to have more decorations, totally up to you.

Tiny House Multi-Use Furniture

Tiny House Multi-Use Furniture

Throughout your tiny house, there are many places where multi-use furniture makes a lot of sense. I’ll cover Murphy beds in the Bedroom section later, but let me say that I’m not a huge fan of most multi-use furniture.

tiny house stairsPeople get excited about the idea of multi-purpose pieces, but I’ve found that many don’t work practically. I’ve found that most fancy multi-use items do a lot of things just okay, nothing really well.

My advice is to look for furniture pieces that do ONE job well. If there is a spot for storage, consider it added value, but make sure the tiny house furniture piece does its primary job first and foremost. Don’t get drawn in by the flash and fun of multi-use pieces that over-promise and under-deliver.

The one area where I do find multi-use furniture helpful is for living room storage. Ottomans that double as storage spots are great because they can be used as seating, footrests, and some even come together to create an extra place to sleep. Nested seating like chairs and stools can also be easy to store in a small space.

 

Tiny House Furniture: Bedrooms

Tiny House Bedrooms Furniture

Tiny house bedrooms are often lofts, but I wanted to talk about both ideas regarding tiny house furniture. If you have a loft sleeping area in your tiny house, it can come with its own set of challenges. Plus, lofts aren’t always for sleeping.

No matter what you have—a ground-floor tiny house bedroom or a loft bedroom—the most significant challenge is fitting the mattress comfortably in the space. You’ll need to look for a tiny house bed that’s the right size for sleeping while still giving you room to move around the area.

Furnishing Your Tiny House Bedroom

Furnishing Your Tiny House Bedroom

The leading tiny house furniture piece in a bedroom is, of course, the bed. Closets are often built-in, and while you may have a small shelf or nightstand, the bed is the central part of the room. You’ll need a comfortable mattress. Spring for high quality and consider a custom-sized option like tiny house mattresses from Tochta.

Once you have the mattress and bedding, it’s a matter of furnishing your bedroom with the items you need to sleep and relax. Wall-mount nightstands and light fixtures can help save space. Shelving behind a bed can offer a practical and functional headboard.

furnishing a tiny house bedroom
tiny-home-bedroom-furniture-shelves
tiny home bedroom headboard
tiny home bedroom pillows
tiny house bedroom furniture
tiny home bedroom furnishings

Getting More Space in Your Tiny House Bedroom

Getting More Space in Your Tiny House Bedroom

When I was building my house, dormers weren’t the norm. They came into vogue later on, and frankly, I wish I had dormers.

Not only do they add complexity to your roof line, but the extra space is nice. My bedroom is in the loft, and I started with a queen-size bed. (You can read about some of the challenges I’ve had with my loft here.) You could fit two people, but you couldn’t sit up on the edges without hitting the roof.

I’ve since switched to an XL twin mattress. While there’s more headroom, it’s not ideal. I would rather have a queen mattress with dormers because there would be more light, more space, and it’s more practical.

If you’re considering dormers, check out these examples below. You’ll see how it makes a world of difference in terms of bedroom space in your tiny house.

tiny home dormer bedroom
tiny home dormer bedroom furniture
tiny house dormer bedroom furniture
tiny house bedroom dormer

Murphy Beds, Trundle Beds, and Built-ins

Murphy Beds Trundle Beds and Built-ins

Let’s talk Murphy beds. For those unfamiliar, a Murphy bed is a bed that folds into the wall. Patented by William L. Murphy around 1900, these beds were made for small spaces (he lived in a New York apartment). You often see these beds featured in old movies, especially in the mid-century.

To be completely honest, I’m not a fan of the Murphy bed. I know that many tiny house dreamers like them in concept. I find that people don’t actually fold them up every day. They end up being sloppy and take up space like a regular bed. For a guest bedroom, a Murphy bed might be a solution to create a multi-use space, but I don’t find Murphy beds very practical for everyday use.

If you like the idea of Murphy beds, here are some working examples below. You’ll see how the beds that convert to a working or sitting space are a little more likely to get tucked away when not used in these examples. With overnight guests, they could be a practical solution.

tiny house murphy bed closed
tiny house murphy bed open
tiny home murphy bed stored
tiny home murphy bed
tiny home murphy bed ideas
tiny house murphy beds

As for trundle beds, hideaway beds, pullout beds, and rollaway beds, they can be useful in the right circumstances. I’ve even seen ingenious “drawer beds” that tuck into the wall. Many of them fall into the same fate as Murphy beds, in that they seem practical until it’s time to tuck them away, and then they become messy. However, these solutions can be useful for families with younger children, especially if they share a bedroom. The kids can use the bed for sleeping and then tuck it away later.

