Posts Tagged Tiny Home

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.


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


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


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

Floorplans To Inspire Your Tiny House Home Office

tiny house office floorplans

Now that you have an idea of various ways to build out your own tiny home office, I’ve drawn up some free tiny house office floorplans that hopefully allow you to work from home and still feel comfortable. Glance through these plans to discover a layout that will be most conducive to your lifestyle.

Two-Bedroom Tiny House With Home Office

Two-Bedroom Tiny House With Home Office

two bedroom and office floorplan for tiny homeThis first floorplan that stands out due to the placement of the office space. It’s an entirely separate walled-off room. This can be helpful if you have a family with children running around and are seeking a quiet space to work. You could leave the entryway into the kitchen entirely open, or even build a sliding door to close the space off.

The inclusion of a queen bed and twin bed in the loft area allows room for a couple and child, with a connected family room, kitchen, and bathroom with a standing tub. One important thing to note about this layout, though, is that the office only includes one desk.

Tiny House With Home Office For Couples

Tiny House With Home Office For Couples

tiny home with office for couplesIf you’re a couple who is looking to work from home full time, this plan might benefit you. With two lofted queen beds, the floorplan has room for a couple to live full time and have friends come stay. The back-to-back desks create a work environment for two side by side.

However, if your work style, pace, or desired environment looks different than your partner’s, a design with two desks sharing one narrow space might not be ideal.

Home Office In Your Family Tiny House

Home Office In Your Family Tiny House

family sized tiny home with home officeThis floorplan separates the kitchen from the living room, and the living room from the home office and bathroom. It’s a fairly sweet setup for a family, as the design allows for two lofted twin beds across from a queen bed. If you’re seeking a traditional home feel in a tiny house, this floorplan could be the way to go.

Using walls to separate each room can actually give your tiny home a fuller feel. One downside of this plan is it only has room for one desk in the office space, but this could work well if you only need an office for one.

Private Home Office In Tiny House With Loft

Private Home Office In Tiny House With Loft

Private Home Office In Tiny Home

One benefit of choosing a design like this is the open kitchen and living space. This type of space is good for families who want to have a central area for shared meals, games, or watching television. The office is strategically positioned in a corner of the ground floor, keeping it as far as possible from the commotion.

This setup has two lofted twin beds perfect for children, as well as a queen bed for parents. There are two nooks for a closet and a washer and dryer to meet your family’s needs.

Tiny House With Home Office And Loft

Tiny House With Home Office And Loft

Tiny House With Space For Home Office And LoftAnother plan that works well for a family, this design keeps the family room and kitchen connected yet separate. The kitchen and living room are open, with room for a full dining table and television.

I work from home most of the time or in coffee shops, so I like to have a dedicated and defined workspace. This office is intentionally placed on the opposite side of the house and walled off from the rest of the ground floor, giving you the privacy you need to get work done.

Home Office In Two-Bedroom Tiny Home

Home Office In Two-Bedroom Tiny Home

Home Office In Two-Bedroom Tiny HouseIf you and your spouse or partner both need a fairly spacious work environment, try this floor plan which has room an office with two parallel desks. The idea here is to separate the office from the rest of the tiny house even more than it already was.

The living room and kitchen are entirely connected, with the bathroom in its own enclave and the office on the opposite side of the floor. This gives you and your partner more room to be productive.

Tiny House For Family With Home Office

Tiny House For Family With Home Office

Tiny Home For Family With Home OfficeWith space for three twin beds, this floorplan is fairly unique. The living room is the biggest, most spacious section of the design, giving your family room to watch movies together, host parties, and make memories.

The tiny home office is separated from the main section of the house to give the worker a sense of privacy. While there is only space for one desk, the design allows more room in the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.

Three-Bedroom Tiny House With Loft And Home Office

Three-Bedroom Tiny House With Loft And Home Office

Three-Bedroom Tiny House With Home OfficeThis last floorplan is the only one I’ve drawn up to include three separate bedrooms, perfect for large families who also want to have extended family come stay. On the ground floor, the design allows for a bedroom with a twin bed as well as a bathroom, closet, and a connected living room and kitchen.

The home office is attached to the kitchen, which might be better for those who like to work in a noisier or social environment than those who prefer to work in peace and quiet.

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?

Retiring In A Tiny House: Is The Tiny Life For You?

Retiring In A Tiny House: Is The Tiny Life For You?

Retiring in a Tiny House


Why You Might Want To Consider Retiring In A Tiny Home

The decision to spend retired life in a tiny house has become increasingly popular lately. I can’t picture my own retired life anywhere but a tiny home. They provide locational independence, financial freedom, and simple living, which I know I’ll value even more as I age.

But retiring in a tiny house isn’t for everyone. There are many elements worth considering when trying to make the best retirement decisions for you or your parents.

Why You Might Want To Retire in A Tiny Home

Why You Might Want To Consider Retiring In A Tiny Home

ecovillages retirement communityThe decision to retire in a tiny home aligns with many of the lifestyle goals people have as they enter into the later stages of their life. Oftentimes, as people get older, they want to work less, own less, and simply enjoy more. They begin to gravitate towards quality over quantity in their possessions, relationships, and daily experience.

For me, living in a tiny house has taught me a lot about what I value most in this life. I’ve been able to declutter my tangible belongings and focus more on intangible things that make me happy, like my hobbies and my relationships. There are lots of reasons why retiring in a tiny house can give you the post-work life you desire.

patrick hiebert
“Getting older means we tend to declutter our lives. We simplify because we realize what is important in life and only hang on to the material things that matter. Tiny homes tend to be an extension of this — there is less to maintain, repair, and clean.” – Patrick Hiebert from EcoVillages.Life

Tiny Housers Have A Significant Reduction In Living Expenses

Tiny Housers Have A Significant Reduction In Living Expenses

Financial freedom and the reduction of debt is something most strive to achieve by the time they reach retirement. Living in a tiny house is highly cost effective, especially if you choose to build an off-grid tiny house or rely on greywater. I decided to go off grid a while back, and doing so cut my power bill entirely and boosted my savings immensely.

Even tiny houses that do connect to the grid are financially economical. The size of the homes means there is less of everything — less space to power, less house to heat, less surface area to clean, and fewer items to maintain and fix when they break.

how much does a tiny house cost

Tiny Homes Don’t Require As Much Maintenance

Tiny Homes Do Not Require As Much Maintenance

Like I said, there is just less stuff in a tiny house. As you age, it might be nice to invest in a home that will demand far less physical labor from you or your partner. And less work is a true luxury.

