Posts Tagged Tiny House

Design Inspirations For The Perfect Tiny House On Wheels

Design Inspirations For The Perfect Tiny House On Wheels

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

Tiny House Models You’ll Love

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

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

 

Tiny House Storage Ideas

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

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

 

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

 

Amazing Tiny House Kitchens

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

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

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

Great Video Tours Of Tiny Houses

 

Here’s more from The Tiny Life

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

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

building codes and zoning for tiny houses

Click here to learn all about tiny house building codes!

Tiny House Building Codes: Top 5 Myths BUSTED

Tiny House Building Codes: Top 5 Myths BUSTED

It’s been a while since I did a post about how owners of tiny houses deal with building codes, but coding questions come up often. There’s more regulation on tiny houses and dwellings than you may think. In fact, understanding building codes, zoning, and regulation is one of the areas that really trip up new tiny homeowners when they first start out. So today I wanted to go over several of the questions and myths that arise with tiny house code compliance.

It seems there are a lot of tiny house building code misconceptions out there. Knowing how to navigate through the tiny house regulations and codes will help you avoid headaches later. So here are the top 5 myths about building codes, zoning, and tiny houses.

Busting Building Code Myths(1)

Tiny House Building Code Myth 1:

I don’t need a building permit if my tiny house is under ___ sq/ft.

This myth is true, but with caveats. Typically, if you’re building a structure under a certain square footage you don’t need to acquire a building permit. So do you need a permit to build a tiny house if it falls under that square footage? There’s a catch: the exception to the building permit rule is in the term “house.” When you want to dwell or live in the home it shifts from a tiny structure to a tiny house, and you run into building permit issues.

The second you place any personal property in your structure, your small house is classified as “dwelling.” Building regulations dictate it doesn’t matter if a dwelling is 10,000 square feet or 10 square feet, you need a permit to build a livable space. Tiny house laws by state vary, as do tiny house size requirements and limits…BUT if you plan to live in your house, you’re going to need a building permit.

Tiny House Building Code Myth 2:

My tiny home is an RV, mobile home or camper—No tiny dwelling code compliance is required!

Again, this tiny house myth is somewhat true… IF your tiny home is being built by a certified RV or mobile home manufacturer. It’s possible to live in a homemade trailer house, but to get around the building code compliance, you’ll need to become a certified manufacturer. To become a certified tiny home manufacturer, the certification will cost you several thousand dollars, require you get an LLC and go through a rigorous inspection process to ensure you meet all 500+ requirements.

So you can’t build a tiny homemade trailer house on wheels and say, “Look—I built an RV or mobile home.”  To top it off once your dwelling has passed inspection to classify as a certified RV or mobile home, you can often only park and reside in specifically zoned areas, which are fast disappearing. There is an exception: if your state has a “home-built RV” classification, but these are few and far between and more and more campgrounds and trailer parks refuse entry for home-built RVs. As you see, the answer is more complex than simply saying RVs and mobile homes “don’t count” when it comes to tiny home building codes.

Tiny House Building Code Myth 3:

I will say I’m “camping” if any issues come up.

This tiny house coding myth is once again, somewhat true. You could, in theory, get around any regulatory issues by saying you were camping (which is allowed in dwellings regardless of coding compliance—like lean-tos, tents and pop up shelters).

Where the camping excuse runs into problems, is when you realize most municipalities have very specific limits on how long you can camp. The limit is often between 2-30 days in one spot or parcel of land, if camping is allowed at all. Typically, it’s limited to designated campsites. For example, in the city I live in, you aren’t legally allowed to camp at all unless FEMA has declared a state of emergency. In certain cases, you may get around the camp restriction if you move your tiny home every few days, depending on the camping laws. Then again, the city could also say, “You’re not camping, you’re dwelling in your tiny house,” and you’d face a big problem.

Tiny House Building Code Myth 4:

“They can’t stop me from building my tiny house!  I’ll do what I want.”

In certain cities and states, you’re partially right. The question isn’t if they can or can’t stop you (they can). Your city inspectors won’t stop you unless your tiny house becomes a big public issue. If you don’t create too much buzz, or cause any complaints, they may turn a blind eye even if you don’t comply with building codes.

It’s important to note here that a city inspector holds all the power, if they decide they don’t want you in your tiny house, they can choose an array of legal justifications to enforce it.  The saying is you can’t fight town hall, because they’re the final say on all things.

