Taking Tiny Houses To The Next Level

There has been some discussion on our site about Tiny Houses whether or not Tiny House have “arrived”.  I personally think we are there or close enough, but certainly we will keep on growing.  It got me thinking, if there were a few things that I’d like to see in the coming years, what would they be?  Here are the top five things I think would take Tiny Houses to the next level.

1. Tiny House Lending

I think this is pretty self-explanatory; Tiny Houses face many barriers to getting capital to build their Tiny House.  While I am generally against having debt, Tiny Houses often are about the cost of rent for 3 years if you build it yourself, but most don’t have the money all at once.  I’d love to see a 3 and 5 year mortgage option for Tiny Houses.  I wrote more on this here

2. Tiny House insurance Co-Op

I firmly believe that there is a need for a nonprofit insurance company, that doesn’t have shareholders.  The idea that profits should be generated above paying staff and direct costs to the provider is something I take issue with.  So let’s have a nonprofit cooperative insurance group that specifically ties into the tiny house community.  I think much of the success of this will hinge on getting enough people involved and the establishment of plain language building code.  More here

3. Accessible Tiny House Building Code

What if building codes were written in plain English?  What if building codes made special provisions for Tiny Houses?  I have struggled with this one; do we want to bring in a formal building code?  It is a tough call.  I think in order to establish safety standards and open a dialogue with municipalities this is something that will inevitably come, so it might be better if we write the code instead of someone else calling the shots for us.

4. Tiny House Land & Communities

I would that getting land might be one of the largest barriers to Tiny Houses, to put it simply, land is really expensive unless you want to live in rural areas.  I’d love to see some land open up that is near a city and is opened up to Tiny House folks for a small yearly fee.  I have kicked around the idea of purchasing land and opening it to those who want to bring their Tiny House.  I’d charge a reasonable fee; I just need to figure out how to arrange it legally so I can protect myself from liability and squatters.

5. Tiny House Convergence

I would love to see a mass gathering of Tiny Houses and Tiny House people.  I often refer to our community of Tiny Houses people and I think an event like this would bring our close knit community even closer, generate a lot of discussion and make strides in progressing the Tiny House cause.  I would love to see it held where we could make a big splash media wise; just imagine a swarm of Tiny Houses converging on the National Mall in Washington DC one weekend!  The trouble is that we are spread out over a good distance so everyone would have to travel a good distance.

Your Turn!

What things do think need to happen next for Tiny Houses?



  1. All good ideas, I too would love to see a short term loan solution to help people with building these, although I suppose credit cards are an option at a higher interest rate than is moral. People should ask around in family and friends, sometimes a senior citizen will be willing to lend money at a higher interest rate than what they can get by keeping their money in a bank and loans this small can be paid back with the equivalent of a few years’ rent.

    For land, perhaps a variant to the RV park would work well, although instead of being packed in like sardines, making use of the small house to have larger yards and buffer zones, as well as a central community garden and play area, would seem much nicer for long term living arrangements. Towns now are much more likely to look at this option, it’s preferable to homeless people (natch) and also adds to their tax base without usually adding to their need to provide much in the way of services like schools. It should be emphasized in dealing with local authorities that tiny house people save so much on housing that they have it to spend locally on other goods and services, thus adding to the local economy.

    For single small house ‘parking’ spaces, look into nominally ‘unbuildable’ lots in whatever town you want; typically there are several available nearly everywhere even in very high cost areas that are not buildable for some reason; too small (heh!), sloped, etc. What would be a costly engineering problem for a large house would be a simple fix for a much smaller one, and often these lots have utilities right at the lot line. I have my eye on several lots in the Monterey and Santa Cruz, CA area, uber-expensive housing areas, for under 5K for a 10th of an acre, plenty for a tiny house. Zillow.com is a good source and can be fine tuned to whatever criteria you want to search on.

    Or you could put an ad in Craigslist seeking a win-win situation renting a piece of a backyard in return for a small fee and utility access. I once had a yurt in my fenced-in backyard in a major city. Just ran a power cord to it for electric, cable was via wifi and the tenant had the use of the house bathroom and kitchen as he wanted. It worked well and I made a new friend.

  2. I really enjoyed this post, I think that those five points would be a great start! I think these things just take time and passionate people… the economy being what it is certainly helps push law-makers to have to address these issues, that’s a good thing! We are on the way!

  3. All great ideas Ryan. Love it. We truly do need all of these things. I’d love to see an annual convention emerge, along with easy financing and insurance, and yes.. Real tiny house communities. I’ve always thought it would easiest to obtain an already there RV park / campground and convert it to “tiny houses only” with quarterly fees, approval process, etc. Can’t wait for all this to begin happening.

