Archive for the Tiny House Category

What Truck Do I Need To Tow A Tiny House?

What Truck Do I Need To Tow A Tiny House?

towing a tiny house

NAVIGATION

When I decided to move my tiny house, there was a lot to learn. First, let me say that towing a tiny house is slightly (or maybe not-so-slightly) terrifying. It’s a big undertaking, and you’re not only moving a big load, but you’re moving your actual HOME.

Towing a tiny house is no easy job, even for someone who’s experienced. Most tiny house owners either buy a home that needs to be moved to their land or build a tiny house that needs to be moved around the property. Unless you’re building your tiny home from the ground up on its foundation, you’ll definitely need to move it at least once—more if circumstances change.

Ryan Mitchell in his tiny house living a simple lifeHi, I’m Ryan

Towing a tiny house is pretty nerve wracking, but with the right truck to tow your tiny home, you can have one less thing to worry about.  It’s something that a lot of people don’t think about until after they build their own tiny house.
Ryan Mitchell - Simple living expert

It’s important to know how often you plan to move and how much your house—and everything in it—weighs before making any decisions. Not every truck is suited to tow this much weight, either, so you must have the right truck for towing a tiny house. After moving my house this last time, I must admit there are a few things I will do differently if there’s a next time.

If you need to move or tow a tiny house, here’s what you need to know.

Understand Your Truck Towing Capacity

Understand Your Truck Towing Capacity

If you’re towing a tiny house, you need a vehicle that can handle the job. To put it simply, truck towing capacity is how much weight your vehicle can pull—and it can be tricky to figure out. You must account for all the weight, including the trailer, the payload in your truck bed, and even passenger weight if you’re running close to your truck’s limits. You can calculate the weight of your tiny house here.

Once you’ve determined the weight of your tiny house, contents, cargo, trailer, and passengers, you’ll need to find out what trucks are capable of pulling it all.

truck towing capacityIn 2015, all the major truck manufacturers—Ford, GM, Toyota, Chevy, and Nissan—adopted a uniform testing and rating method to determine towing capacity. This made it much easier for me when I started looking for the best truck for towing a tiny house.

However, the maximum towing capacity you find in brochures or on the manufacturer’s website isn’t always accurate. Your truck may have features that reduce towing capacity, so you need to check the sticker on the driver’s side door jamb for the towing capacity for that specific build. When in doubt, make some calls, visit a dealership, or consult with an expert to avoid a mistake that may damage your vehicle AND your home.

Towing capacity is determined by two numbers, the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and the Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR). I’ll explain these two numbers below, but you should understand them before towing your tiny house.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

The GVWR is the maximum amount your truck can weigh fully loaded and full of fuel, including the trailer’s tongue weight, tiny house, passengers, and cargo.

The “tongue weight” of a tow trailer is usually 10-15% of the combined weight of the trailer, tiny house, and contents. Tongue weight varies based on trailer design and weight distribution. It doesn’t refer to the trailer’s weight but rather to the downward force the trailer exerts on the hitch.

Trailers also have a GVWR. You’ll need to make sure your trailer can handle your tiny house weight as well. In most cases, you’ve likely done this calculation before (but if you need help selecting a trailer, please explore my post on Tiny House Trailers).

tiny house vehicle weight

Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR)

Gross Combination Weight Rating

The Gross Combination Weight Rating (or GCWR) is the maximum weight of the truck, trailer, tiny house, plus the passengers and cargo. Don’t forget to factor in the weight of the fuel.

Here’s how to determine your truck’s towing capacity:

  • Start with your truck’s curb weight. That’s the weight of the truck by itself, with no fuel or cargo. Check the owner’s manual or the sticker.
  • Add the weight of passengers, fuel, trailer, tiny house, and its contents, plus any cargo in the truck’s bed. Don’t forget add-ons like a camper shell or roof rack and whatever is strapped to that.
  • Subtract the total from the GCWR to make sure you’re under the towing capacity.
truck gross combination weight rating

I would recommend making sure you’ve got some wiggle room too. You want to be hundreds of pounds underweight (not within a narrow margin) just in case your calculations are off. If you need to off-load weight, consider what you can remove from the house, the vehicle, and the trailer. Being conservative with your estimate will give you some peace of mind once you start moving.

tiny house building checklist cta

The Best Trucks For Towing A Tiny House

The Best Trucks For Towing A Tiny House

Towing a tiny house requires a lot of power, and the truck’s configuration matters. The size of the engine, type of gear, cab style, length of the truck and bed, number of axles, towing package, and some luxury features will all impact the towing capacity.

Tiny houses and their contents can vary hugely in weight depending on size and materials used. I’ve seen simple 10-foot tiny houses that weigh in at 3,200 pounds and 34-footers weighing 14,000 pounds and up. Because tiny homes are so heavy, and you might replace or add items in the future that add weight, it’s better to have more truck than you need. With that in mind, here are the best trucks for towing tiny houses.

Large Trucks

Large Trucks for towing a tiny house

The Ford F-150 or a Dodge Ram 1500 are the best in class, so it’s no wonder they’re two of the most popular trucks on the market. But even with these “big truck” options, your tiny house towing capacity is limited, and you’ll have to keep close track of everything you add to your tiny house load. These trucks range in towing capacity from 9,740 to 13,200 pounds.

This “large truck class” includes:

  • Nissan Titan
  • Toyota Tundra
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • GMC Sierra 1500
  • Ram 1500
  • Ford F-150
toyota tundra

Heavy-Duty Trucks

Heavy-Duty Trucks for towing a tiny house

With a heavy-duty truck, you can tow a much larger tiny house. The towing capacity of heavy-duty trucks ranges from 12,760 to 18,500 pounds. This class of truck gets the job done and still offers a cushy ride.

These heavy-duty trucks include:

  • Nissan Titan XD
  • Ram 2500
  • GMC Sierra 2500HD
  • Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
  • Ford Super Duty F-250
dodge ram 2500

Ultra-Duty Trucks

Ultra-Duty Trucks for towing a tiny house

If you’ve got a larger tiny house filled with furniture and appliances, or if you think you’ll be moving your tiny house often, an ultra-duty truck might be worth the extra money. These trucks are especially useful if you’re crossing mountains or off-roading in rough terrain out in the wilderness. Bear in mind that these trucks can cost more at the gas pump. More power means more fuel—a lot more fuel.

This Ultra-Duty (or Super-Duty) class of trucks include:

  • GMC Sierra 3500HD
  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD
  • Ram 3500
  • Ford Super Duty F-450
ford f450 superduty

Of these, the Ford Super Duty F-450 has best-in-class towing power, up to 37,000 pounds. It comes with standard dual rear wheels, five seats, and an extended-length cargo bed. The Ford Super Duty is a commercial truck, meaning it’s built for hauling the heaviest loads.

That said, the Chevy Silverado 3500HD is less expensive, with almost the same capacity. Yes, the Chevy has less sophisticated features but pulls nearly as much weight, up to 36,000 pounds. If you’re looking at a truck to tow a tiny house, either one of these (or any truck in the Ultra Duty category) will get the job done.

I’d also like to answer one more question people ask me: Can a Jeep tow a tiny house? Sadly, not likely. Even a Jeep Grand Cherokee only has between 3,500 and 7,200 pounds of towing power. You’d need the tiniest of tiny houses mounted on a fairly lightweight trailer. So as fun as it can be to have a Jeep for camping or off-roading, I wouldn’t recommend buying a Jeep for use as a tiny house truck. You could, however, use a Jeep to tow a teardrop trailer or a small camping pop-up.

tiny house plans

Rent, Buy, Or Hire A Truck To Tow Your Tiny House?

Rent A Truck To Tow Your Tiny House

So, if you need to tow your tiny house, what’s the best method for getting the job done? Should you rent a truck? Should you go out and buy one of the heavy-duty trucks above? Should you hire someone out to take care of the move for you?

using a rental truck to tow a tiny houseThe best way to answer this question is to ask another: Is this a one-time move? If yes, then I suggested hiring professionals to tow your tiny house. Like I said before, towing your tiny house is nerve-wracking, and professionals know how to tow a tiny house and have the equipment to get the job done without incident.