I don’t have to do a ton of maintenance work on my own tiny home — not like I would if I lived in a traditional house. When things do need worked on, they’re more manageable if I decide to address them myself and more affordable if I decide to hire the work out.

Smaller Spaces Are Easier To Clean

Smaller Spaces Are Easier To Clean

smaller spaces are easier to keep cleanAnother element of house upkeep is keeping it clean. In a tiny house, there is less surface area to mop and vacuum, less counter space to wipe down, and less storage room to shove excess clutter into. Cleaning my tiny house truly takes no time at all. I can do a deep clean, change all my linens and sheets, do the dishes, scrub the floors and more all in under 30 minutes, which would be impossible to achieve in a traditional-sized house.

You Can Travel In Your Tiny House On Wheels

You Can Travel In Your Tiny House On Wheels

traveling in a tiny house on wheelsAnother aspect of getting older is thinking intentionally about how you want to use and spend your time. Lots of older people make the decision to travel with loved ones. They want to see some of those bucket list dream places in their later years.

Retiring in a tiny house on wheels gives you a locationally independent life. Your house is mobile, and you don’t have work to keep you stationed in one spot. This gives you the luxury of being able to travel as much as you want with loved ones. I’ve been able to visit 26 different countries so far in my lifetime, and a lot of that freedom has come from life in my tiny house on wheels.

Live Near Your Kids But Have Your Own Space

Live Near Your Kids But Have Your Own Space

Older folks also tend to want to live near their children and family as they age. With tiny homes, this is extremely easy to execute. You can effortlessly build a tiny home that functions as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in your backyard or on your children’s land.

Another popular solution is to have multiple tiny homes on the same property — one for you, one for your children, one for guests, etc. You can also invest in connected tiny houses to make your living experience even more shared.

Connect With Other Seniors In Retirement Villages

Connect With Other Seniors In Retirement Villages

tiny home retirement villagesRetirement villages or communities have also caught the tiny house bug. There are various tiny living communities throughout the United States and in other countries that were built to specifically accommodate retired seniors.

One major benefit of living in a retirement village is the social community it provides. It’s a truism that we often connect best with those in our own generation, who likely share in similar life experiences. Tiny retirement villages can give you a chance to be surrounded by those who are in the same stage of life as you and form bonds.

Things To Consider When Retiring In A Tiny House

Things To Consider When Retiring In A Tiny House

While there are many reasons why retiring in a tiny house can be ideal, there are also downsides that you should consider before making such a huge commitment.

Tiny Homes Have Less Room For A Couple

Tiny Homes Have Less Room For A Couple

An obvious con of living in a tiny house is that there might be less room for you to live comfortably with a family or spouse. For a retiree looking to live alone, the amount of space is perfect. However, for a couple, you’ll need to be willing to live in close quarters.

Yet maximizing space in a tiny house can be accomplished in many different ways, like opting for two bedrooms, three bedrooms, or even four bedrooms in your tiny home. You can also include features that will make your home more comfortable, like a loft, stairs, or extra storage space.

patrick hiebert
“The biggest obstacle we see is a short-term mental adjustment. The first reaction is, ‘This isn’t going to be enough space!’ But after a bit of time, people love the amount of space, its efficiency and all the benefits that come with it.” – Patrick Hiebert from EcoVillages.Life

Decluttering To Move To A Tiny House

Decluttering To Move To A Tiny House

When you move into a tiny house, decluttering and minimizing your belongings is a necessity. I was lucky when I moved into my first tiny house 12 years ago because I was moving from a small college apartment instead of a huge house. This made the decluttering process less complex.

Tiny homes are typically less than 600 square feet — much smaller than a traditional home, which is 2,500 square feet on average. So when you make the decision to retire in a tiny home, you will likely have to give up a huge chunk of what you own.

For many seniors looking to retire, this is something they already want to do. But if you are someone who grows attached to their possessions, this may be a more difficult process to undergo. Keep that in mind as you weigh your options.

declutter challenge

Tiny Homes Have Less Room For Family

Tiny Homes Have Less Room For Family

While you might be able to build in features that maximize your space for you and your partner to live comfortably, it still might be a difficult feat to have family come visit and stay in your house.

If you have children and grandchildren, consider the limits living in a tiny house can place on their visits. It could be a lot harder to have the whole family over for a huge holiday meal or birthday celebration in a smaller space.

Is A Tiny House Good For End-Of-Life Care?

Is A Tiny House Good For End-Of-Life Care

Another aspect of aging is the limits it places on us physically. Choosing to grow old in a tiny house can present complications with end-of-life care. If you decide to spend retired life in a tiny house of your own, you’ll need to consider if it will be a comfortable space for that kind of care.

Will your tiny home have room for hospice workers to come in and out? Will your tiny home need to be accommodating of a wheelchair? These things might be difficult in a tiny house and are worth analyzing.

Will You Have Trouble Climbing Up To A Loft?

Will You Have Trouble Climbing Up To A Loft

tiny home loftIt may also be difficult to climb up and down stairs or a ladder as you age. The easiest way to create multiple bedrooms in a tiny house is to build a loft or two, but you have to get up there somehow. As your body ages, it could be harder to get up and down to your bed.

The good news, though, is that there are other ways to incorporate multiple bedrooms into a tiny house on the ground floor. For example, you can incorporate a murphy or trundle bed to keep both bedrooms on the main floor.

patrick hiebert
“As we get older, we get tired of climbing stairs! So the homes we recommend for retirees tend to be single story with larger main floor outdoor decks. We also make everything just a little more comfortable.” – Patrick Hiebert from EcoVillages.Life

Tiny House Floorplans For Seniors

Tiny House Floorplans For Seniors

I’ve rounded up some tiny home floor plans for seniors that encapsulate specific elements of life as we age. They are single story, have more room for moving around, and tend to have more space in the kitchen and living areas for an ideal experience.

Floor Plan 1

senior tiny house floorplan

This layout has a spacious, interconnected living room and kitchen for sharing meals and camaraderie. The bedroom has room for a queen bed — ideal for a couple to share. The bathroom has a standing tub to accommodate bathing needs for seniors. This simplistic design includes most of the basic features to satisfy growing older in a tiny home.