The other alternative bed I’ve seen used in tiny homes is a hammock. While hammocks look Pinterest-worthy and seem fun, I would make EXTRA sure you’re comfortable with sleeping in a hammock for the long term. For most people, they aren’t practical bedroom solutions (but can be fun for kids and great for lounging around).

Tiny House Guest Beds

Tiny House Guest Beds

So what do you do for tiny house bedroom furniture when it comes to guests? An air mattress can be useful for guests that visit occasionally. I find it’s common to think you need a guest bedroom for visitors (what I call an outlier activity). To have a whole room dedicated to an outlier activity (think formal living room, dining room, home gym, and guest bedroom) isn’t practical in a tiny house. In a small home, an outlier room requires tiny house furniture and space that you don’t have to spare.

When I have guests, I spring for a hotel. Frankly, living in a tiny house means I save a lot of money in other ways. The money I would have spent on furnishing a guest room can afford basic accommodation for friends and family. It’s nicer for everyone’s space and sanity.

Tiny House Furniture: Lofts

Tiny House Loft Furniture

There’s a lot of overlap between tiny house bedroom furniture and tiny house lofts. The bedroom is almost always in the loft in a tiny house, and the loft is almost always a bedroom. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A ground-floor bedroom with a loft lounge or storage can be practical. I’ve even seen a loft kitchen that changes up the “typical” idea of what can be done with a tiny house loft.

tiny house loft shelving
tiny house loft furnishing and storage
furnishing a tiny house loft
tiny house loft furnishing

When considering what you want to do with a tiny house loft, look at the rest of your space’s functionality. With a few chairs, pillows, and décor, your loft might become the best area for lounging, practicing your hobbies, or working. In these “alternative loft” examples, you can see how the right decorations make the space useful.

tiny house loft chairs
tiny house loft furnishing ideas
tiny house loft furniture
tiny home loft furniture

Tiny House Stairs and Ladders

Tiny House Stairs and Ladders

One of the challenges and benefits of having a tiny house loft is the need for stairs or a ladder. A lot of people prefer having stairs because they offer storage. That said, stairs take up a LOT of room, but you can find a way to rethink the usefulness of stairs and make them functional. I like the example seen at Tiny House Giant Journey, who created storage and stairs in a unique way. Their tiny house furniture fits together to create the staircase but can be used for seating and storage as well.

tiny house giant journey stairs
tiny house giant journey steps to loft

I have a ladder in my house because it saves a lot of space. BUT climbing up a ladder year after year can wear on you. I’ve broken down the tiny house stairs versus ladders question here to help you weigh the pros and cons.

Tiny House Furniture: Bathrooms

Tiny House Bathrooms Furniture

There’s not a lot of free-standing furniture in the bathroom. Most pieces are built-in, like storage and cabinetry, in addition to the obvious plumbing. I have to say that I probably get the most questions about tiny house bathrooms and how to make a space that’s functional, furnished, and still attractive (and hygienic).

I’ve outlined many of the planning details in my post Designing Your Dream Tiny House Bathroom to help you decide on what you need as far as a toilet, shower, storage, and a sink. Tiny house bathrooms can be really beautiful, despite being small.

The most significant tiny house furniture needs in the bathroom are storage, cabinetry, and a place for a hamper or laundry basket. Laundry storage is one of those quirky things that people often forget to plan in (like a kitchen trash can) and then later regret not having the right space to store.

tiny house bathroom sink and cabinet
tiny house barthroom furniture storage
bath furniture in a tiny house
tiny house bathroom cabinets

Other furniture may include shelving or a vanity to use as a bathroom counter space. Again, counter space is one aspect of a small bathroom that people think they can forgo until they move in and realize that they need a workspace in the bathroom. I’ve seen some incredible bathroom vanities that were converted from a purchased piece of furniture (usually a tall table or a cabinet), so that’s a consideration if you have space.

tiny house bathroom furniture
tiny home bathroom furniture and storage

Don’t neglect storage in the bathroom. You’ll need a spot for towels, spare toilet paper, and any products you like to use. Shampoo, soap, and other toiletries can get in the way if you’re in a very small spot, so you’ll need a method of organizing them. As I always advise, take the storage you think you’ll need and then double it. You will thank yourself down the road for adding in extra storage.

Tiny House Furniture: Dining Area & Kitchen

Tiny House Dining and Kitchen furniture

Like the bathroom, the kitchen and dining areas of your tiny house will likely feature a lot of built-in pieces. Most of us don’t have many free-standing pieces of furniture in those spaces, simply because it’s not practical. That said, you will need a table of some sort and chairs for the dining space. It can be helpful if these pieces of tiny house furniture are multifunctional (for example, if they can also double as a workspace).