The other benefit of hiring someone to tow your tiny house is that professional towing companies also have the right insurance if something goes wrong. It’s also tough to find a suitable rental with a towing package, especially for a one-way trip if you try to DIY. Hiring professionals typically costs $1 – $2 per mile, and it’s worth every penny.

If you plan to move frequently, or if you’re clearing land and working on setting up a homestead, your best bet is to buy the most powerful truck you can afford. After towing my tiny house 1500 miles, I advise purchasing a dually—a truck with double back tires—for added stability and control.

Legal Requirements for Towing a Tiny House

Legal Requirements for Towing a Tiny House

There are two kinds of tiny houses. Tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) intended for nomadic use are generally smaller and lighter than homes built on a foundation. If you have a THOW, you probably know that you need to register in most states like any RV.

If you’ve never taken your tiny house on the road before, then it’s essential to know that, like any vehicle on the road, your tiny house must be registered and have a license plate when mounted on the trailer. You have to get your trailer inspected and renew the tags every year (and pay taxes annually) in some states. In others, like NC, where I live, you can pay taxes upfront and not have to worry about it.

In this video, I’ll discuss the legal information of dealing with the DMV and your tiny house.

What I Learned: Things You Should Know Before Towing A Tiny House

Things You Should Know Before Towing A Tiny House

From my tiny house towing experience, I definitely learned a few valuable lessons. If you need to move your tiny house, here are the things you should consider before you prepare for towing.

CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE YOU TOW A TINY HOUSE

  • If you plan to move your tiny house often, avoid asphalt shingles and vinyl siding. It will all blow off. For guidance, check the Florida building code. It’s centered around hurricane wind speeds.
  • Enlist friends and family to help. When I pulled my tiny house, I had a spotter on the passenger side to ensure I had no blind spots and a follow car to prevent tailgaters.
  • Plan your route carefully, with the fewest number of turns, least traffic, slower speed roads, and no bridges if possible. Time your trip to avoid rush hour traffic. You do not want to navigate downtown Atlanta at 5 PM, pulling a tiny house!
  • Towing a tiny house uses a ton of gas. Don’t expect to get more than 5 MPG.

designing your tiny home
Your Turn!

  • What tips do you have for moving your home?
  • What’s your favorite truck for towing your tiny house?

How To Design A Tiny House: Ryan’s Guide To Designing Your Dream Tiny Home

How To Design A Tiny House: Ryan’s Guide To Designing Your Dream Tiny Home

how to design a tiny house

ryan tiny house and the tools he used to build it

Hi, I’m Ryan
When I was about to start my tiny house journey (a decade ago!) I remember feeling confident in my plan. Yet, part of me was unsure if I could pull off living in 150 square feet full-time. What I came to realize was that a good tiny house design was critical and planning made living in a tiny house possible.


NAVIGATION


You’ve decided that you’re ready to take the steps toward living the tiny life. You’re ready to start planning the home of your dreams. But you don’t know how to design a tiny house—where do you start?

tiny house design journeyThese doubts about how I planned my tiny house lingered until I had lived there for at least a few months. Suddenly, I realized that it was working out perfectly for me and that all the effort I’d put into planning my dream tiny house was worth it.

In other words, planning is the most critical piece in learning how to design a tiny house. Here’s how to avoid missteps because you don’t want to get down the road in six months or a year with any regrets about your tiny house design.

Why It’s Crucial To Get Your Tiny House Design Right

getting your tiny house design right

Take a minute to look at the real estate listings out there. You probably see many beautiful homes—big, spacious home designs, stainless steel appliances, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. There’s almost a formula for the standard American house.

When you have a few thousand square feet to play with, getting the design perfect isn’t as critical. After all, if you forget a pantry, there’s always a closet down the hall. Turn a guest bedroom into a home office; switch your workout space with your kids’ playroom.

good tiny house designIn a tiny house, you’re working with so much less room. If you forget a place for the trash bin or fail to plan enough kitchen storage, you’re out of luck.

I see tiny homes on the market all the time that are being sold because of poor design—the designer didn’t take the time to focus on a design that fit their needs. They’re living in a concept of what a tiny house “should” be, rather than determining their ideal living space.

The biggest factor in knowing how to design a tiny house that fits your needs is to determine EXACTLY what those needs are first.

Once you’ve pinpointed all your needs, you can rest assured that you’ll either find the right pre-designed tiny house plans to meet all those needs, or you’ll have the confidence to fully design your own tiny house. For most of us, designing your house according to your needs and preferences will ensure that you’ll have the perfect home—one you’ll love for years to come.

But how do you design a tiny house? How do you create tiny house plans?


How To Design A Tiny House: Determining Your Needs

determining your needs when desiging a tiny house

I will cover how to design a tiny house from a logistics perspective in a moment, but first, we need to explore the importance of getting started with the right plan.

how long to build a tiny houseWhether you build your tiny house yourself or have someone else build it for you, YOU have to make the design. You can start with official plans, and you can hire someone to help with the technical drawing portion (although we’ll discuss the best way to do that yourself). But no matter how you get the plans, you need to play a strong role in sorting out your own needs for your house.

When I first designed my tiny house, there were very few resources out there. No one was talking about how to design a tiny house.

So frankly, I made a lot of mistakes and spent a lot of time thinking about it and going back to the drawing board. Now I have the benefit of learning from those mistakes (and years of experience) and talking to hundreds, if not thousands of people about their tiny house designs.

I’m going to help you learn from my mistakes, so you can design a tiny house that you love.

Use The Post-It Exercise To Predict Your Tiny House Needs

post it note exercise

The best way to determine your needs is to do what I call the “post-it exercise.” This will help you understand what space you need and what areas you can do without.

post it note exerciseTo begin this room tracking exercise, gather a bunch of pens and post-it notes. Go around to each room of your living space and close every door. On the top of each door frame, put the pen and stick a post-it note on the door—this is your visual cue.

Now, each time you go into a room, pause to write down what you’re going in the room to do and how long you believe it will take.

On your entry door, write down the activities you leave to carry out and the time estimates for each outside activity. Carry out this room-by-room assessment for at least a week.

When the week is over, you will gather all those post-its, now filled with activities and time estimates. These notes become the comprehensive list of what you do in your home and how long you spend. This list is your guide to help you plan how to design your tiny house.

As you review the list, consider how important each activity is to you (and be very honest with yourself).

Are you spending time on activities that are most important to you?

AS YOU REVIEW THE LIST, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING ITEMS

  • Which activities could you do outside the home? These might include home gyms, a home office, and a laundry room. You might not need an area dedicated to those activities in your home.
  • What activities can you cut out all together? Do you need to keep books you’ve already read? What about DVDs if you have a streaming service? Do you collect supplies for hobbies that you never carry out?
  • What areas can do double duty or serve as multipurpose spaces? Could you read, watch TV, hang out with friends, and eat in your living room?
  • What activities can I outsource? I outsourced my laundry, which saves me time and space on a task I don’t enjoy. For things you can’t cut out of your life, could you hand off the duty instead?
  • What is the best option for single-use spaces? If you only knit once a month, you probably don’t want to dedicate a space for that, but you may want to plan in ample cooking space if you cook three meals a day.
  • What activities are realistic? Many of us aspire to do certain activities or have certain lifestyles, but what is practical for the way you really live your life?

tiny house building checklist

Develop A Functional Layout As You Develop Your Tiny House Design

how to develop a functional tiny house layout
A functional layout is a type of mind map—it’s the in-between state of a needs list and a final design or floor plan. The functional layout helps you start to think about how you will group activities.

The post-it note exercise allows you to create a functional layout—a look at what activities you will perform in each space in your tiny house.

post-it note exercise

Your functional layout doesn’t need to be perfect—it gives you a visual to associate with the space. In the kitchen, you might store food, cook food, use a pantry, toss items in the garbage, perhaps eat. As you start to think about each space, designated areas will begin to emerge.

Public activities (socializing, eating) generally go at the front of your space, whereas more private activities like sleeping and the bathroom will go towards the back. So the kitchen and living room will act as main areas; the bathroom and bedroom might be further away from the door.

As you create the functional layout, you can also think about flow. I often think of activities—what do I do when I walk in the front door? I take off my shoes, my jacket, put down my keys. I need storage to be near the door. Think about all the interactions you have in your functional areas and start to plot out the space in a way that makes sense to you.