Floor Plan 2

tiny house floorplan for retiree

The position of the laundry room in this floorplan really stands out. Its placement directly next to the bedroom would make it very easy for an older person to bring their clothes back to their room after washing. The open kitchen and living room are another major plus to this floorplan. With room for a queen bed, this layout is also ideal for couples.

Floor Plan 3

tiny house floorplan for senior or retiree

This floorplan is helpful for an older couple that plans to have children or grandchildren come stay in their tiny home, as the living room couch folds out into a full-size bed. Additionally, there is a queen bed in the main bedroom. One down side to this plan is the smaller bathroom, which might be harder for an older person to maneuver.

Floor Plan 4

tiny house floorplans for retirees and seniors

With room for a washer/dryer, standing tub, and fold-out couch, this floorplan makes room for all of the essentials that a senior retiring in a tiny house might need. The queen bed and integrated kitchen and dining area are especially ideal. I also like the walls between the kitchen and living room, which you can argue make the house feel fuller.

Parking A Tiny House For Seniors

Parking A Tiny House

The versatility that living in a tiny home on wheels provides is idyllic for the experience as a retiree. But part of building your own tiny house on wheels is knowing where you can park your vehicle.

Parking A Senior Living Tiny Home Near Family And Resources

Parking A Senior Living Tiny Home Near Family And Resources

The ability to park your home in your family’s backyard while also being able to travel in your tiny house is pretty sweet for old couples seeking the best of both worlds.

tiny house parkingMany state parks welcome tiny homes on wheels the same way they welcome recreational vehicles, which is optimal for travel. Additionally, many states allow tiny homes to be registered as ADUs, which gives you the freedom and legal permission to live in your own tiny house on your family’s land. That way, if you should need medical attention, you have loved ones nearby.

When you retire in a tiny home, you also have the freedom to move your tiny home closer to a hospital or doctor if need be. You don’t necessarily have to live near the medical resources you need to move closer to them quickly. Check out our state guide for further details on where you can legally park your tiny home.

Budgeting For Retirement In A Tiny House

Budgeting For Retirement In A Tiny House

A major consideration when preparing to retire is protecting your finances. Is retiring in a tiny house the most affordable option for seniors when compared to traditional housing or moving into a home? Let’s compare the cost of retiring in a tiny house to other options.

Cost Of Retiring In A Tiny Home Versus A Normal Home

Cost Of Retiring In A Tiny Home Versus A Normal Home

The cost of moving into a tiny house is dependent on whether or not you build the house yourself or hire a builder to complete the process for you. The average tiny house costs between $10,000 and $30,000 to build yourself, and double those numbers if you hire a builder to do it for you. However, that price can vary drastically depending on how you want your tiny house to look and which features you hope to include.

When comparing this to staying in a traditional house, consider whether or not your home is paid off. How much will you gain by selling your house in the current market? Once you figure this, compare that number to the general estimated cost of your tiny home.

how much does a tiny house cost

Cost Of Retiring In A Tiny House Versus Assisted Living

Cost Of Retiring In A Tiny House Versus Assisted Living

The average cost of an assisted living community is anywhere between $1,500 and $6,000 per month, depending on the quality of the community and the type of care provided through membership. Multiply that by 12 and you’re looking at $18,000 to $72,000 each year living in an assisted living community.

Even though some high-end tiny homes can get up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s a one-time fee that lasts for many years, with the exception of maintenance and upkeep costs. Consider this when comparing the price of retiring in a tiny home to the price of assisted living.

Retiring Early In A Tiny House: Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)

Retiring Early In A Tiny House: Financial Independence Retire Early

Retirement isn’t only for the elderly. Imagine the freedom that retiring early in a tiny home could provide. Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) is a movement of people committed to saving and investing at an early age in order to retire as early as 30 years old!

The catalyst for this specific movement and demographic of investors was the book, “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. The book presents a life-changing, nine-step philosophy for living deliberately with your finances from an early age.

FIRE encourages its followers to think about every expense in terms of the number of working hours it took to pay for it. The movement that was born from this book strives to emphasize frugality without reducing quality of life..

Nine Steps Towards Early Retirement And An Intentional Life

Nine Steps Towards Early Retirement And An Intentional Life

As I mentioned, “Your Money or Your Life” lays out nine simple steps to work toward retiring early and getting back to your life outside of work.

The Steps Are As Follows:

  1. Make peace with your past
  2. Calculate your real hourly wage
  3. Track expenses, convert to hours
  4. Ask yourself: is my life fulfilling?
  5. Chart your money
  6. Spend less
  7. Redefine work
  8. Start investing
Your Money Or Your Life

The Freedom Of Early Retirement In A Tiny House

The Freedom Of Early Retirement In A Tiny House

Retiring as early as your 30s or 40s in a tiny home can provide you with unimaginable freedom. One of my favorite things about living in a tiny house and working remotely is that my daily experience doesn’t depend on where I am.

If I was retired, that would reduce my brain capacity devoted to work entirely and the freedom would be unfathomable. The experience of living in a tiny house on wheels allows you to live mobile and park your life anywhere you can legally park your vehicle.

tiny house building checklist

Tiny Home Communities Around The World

Tiny Home Communities Around The World

The process of retirement looks different across country lines. Each nation has an individual approach to exiting the working world and entering retirement. When I have thought about my own retirement, I have certainly considered the possibility of retiring in another country, living as an expatriate while free from work. Let’s examine the reasons you might consider retiring to a tiny community in different countries.

Will A Tiny Community Meet Your Needs?

Will A Tiny Community Meet Your Needs

There are immense benefits to taking part in the social life a tiny retirement village can provide, but the truth is the lifestyle just might not be what’s best for you. If you’re looking to live a more free, independent post-retirement life, a tiny retirement village wouldn’t be the best option.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to forge relationships in a like-minded community of people with everything you need close by, there are plenty of retirement communities to be found across the globe.

US Tiny House Retirement

US Tiny House Retirement

For citizens, the obvious upside for spending your retirement in the United States is being close to home and loved ones as you age. Additionally, nearly half of the U.S. population retires at 65 or younger, meaning that a huge chunk of their life is lived in retirement.

This is why retirement communities in the United States tend to incorporate lots of elements of an enjoyable life, like group sports and games, shows, crafts, and other activities.

A downside to spending retirement in the United States is a higher cost of living. Due to the all-inclusive retirement home culture in America, it’s going to cost more to live in a retirement community or home.