Furnishing a Tiny House Dining Room

Furnishing a Tiny House Dining Room

The “dining room” is pretty much just an eating space, a breakfast nook, eat-in kitchen, or bar in a tiny house. Most tiny homes don’t have the square footage to accommodate a full formal dining room. It comes back to those outlier activities. Yes, you may love the idea of throwing a dinner party, but in a tiny house, it’s not practical to host large dinners indoors or to have a dedicated room for an event you hold once or twice a year (like Thanksgiving).

But of course, there are practical and beautiful ways to create a dining space for one or two (and even for a small family) in a tiny house. The most common way is to have a fold-out “bar” or high-top table with bar stools or chairs. These tables can easily double as extra counter space too.

tiny house dining room furnishings
tiny house dining room

When looking for chairs and stools, you can have a little fun. Seating is one piece of tiny house furniture where you can select a design that adds personality to your house. Of course, a simple, lightweight, and functional barstool is an excellent option, but if you plan to use the dining table as a workspace, you may want to explore chairs (or stools with comfortable back support).

tiny house breakfast nook
tiny house dining with a view
tiny house dining table and stools
tiny house dining area with stools
tiny house dining table with stool
design and build a tiny house book

The other dining room furniture option for your tiny house is a built-in breakfast nook-type space. These are often equipped with bench seats that can double as storage. You may find this helpful if your cupboard space is minimal. There are plenty of ways to make the dining area an attractive and functional part of your tiny home.

tiny home dining nook
tiny house nook seating
tiny house dining table nook

When furnishing a dining space for your tiny home, it also depends on your climate. I’m fortunate to be able to eat outside quite often at a picnic table. I enjoy dining outdoors. On colder days and nights, I have a TV tray that I typically use as my table. For my lifestyle, that works just fine, but if you prefer sit-down meals, you may want to plan for a dining space.

Kitchen Furnishings For A Tiny House

Kitchen Furnishings For A Tiny House

So much of the kitchen consists of built-in pieces. It’s splitting hairs whether it can even be referred to as furniture or if the kitchen furnishings are considered appliances. If you’re wondering how to best set up your tiny house kitchen, I’ve created a Complete Tiny House Kitchen Guide to help.

Many questions come up around equipping tiny house kitchens because the sizing is a little different for appliances like stoves and fridges. You’ll want something small enough to work in your space but large enough to be useful. It’s essential to explore tiny house kitchen ideas if you love to cook. Spend extra time planning to ensure you get the kitchen that you want.

Below are some tiny house kitchens side-by-side with their floor plans to help you get a full idea of the layout.

tiny house floorplan
tiny house kitchen
tiny house layout
kitchen in tiny home
u-shaped kitchen
kitchen in tiny house
kitchen floorplan for tiny house
kitchen floorplan for tiny home
tiny home kitchen plan
tiny home kitchen design

As for actual tiny house furniture needed in the kitchen, there isn’t much. IKEA has some free-standing furniture pieces that are nice for small kitchens. Look for chopping blocks that tuck away and foldup islands and tables. The “drop leaf” design is often a preferred feature in tiny house kitchen furniture.

Should you buy furniture in general from IKEA? I include IKEA in my list of resources for tiny house furniture, and I know people have different takes on the retailer. Indeed, many of their furnishings aren’t the highest quality, but it’s very affordable.

It’s important to recognize what you’re getting for the price and realize that there will be some assembly involved. Because they’re based in Sweden, where there are many smaller living spaces, they understand what you need in a tiny home. I think that as long as you’re selective and aware, you can find some nice tiny house furniture at IKEA, especially kitchen items.

The most useful furnishings in my tiny house kitchen are my sink with a built-in cutting board, the hanging storage baskets, and a small space coffee maker. The coffee maker is a particular favorite of mine and well worth the investment. Again, I’m not sure these items count as tiny house furniture, but they’re needed in your kitchen.

Tiny House Furniture: Patios and Outdoor Furniture

Tiny House Patio and Outdoor Furniture

When you think of tiny house furniture, you probably think of indoor furniture only, but I want to point out that your patio and outside space can be a very functional and essential part of your home! In fact, my outside area is probably my favorite spot to spend time and relax. Below is a rendering of my outdoor space.

ryans tiny house propertyFurnishing the outside of your tiny home is just as important as the inside for functionality and maximizing the use of your space. So, what tiny house furniture do you need for outside?

I have two Adirondack chairs made of composite and they’re much more durable than the typical wooden chairs. They require no maintenance or upkeep, they’ll last for many years, and they’re beautiful. I highly recommend investing in them. I also have a composite bench and table. It’s perfect for extra seating and the perfect place for two people to eat. When the weather’s nice, I also work at the table.