From there, you can sketch out a rough floor plan or use a tool to help you begin to create a tiny house layout.


How to Examine Your Tiny House Design

how to examine your tiny house design

People often come up with a long checklist of things they want to do in a space. They don’t want to adjust their mentality or their lifestyle. So they try to jam everything into this small space. Maybe they’ve fallen for the “more is more” mentality that so many of us have. Or perhaps they’ve just failed to put their designs to the test.

You now have a rough, functional design for your tiny house. You’ve got a good idea of what you like and what you want in the space. It’s time to examine and test the design to better whittle down your assumptions and ensure you aren’t trying to pack too much into limited space.

design triad

Subtractive Design

Subtractive design is an important concept with tiny house design. You should go through each area and item on your layout and ask yourself, can I remove this item? Would my design get better, worse, or would it stay the same?

tiny house kitchen sinkIf subtracting the item will leave the area the same, then it’s a strong candidate to remove from your design. If removal makes the design better, then definitely take it out. Each item should serve your design and make your life more functional.

To understand this concept, consider the bathroom sink. Many of us are used to having a sink in the bathroom. In a tiny house, that sink is probably very close to the kitchen, where there is also a sink. In fact, they may only be separated by a small wall. So why not go with one sink that can function for both spaces? Most of us use the bathroom for less than an hour a day, so it makes sense that it’s not an area where we should allocate MORE space.

Low Fidelity Testing

Another critical way to evaluate your tiny house design is to apply low-fidelity testing. When you think you want something a certain way, get out some cardboard and build it. See how it looks and how it functions.

Building a simple prototype is a good exercise to see how something will work, quickly test it, and improve it. In a tiny house, every item is small, so it’s easy to test each piece out to see how it will work in your design.

how to build a tiny house book

Slow Building

In the world of home building, everything is geared towards efficiency and speed. Builders tout how quickly they can build a dream home from start to finish.

When designing my tiny home, I realized that I had to take the time to think about the space as I was building it. When I did, I always discovered something that I needed to adjust or something that wouldn’t work for me.

using reclaimed windows on a tiny houseFor example, I framed up my windows and built my walls. I stood back to admire my handiwork, and I realized that the windows were too low. I was staring out above my windows!

If I hadn’t taken a moment to slow down and really think about the framed window, I would have put up sheeting and dropped in the windows. I would have been living with windows that were too low, and I would have had to duck every time. The person who helped me with my framing plans was about six inches shorter than me, and I realized he had designed the windows to meet his needs, not mine.

I refer to my lawn chair as my most important tool. I had this old beat up cheap plastic patio chair where I’d sit whenever I have a problem. It’s a place where I can stop, think, relax, and reflect. When you build a tiny house, you’ll run into sudden problems that you never expected, so having a place to sit down and problem solve is very helpful.

Real-World Testing

The other way to test your tiny house design is to put it to use in the real world. When you have a plan, get out the painter’s tape and go to space in your driveway, garage, basement, or even living room—tape down the design to scale. Act out a day in the life of your house.

I urged a friend to do this activity before they built their tiny house. He came back to me to report, “I realized as soon as I tried it that my door hit my toilet! I would never have been able to escape my bathroom!”

When you test out the layout to scale, you can see problems that might arise before you actually go through the building process. For just the price of a roll of painter’s tape, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle.

Get Feedback

As you test your design, get plenty of feedback. If you live with someone else, their feedback is especially crucial to both of your overall satisfaction with the design. If you live alone, ask friends, family, and other tiny house dwellers to review your tiny house design. Ask them how you should change things or if they foresee any issues.

designing your dream tiny home


Avoid These Common Tiny House Design Mistakes

common tiny house design mistakes
As I said before, when I designed my tiny house, I made mistakes. It happens. Even with all the planning and testing, I still have a few items that, in hindsight, I wish that I could change.

tiny house mistakesI wish I had more cupboard space. I forgot to put in a spot for kitchen trash. I regret not building in dormers, but none of these items is a make-or-break issue for me.

Many people don’t have the right mindset about tiny living. To live in a tiny house, you have to have a shift in mindset. You might see others living in their tiny houses, happy and fulfilled.

You might see beautiful designs for tiny homes and small spaces on Pinterest and wonder why your tiny house doesn’t feel that way. You may be reaching for a certain aesthetic—but building your house for Instagram rather than for your lifestyle is a sure plan for failure.

Even though a tiny house features less “stuff,” making the change to a tiny house is still trying to buy a solution to a problem. Those who are happiest with their solution have gone through the mental energy and work to shift into the tiny house mindset.

AVOID THESE COMMON MISTAKES

  • Not downsizing first. Some folks wait to clean out and downsize until they’re already moving into their tiny house. Not only is moving day confusing, but you’ll have so much happening that day that you won’t be able to downsize too. Even more stressful, you won’t have anywhere to store your stuff while you sort.
  • Trying to do all the things. Don’t be a Jack (or Jill) of all trades and a master of none. Many times, home designers want a craft room, guest room, and more. They make sacrifices to jam everything into the small space rather than choosing a design that supports their needs and realistically works for their lifestyle.
  • Getting attached to a design or floorplan. Choosing a pre-designed tiny house floorplan is helpful IF it has everything you want. But many fall in love with a design before they’ve really figured out what they need.
  • Not personalizing your design. With a tiny house, you don’t need to be as focused on the resale potential. Instead, focus on what’s right for you. Design the home you want to live in for a long time, and you’ll never have to re-sell anyway.
  • Focusing on a narrow checklist. It’s also easy to focus on a checklist of specifics or to think of all the things you want your tiny house to “be” rather than thinking of what you need the space to “do.”
  • Failing to separate needs from wants. Deciding what you really need versus what you want requires mental and emotional maturity. You need to be able to keep your wish list separate from your must-have list.

Once you’re in the right headspace, the most challenging part is complete! But there are still some other mistakes you should avoid.

Awareness of these common tiny house design pitfalls is the first step. Once you are aware of how each of these factors can work against your tiny house design’s success, it’s time to look at alternatives.

Here’s what you should do instead of making the above mistakes when you’re figuring out how to design a tiny house.

WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING INSTEAD

  • Downsize, declutter, and break up with consumerism.
  • Do a few things well in the space—focus on your priorities.
  • Allocate your space based on the time you will spend using it.
  • Design your tiny house for you and your needs (not what sounds good to others).

Ready To Design Your Tiny House? Here Are The Design Apps You Need.

tiny house design apps you need
Once you’ve done the mental work and planning, you’re ready to start designing your house! But many people panic when they get to this stage because they’ve never designed a house before. You’ll need to decide whether you feel comfortable doing the design part yourself or if you need to enlist the help of professionals. If you do it yourself, don’t worry—it’s surprisingly easy and even fun!

I’ve discussed the best tiny house design software extensively before, but here’s a quick rundown on the technology you will need to help you design the tiny house of your dreams.

DESIGN APPS YOU NEED

sketchup
SketchUp: Sketchup is my top recommendation for tiny house design software. It’s free for a basic license, easy to use, and strikes the right balance between being full-featured but user-friendly. There are many helpful videos on YouTube to learn the software, which also does 3D modeling, rather than just a 2D plan.
floorplanner
Floorplanner: Floorplanner is another design software that many folks like for designing tiny homes. It’s a little more expensive, at about $30/month for the professional version. It’s free for casual use (but you won’t have access to all the features).
sweethome 3d
Sweet Home 3D: Sweet Home 3D is a simple, free interior design planner that can help create your design. It’s based on open-source software, so you benefit from other users’ knowledge and experience.
homebyme
HomeByMe: Home designer HomeByMe is another software option that many users like. You can pay a small fee, and they’ll convert your floor plan into a HomeByMe project, making it helpful if you’ve already started your design. You can also browse the design gallery to see other users’ projects.
dreamplan
DreamPlan: Home design software DreamPlan has an extensive library of pre-designed furniture pieces, accessories, and finishings to help you easily envision your layout. You can even use the software for landscape design.
the simms
The Sims: Yes, the EA video game, The Sims, can help you design your layout. Their builder is customizable, and it’s fun to use. If you have experience with the game, you could use it to layout your tiny house and get a feel for your plan.