According to a recent Bankrate’s study which ranked states on affordability and culture, Georgia is currently the best state to retire to in America. The Peach State is followed by Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, and Massachusetts. There are several tiny house retirement communities in the United States that accommodate the needs of ageing seniors.

united staes tiny house guide

South American Tiny House Retirement

South American Tiny House Retirement

Retiring in South America certainly has its advantages. For one, the cost of living is drastically lower than it is in other countries, so you’ll likely be able to afford a much nicer estate if you choose to move there.

According to a study from Expat Financial, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador are the most desirable for retirees based on several factors like the cost of living, culture and social life, and immigration laws and lifestyle.

Filled with picturesque beaches, forests, and lakes throughout the continent, there are many ways to enjoy life as a retiree in South America. Another major appeal is the adventurous lifestyle many of the native citizens live. It also has a fairly stable economy and mild climate that senior citizens tend to enjoy.

Downsides to retiring in South America might include being far away from loved ones and being faced with language barriers. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a retirement community in South America. There are many communities that can accommodate your needs and help you feel at home.

south america tiny house guide

Central American Tiny House Retirement

Central American Tiny House Retirement

Central America is another continent where life as a retiree can be ideal. Upsides to retirement in Central America include year-round sun and gorgeous tropical environments. The region is also renowned for an extremely low cost of living.

Over the course of the last ten years, Central America has become one of the most highly sought out countries for retirement.

Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama top the list of most desirable countries for retirement according to a study conducted by Expat Financial. The study examined quality of life, cost of living, and the social experience of retirement in each of these five countries to get a holistic sense of what retirement would look like.

One downside to retiring in Central America is the distance from home and the language barrier that may arise for U.S. citizens, depending on the country you choose to reside in.

However, the beautiful beaches and rich social culture can easily outweigh these downsides. EcoVillages.Life boasts a number of tiny house retirement communities in Central America where you can bond with other seniors and establish a comfortable, connected life.

central america tiny house guide

Canada Tiny House Retirement

Canada tiny house retirement

Choosing to live out your retirement in Canada sounds like a winter dream. From sublime mountain ranges to rich forests to snowy tundras, there is a vast array of natural beauty in the country to look forward to experiencing. What does retirement in the Canada look like practically?

There are many cities within each Canadian province where retirement would be ideal. US news lists these ten cities as most ideal for retirement:

  • Victoria
  • Squamish
  • South Okangan
  • Canmore
  • Niagara
  • Wasaga Beach
  • Belleville
  • Quebec City
  • Fredericton
  • Mahone Bay

One huge thing to note is disparities amongst the healthcare system. Canada has a publicly funded universal health care system, which is different from the United States. This means you will not have to pay for most healthcare services as a citizen of Canada or a permanent resident, but you will need proof of residency. You will need a government health insurance card from your province, which is an entire process of its own.

There are 10 Canadian provinces, the majority of the Canadian population is concentrated near the US border. This would make travel back home more accessible than retirement in other countries around the world.

Canadian culture is also very mellow which can be a positive for experiencing life as a retiree. The country values quality time and engaging in hobbies you like cooking and sports. Overall, Canada is a laid back, peaceful country to retire in.

canada tiny house guide

Caribbean Tiny House Retirement

Caribbean Tiny House Retirement

Retiring in the Caribbean sounds beyond idyllic when you consider the serene beaches and tropical social culture around every corner. But what does retirement in the Caribbean actually look like?

Expat Financial ranked the Bahamas as the top Caribbean Island for retirement in a recent study. This was followed by the U.S. Virgin Islands, Aruba, Dominican Republic, and Turks and Caicos. The Caribbean Islands function like a magnet for retirees who are attracted to the peaceful lifestyle, affordable healthcare, and tax incentives.

There are 26 countries in the Caribbean, and each one has unique visa restrictions, which is a potential barrier to consider when thinking about retirement. You should also analyze language barriers — English, Spanish, French, Creole and other languages are spoken throughout the islands. Many countries also have their own currencies.

But Overall, the Caribbean is a lovely, tranquil choice for retired life. Who wouldn’t want to spend their final days sipping piña coladas on the beach?

caribbean tiny house guide

European Tiny House Retirement

European Tiny House Retirement

Spending retirement in an Italian villa or the French countryside sounds dreamy, but there are many details to consider when making the choice to retire in Europe.

One huge benefit to retiring in a European country is the overwhelming support systems that exist to care for the elderly throughout the continent. A study conducted by BBC news identified the UK as having the best end-of-life care in the world. The study specifically praises the quality and availability of services.

Another pro to European retirement is the rich culture that exists for the older population. Aging Europe points out the active culture throughout the continent from events to travel — the elderly in Europe are not slowing down.

A study conducted by Expat Financial cite the best European countries to retire in as Portugal, France, Slovenia, Italy, and Montenegro.

However, one downside to retiring in Europe for U.S. citizens is being so far from home. You’ll also have to pay higher taxes as a permanent resident. But these downsides may not look so bad when you’re spending your final days sipping cappuccinos in France.

europe tiny house guide

Australian Tiny House Retirement

Australian Tiny House Retirement

Thinking about retirement Down Under? There are many reasons why retirement in Australia might be the move for you and your loved ones.

In Australia, the health and social care facilities offered to retirees are extremely high quality.

Additionally, Australia has a low crime rate, making it a relatively safe country when compared to other countries around the globe, though you’ll still want to take care to follow basic safety guidelines.

One downside to choosing to retire in Australia is that retirees will not be granted government or medical benefits during their retirement period. They will need to secure their own insurance policy from an Australian company on their own accord to maintain security into retirement. Another downside for U.S. citizens is again being far away from home.

However, if those downsides don’t bother you, Australia is a gorgeous and relaxing continent with a rich, vibrant culture to retire in.

australia tiny house guide

Your Turn!

  • What aspects of retiring in a tiny house would be ideal for you?
  • Where in the world would you love to experience retirement?

What To Know About Building A Tiny House Using SIPs

What To Know About Building A Tiny House Using SIPs

 What To Know About Building A Tiny House Using SIPs

Lately, I’ve been hearing more and more about tiny houses built using structural insulated panels (SIPs). In fact, I’d say tiny houses built with SIP panels have become a bit of a cult hit in the tiny house world.

SIPs are nothing new, and they have yet to make any major strides. While I’ve seen a few houses built with them and even participated in building one myself, the building process hasn’t been fully refined. That said, I wanted to share what I know and some intriguing research on using these highly insulated materials to make a SIP tiny house.