For cooking, I love my gas grill. I cook many of my meals out there, especially in the summer. It keeps the heat out of my house, and it’s so easy to clean up. It’s my favorite way to cook healthy, simple food. I also have a fire pit, which is more for gathering than cooking.

Because I spend so much time outside, I have some bistro lights to use the space after dark. You could also include potted plants, side tables, and other furnishings to make your outdoor space feel extra homey.

Recommended Tiny House Furniture Sources

Recommended Tiny House Furniture Sources

Where can you buy tiny house furniture? What are the best retailers?

There are specialty tiny house outfitters and tiny house builders who can help you with the built-in items for your tiny house. The built-ins are often part of the overall design and layout. As for free-standing furniture, these are the best places I’ve found that feature furniture that works well in small spaces.

ikea furniture

IKEA

The Swedish furniture giant is a favorite source for tiny house furniture. Plan to build your own pieces, but many of the items have been designed specifically for small space living.


benchmade modern furniture

Benchmade Modern

Benchmade Modern is an excellent source for beautiful, custom couches made to fit your space. If you want a comfortable seating option, check them out.


tochta

Tochta

For custom-sized mattresses, Tochta is a great resource. The mattresses are high quality and can be created to fit a tiny house bedroom or loft.


resource furniture

Resource Furniture

Despite my mixed feelings about Murphy beds, multi-use furniture can be extremely useful in a small space. Resource Furniture makes beautiful pieces that fold out, drop-down, and tuck away.


the container store

Container Store

Tiny house living is all about staying organized, and the Container Store helps you do just that. They offer an array of items to organize and furnish any sized space.

If you’re looking for tiny house furniture to compliment your built-in pieces, these spots should keep you covered. Remember that you can often afford higher quality items with a small space, so look for furniture that’s durable, comfortable, and beautiful.

Your Turn!

  • What is your must-have tiny house furniture piece?
  • Do you prefer built-in or free-standing furniture?

Skoolie Prices: How Much Does a School Bus Conversion Cost?

Skoolie Prices: How Much Does a School Bus Conversion Cost?

how much does a school bus conversion costLike tiny homes, whenever skoolies come up in conversation, one of the first questions is how much does a school bus conversion cost? Often, people see a bus for sale and assume they can get a great deal—a tiny house for cheap!

While I live in a more traditional tiny house, I’ve done a lot of pricing on skoolies and research on the costs of a bus conversion. Skoolies tend to be slightly less money than a tiny house because the bulk of the structure is already built-in (as the bus). But before you take the plunge, there are a lot of other factors to consider.

Don’t buy a used school bus before you explore the full cost of a school bus conversion. Here’s what you need to know about the school bus conversion costs and expenses. Consider everything before you buy!

NAVIGATION

How Much Does a Skoolie Cost?

How Much Does a Skoolie Cost

The short answer is $20,000 to $30,000 for the initial build-out.

But before you take the skoolie plunge, there are a lot of other factors to consider. Today I want to break down those considerations, so you know exactly what you’re getting into, should you decide that a school bus conversion is the best option for your situation.

hanks skoolie interiorThere are two major cost-benefits of converting a used school bus, the first I mentioned above—you already have the bulk of the structure in place. A school bus provides shelter, and even without much conversion, it’s livable.

The other benefit is that you’re also getting a reliable tow vehicle in the deal. A tiny house requires a tow vehicle because it’s typically built on a trailer. The nice thing about a school bus is that the whole outside is already built. For a tiny house, you might spend $4,000 or more on the trailer alone (not to mention the truck), whereas a $5,000 used school bus includes the house, tow vehicle, roof, walls, and basic structure.

So at first glance, a house on wheels—a skoolie—sounds perfect, but there’s a lot to understand and figure into your budget. We’ve previously discussed the pros and cons of living in a converted school bus (a.k.a. a skoolie). We’ve also shared where you can find a used school bus for sale. There are many additional factors to consider, and the first is the size of the school bus you’re looking for.

The Average Price Of Used Buses By Size

The Average Price Of Used Buses By Size

school bus conversion

THE AVERAGE PRICE BY BUS SIZE

  • 13 window / 40ft (full size) – $5,000 to $10,000
  • 11 window / 35ft (full size) – $5,000 to $8,000
  • 7 window / 25 ft (mid-size) – $5,000 to $7,000
  • 4 window / 20 ft (short bus) – $3,000 to $5,000

Once you’ve found the perfect bus for your needs (you can decide on the right sized skoolie using this calculator), then it’s time to look into material costs for a school bus conversion. With a tiny house, you might spend $3,000 on a roof, $2-3,000 on walls, and an additional $200-300 each time you move the home (or more). Plus, there’s also the cost of the trailer, the need for a tow vehicle, and general expenses of building a tiny home.