Because you’re working with such a small space, DIY tiny house design is realistic. Many of us can tap into our inner design skills and may find the process very enjoyable. I suggest having an expert review your plans and getting some feedback from friends or family as you go (just in case you’re missing the forest for the trees).


Tiny House Design Tips Room-By-Room

tiny house design tips room by room

When you’re ready to design, you can break it down room by room. I’ve written specific posts and guides for most of these areas that will help you in your planning. Here is a brief overview of each area of your home and the essential points for each space.

Kitchen

kitchenThe most important thing about designing a tiny house kitchen is that it needs to be sized to meet your needs and the way you cook. For example, I love to grill outside, so I don’t need a HUGE cooking range or a lot of room in my kitchen.

In the kitchen, storage is crucial. As I mentioned before, I wish I had more storage, and I failed to include a trash pullout. While it’s not a huge deal, the trashcan does take up some floor space. It works okay for me, but in retrospect, it could have been better.

For kitchen guidance, explore my post Tiny House Kitchen Ideas And Inspiration.

tiny house kitchen ideas

Sleeping Loft

sleeping loftDoes your ideal tiny house design include a sleeping loft? It depends on your comfort with climbing up a ladder or stairs each night for bed. It also may depend on the number of people in your family and other factors.

Remember, there are no rules that say every tiny house should include a sleeping loft! I’ve seen ranch-style tiny homes and tiny homes where the loft was a play area, living room, or home office.

I have a sleeping loft, which I like, but it does present some challenges. When I was choosing a mattress, I had to get one specially made to fit the space (and eventually switched out to a smaller mattress to have more room on the edges of my loft.

The biggest regret I have with my loft is that I didn’t build in dormers. I really could have used the extra space. At the time, dormers weren’t a common feature, but now they’re very popular, and I wish I would have had the foresight to put them in my space.

For sleeping loft guidance, look at my post How To Set Up A Tiny House Loft.

setting up a tiny house loft

Office

tiny house officeAn office isn’t needed in every tiny house. If you work remotely, you may want a home office if that fits your work style. For me, a coworking space and my outdoor “office” (on my picnic table) work really well. When living the tiny life, sometimes you have to extend your idea of living space to include your corner coffee shop or your neighborhood gym.

Should you decide that you will need a home office, there are plenty of options to turn a corner or a small area of your tiny house into a workspace. Consider if you will need the workspace all the time or an area that can do double duty, like a breakfast nook or corner of the living room.

To learn more about tiny home offices, check out the Tiny House Office Guide.

tiny house office

Bathroom

bathroomI get a lot of questions about designing a tiny house bathroom. As someone who’s lived in a tiny house for years, I’ve definitely learned a few things about bathrooms and tiny homes—it’s an area people really worry about, but the reality is much simpler than they may think.

My bathroom doesn’t have a sink because I have a kitchen sink right outside the door. It seemed unnecessary to have two. You may want to think about whether you want a tiny house toilet inside your bathroom or if you prefer an outhouse. There are many benefits to using an outhouse, especially if, like me, you live on a large parcel of land.

To explore tiny house bathroom design, read the post Designing Your Dream Tiny House Bathroom.

designing a tiny house bathroom

Storage Solutions

tiny house storage solutionsThe major challenge of a tiny house is having enough storage. It requires all the mental work that I outlined above, so you can find the storage solution for everything you’ll need and use in your tiny house. Storage is one of the biggest tiny house challenges, so it’s my rule to take whatever storage you THINK you’ll need, then double it.

Even following this rule, I must admit that I didn’t plan enough pantry space when I designed my tiny house, and it’s one area I wish I could improve. I hear that same frustration from many of my tiny house friends—pantry space is a necessity.

To help you plan for your storage needs, don’t miss my post on Tiny House Storage.

tiny house storage

Tiny House Stairs

tiny house stairsI wanted to touch on stairs a little here too. Many people assume that stairs are a must-have, especially if they have a loft, but I would challenge you to really think about the space that stairs will take up and find a more functional solution.

I don’t have stairs, and I just use a ladder to get up to my loft. For me, it works well, and I wouldn’t change it. The ladder takes up hardly any room, and it’s easy for me to use. If you decide that stairs are more realistic for you, consider how you can overlap your stair plan with storage to create a multifunctional space.

For tiny house stair design ideas and inspiration, check out Tiny House Stairs.

tiny house stairs


Tiny House Floor Plans

tiny house floor plansHere are some basic tiny house floor plans to give you a starting point. Remember not to rely on the parameters of the tiny house plan. Customize the design and figure out what will work best for your lifestyle.

Ready To Begin Planning Your Tiny House Design?

ready to begin planning your tiny house designIf you’re ready to take the next steps and need guidance on how to design a tiny house, download my comprehensive book Designing Your Tiny House.

Not only does the book delve deeper into many of the topics we’ve touched on here, but I’ve included a grid and floor plan kit so you can get started with your layout. There are tools to help you budget, configure the weight plan for your trailer, and set up a supply ordering schedule.

Designing your dream tiny house is a lot of fun and can be a really exciting, creative experience. My book will guide you through the process step-by-step to ensure you end up with a final design that you love!

tiny house design and build collection

Your Turn!

  • What are your biggest mental challenges around designing your tiny house?
  • What areas of your life need decluttering BEFORE you begin the design process?

Tiny House Closets To Inspire Your Closet Design

Tiny House Closets To Inspire Your Closet Design

tiny house closets

Tiny House Closets For Your Clothes

I think the biggest piece of advice I have when it comes to your wardrobe is to question everything. You first want to pare down your wardrobe to only pieces that you love to wear and that work well together. I’ve covered how you can embrace a minimalist wardrobe, but I know that isn’t for everyone.

Ryan Mitchell in his tiny house living a simple lifeHi, I’m Ryan

Storage is a huge part of making a tiny house practical.  I’ve been living in a 150 sq/ft for close to a decade now and having a great designed closet for my clothes and organized storage for all my possessions keeps my house tidy despite being such a small space!
Ryan Mitchell - Simple living expert

That said a massive study that interviewed 18,000 families found that 82% of clothes in a closet aren’t worn in a given year. That means that opportunity lies in everyone’s closet to declutter.

wardrobe worn in last year

Ryan’s Tiny House Clothes Closet Video Tour

tiny house clothes closet video tour

The way I dress isn’t for everyone, but I thought I’d show a practical example by giving you a video tour of my own closet in my tiny home that I’ve lived in for close to a decade.


Tiny House Closet Design

tiny house closet design

Once you’ve figured out what you need to store in your closet, it’s time to figure out how to design the actual layout. I find that people either like to hang their clothes or keep things in drawers. While most of us might use both, we tend to prefer one way or the other.

Think about how you like to store your clothes and what kind of wardrobe you have. If you have a lot of nicer blouses or business-casual wear, your closet will be different than someone who wears yoga pants and T-shirts most days. You may also be a person who has two types of clothing: casual wear and a professional wardrobe for when you’re in the office.
When I built my tiny house, I also transitioned away from my corporate job, leaving my business wear behind me. I now only keep one suit and a few polos. The rest is a minimalist wardrobe of just grey shirts for a minimalist uniform.

Tiny House Closet Dimensions

Tiny House Closet Dimensions

There are some key dimensions you should consider when designing your closet. I recommend you first figure out exactly what you want to store, then design around those exact items. I also tell people to figure out what you need to store, then double the volume for things you forget and to future proof your design.

tiny hosue closet shelf depth


Standard Clothing Dimensions
Men’s Suit Coat 1-1/24″ x 38″ long
Men’s Shirt 1″ x 38″ long
Men’s Pants Straight 44″ long
Men’s Pants Folded 44″ long
Women’s Dress 68″ long
Women’s Jacket 36″ long
Women’s Blouse 24″ long
Women’s Skirt 36″ long
Folded Clothing 10″ wide x 12″ deep
Shoes 9″ x12″ per pair

Tiny House Closet Layout

Tiny House Closet Layout

When it comes to the layout of your tiny house closet, you want to build it to suit what you need to store. Keep things that you use often in places that are easily accessible. Items that you don’t wear often or are out of season can be tucked away on higher shelfs or in drawers you need to bend over for.

Storage is something that you’re going to want to take pretty seriously, I usually advise people to gather everything you want, down to the very last item, then design your storage around that.