Here’s what you should know if you’re considering building a tiny house using SIPs.


What Are SIPs?

what are sips

I must admit that researching SIPs left me craving an ice cream sandwich. Why? Because that’s exactly what these structural insulated panels look like. The “cookie” layer is comprised of OSB (oriented strand board) and the inner “ice cream” layer is made of expanded polystyrene foam. These layers are bonded together to create rigid four to 12-inch thick prefabricated panels that make excellent building materials for tiny homes.

Now, not all SIPs are made from OSB and polystyrene. Some use other insulators like polyurethane. Others may use outer layers of plywood, fiber cement, gypsum, or even metal. SIP panels are highly engineered products that are almost always created in a factory setting using machines to apply glue and pressure to bond the SIP together and cure just right.

Prefab SIPs come in various sizes, but most are between 4×8 feet and 8×24 feet. They can be challenging to modify after they leave the factory, so designers and builders usually work within the parameters of the standard sizes — like constructing with blocks.

sip panel design
sip panel construction
For those who are interested in engineering, SIPs are a fascinating option — a material created by modern technology. Building with SIPs eliminates the need for studs and framing, which results in more efficient walls. Wood is a pretty poor insulator, and when you construct a traditional wall, you usually have studs spaced every 16 to 24 inches. You then roll the insulation between the studs, but the studs themselves act as a thermal bridge that allows cold and heat to seep into your home.

tiny house insulation

Building a tiny house using SIPs, on the other hand, means you’ve got a super-efficient, airtight construction. The polystyrene foam is closed cell, making it an excellent insulator that is both high in R Value and rigid in strength.

As tiny house wall panels, they provide plenty of protection. The R-values are around 7 per inch, and with SIP panels that are 4 inches thick, that’s an R-rating of 28 — more than double the rating of a traditional wall with studs. You can go even thicker with SIPs as well, should you desire, just keep in mind that your window sills will be deeper and your interior space will be smaller because of it. Either way, they’re very energy efficient.

Another benefit is that because prefab SIP panels are bonded in a factory, there are no air gaps. You don’t have to worry about insulation slumping over time because it’s one solid, rigid piece. The polystyrene acts as a vapor barrier and an air barrier as well as a thermal layer.

The Pros And Cons Of Building A Tiny House Using SIPs

Pros And Cons Of Building A Tiny House Using SIPs

SIP Tiny House Pros

  • High insulation rating
  • Simple to use
  • Cuts down on construction time
  • Quality controlled by manufacturer

SIP Tiny House Cons

  • Requires a high level of planning
  • Difficult to adapt and change
  • Requires significant lead time
  • May bother people with chemical sensitivities

Aside from the incredible efficiency and insulation properties of these tiny house wall panels, SIPs have many other pros as well. Let’s expand a little on the pros and cons of SIPs mentioned above.

Pro: SIPs Have A High Insulation Rating

SIPs Have A High Insulation Rating Tiny House Propane Cook Tops And Stoves

First, as I mentioned before, SIPs have an excellent insulation rating. They’re often used by tiny house builders who are looking for something more efficient that traditional framing. Wooden SIPs are very strong. Metal SIPs have drawbacks and can be challenging to work with, but they are used in light commercial construction and home construction in places like Florida because of hurricane resistance.

Pro: SIPs Are Simple To Use

SIPs Are Simple To Use

SIPs can simplify your build. But one thing to keep in mind is that you will have to use an AutoCAD computer program when designing your home. Many homeowners build from a sketch or rough plans, but when working with SIPs, you need a technical 3D rendering to have it thoroughly planned out beforehand as the SIPs are built and cut to fit the plan. Once your house is planned out technically, though, the construction process is simple and requires little more than an Allen key wrench and a second pair of hands.

Pro: A SIP Tiny House Requires Less Construction Time

A SIP Tiny House Requires Less Construction Time

You can construct a SIP tiny home in about six hours with the help of two to three people. That means you’ll have walls up, a roof on, and a floor laid in a day. If you’re paying for a builder to construct your tiny home using SIP panels, you’re going to save money on build time and labor. Yes, the up-front cost is slightly higher, but you’ll break even when you figure in the savings on construction time.

Pro: SIPs Are Quality Controlled

SIPs Are Quality Controlled

Because SIPs are manufactured in a controlled factory setting, they’re uniform, quality controlled, and ready to go when you buy. In addition, most SIP manufacturers are highly familiar with the product and materials. They oversee every step — from construction to gluing and drying — so when you purchase SIPs, you can feel comfortable that you’re getting a good product.

Con: Lots of Planning Is Required For Building A SIP Tiny House

Lots of Planning Is Required For Building A SIP Tiny House

As mentioned above, when you build a tiny house using SIPs, you will likely need to work with a professional designer or architect. Everything must be 3D rendered and carefully planned before you build. The panels are pre-cut for electrical and other utilities. Yes, you can modify them slightly as you go, but the material isn’t easy to change because the walls are solid, dense, and hard to cut.

Con: Tiny House Wall Panels Are Difficult To Adapt Or Change

Tiny House Wall Panels Are Difficult To Adapt Or Change

When you start building your tiny house using SIPs, you WILL find something that you need to change — it’s practically inevitable. But even changing wire placement in your tiny house wall panels can be an ordeal. To run a wire, you’d take a large ball bearing, heat it with a blow torch, drop it into the foam and let it burn through to fish your wire through the wall. As you can imagine, this is a tricky and difficult process (not to mention a bit dangerous). Utility re-routing is nearly impossible, so plan upfront very carefully.

Con: Getting SIPs Can Mean Long Lead Times

Getting SIPs Can Mean Long Lead Times

Because SIPs require so much lead time and planning, they can take several months to arrive. First, you need to work with a designer or architect to map out your plans. Then, you’ll send your plans to a SIP manufacturer for production and wait for them to create the SIPs. You’ll also need to figure in shipping time if you don’t plan to pick up the SIPs yourself. If you’re in a rush to get into your tiny house, SIPs may not be the way to go.

Con: Chemicals Are Used In SIP Construction

Chemicals Are Used In SIP Construction

A tiny house made from SIPs may not be an ideal option for someone sensitive to chemicals. OSB board, polystyrene, and the glue for bonding the panels can all let off some low-level chemicals during the initial curing process, but are largely inert after the first 48 hours. So while most of us wouldn’t need to worry about off-gassing as an issue after a few weeks, those with chemical sensitivities and allergies may want to reconsider working with SIPs.