For a school bus, conversion costs will be similar, but you’re going to save on the basic structure since it’s already part of the bus. Plan on an additional $15,000-$25,000 to build a nice, comfortable living space inside the used school bus. For additional resources, don’t miss the Skoolie conversion cost guide from my friends at Skoolie Livin’.

Material Costs for Converting a School Bus

Material Costs for Converting a School Bus

The materials for converting a school bus are similar to those for any interior build. I recommend you shop around and compare commodity costs. Some materials are cheaper if you’re on a tight budget—for example, opting for vinyl flooring over tile.

School Bus Conversion Costs Break Down

skoolie flooring cost

Flooring

For flooring, you’re looking at a cost between $2.75 and about $6.80 per sq ft. Sealer is about $0.15 per sq ft, and insulation is around $0.62 per sq ft. With subflooring, if you use OSB, you’re looking at about $1.03 per sq ft. Finished flooring will range between $0.95 up to $5.00 per sq ft. Again, it’s all dependent on the materials you choose.

With any tiny home build, I recommend going with the highest quality you can afford. Not only will it last longer, but it’s often much less than outfitting an entire “standard size” house. Keep in mind, though, flooring and other materials will contribute significantly to the weight of your skoolie.

insulating costs for a skoolie

Insulation

I’ve broken down all the details about tiny house insulation in this post. The same concepts apply to insulation for your skoolie. You’re looking at a cost of $0.50 to $3.65 per sq ft if you decide to do it yourself. Be sure to pay attention to the R-value and do research on what that means for your build.

While the metal of a bus is conductive to heat, the insulation material will help you combat that heat transfer and loss. If you hire a professional to install your insulation, you’ll look at $3.65 per sq ft. Painting and resealing the roof with elastomeric paint can help reflect heat from the sun. You will typically find this paint at the local hardware or RV store (it’s commonly used to seal RVs’ roofs as well).

interior walls in a skoolie

Interior Walls

Like pricing out flooring for your skoolie, interior wall costs can vary. Depending on the finishing materials, you’re looking at a range of $300-1,000. The least expensive option is reclaimed or recycled lumber. As with flooring, you should also keep in mind that certain materials—like tile or hardwood, for example—are heavier and add weight to your skoolie.

A note on the walls of your skoolie—it’s essential to use the right types of materials for your walls. When you choose a grout for tiling a backsplash or shower, for example, you’re going to want a grout that allows for flexibility and movement. Look for materials with an ultra-strong bond. On the road, your school bus will experience movement, no matter how strong the walls are.

school bus ceiling

Ceiling

When you’re converting a used school bus, can’t you just leave the ceiling as is? While yes, it’s possible to leave it, I would not recommend that path because the ceiling isn’t insulated. Remember that the shell of the bus is made of metal. Even if you paint over it (at about $0.50 per sq ft), it’s going to be conductive.

painting exterior of skoolie

Exterior

If you aren’t attached to the idea of a yellow exterior, you can paint your skoolie, but keep in mind that will significantly add to the school bus conversion cost. Some skoolie experts recommend using truck bed liner spray, which will run around $1,800 for the materials. It’s rugged and durable, but it’s also costly. If you decide to use regular automotive paint, you’re looking at $3-400 plus materials (like a paint sprayer). Some people use home exterior paint, which is a less expensive way to paint your skoolie but doesn’t prevent rust.

pro tipSome states require you to repaint old school buses from their original yellow in order to register for title and tags.

— Chris and Sarah From Skoolie Livin

A professional exterior paint job can get very expensive. You might be looking at at least $4-5,000. Some skoolie owners even commission murals or specialty paint jobs. If you’re building a skoolie on a tight budget, then exterior paint is a cosmetic cost you can put off or skip at first. But if you want to invest, a nice paint job can really add to the look of your new school bus home.

learn more about skoolies

Electrical & Plumbing Costs for a School Bus Conversion

Electrical and Plumbing Costs for a School Bus Conversion

Two areas that present a challenge for any home builder are electrical and plumbing. When calculating school bus conversion costs, it’s essential to keep these two areas in mind. Now, you can hire experts for these more challenging tasks, but many skoolie builders decide to go the DIY route.

I’ve written two posts extensively covering the details of tiny house electrical and tiny house plumbing. Both of these translate to skoolie builders and will help you figure out the details of these more complex home projects.

Skoolie Plumbing Costs

Skoolie Plumbing Costs

tiny house plumbingPlumbing is unique for a house on wheels. The costs can vary widely, and it really depends on what you’re comfortable with and how much you plan to travel. Some folks prefer composting toilets, which make it simple. You may opt to have a blackwater tank (which you do need to empty regularly, which is a consideration).