If you’re a person who hangs a lot of things, you’re going to want more hanging space.  But if you’re like me, I don’t like hanging much, so I’d swap these spaces for shelves, drawers and bins that I can fold and stack thing into.

I don’t have a lot of accessories, I keep my shoes to a minimum, and I have a backpack that I keep my laptop in while I’m on the go. You’re going to want to balance how much space you dedicate to your clothing and other stuff in your tiny home, because we don’t have a lot of space to begin with.

Here is a design I recommend:

tiny house closet layout guide

Items You Might Want To Store In Your Tiny House Closet

Items You Might Want To Store In Your Tiny House Closet

Tiny House Closet Items
Underwear Shorts Winter Coats Dress Shoes
Socks Dresses Rain Coats Sandals
Bras Skirts Hats Belts
Sleepwear Sweaters Gloves Ties
T-shirts Sweatshirts Scarves Jewelry
Dress Shirts Suits Leisure Shoes Purses
Casual Shirts Vests Hiking Boots Workout Clothes
Jeans Swimsuits Sneakers Towels
Pants Cover-ups Snow Boots Bandanas

declutter challenge

Open Shelves Vs. Cabinets In A Tiny House

Open Shelves Vs Cabinets In A Tiny House

Open shelving has been trendy for a while now, but I’d argue that you should set aside whether something is fashionable or not and think about how it suits your needs. I think there is a case for both open and closed storage, but it depends on your needs, the placement, and your behaviors.

Use Open Shelves For Quick Access Of Regularly Used Items

Use Open Shelves For Quick Access Of Regularly Used Items

Open shelves are something that you need to carefully consider, as they are part practical and part decorative. This means you can’t jam a lot on them without looking cluttered. Because of this, the storage density isn’t very high, which should give a tiny house person pause, because you often need to maximize every square inch.

I use open shelving right above my kitchen counter in a small nook I couldn’t otherwise use as cabinet space. Here I put things I use multiple times a day: dishes, bowls, toothpaste, and my little Bluetooth speaker. These are easily grabbed but can be tucked out of sight when not in use.

use open closet shelves for quick access

Use Cabinets For Higher Density Storage And To Hide Disorderly Items

Use Cabinets For Higher Density Storage And To Hide Disorderly Items

The nice thing about cabinets is that you have a door that you can close to hide stuff behind. This isn’t to say it’s messy, but there are things that are disorderly, like your landing pad for your wallet, purse, mail, keys, etc.

have a landing pad for your stuffI think the big realization I had with this is that even if you’re pretty organized, your storage is going to have an irregular pattern to it. There are always some disorderliness to things like jackets hanging, etc. These irregular patterns can cause some subconscious stress at an almost undetectable level because it enters our visual field.

A tiny house is just too small for such things. A cabinet door lets you visually cloak the irregular patterns, making the space feel really comfortable; that’s the brain telling you that the micro stress of irregular patterns is gone.

Everything Has A Place And Everything In Its Place

Everything Has A Place And Everything In Its Place

The reason I emphasize figuring out what you want to store first is because the key to a tidy home (tiny or otherwise) is that every item you own has a designated spot in your home. That means that when you use something, you know exactly where it should go afterwards.

As you live like this, you’ll train your brain to flag items that don’t have a home. That brain pattern will signal to you that either this item needs a designated spot or it’s not important enough to have one in the first place, which tells you that it should be decluttered out of your house entirely.

Learn about this while I talk about my junk drawer here:

Tiny House Closet Ideas

Tiny House Closet Ideas

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how to build a tiny house

Living In A Yurt As An Affordable Way To Live Tiny

Living In A Yurt As An Affordable Way To Live Tiny

living in a yurt

Image Source – The Yurt Life

Before I moved into my tiny house, I was really interested in living in a yurt. I almost closed on some land and moved for grad school. I could have set up a yurt on the land for the same amount I would have spent on just a few months of college housing. Living in a yurt was a very affordable option.

I’ve always found the modern versions of Mongolian yurts interesting. They offer a way to set up a structure quickly on a plot of land that is more than just a tent, but isn’t a permanent as a building. They’re an excellent solution for shelter as you’re building a tiny house or setting up a homestead. Most of the time, when homesteaders buy land, they need to get on it immediately; living in a yurt presents a nice, quick option.

If you’re considering the merits of living in a yurt, here’s why living in a yurt is an excellent choice for a temporary tiny home.


NAVIGATION


What Is A Yurt?

what is a yurt

A yurt or a “Mongolian yurt” sounds exotic and different if you haven’t heard the term. You may be wondering, what is a yurt anyway?

mongolian yurtThe short answer is that a yurt is essentially a round tent. These structures were native to Mongolia and were used by the nomadic groups across Mongolia and Turkey. The translation of the Turkish word “yurt” means “home,” and that’s precisely what a yurt is—a simple home.

Traditional yurts were created out of wood, with a wool outer covering. These are portable homes that nomadic tribes would take with them as they herded sheep, goats, and yaks. The entire structure could be folded down and carried on a camel. It’s similar to the Native American tipi.

Mongolian yurts could be quite large and include different rooms, a cooking space, and more. They were often decorated with beautiful patterns, some of which aligned with Buddhist philosophy.

Today’s yurts aren’t covered in wool anymore. They’re usually made out of strong tent fabric. These yurts will withstand quite a bit of use, and there are many permanent yurt-like structures throughout the United States. Many national and state parks offer permanent yurt dwellings for campers to use when visiting. Yurts are also popular across Europe in many different camp settings.

There are several types of yurts, and when someone refers to living in a yurt, they could be discussing any of the following:

Types Of Yurts

Types Of Yurts

mongolian yurt

Mongolian Yurt

The original type of traditional yurt. If you find an authentic “Mongolian yurt,” it will likely be historical reconstruction (similar to a tipi).


Modern Fabric Yurt

This describes most modern yurts—a lattice structure with a fabric overlay. You can buy yurt home kits online.


wooden yurt

Wooden Yurts

These are made entirely out of wood and are essentially a round, home structure. There’s also the “hexayurt,” which is a hexagonal, six-sided yurt (making it a little easier to construct than a rounded yurt).


No matter the type of yurt you find is best for you, it offers a fun and affordable living option. Some hexayurt kits are available for use as indoor-friendly and backyard yurts as well. These structures are made of lightweight material and could be used as classrooms, meeting spaces, or even a studio.

yurt interiorWhat has always drawn me to the idea of living in a yurt was the affordability. They make great temporary houses that could last years if needed. When I was looking at using a yurt home kit as a housing option, I calculated that for less than $10,000, I could set up a nice place to live. If the land cost around $5,000, a quality yurt home kit would only cost another $3,000, making it cheaper than a few months in most other housing options.

Ultimately, I didn’t end up living in a yurt, but I’ve stayed in them many times, and I find many of the traditional yurts beautiful. With a wide range of yurt home kits available, you can set up a yurt with very little assistance. It only takes two or three people to get it set up and can come together fast.

By and large, yurts are better as temporary structures. Living in a permanent yurt is an option in climates that are very temperate all year long, but a modern fabric yurt (from a yurt home kit) will degrade in 5-10 years. The fabric molds and mildews eventually.

You can think of a yurt as a step up from a tent—a “glamping” option with more space than an RV. It’s more affordable than most RVs too, but living in a yurt forever probably isn’t a realistic option. If you’re looking for a long-term home, a tiny house is a much more viable choice.

The Anatomy of A Yurt

anatomy of a yurt

Yurts are essentially round tent-like structures. They can be enormous, with multiple rooms and spaces just like a typical home. Yurts are circular, which can be challenging from a design and decorating perspective, but they’re also very sturdy and practical as temporary or semi-permanent yurt homes.

If you’re planning to build a yurt, it’s essential to understand the structure so you know exactly what to expect. Even if you’re living in it for a short time, you’ll want a yurt to be well-built and structurally sound.

The Base Of The Yurt

The Base Of The Yurt
Traditional yurts were homes for nomads, who built the base of the house right on the ground. Today’s yurt owners usually set up a pre-made wooden base for their homes. Companies sell pre-made insulated bases consisting of SIPs (structurally insulated panels).

base of a yurtConstructing the base of a yurt is the most challenging part of building. The base must be level, which requires some intense labor. It’s also surprisingly more complex to build a circular base. Some folks opt for a big square and then build up a smaller circular base on top.