But not complying is certainly a risk. The truth of the matter is, in most places they can stop you. The city inspectors will come through and condemn your tiny house. What condemnation means, is if you enter your house, you could legally get arrested for being in your own home!  The city regulators may also fine you for not complying with building codes. They may deny you utilities like they did to me (read about it here). In the worst cases, they may even run a bulldozer through your house to destroy it and tear it down. All of these actions they can legally do and have done.  Worst of all you have no recourse for these actions, especially if your tiny house isn’t up to code. If you decide to risk it, it’s still important to learn and understand coding and zoning laws for your specific area. Then, if someone does complain or issues arise, you’ll be familiar with your rights.

Tiny House Building Code Myth 5:

My tiny house is on wheels, so codes and zoning regulations don’t apply.

The idea that wheels mean your tiny house is exempt from codes and zoning regulations is a big myth perpetrated by those who want to earn a quick buck off selling pre-made homes and plans to tiny house people.

It’s true, wheels will help your tiny house comply with loopholes and certain regulations, generally because it confuses the bureaucrats. There’s little official regulation out there specific to tiny home zoning. Plus, wheels mean your tiny home is easier to move, so there’s always the possibility of working around the regulations. But the hard truth is, the second you dwell in a structure it becomes a home, and when it comes to homes, all bets are off and the city will do what they want.

So what’s a tiny homeowner (or potential owner) to do?!?

It’s frustrating when you realize there are few ways (if any) to legally live in a tiny home. Even if your tiny home passes inspection, chances are high it’s technically still not legal in the full language of the law.

So, what’s your best approach to live in a tiny house? Well, there are two approaches:  1) Beat the city at their own game and know how to leverage the codes, 2) Roll the dice and try to fly under the radar.

Each of these approaches to living the tiny life, have their pros and cons.  To get a better understanding of all aspects of building codes and tiny homes, I’ve created an eBook. This book will help you understand how to work within the system to gain legal status with your tiny house as much as possible. In the book, Cracking the Code: A Guide to Building Codes and Zoning for Tiny Houses, I’ll show you the key barriers faced by tiny house folks. I’ll offer possible solutions to overcome these common tiny house coding conundrums and issues.

In the book, I’ll also share with you a few strategies to help you beat the system. I’ll explain what you need to do if you choose to fly under the radar and how to live in your tiny house safely, without getting caught.

Whichever approach you choose to deal with the tiny house building code issues and regulations, both are covered in Cracking the Code: A Guide to Building Codes and Zoning for Tiny Houses. If you’re wondering how to understand codes and enjoy life in your tiny home hassle-free, you need this book!

Cracking the Code by Ryan Mitchell

 

 

Making The Leap To Tiny Living – Jody And Bill

Making The Leap To Tiny Living - Jody And Bill

Today we have a post written by Jody Brady, she and her husband had came to the very first Tiny House Conference and through their journey of learning, building their own tiny house and living in it full time ever since, I’ve had them come speak at the Conference.  You can read more about them, their life and their amazing house at: http://simplyenough.weebly.com

This April, we’re happy to return as speakers at The Tiny House Conference in Charlotte, NC.  It will mark four years since we attended the conference as volunteers, trying to figure out if we were really going to build a tiny house. Showing up at that conference was an important part of our “tiny” journey, some six years in the making.

brick house

Our first “aha” moment came almost ten years ago. We were living in a neighborhood we loved, in a big house we’d shared with more family and friends than I can remember now. But they’d all moved on, and there was just the two of us, sitting in our family room trying to remember the last time one of us had been in the basement apartment or the guest room—or the living and dining rooms, for that matter. We lived in a few rooms, but paid the mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance and utility bills on the entire 3,000-square-foot house. We realized the house owned us.

Money was only part of what was troubling us. We’d gone to several Solar Decathlons sponsored by the Department of Energy. At these events, college teams compete to make energy efficient homes, but the competition goes beyond energy consumption. Aesthetics, livability, sustainability of materials and cost are all evaluated, as well. Before we’d ever heard of the tiny house movement, it was these beautiful, compact, sustainable homes that inspired us. We saw that it was possible to tread a little lighter on the planet without sacrificing anything.

Add to that, all the time our house demanded of us. Painting the house inside and out took months of our “free time.” Repairing the decks. Landscaping. Cleaning. Not to mention the hours and hours and hours we felt trapped in jobs we didn’t want to be doing just to pay the mortgage.