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Tiny House Using SIPs?

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Tiny House Using SIPs

Of course, one of the biggest questions any tiny house builder has to ask is how much will it cost? How much is it to build a tiny house using SIPs versus traditional construction?

The short answer is that it costs about $5,000 for the SIPs to build a tiny home. That’s just for the materials themselves and doesn’t include the plan engineering, design, or architecture. That price also doesn’t include paying builders to construct your home. But honestly, once you get the SIPs, you can usually build it yourself with the help of a friend. The construction is quite simple.

The price of the panels doesn’t include the costs for setting up the electric, utilities, or finishing, either. The SIPs only cover your framing, sheathing, vapor barrier, and insulation.

Another cost factor to consider is the transportation of the SIPs. Since the panels are constructed in a factory, you’ll need to get them to your location one way or another, and shipping can really add up.

sip panels pro tipSave money on shipping by picking up your SIPs yourself! Take your tiny house trailer to the factory and have them load it up. Driving the SIPs to the construction site on your own will save you a bundle on shipping costs.

So how does building a tiny house with SIPs compare to the cost of building a traditional tiny house?

It’s really quite similar. Insulation for a tiny house costs up to $3,000 in spray foam, depending on the type you use. Lumber and sheathing would be around $1,000, possibly higher depending on the market, and your vapor barrier is about $150 to $250.

While traditional materials may add up to be slightly cheaper (but still comparable), you should also consider the construction costs. With SIPs, you’re building in a day, whereas a traditional tiny house can take a few weeks to build.

how much does a tiny house cost

Your R-value will also be better for your roof when you build a tiny house using SIPs, thanks to the excellent insulation qualities. You may even be able to get away with a smaller HVAC system. The cost savings could be around $500 to $700, depending on your system.

On the other hand, you will need to consider additional ventilation when you construct with SIPs. Traditional houses “breathe,” letting in air from the outside, heating or cooling it, and circulating it through the home because it’s not perfectly sealed. The airtight aspect of SIP construction needs the assistance of a ventilation system to exchange the air, dehumidify it, and keep it from getting stuffy or even toxic.

All of this can be accomplished with an ERV (energy recovery ventilator). Fortunately, these can be added to your HVAC system without a high cost and will give you the added benefit of control over your air quality. As a result, you can enjoy precisely filtered and safe air in your tiny home.

After all is said and done, building a tiny house with SIPs is nearly the same as a traditional home when it comes to cost. You may enjoy a home that’s more energy efficient and comfortable, however, should you choose to build using SIPs.

How to Build A Tiny House Using SIPs

How to Build A Tiny House Using SIPs

Now to get into the technical aspects of building a tiny house with SIPs. As I mentioned before, wooden OSB SIPs are pretty easy to work with once you have done some careful planning. For a novice builder, SIPs are fun to use and come together really quickly. The biggest drawback is that you’ll need to be completely sure of all the planning before you even start.

I highly recommend paying someone to design your home using an AutoCAD program. Yes, it’s an investment, but it will pay off in the long run, especially if you plan to construct your SIP tiny house on your own.

How To Make Your Own SIP Panels

How To Make Your Own SIP Panels

Can you make your own SIPs? How do you make your own SIP panels? Is it even possible to DIY SIPs?

The short answer is you could, in theory, build your own SIP panels, but I would strongly recommend against it. Tiny house building codes are already a little challenging to navigate and seem to be an area where tiny home builders have many questions. Building these panels requires several certifications, quality testing, and more. To get the proper certifications, you’ll need to invest serious money upfront.

SIPs require pressure, adhesive, and careful construction. It’s not a matter of simply gluing layers of polystyrene or polyurethane (which can react to certain adhesives) in between panels of wood. Not all insulation bonds well to wood and the process requires careful engineering and precision.

Some DIY SIP builders work with alternatives like galvalume sheets or use a steel hat channel with Expanded polystyrene Styrofoam sheets. Unfortunately, these methods can create several problems ranging from thermal bridging and conduction to being plain difficult to work with.

If you want a long-lasting, sturdy tiny house, invest in pre-constructed SIPs. Making your own just isn’t worth the time, cost, effort, or headache.

How To Install SIP Panels

Jump To Section

sip panel connection points

SIP Roof Connections

SIP Wall Connections

sip interior wall connections

Sip Wall-to-Sill Plate Connection

Once you have your design finalized and you’ve ordered your tiny house wall panels, you’ll want to follow the SIP manufacturer’s instructions on putting together your tiny house. Each manufacturer will have their own way to assemble a SIP house, but below are some common ways to give you an idea of how it works.

SIP Roof Connections

SIP Roof Connections

There are two main places where your roof system will interact with other systems: at the peak where one SIP meets another SIP and where the roof SIPs slope down and meet the top of your walls. These areas are critical to get right for both proper air sealing and water sealing.

These connections are complicated and should be installed per the manufacturer’s directions, but generally this is what you’re going to be looking at.

SIP Roof-To-Wall Connection

Where your roof comes down from the ridge and meets the top of your wall is the most complicated connection of all because of the angles involved. To make this as easy as possible, most manufacturers will design the top of their SIP wall panels to be cut at an angle from the factory, but if not, you’ll have to make that cut yourself.

sip panel roof to wall connectionThe top of the wall should be angled to match the pitch of your roof. Be sure to trim out the end of the SIP with a piece of lumber inset into the top of the SIP wall. This allows for a more durable edge as you place your roof SIP and also provides a better surface to apply sealant and nail into.

The roof SIP, which usually needs to be put into place by a few people lifting or by a small crane, should be laid into place so that it rests squarely with the top edge of your wall. After laying your roof panels in place, you’ll make your roof-to-roof connection up top, which I’ll get into next. Then you’ll fasten through the roof SIP into the top plate of your wall with a very long screw. You can typically purchase these fasteners through your SIP manufacturer. Two popular options are FastenMaster and Spax.

You’ll trim out the end of the roof SIP (before you lift it up into place) with a nailer board and then finally all your fascia details. This roof system is an unvented roof system, so no need for soffit vents or the like.

SIP Roof-To-Roof Connection

Out of all your connections, the roof-to-roof connection is where most future problems can stem from. Not getting this connection right will be critical to the health of your entire home. This joint will be different between manufacturers, but the below is a common method and will give you a good idea of the process.

sip panel roof to roof connectionYour roof-to-roof connection for SIPs is almost like taking a wall-to-wall corner connection and tipping it over. You’ll start by installing a ridge beam squared up to the house. Then, before lifting your roof panels into place, you’ll need to figure out how you want to approach the taping of the seam because it needs to be sealed on the inside, between the ridge beam and the SIP.