If your converted school bus is mostly going to be stationary, you may have the option of hooking it up to a permanent system or a sewer connection. Skoolies are similar to RVs in that way—like an RV is primarily tanked but can hook up to a sewer connection, you can create a similar system for your skoolie plumbing.

Cost To Run Electric in a Skoolie

Cost To Run Electric in a Skoolie

For your electrical, you’re looking at $1-3,000 plus the cost of solar. You’ll need a breaker box at about $100, wiring at $500, fuses and breakers ($300), and other miscellaneous electrical items for about another $750.

The big difference between electrical for a tiny house and electrical for a skoolie is the 12v electric wire, and components are more automotive (or RV) based. For a skoolie, you’ll use 12v wire, a 12v fuse hub, and often small 12v LED deck lights and light switches for the ceiling.

tiny house electricalMost people go the DIY route when it comes to skoolie electrical, as it’s a risk for electricians to wire an unregulated conversion. Most skoolies have a hybrid 12v, 24v, and 120v, so many electricians won’t deal with it.

If you’re planning to be off-grid, it’s important to consider what you’ll need power-wise and plan so you can stay as efficient as possible. You don’t want to put too many items requiring 120v through a power inverter when off-grid (you’ll lose energy when inverting from 12v or 24v). I really like Schneider inverters, although Outback is also a popular brand. Plan to keep as much of your electricity as possible 12v or 24v, depending on your power bank voltage. Use the inverter wired into a breaker panel that branches out to standard house outlets (with 10/2 or 12/2 wire) to power the limited 120v items.

If you’re planning on going off-grid at one location or traveling to different RV parks, it might be cheaper to go mostly 120v standard house wiring and appliances. It all depends on your plans and lifestyle. Depending on your location, you’ll also need a plan for running heat and cooling in your skoolie.

Installing Solar for Skoolies

Installing Solar for Skoolies

I have a guide to solar set up for tiny houses, which can walk you through everything you need to know to set up solar for your skoolie as well. The process is essentially the same, and you can even run air conditioning through your solar. Having worked with solar for years, I’m a huge proponent of it. Yes, occasionally, it’s a pain to clean panels in a snowstorm, but overall, it’s well worth the time and investment.

For solar costs, you’re looking at $2-4.00 per watt of system production. Without battery backup, it’s about $2.00 per watt. With a small battery backup (2 hours of runtime), you’re looking at $3.00 per watt, and with a more robust battery backup (about 4 hours of runtime), expect the cost to be around $3.00 per watt.

pro tipThe typical battery bank installed in a skoolie is between 200-600 amp hours costing between $1,000-6,000 depending on battery type. A 600 amp hour battery bank allows most people to last up to 1-3 days through poor weather.

— Chris and Sarah From Skoolie Livin

The advantage of battery backup, is of course, that the sun doesn’t shine all day, especially in cloudy areas, in the winter, or wooded areas. So having a battery allows you to dip into that power when you need it. I have enough battery backup for my tiny house to run for about two and a half days. The drawback is that batteries are costly and heavy. If you go with the lighter lithium-ion batteries, you’re looking at about four times the cost.

solar power for tiny houses

How Much Do Furnishings for a School Bus Conversion Cost?

How Much Do Furnishings for a School Bus Conversion Cost

Now that you’ve figured out the school bus conversion costs, you’ll want to furnish your skoolie! Occasionally people think they’ll just throw in found furnishings and items they already have on hand. While that can work in some cases, it’s important to note that you’ll need some different types of furnishings for a tiny house, especially a tiny house on wheels like a skoolie.

Here, I’ve broken it down room by room to help you calculate the skoolie costs:

Kitchen

Cost of furnishing your skoolie kitchen

THE COST OF FURNISHING YOUR SKOOLIE KITCHEN

  • Fridge: $100 to $500
  • Stovetop: $75 to $900
  • Sink & Faucet: $50 to $600
  • Counter tops: $300 to $2,000
  • Cabinets: $60 to $200 per linear foot
skoolie kitchen
Depending on your power setup, you’ll need to look for specialty 12v appliance options for your kitchen unless you convert to 120v. There are also propane refrigerator options out there. I have a guide to tiny house appliances that can help you find the best fridge for your skoolie. The skoolie site, “Skoolie Livin’,” has an extensive guide to refrigerators as well. If you go with a 120v, you’ll need a larger inverter (and it will be less efficient since a power inverter is only about 80-95% efficient), but your appliances will cost less.