So, though we loved where we lived, we came to the realization that the house had to go. We put it on the market before we knew what would come next. I was reminded of a phrase from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: “Leap and the net will appear. ” We leapt, and we sold the house just before the real estate crash of 2008. Thanks to that fortunate timing and all the work we’d done on the house, we made a lot of money on it. We also sold most of our furniture. Things I thought I couldn’t part with at first, but quickly came to realize I didn’t miss: a grandfather’s clock we’d bought on impulse, our dining and living room furniture, our dressers and side tables, our second set of dishes, our kayaks. (Well, truth be told, we’ve missed the kayaks more than all the other things combined.)

tiny house entertaining

What made the process easier was focusing on what mattered to us. I love my Grandma Mae’s china—so we kept that and started using it everyday, rather than storing it away for special occasions. I love the antique silver that came from my other grandmother.  That stayed. So did old books and rugs, travel mementos and art. What went: things we could go out and buy again at a store.  Duplicates. Things hidden away in boxes and closets—many of them we’d forgotten we owned. We went digital with our snapshots and music (and made decent money selling off all the CDs.)

We learned along the way how best to get value out of what we were selling. We sold collectibles on eBay, antiques at auction, furniture on CraigsList, household items at yard sales. Every dollar in bought us time to figure out what we wanted to do. When a relative asked us to fix up a condo she wanted to sell, we were ready for this rent-free opportunity to test out living in a smaller space. And with the house and most of our possessions sold, we quit our full-time jobs and didn’t have to look for new ones.

We took our time figuring out the next step. By keeping our expenses at a minimum, we were able to wander through Panama for eight weeks. We drove cross-country twice. We got to babysit our first grandchild.  We could spend time with our parents when they were sick and then be with them when they died. After our wandering phase, we lived in a couple apartments, trying out square footage, and we came to realize that even a one-bedroom apartment was more than we needed.

tiny house event workshop

Which brings us to the 2014 Tiny House Conference. We’d become aware of tiny houses and thought if we could find the right piece of land, we might want to build one ourselves. We had experience fixing up six houses over the years and figured we could learn whatever we didn’t know. Doing our tiny house research, we read about Ryan Mitchell’s conference in Charlotte and realized it would be a perfect opportunity to decide if we were ready for another leap. Around that same time, a friend living in the Blue Ridge Mountains offered us a corner of her land to build a tiny house.  It seemed the universe was sending us a message.

Volunteering at the conference made attending affordable for us, since we still weren’t working. We split up during our free time: I went to talks on design and building techniques; Bill focused on utilities—especially plumbing and solar. We learned more about composting toilets and trailers and, most importantly, we toured our first tiny houses. Seeing a picture or a video on a computer screen is nothing compared to walking through a space, climbing up into a loft, looking at appliances, comparing floor plans, or asking questions of people living the life we were contemplating.

tiny house framing

What did we take away from that conference? Most importantly, we’d made our decision: we would build a tiny house. We committed to that decision by ordering our trailer from someone we met at the conference—Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders. We also bought Dan’s book, Tiny House Design & Construction Guide, which gave us an invaluable step-by-step overview of the building process.

10 foot wide tiny house

Skip ahead to today: We’ve lived in the tiny house we designed and built for more than two years. We love it more than any house or apartment (and there have been many) we’ve ever lived in. The space fits us perfectly. It doesn’t require much maintenance. It requires little more energy than what our solar generator produces. We cook with clean-burning alcohol and do much of our heating with a cleaning-burning wood stove. We compost our waste, and we grow some of our own food. We are truly living our dream: consuming fewer resources and spending our time as we choose.

Which brings us to the 2018 Tiny House Conference in Asheville, NC, where we’ll be speaking about off-grid living and tiny house budget and finance.  I can tell you this from personal experience: If you’re considering the leap to tiny living, attending a conference like this can transform intention to action. Ready for a leap?

Winter is coming: How to winterize your tiny house

The one trick to tiny houses in the winter is keeping your water connection from freezing.  In past years I have been too lazy to actually get my pipes ready for winter, but this year I decided I’d take the time to do it up right.

I should start out by saying that I live in NC, where it doesn’t get crazy cold and we get very little snow.  On average I think we’ll have around fifty nights that drop to 32 degrees or below in a given year.  In many cases it just hits 32 degrees for a few hours in the early morning, which isn’t long enough for my water lines to freeze at all.