One option is to lay the tape sticky side up with the peel paper still on it, then once a panel is in place, lift it up slightly and peel the paper off. You might also consider applying half of it to one panel on the ground and then leaving the paper on the other half until you lay in those panels.

One you’ve got both roof panels in place, the exposed end of the upper SIP should be trimmed out with a solid wood piece to reinforce the ridge peak. Use long structural screws to fasten the SIPs to the ridge beam.

I’d also suggest going above and beyond the manufacturer directions when it comes to sealing. Lay a single piece of peel-and-stick roofing membrane along the entire length of your ridge line so that the middle of the membrane sits at the top, with half draping down one side and the other half draping down the other side.

SIP Wall Connections

SIP Wall Connections

The type of joint between walls will depend on your SIP manufacturer. Once you’ve put the panels of each wall together, you’ll use caulk or spray foam, per the manufacturer’s instructions, to create a weather-tight seal. Once the panels are sealed together, the entire construction is extremely solid — virtually impenetrable.

Depending on how your panels are manufactured, there are three ways of joining the pieces together — all variations on tongue-and-groove-style construction.

If we go back to the ice cream sandwich analogy, you can think of lining up the different sandwiches side by side to form a wall. To connect each wall piece, manufacturers will likely offer one of three options: foam joints, splines, or inserts.

SIP Wall-To-Wall Connections

Cam Joints

Cam lock joints are an excellent method of joining sip panels. Each panel has a protrusion on one side that interlocks like a puzzle piece with the next SIP panel.

Instead of nails or screws, the panels are held together with a clever cam locking system that includes a removable locking handle.

This is a popular option for connecting two SIP panels together side by side and requires the use of a wrench to twist the cam within the wall in order to extend a small cam arm which grabs a pin in the wall next to it and pulls it snug.

sip panel cam joints

Spline Joints

Splines are usually made of wood. The spline extends beyond the edge of the SIP and then fits into a foam channel on the adjacent SIP. The pieces interlock together to form a tight seal.

This is good because it adds more rigidity to the wall to wall connection, but it does reduce your R value at the joints.  While this isn’t a huge issue, because you’ll still have an R value of about 15, it is still less than the rest of the wall. The other downside is I see the potential for these fingers of foam to get beat up in the installation process, leading to issues.

You do want to make sure you properly seal this because moisture in the air here could condense or allow for air to leak in this seam.

sip panel spline joint

SIP Inserts

The third connection option is using inserts. The insert is constructed of foam and wood and similarly fits into the center notches of two SIPs to connect them. The panels are nailed together or reinforced as needed from the outside.

This is my favorite of the wall to wall connections because it brings good rigidity to the connection, but because the connection is essentially a mini sip, the edges of the foam are more protected.  This means on the job site that it will be a bit more durable than the above spline method, avoiding possible issues.

sip panel inserts

SIP Interior Wall Connections

Building interior walls off of a SIP wall is pretty straight forward — because it doesn’t need to perform thermally, you can frame it traditionally. You might decide to insulate it for a sound barrier, but the building envelope exists with the exterior SIP walls.

Because SIPs are structural, most of your interior walls don’t need to be load bearing, which makes it pretty easy to frame out interior walls.  Because your envelope is so tight, you don’t have to worry about insulation if you apply the wall frame to the inside of the SIP panel.  Then you can leave empty for easy wiring or pluming, or apply sound treatments like Roxul safe n sound in areas you want to deaden sounds.

sip panel interior wall connection

SIP Wall Corner Connections

When SIP walls meet at a corner, you’ll use wood to cover or cap the exposed side of the SIP. As you can see from the diagram below, connecting the corners, roof, and floor are straightforward. You’ll place beams in the corners as needed to ensure a nice strong connection.

Finally, fasteners hold it all together. You can typically purchase the fasteners through the SIP manufacturer. Two popular options are FastenMaster and Spax. This approach is similar to a California corner, which minimizes thermal bridging from the inside out. Corners are susceptible to air leakage, though, so using a sealant or gasket here is advisable for sealing.

sip panel wall corner connection

Sip Wall-to-Sill Plate Connection (SIP To Floor)

Sip Wall-to-Sill Plate Connection

SIP sill plate attachment is pretty straight forward. You’ll start by installing what amounts to a double-layer sill plate. The lower sill plate sitting on your subflooring is going to run the entire perimeter of your house. This piece should be a treated board, sealed with a continuous bead of sealant and flush with the outside of your foundation/floor.

sip wall to sill plate connectionYour upper sill plate will be designed so it can slide within the bottom of the SIP panel. The upper sill plate will be narrower than the lower sill plate to account for the thickness of the OSB on both sides. That means that when you mount it to the bottom sill plate (before it’s attached to the SIP) it should be inset from both edges the same thickness of the SIP’s OSB.

Fasten both plates with 16D nails and then use code-approved anchors at appropriate intervals. Then, when you tip up your wall, the upper sill plate will slide inside the bottom of the SIP. In total, the width of the upper sill plate plus the thickness of both OSB sheets of the SIP will be the thickness of the bottom sill plate. The SIP’s OSB should be sitting on top of the bottom sill plate and be flush with it, inside and out.

Once your SIP wall is up and seated over the top sill plate so that it’s resting on the bottom sill plate, you’ll drive in manufacturer recommended fasteners from the outside and inside through the OSB of the SIP into the top sill plate.

How Long Does A Tiny House Made With SIPs Last?

How Long Does A Tiny House Made With SIPs Last

As we’ve discussed, SIPs are an excellent choice for beginners, but they require some significant planning because they’re hard to alter once the build progresses. If you do decide to build a tiny house using SIPs, you can expect your home to be solid, warm, and safe.

Once you’ve completed building your tiny home out of SIPs, you can expect it to last for 50 years or more — the same length of time as a traditionally built tiny house. Polystyrene is long-lasting and unlikely to break down. When it comes to fire, SIPs are flammable, but no more so than other traditional construction materials. Plus, polystyrene eliminates the chimney effect that can cause fire to creep between walls, so SIPs may be slightly slower to burn. The wooden OSB, however, is still combustible.