The base fabric of the yurt will need to tie into a circular base to ensure that it’s air-tight and free of bugs and pests (like a round peg in a square hole—a square base will leave gaps). Pre-made SIP yurt bases are typically the way to go. They’re insulated, and you can get the right size for what you need.

The Lattice Walls Of The Yurt

The Lattice Walls Of The Yurt
Once you’ve established a solid, insulated base, you’ll need to construct the wooden lattice walls. Some yurt builders prefer to work with bamboo, and either construction works well. It depends on where you live and what you prefer.

yurt lattice wallsMany yurt kits include space for windows that zip closed and have a mesh screen. These are nice for ventilation and a cross-breeze in your yurt. Most yurts feature a traditional wooden front door too. You can use electric in your yurt (see my guide on setting up electric) just like a tiny house, so an air conditioner is also possible.

Should you buy a pre-made lattice for your yurt? Yes! While there are plans out there to show you how to build your own lattice, it’s very time-consuming (even if you’re a capable woodworker). Look at the value of your time. Even if you can do the construction yourself, you could earn quite a bit more by working with that time and buying your lattice walls from a yurt manufacturing company.

The Yurt Rafters And Ceiling

The Yurt Rafters And Ceiling
yurt raftersRafters usually come along with the lattice in a wood yurt kit. Companies like Pacific Yurts sell well-made yurt home kits that help you through the building process. You could go through the build yourself, but unlike a tiny house, it’s usually much less expensive to invest in a wooden yurt kit and save yourself time and effort.

Yurt rafters come in a pair. There’s a wire that weaves between every other top part of the lattice, and then the rafters have a notch, which you place over the wire. The top usually doesn’t come together but hooks into a metal piece that forms an operable skylight (compression ring).

The Top Of The Yurt: The Compression Ring

The Top Of The Yurt The Compression Ring
yurt ceiling compression ringAt the center of the top of the yurt, the compression ring holds the yurt together. Usually, this center ring is covered by a domed skylight. The yurt’s compression ring will also be included in most yurt home kits, and it’s an essential component.

It would take you too long to build the bones of the yurt yourself, not to mention the engineering required and the cost of materials. Lumber is at an all-time high price and buying the lattice, rafters, and compression ring from a manufacturer is the best choice.

The Cover of the Yurt

The Cover of the Yurt
yurt coverUnlike Mongolian yurts of old, most of the covers are made of waterproof vinyl or canvas backed with felt or foil insulation instead of the traditional yurt cover of wool. If you’re having any questions about buying the extra layers of insulation, you should go for it.

Even if you don’t live in the coldest climate, any insulation will help keep the weather out (heat and cool). The cover has some insulation similar to bubble wrap with foil on either side. Most of the time, it’s rated at an R3 or 5, which is about 20% of the code. It’s well worth the price to increase your comfort with extra insulation.
design and build collection

Building A Yurt Platform and Setting Up A Kit

Building A Yurt Platform and Setting Up A Kit

If you’re ready to try living in a yurt, the first step will likely be to select a yurt kit and decide where you’d like to set up your yurt on your property. Look for a flat area of land that’s large enough to accommodate a yurt. There is a range of sizes, up to a 50-foot yurt and beyond. So like a tiny house, select the size that meets your needs (especially if it’s a long-term temporary dwelling).

You can build the platform yourself. It’s very similar to building a deck like you’d set up on the side of a house. Eventually, you could even use this platform as a spot to set up a deck area for your tiny house. If you’d like a semi-permanent structure, it’s worth it to hire a deck company. Most will come to any field and build you one.

Setting Up A Yurt Kit

Setting Up A Yurt Kit
The easy thing about a yurt home kit is that it usually comes with detailed steps and instructions. Keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to set up a yurt fully by yourself. It will take around 2-3 days once the base is built and requires several people. It’s more involved than setting up even an elaborate tent.

If you go the DIY route, there are many DIY yurt guides online to help. My advice would be to consider the time and effort you’re going to put into a temporary home. Building a yurt from a kit isn’t terribly expensive and is a much better investment of your time and money.

Even with a kit, you will need to plan out several days and several helping hands. However, you won’t need a whole bunch of tools outside of a drill, screwdrivers, a level, post-hole digger, shovel, and string. Remember that nomadic farmers who built Mongolian yurts needed to set up a dwelling without much effort or many tools.

The Basic Steps Of Setting Up A Yurt Home Kit

The Basic Steps Of Setting Up A Yurt Home Kit

yurt decking icon
Start with the base – The base is one of the biggest challenges of setting up a yurt kit because it must be dead flat. As I explained above, most yurt dwellers prefer to set up a deck-type platform, then a round flooring base on top to ensure the yurt is completely secure. You may want to put down a moisture barrier on the ground to keep the floor extra dry. Skirting and a drip edge are also a good idea for the floor.

lattice
Set up the door and the lattice walls – You will nail the lattice walls into the base to form a sturdy structure. This is one part of the yurt building where you’ll need multiple people—at least one person to hold and one person to nail. The tension cable will go around the top of the lattice walls.

rafters
Set up the rafters – You will secure the rafters to the tension ring in the center. You will need a platform to hold up the tension ring until all the rafters are completely in place. Brace each rafter against the ring as the yurt is constructed.

wall framing
Set up the walls with additional support structures, if preferred – The walls may require additional support beams to ensure that the yurt stays steady and strong. The bones of the yurt can last for many years (beyond the fabric outside), so solid construction is essential, especially if it’s a semi-permanent or permanent yurt.

insulation
Set up the insulation layer – The insulation layer goes on next, which typically starts by covering the roof and then moving down the sidewalls. Again, it depends on your planned use, climate, and the yurt kit you purchase, but you may also insulate the walls.

fabric
Put up the outer fabric walls – The outer fabric walls go around the yurt to form the walls of your new yurt home. The window vents will let in a nice breeze, and your yurt should be fully livable at this point.

interior walls
Frame interior walls as preferred – Depending on how detailed you want to get with your interior construction, you can frame in the walls, include a bathroom, install lighting, countertops, storage, and more. If your yurt is your home for a few years, it may be worth it to go ahead with the framing and interior build-out. If you’re using it as a temporary dwelling, then bare bones may be the way to go.

Here’s a great example of setting up a yurt kit (with an elaborate interior design).


The Challenges Of Living In A Yurt

The Challenges Of Living In A Yurt

Whether you build a yurt yourself or buy a yurt kit, there are advantages and disadvantages to living in a yurt. Here are a few challenges of yurt living to consider before you commit.

Code Enforcement

Code Enforcement
cracking the codeI recommend always having the installation manual from your yurt home kit handy to help you navigate code enforcement. If local building code enforcement should question the structure, you’ll be able to show them how you plan to affix the yurt to your platform or how it will perform in high winds or storms. The manual is a great backup. Choose your words carefully; rather than saying, “I want to live in this,” explain that it’s a temporary house.

Buying a kit will allow you to check everything out before you build. If your code enforcement isn’t okay with the yurt structure, you’ll know before you’ve spent hundreds of hours constructing a platform, creating a lattice, and setting up your yurt. Learn more about yurt building codes here.

Yurt Insulation

Yurt Insulation
Another challenge of living in a yurt is insulation. You’ll only be able to get up to an insulation rating of 5, which is basically the same as a sturdy tent. If you live in a climate with a lot of rain or humidity, you’re going to battle dampness and moisture continuously. So living in a yurt in a rainy climate like the pacific northwest could be a challenge.

If you live in a very cold climate, the insulation will not offer much protection from the weather, either. The insulation isn’t nearly as strong as a house, and even with a heater, it will get very cold. Similarly, hot weather can be a challenge too. Although, if you go ahead and wire the yurt for electricity, a fan or small air conditioner can keep you pretty cool. Yurts are well-ventilated, so warmer climates are your best option.

Security

Security
Yurts aren’t secure. Period. It’s a piece of fabric on a wood lattice, so it’s not an extremely sound structure against outside forces. A hexayurt made of wood may offer some additional security, but not much.