This year I decided to do a little more winter prep than normal and insulate my lines.  I haven’t taken the step of putting heat tape along the water line yet because I’m running on solar and a heating element such as that would drain my batteries in a heart beat.  IF I was on the grid, I’d be hooking that heat tape up too.

hook up water to tiny house

My tiny house is connect to city water which I ran to my house.  Since I had to run all the underground lines before the house ever was on the property I opted to use a traditional RV setup.  A frost proof hydrant connects to my tiny house via a drinking safe hose (really important to have a potable water hose!).  The inlet is a RV water inlet that installed on the side of my house.

insulate water lines tiny home

I thought about making something more elaborate, requiring wood working, etc. But when I started to price things out I realized that I was looking at spending $100-$200 which was more than I wanted to spend and honestly it would have taken a good bit of time.  I’ve not done this in the past because I was being lazy, so I knew I needed something that was quick and dirty.

That lead me to this method. I got a single roll of insulation for $13 and already had the trash bags and duct tape. This way I wouldn’t have to pull out any power tools and the entire job took about 20 minutes.

Price: Check.  Lazy factor: Check.

I wrapped the batts like this so that I could get the insulation to snug up against the ground nicely while keeping the backing outward for a bit of durability.  Some duct tape to hold it all together and I was done.

no freeze pipe

Next I wrapped the water hose in rubberized foam which was the highest r-value I could find.  I added some duct tape on the outside to make sure it held together nicely and then bagged the whole thing.

So it isn’t a perfect solution, but the black bag is nice way to keep the water out and the outside looking somewhat presentable.  We’ll see how it goes this winter!

 

Your Turn!

  • What seasonal preparations do you need to consider?

Tiny House Stolen!

It’s a nightmare that you’d never want to have happen, but as tiny houses grow, so will the number of them that are stolen.  Watch this video below:

 

Luckily she was able to find the house, but I thought I’d share a few tips to keep your house safe.  There are a few steps to keeping things safe.  Obscurity, Security and Insurance.

Obscurity

Most of the people who have had their tiny houses stolen have one thing in common, they were in plain sight of a road.  Most criminals are crimes of opportunity. This isn’t some Ocean’s 11 heist; they see the house and they grab it.  It’s important to note that obscurity doesn’t equal security, but if someone isn’t able to see it from the road, if it’s existence isn’t known to many, the likelihood of someone stealing it is much lower.

My recommendation is to always have your house hidden from sight.  This causes less issues with neighbors, less issues with the city and less people poking around in general.  Practically speaking, if you house is visible from the road, you’re going to have people who literally stop their car and peer in your windows, not a great thing when you’re stepping out of the shower!

Don’t forget that while your house might not be seen in the summer months, but when the seasons change, all the leaves will drop.  I often suggest budgeting a few hundred dollars for some evergreen shrubs to plant as screens.

Security

Once you have your house hidden from prying eyes, it’s time to make things difficult for someone to waltz in and take your home.  The very sad truth is that if a thief really wants it, they’re going to get it.  All locks and security measures can be canceled out very quickly.  With the advent of battery grinder wheels, I’ve seen even hardened security locks be rendered useless in about 10 seconds.

Lock The Hitch

If a trailer has a hitch lock, it’s that much more difficult for someone to hook it up and go.  I recommend the hitch vault because it surrounds the entire hitch and the pin is difficult to get at.  I used to use a simple hitch pad lock, but one day I needed to get at the hitch and had lost the key.  I grabbed my bolt cutters and, in literally 2 seconds, had it off.

Get It Off The Wheels

This is one of the most effective options in my mind because it represents a huge obstacle for anyone trying to steal the house.  When you get your house in it’s final spot, you need to get it off the wheels anyway to avoid tire shock and tire rot.

What I do is get the house lifted off the ground until I can remove the tires.  I secure it with solid blocks, then I remove all the wheels.  I hide the lug nuts in another location and put the tires in a shed which is also locked.  What this means is if someone wanted to steal my tiny house, they’d have to jack the house up some, break into a shed, find the wheels, carry them over, put them on and then have the correct number and type of lug nuts to fasten them on.  It’s not that likely and if they could, it would take a fair bit of time, which is time they could be caught.

Have A Mean Sounding Dog

Many criminals often steer clear of dogs because they’re unpredictable.  A good sized dog with a mean bark can go a long way to keeping your house and property safe.

Insurance

This is a controversial topic, but I still think its worth mentioning.  I still maintain the stance that even if you are able to get a policy for your tiny house, if you ever had a claim, they’d never honor it.  I’ve written about how little faith I have in insurance companies for tiny houses here.  For standard things like cars, traditional houses, etc. I feel like it is a good practice for people to carry insurance.

If something goes wrong and your home is damaged, has a fire, flood, etc., insurance is how we mitigate risk.  For tiny houses, I feel it’s better to have a wad of cash in the bank, but each person need to make that decision for themselves.

Your Turn!

  • How are you going to protect your house?
  • What tips do you have to share?