Final Thoughts On SIPs

Final Thoughts On SIPs

Building your home from SIPs can be a fun (yet somewhat challenging) endeavor. The great thing about building a tiny house using these panels is that, as long as you’ve done plenty of quality planning, the entire construction can be erected more quickly than a traditional build. You can use similar finish materials (roofing, trim, etc.) to complete your SIP tiny house, and you don’t need to worry about insulation, framing, and some of the other challenges that come with traditional construction.

With proper sealing and construction, SIPs are also weather tight, keeping air infiltration out and your home at a consistent temperature. Ventilation is an important consideration, of course, but you can include that in your HVAC plan, especially since SIPs tend to be more energy efficient than traditional construction.

If you find the idea of building a tiny house using SIPs intriguing, I urge you to explore it as an option. It’s undoubtedly a convenient material that has piqued my attention. I would definitely consider using SIPs for tiny house construction in the future.

Your Turn!

    • Would you use SIPs to build a tiny house?
    • Do you know how to use AutoCAD, or would you need to outsource design?

The Ultimate List Of Tiny House TV Shows

The Ultimate List Of Tiny House TV Shows

tiny house tv shows guide


I remember when the first tiny house TV shows came out. Those of us in the tiny house community were so excited, and we all planned to watch. But then, when it came time for the first show to air, we realized none of us had TVs or cable anymore!

So needless to say, it took me a while to catch up on tiny house TV shows when they finally came on streaming. I get asked about them often. Of course, after watching a few, I’ve realized not all tiny house TV shows are the same. Some make me roll my eyes a bit because they don’t quite capture the dichotomy around tiny living. Living in a tiny house is challenging, especially if you’re building your tiny home yourself. But on the flip side, the tiny life is all about simplicity and ease. It can be hard to capture an honest balance in a 30-minute program.

Some shows focus on a polished “Instagram” version of the tiny life, while others don’t quite capture the true mental and emotional benefits of a downsized lifestyle. But some tiny house TV shows really nail it. Here is my ultimate guide to the tiny house TV shows that get it right.

Terrific Tiny Homes

terrific tiny homes
Terrific Tiny Homes is a quick watch that will have you exploring the most exotic tiny homes across the globe. These tiny homes are a unique look into tiny living, from a jungle bungalow to rustic lodges and family dwellings.

With only three episodes at 20 minutes each, you can binge the whole season in an hour. Andy Barnett narrates this series, which looks at tiny homes in Hawaii, double-decker cabins, and even family-friendly tiny homes.

explore the terrific tiny homes show

Tiny House, Big Living

tiny house big living
Tiny House, Big Living has been a go-to tiny house TV show for many people. This HTGV staple, which has eight full seasons, takes viewers through the tiny living motions. From the nitty-gritty DIY aspects of building your own tiny home to the process of downsizing and preparing to live tiny, Tiny House, Big Living shows it all.

The appeal of this tiny house TV show comes from the transparency we see from the homeowners featured. These homeowners are making big decisions that lead to the tiny life—choosing to DIY their own tiny home, purging a lifetime of things for more freedom, and learning big lessons along the way. It’s a great show to explore what decisions go into choosing tiny living.

explore the tiny houses big living tv show

Tiny House Hunters

tiny house hunters
Who doesn’t love a good house hunting TV show? House Hunters has been a staple show on HGTV for quite some time, and the tiny house version is just as popular. In a familiar format, home buyers look at three different properties, then decide whether they’re truly ready to take the plunge into tiny living.

As with all versions of House Hunters, the thrill from this tiny house TV show comes from seeing the variety of properties, budgets, and lifestyles featured throughout the four seasons. While Tiny House Hunters doesn’t go too far into the motivations homeowners have for going tiny, it’s a great look at tiny living options in different parts of the country.

explore tiny house hunters tv show

Tiny Luxury

tiny luxury
This tiny house TV show follows a married couple—Tyson and Michelle Speiss—and their family, owners of one tiny home building companies. In each episode of Tiny Luxury, we see the crew build a tiny house from start to finish.

The most remarkable thing about these tiny homes? Aside from the fact that they’re luxury, endlessly customizable tiny houses, they’re all built ready to hit the road, so the homeowners can live wherever they want in these THOWs. Tiny Luxury is an uplifting look at a family business focused on changing lives.

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Tiny Paradise

tiny paradise
Tiny Paradise is yet another tiny house HGTV show with a unique look at tiny living. On Tiny Paradise, couples build their dream tiny homes in dream locations—from mountains to deserts, tropical islands, and lakeside cabins.

Tiny Paradise is a great indulgent tiny house TV show to binge on. It will give you lots of tiny house design inspiration too. Who doesn’t love to see gorgeous tiny homes built in some of the most scenic locations? It’s fun to watch all these tiny homes and tiny homeowners in all their luxury work on their dream homes.

explore tiny paradise tv show

Container Homes

container homes
Shipping container homes are not your average tiny homes! These innovative dwellings are a unique way to live tiny, and building one is not for the faint of heart. Container Homes—an HGTV show—showcases builders creating a variety of shipping container homes, from affordable tiny homes to complexes made from more than a dozen shipping containers.

What’s great about this tiny house TV show? The sheer variety of homes and the out-of-the-box thinking. Builders completely give up on traditional design when creating these homes, and it’s fun to watch and dream about what you could create with these steel boxes.

explore container homes tv show

Tiny House Hunting

tiny house hunting
Tiny House Hunting airs on FYI, an A&E Network affiliate. In this tiny house-hunting TV show, prospective homeowners are on the search for their dream tiny home. The tiny house movement offers financial freedom, a simple lifestyle, and a unique way of living on your own terms.

Tiny House Hunting is a similar format to another fan favorite, Tiny House Hunters. Narrated Tiny House Nation’s host John Weisbarth, this tiny house TV show is an excellent glimpse into tiny house real estate across the country. If you want to see what tiny living looks like in different locations, Tiny House Hunting is the show for you.

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Tiny House World

tiny house world
This FYI Network tiny house TV show is basically Tiny House Hunters goes international. The ever-popular house hunting format is seen in Tiny House World as well. House hunters look at three different properties, weigh the pros and cons, and decided which will be their new dream tiny home.

Tiny House World is a great way to get an inside look at international tiny living. Prospective homeowners look at tiny house properties all across the globe, from Paris to Australia, Ireland, and even Lisbon. Tiny House World is a quick and fun series to binge if you’re a fan of tiny homes and want a little taste of wanderlust.

explore tiny house world tv show

Tiny House Nation