If you live in an area where hurricanes or tornados are prevalent, then a yurt is probably not a safe or practical option. While it’s safer than a tent and will keep out some basic natural forces, it’s not going to be as secure as a house.

Kits Are Heavy

Kits Are Heavy
The wood yurt kits are very heavy and impossible to move on your own. It’s not wise to attempt to build a yurt by yourself (even from a kit). When you order the yurt kit, you’ll need to plan on appropriate delivery transportation. You may receive the kit via freight, but you may need to rent a lift gate or mini forklift to move the kit.

If you’re a homesteader, a tractor may also be an option for moving the yurt kit. Sometimes land can be inaccessible to delivery drivers, too, so it’s essential to have a plan of how you’ll get your kit to your foundation.

tiny house tools

Fabric Doesn’t Last Forever

Fabric Does not Last Forever
Yurt fabrics have a shelf-life of about 5-10 years. At that point, you’ll need to invest in a new cover. While the shells are affordable, they’ll degrade over time, and you’ll need to replace them and perform upkeep and repairs.

If you build your yurt carefully, with a strong structure, then it can last a very long time. But keep in mind, you’ll probably need to continue to replace the fabric roof, walls, and possibly the insulation layer regularly.

Curved Walls Present A Challenge

Curved Walls Present A Challenge
From a decorating and design perspective, the yurt’s curved walls are tricky. You can’t put a couch against a curved wall. You can’t hang things from latticework or the fabric. You also shouldn’t have anything flush against the wall because it’s a tent—you’ll want ventilation for drying should the walls get wet.

The workaround with a yurt is to either opt for a hexayurt with wooden, flat walls (basically a hexagonal tiny house) or to build a nice, sturdy interior structure with walls as partitions. I’ve seen some elaborate layouts, and I’ve listed several ideas for yurt layouts here.

How Much Is A Yurt Kit?

How Much Is A Yurt Kit

Assuming you go with a yurt home kit to build your yurt, you’ll look at a kit price range between $4,000 and $13,000. It will depend on the size of your kit, the materials, and what’s included with the kit.

Yurt kits generally range from about 12-foot yurts to 30-foot yurts. Some larger kits will even build a 50-foot yurt, so there’s quite a large selection. Keep in mind that the price of the kit is usually just for the lattice, roof, tension ring, and outer fabric. The extras for your yurt will usually cost more.

Most kits don’t include the base or foundation, so you’ll need to figure in the price of building a deck and platform. They won’t have heating or HVAC, water, a power hookup, or any amenities for building out and furnishing the inside.

Still, for around $10,000 (especially if you already own the land), a yurt offers an ideal temporary home for months or even years as you work on building a tiny house or setting up a homestead.

Yurt Layout Design Ideas

Yurt Layout Design Ideas

I’ve created some layout design ideas to help you brainstorm the ways to set up your yurt. Because the structures are pretty versatile, you can set up space for one or two people to simply sleep or an extensive more permanent yurt home.

12 foot yurt

12-Foot Yurt Layout

A 12-foot yurt home is a cozy but comfortable room for a single person or could be set up for two people as a temporary weekend camp. A small yurt will make a lovely guest dwelling if you’re looking for a way to host people at your tiny house.


14 foot yurt

14-Foot Yurt Layout

A slightly larger 14-foot yurt has room for a bed, a sink, small table, or chair for lounging. The 14-foot sized yurt is a better option for couples who would like a little more room in their yurt.


16 foot yurt

16-Foot Yurt Layout

A 16-foot yurt layout is roomy enough for a bathroom and a bedroom. With a partition wall, you could split up space into a studio-like living area. A 16-foot yurt is an ample option for a single person but room enough for a couple to use as a weekend getaway.


20 foot yurt

20-Foot Yurt Layout

A 20-foot yurt is roomy and comfortable enough for even a small family to make as a temporary home. As you can see from this layout, there’s room for a kitchen, a bathroom, and a small lounge area. With a futon or foldout couch, you could sleep up to four in this yurt.


24 foot yurt

24-Foot Yurt Layout

A 24-foot yurt offers a really good amount of space for a family to use as a semi-permanent yurt home. Using inner walls to create partitions, you could divide the space into several rooms with some storage, lounge areas, and a spacious bathroom.


30 foot yurt

30-Foot Yurt Layout

A 30-foot or even a 50-foot yurt kit offers a significant amount of living space. You could easily have enough room for a small family for several months or a couple as a long-term or permanent yurt. If you build out the deck beyond the boundaries of the yurt walls, you could use the extra porch area for cooking and entertaining.


desiging your tiny house

Designing A Great Yurt Interior

Designing A Great Yurt Interior

yurt interior with kitchen and loftThe interior needs of a yurt are pretty similar to those of a tiny house. If you have a bathroom or kitchen in your yurt, you will want to have access to hookups just like you would in your tiny home. The big difference is that with the fabric walls, your utilities will need to run on the interior.

Many yurt owners put interior walls in the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom to set up outlets and run utilities through there. As far as bathroom plumbing, composting toilets are a very popular option amongst yurt owners.

Besides being inexpensive, fun, and easy to build, the other big draw of a yurt is that it’s easy to build a yurt off-grid. For homesteaders and those looking for a temporary dwelling while they finish building their dream tiny home, a yurt is very appealing.

Here are a few examples of yurt interior design to inspire you.

yurt interior partition walls

Yurt Interior Partition Walls

The walls that break up the interior of your yurt are more like room dividers. Most leave some space between the top of the wall and the ceiling. You can use the interior walls for electric and as a spot to hang storage and even décor.


wood stoves for yurts

Wood Stoves for Yurts

Wood stoves are practical for off-grid living and many folks like them for yurts. Not only do they offer heat, but there are some beautiful choices too. You’ll need to consider how you plan to run the flue pipe through the canvas exterior. Some yurt kits come with a flue pipe option.


kitchen

Yurt Kitchens

The most common choices for yurt kitchen design are L-shaped or galley kitchens. Typically, you’ll want to put your kitchen up against an interior partition wall since your utilities will be on the interior. Otherwise, a yurt kitchen is similar to other tiny house kitchens.


windows and doors

Yurt Windows

There are several options for yurt windows—you can have clear vinyl sewn into the outer fabric shell, you can use the screened windows that are part of the outer shell, or you can build in an actual window. Real windows are beautiful, efficient, and functional, but they’re more costly to install.


tiny houe kitchens

Yurt Home Kit Brands

Yurt Home Kit Brands

Ready to try a yurt home for yourself? Here are the best yurt home kit brands to choose from. I highly recommend investing in a yurt kit to make building a yurt much simpler and faster. For the cost, it’s well worth it.

Best Brands for Yurt Home Kits

Best Brands for Yurt Home Kits

pacific yurts
Pacific Yurts
Pacific Yurts is one of the most popular yurt home kit brands in business since 1978.

freedom yurt cabins
Freedom Yurt Cabins
Freedom Yurt Cabins offer customizable yurt home kit choices with features like real windows.

colorado yurt company
Colorado Yurt Company
The Colorado Yurt Company sells yurt home kits, tipis, and tents and offers many resources and guides.

rainier outdoor company
Rainier Outdoor
Rainier Outdoor Company has been in business since the 1800s and offers an array of yurts and tipis.

smiling woods yurts
Smiling Woods Yurts
Smiling Woods Yurts offers wood yurts and hexayurt kits to help you build a permanent yurt home.

chelter designs yurts
Shelter Designs
Shelter Designs started building yurts back in 1999. There core designs include generous standard features in the base cost of every yurt kit.

designing your tiny home

If you’re ready to try yurt living, there are plenty of yurt home kit sellers to help you build a beautiful, spacious, and comfortable place to stay.

Your Turn!

  • What size yurt most appeals to you?
  • Would you feel comfortable living in a yurt?

Tiny House Parking – Where Do You Park A Tiny House?

Tiny House Parking – Where Do You Park A Tiny House?

tiny house parkingYou don’t get too far into pursuing a tiny house build before asking the question, “Where do you park a tiny house?” That’s because tiny house parking is a major challenge. Having found two different places to park my tiny house over the years, I can tell you it’s not as easy as you’d hope. But now that I’m on the other side it, I’ve learned a lot that I want to share with you.