Many smaller skoolies and van conversions opt for a 12v chest fridge. Yes, these can be more expensive when purchased new, but they also have a very low power draw. Consider all your appliance needs in planning for your skoolie kitchen.

A propane range (with a battery to ignite the flame) and on-demand propane water heaters are good options for skoolies. If you choose an on-demand water heater, I recommend Renai, which I use for my house.

Bathroom
bathroom and fixture costs for a skoolie conversion

  • Sink: $150-450
  • Shower Stall: $400-1,000
  • Mirror: $50
  • Cabinets: $60-200 per linear foot
  • Tile: $2 to $4 per sq ft
  • Plumbing: $1-3,000
  • Toilet: $25 to $850
  • Freshwater tank – 100 gallons: $295
  • Tankless water heater: $560
  • RO water filters system: $250
  • Water pump: $95
  • Pex & Fittings: $350 to $500
See the plumbing section above for more on the toilet considerations. You’ll need to remember that hot water is also necessary in the bathroom, so consider an on-demand water heater. An electric water pump will need to be figured into your power usage, but you can often find 12v options.

Finally, the other primary consideration in bathroom furnishing is weight. If you tile in a shower or choose a vintage tub, you’re going to be adding additional weight to your skoolie. This can make your travel less efficient, add to the wear on your tires, and increase costs down the road.

tankless hot water heater

Living Areas

cost of furnishing living areas in a skoolie

When it comes to furnishing your living areas, the sky’s the limit. When you look at the really high-quality skoolie builds online (like on Instagram and Pinterest), you’ll see some fantastic custom DIY furnishings. Many school bus converters get really into finding new, innovative, charming ways to furnish their space. As with a traditional tiny house, many builders prefer to create custom, built-in furniture.

skoolie interior

OPERATING COSTS FOR A SKOOLIE

  • Couch/Bench: free to $1,500
  • Recliner: $300 to $1,000
  • Rugs: $150 to $400
  • Bed or sleeping area: free to $1,500
Of course, sometimes you’ll see a skoolie with a recliner or a standard couch too. While it’s not the norm, there are plenty of people who make do with found furnishings and find a way to make them work. The most significant point to keep in mind is that a bus is a moving vehicle, and if you have loose furniture, it’s a hazard. Most pieces need to be secured and built-in if you plan to take your skoolie on the road.

Future Costs: What Will it Cost to Live in a Skoolie?

What Will it Cost to Live in a Skoolie

Once your school bus conversion is complete, you’ll still need to plan for costs (as with any home). The unique part of a skoolie is that you’re also looking at vehicle maintenance in addition to standard home upkeep. Often, people assume that it will be less expensive than a tiny house, but it’s important to consider everything.

Because you’re on the road a lot, you’ll have costs associated with travel (fuel, oil, filters), and there will be some exterior wear and tear. For example, my tiny house roof will last me 50 years, and my siding will last me at least 10, but if I were in a bus, the constant movement and wear would significantly shorten that lifespan.

school bus turned skoolie

OPERATING COSTS FOR A SKOOLIE

  • Oil
  • Filters
  • Tires: $2- $3,000 (most need tires replaced)
  • Batteries: $300-500
  • Diesel fuel (expect about 9 miles a gallon)
I recommend that anyone who wants to undertake a school bus conversion should be technically inclined. You don’t need to be a car expert, but you should know how to do a basic oil change, coolant flush, and how to check tires. It’s a good idea to inspect the skoolie before every drive to ensure nothing is leaking or amiss. Listen for hissing noises from the air ride suspension or air brakes. It’s essential to make sure everything is working to ensure the safety of your passengers. Plus, should you breakdown, it’s nice to have enough knowledge to diagnose the issue and potentially do some light repairs.

how to find a used school bus to build a skoolieOf course, for larger maintenance issues like a transmission or a major engine issue, you should take it into the shop (unless you’re truly familiar with school bus mechanics). School buses have diesel engines, and most of us don’t have the skillset to deal with those (nor is a diesel engine overhaul something you can fumble through). Keep at least $3-5000 in your budget for repairs, especially if you plan to travel frequently. When your home is on wheels, a breakdown can leave you stranded (and you can’t always sleep in the back of the mechanic shop).

Finally, there may be other costs like RV parking costs and, of course, insurance. Remember that most insurance companies won’t cover a skoolie during the conversion process (you may need to get commercial vehicle coverage).

If you’re looking for a used school bus to buy and convert into a skoolie, go in with your eyes open to the full cost. People often focus on the deal they’re getting on the used bus and gloss over the other costs rolled into the conversion. If you’re not careful, you can blow through your budget very fast. If you’re working on a tight budget, planning will help you avoid surprises, especially if this is your first time with a DIY school bus conversion (there will definitely be mistakes and redoes).