For the most part, I’ll be talking about how you can find a place to park a tiny house for free or for an affordable cost. Some places charge $300 to $600 a month for rent and honestly, if you have to pay a monthly fee at that level, you’re better off buying land or considering an apartment. I’ll discuss buying land too, but most folks are looking for a free or mostly free parking spot.

Where Can You Park A Tiny House?

Where Can You Park A Tiny House

There is a lot to consider when finding a parking spot for a tiny home, and despite what many folks think, you can’t always roll up on a piece of land and call it good. If you were only going to rough it in a spot for a week or two, you’d probably be fine, but much longer than that and you’ll want to think about making it sustainable for the long term.

I talk about how to setup a piece of land for a tiny house in this post, which goes into a lot of details you might never have thought about.

parking checklist

Ways To Find Tiny House Parking

Ways To Find Tiny House Parking

Below is a slew of options for you that I’ve found to work for others and myself in the past. When it comes to finding tiny house parking, you need to be creative, persistent, and open to possibilities. Finding places to park a tiny home is hard work, but with enough effort and a little luck, you can find a good home for you and your tiny house.

Tiny House Parking In Tiny House Communities

Tiny House Parking In Tiny House Communities

There are a ton of tiny house communities popping up all around the world, each with places for you to park your tiny home. Many of these are simply people looking to rent out their land, but they might be open to work shares, trading, or some other arrangement. Keep in mind that these people do have costs themselves, so you most likely will need to chip in some money along the way.

tiny house neighborhoodCommunities are set up in different ways, but the best thing to do is to connect with locals and if one doesn’t already exist, create it! Even if you don’t have the funds to buy land right now, start a group to meet people in your area and get talking — you never know what might come of it.

Since tiny houses don’t take up a lot of parking space, you can get the density pretty high. Because of this, you might consider splitting the cost of an acre or two for an affordable price.

On a single acre, you could have up to 35 tiny homes with a central corridor and a small parking spot next to each. If you were to buy some land out of town, you might be able to find a parcel for $10,000 an acre, which would cost you about $300 per person to own the land out right!

You could even have people buy double or triple lots if they wanted more space, still totaling less than $1,000 each. Not bad when you break it down.

The best way to do that is by checking out our state pages here:

tiny house builders

Tiny House Intentional Communities For Parking

Tiny House Intentional Communities For Parking

These are similar to tiny house communities, but they might not be focused solely on tiny houses. There are a ton of these around the world and you can find a lot of them at The Foundation For Intentional Communities.

foundation for intentional communities mapEach one of these communities is unique because it’s built by members based on their vision. Not all will be open to tiny houses, but some will be. Most have a new member process, which can be lengthy, and many cost at least some money, but not always.

One thing you can suggest to these communities is a trial period with your tiny home. Because it’s mobile, you can do a trial of, say, three to six months where you find out if it’s a good fit for everyone. If it doesn’t work out, then you can move on.

This is dependent on you being able to fund a move and having another place to go, but I think if you presented the trial period idea along with an exit plan and proof of funds to do so, you’re more likely to win folks over.

You may even want to consider starting your own tiny house intentional community!

Tiny Houses As Accessory Dwelling Units – Tiny House ADUs

Tiny Houses As Accessory Dwelling Units

If you’ve never heard of ADUs before, they’re essentially an extra mini house that sits in the backyard of a traditional home. This is mainly intended to be a granny flat, an in-law suite, or a rental space, but they’re also a really good legal loophole for tiny homes.

cracking the codeNow to pull this off, you’re going to need to have a piece of land with a normal house on it. That could be a run-down house, a house you rent out to tenants while you stay in the ADU, or potentially —though this is unlikely to pass approval from the city — you could build an ADU for a “future” big house to be built, but “never get around to it.”

That last one doesn’t usually fly because ADUs are defined as a building secondary to a main structure, so your mileage may vary on this one.

Check out my book on building codes for tiny houses, which gets into a lot of details and alternative strategies.

Tiny House Parking As A Nomadic Tiny House

Tiny House Parking As A Nomadic Tiny House

You can also consider not having a permanent tiny house parking spot at all and always be on the move. There are many people who have done this for years. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a very good truck to tow a tiny house because tiny houses are very heavy.

Parking Options For Boondocking With A Tiny House:

  • Stay at campgrounds – often 14 to 30 day limits
  • Stay on Bureau of Land Management land (BLM) – stay 14 days in 28-day period
  • Stay in Federal Parks – often 14 to 30 day limits
  • Parking lots overnight in some Walmarts, Bass Pros, etc.
  • Street parking in some areas

Tiny Home Parking In RV Parks

Tiny Home Parking In RV Parks

RV parks are another great place for tiny house parking, if you can find the right one. Some RV parks operate year-round while others are only seasonal. Some have great communities that are well maintained and safe, but others you realize aren’t a place you really want to stay.

Many of these parks will require that you have an RVIA manufacturer plate, which means your tiny house has been built by a certified RVIA manufacturer to certain specifications. This is often an insurance thing, but I’ve found it’s also not a magic bullet. There is way too much emphasis put on this certification by builders and I think it’s largely overblown in value.

Parking In Campgrounds With A Tiny House

Parking In Campgrounds With A Tiny House

Much like RV parks, these are hit or miss on the quality and if they’ll even let you have a parking spot for your tiny home. Most have limits on how long you can stay. The best approach here is to find an independently owned campground and talk with the owner.

If you’re a good tenant, they aren’t too busy, and you can make a deal with them, you might be able to stay long term — these are business people after all. If you’re able to pay rent consistently and they aren’t always fully booked, it might be a good deal for both of you.

Become A Campground Host In A Tiny House

Become A Campground Host In A Tiny House

If you don’t know, many campgrounds have hosts that stay on site, usually in their camper, to handle the day-to-day operations of checking people in, cleaning the bathrooms, etc. Many places only allow RVs, but you could potentially find a work-trade option where you are the host and can stay for free.

It’s important to note that these can be hard to come by because retirees like this option and are often seasonal.

Craigslist And Other Online Listings

Craigslist And Other Online Listings

A good place to look is Craigslist and other online listings for land that is for sale or for rent. This is especially true of land that is for sale by owner, who might be open to a rent-to-own arrangement.

If a place has been on the market for a long time, you might also be able to offer to rent the land with the agreement that if they sell it, you get 60 days’ notice. You can also find good deals to buy land online, which is what we’ll get into next.

Buying Land For A Tiny House

Buying Land For A Tiny House

Buying land can be a challenge too because you’re most likely going to need to pay with cash or owner finance it. That said, you can find good deals on lots that other people couldn’t build on at all because the lot is too small for a big house or other reasons.

You still need to consider building codes and zoning because you’re making an investment in a piece of land, but with some hard work, you can make it happen.

Partner with Land Owners

Partner with Land Owners

In some cases, you don’t need to own the land or even rent the land and you can instead barter for a place to park. I do this now, where I help keep an eye on the land because the owner lives far away.

I also have a friend who lives on a multi-million-dollar estate overlooking the San Francisco Bay who stays there for cheap (relative to the bay area) because she helps take care of their horses.

Tips To Pitching Land Owners

  • Consider what is in it for them, how can they benefit?
  • How can you mitigate risks they might be worried about?
  • What if it doesn’t work out? Discuss the exit plan
  • Consider if the land and owner is a good fit or not

Land Owner Types To Seek Out

  • Elderly people who need help around the house
  • Farmers who have an unused field
  • Vacant land that isn’t being actively developed
  • Land that has been listed for sale for a long time

Find Local Tiny House Parking By Connecting On Social Media

Find Local Tiny House Parking By Connecting On Social Media

Social media was intended to help real people connect, and that is true when it comes to finding a tiny house parking space. There are several ways you can do this, but some good examples of this are finding local Facebook groups and Meetup.com groups.

Don’t Forget About Local Building Codes And Zoning

Dont Forget About Local Building Codes And Zoning

In all of this, finding a parking spot is bound to open a conversation about building codes and zoning. You can chance it and risk getting hit with a notice or even a fine or you can do it formally. I talk a lot about this in my ebook on tiny house building codes. Check it out if you’re trying to find a place to park your tiny home.

cracking the code

Your Turn!

  • Where are you thinking about parking your tiny house?
  • What tips do you have for finding local tiny house parking?