At the same time, don’t dismiss the idea of living in a skoolie. The options and freedom of taking your house on the road are fantastic. Explore the country in the comfort of your own home (on wheels)! Converting a used school bus is a great project to explore; be sure to budget for the most success.

Your turn:

  • What are your most significant cost concerns with a skoolie?
  • What budget will you need for your dream school bus conversion?

Tiny Houses With Rooftop Decks – 15 Creative Tiny Homes To Inspire Your Design

Tiny Houses With Rooftop Decks – 15 Creative Tiny Homes To Inspire Your Design

Tiny Houses With Rooftop DecksA rooftop deck on your tiny house is a great way to add extra outdoor living space to your tiny home. Many people want a tiny house with a rooftop deck in their design so that, while they’re traveling around with their tiny home, they’ll always have a great view from up top.

These decks are a really good option if you’re going to be moving a lot. When I built my tiny house, I designed it to be more permanent so I opted for a patio to extend my living space. I added a fire pit, two Adirondack chairs, and a grill, and did some landscaping to complete my outdoor living space.

How To Add A Rooftop Deck To Your Tiny House

How To Add A Rooftop Deck To Your Tiny House

The biggest downside to a rooftop deck is that it can be tricky to support without compromising your roof. There have been some very clever ways tiny house builders have added roof decks, but too often I look at a rooftop deck built on top of a tiny home and can tell just from the photos that it’s going to lead to a leaky roof.

So what’s the best way to put a rooftop deck on your tiny home?

I’d start when you’re building your tiny home from day one. On the trailer, I’d weld four support columns made of metal square tubing rated to support the load. Welding those ensures that the load transfers directly to the strongest parts of your tiny house trailer.

These columns will be built within your walls and come just below your roof line, then extend out only as far as they need to clear the roof and support your roof top deck above. A cross member between the support columns that prevents the columns from deflecting outward can be concealed in the tiny house loft and walls.

This method will allow you to fully support your rooftop deck without making a single roof penetration, which is key to having a leak-free roof.

Tiny House Rooftop Deck Access

Tiny House Rooftop Deck Access

Of all the ways that I’ve seen tiny homes build in rooftop access, an external ladder seems to be the best method. A possible secondary method would be an operable skylight that can be opened from inside. These two options aren’t as easy to get onto your tiny home roof as some of the fancier decks where the roof rolls back, but again, they’re the best methods to avoid leaks.

An exterior ladder isn’t ideal, but it’s a simple solution. If you decide to build a skylight to access your tiny home roof, I’d make sure the curb of the skylight is built up at least 6 inches, apply Grace Ice and Water Shield to the transition, and then have a single piece of metal flashing custom built so there are no seams at all in your metal roof flashing.

How to build a tiny house book

Tiny House Rooftop Deck Photos For Design Inspiration

Tiny House Rooftop Deck Photos For Design Inspiration

Here are some great examples of tiny houses on wheels with rooftop decks to inspire your own design. With these designs, look for how they control for water infiltration, how they gain access to their roof, and other unique deck design features they’ve worked in.

Tiny House With A Roof That Opens

Tiny House With A Roof That Opens

Tiny House Roof That Opens
open rooftop deck on tiny home
rooftop deck opens on tiny house
open roof on tiny house
movable rooftop on tiny house
open rooftop deck on tiny house

This house is built with a roof that rolls back to reveal the loft bedroom in this tiny home. Of the houses here, this is my favorite because of the light wood and the fact that on a nice night, you can open up the roof and see the stars.

Gooseneck Tiny House With Rooftop Deck

Gooseneck Tiny House With Rooftop Deck

Gooseneck Tiny House Rooftop Deck
deck on top of gooseneck tiny home

If you want to have a tiny home built on a gooseneck trailer or fifth wheel, this is a great design for you to consider. The two-tone wood siding and metal cladding give this a pretty modern look. This house also has a well-built skylight that you can open up and climb onto the roof through to access the deck. You’ll also notice they’ve built the roof and applied the deck to the ribs of the standing seam roof to hold fast, but do not have any additional penetrations.

Shed Roof Tiny Homes With Rooftop Deck

Shed Roof Tiny Homes Rooftop Deck

Shed Roof Tiny Homes Rooftop Deck
rooftop patio on tiny house shed roof

Here are two modern looking tiny homes that have shed roofs and a nice deck on top. These simple roof lines are a great way to simplify your rooftop deck. Without complex angles to work around, you can more easily mount the decking on top. Keep in mind that you want at least a 2/12 pitch to your roof.

Tiny House Rooftop Deck With Fold Down Railings

Tiny House Rooftop Deck With Fold Down Railings