    • I wonder if we got all the Tiny House Bloggers and Builders to have a online “pow wow” if there might be something we could all work on together? What do you think?

  4. I love the idea of building a tiny town where all the buildings are under 300 sq. ft. It could be set up as an RV park for Tiny Homes.

  5. LOVE THIS!! all great ideas and i’d love to see them all come to fruition. i am currently trying to find a way to get the funding to build my family’s Tiny House!!!!! 😉

    • It’s a tough nut to crack! Cash is king, if you can do it by saving up for it you’ll be better off!

  6. Great ideas!

    I’m yet to discover how insurance and loans will be looked at by the providers and banks here in Australia.

  7. Yes! To the Tiny House Convergence…I tried to look on Meetup.com for groups, but there are none in my area. I still live with my parents, so I am not a tiny house owner, but I want to be and would love to learn more!

    • It it worth the wait, you are starting young, so you’re ahead of the game!

  8. Home owners who are looking to offset their mortgage payment would do well to build a small detached tiny home, (cottage). The infrastructure is already available and building departments look more favorable on this type of an addition than a stand alone small home. The new construction can be added to the existing insurance policy. Private metering can also be used to recapture utility costs.

  9. All are excellent ideas. I would like to see a book of poems dedicated to living in tiny homes/dwellings. And, I agree with Alex: ”
    I’d love to see an annual convention emerge, along with easy financing and insurance, and yes.. Real tiny house communities.” Plus have poets there at the annual convention reading their poems about living the tiny lifestyle!

    After reading this post comments, I was inspired to write this poem:

    In the doorway

    Two faces looking in the opposite
    Directions a connection between the
    Past and the future~
    The morning sun is bright and new
    It shines upon the wall of my tiny home
    From deep within your cozy nest
    You hear a distant call~
    There are many others who see and
    Feel as you do~

    Among the greatest pleasures I have known in my tiny home,
    Whose memories sustain me in the dark, or in the
    Cold bleak gloom of winter days~
    When life seems too constrained by nature’s whims,
    Is that of going out beyond the land,
    Into the ocean,

    Luxuriating in the summer sun,
    Supine and undulating, I’m content~
    Caressed by air above and sea below,
    The warm waves softly lick my body clean
    I quietly surrender to the calm,
    And breathe in ancient smells of salty things~
    Adrift upon the waves, I am currently tossed,
    content to go where currents carry me~
    Finally, returning to my tiny home.

  10. Remember the late Stanley Kunitz,(1905 – 2006),said that the poem must develop out of its own organic materials. The organic quality of the poem is the primary important part said, Kunitz. A poem is as much of a voice as it is system of verbal signs.
    Stanley Kunitz was a US Poet Laureate.

    Lets write more poems about living the tiny life in the future!!!!!

  11. Great information. I am done downsizing my belongings. Does anyone have suggestions for the next step into joining the tiny house community. I would really like to see one in person before deciding on what I want mine to be like. Anyone in the Fargo, ND region or St. Paul, MN area that would let me look at their tiny house?


    • Annalise here is the website of Tiny Green Cabins based in White Bear Lake, MN http://tinygreencabins.com/

  12. All of this is moot as such a community already exists. It is called Sandy Pines and is in Hopkins, MI. http://www.sandypines.com

    You buy a lot and it is filled with what are know as “park model” mobile homes. These homes are on three man-made lakes and the lots are big enough that you don’t feel like you live in a trailer or RV park. The “park model” mobile homes are tiny versions and are like a “Tiny House.” They ahve been around for years. Mortgages will be hard to find for Tiny Houses that are built on trailers. They will be issued a “title” by the state and treated as a trailer. The only way to get around this it to permanently place them on a foundation. That is how mobile homes are converted to “fixed homes.”

    • Just checked this site out. They have a two week maximum stay per season rule which is not what people are talking about here. We’re looking for a more permanent solution for our little homes.

  13. Yes! I agree on your points, and I’ve been thinking about the convergence aspect for over a year. My little company can’t afford to mount a stand alone tiny house convention yet, but I hope to be able to work together with other tiny house builders and suppliers to create one sometime in the next two years. I also talked to the folks who run the Sonoma County Fair to see about getting tiny houses into the Flower Show next year. They love it, they said yes, and there will be spaces for 12 tiny houses, each to be the center of a lavishly landscaped temporary garden created by a landscape designer for the 5 (late summer) weeks of the show. There will be no cost to bring your tiny house except your transportation costs, and it will create a striking visual picture of the tiny house neighborhood possibilities. Local TH fans and builders in the Northern California area are looking toward having a TH gathering sometime either immediately before or after the Flower Show ends. Contact me if you have a tiny house you’re interested in showing!

  14. as long as they are on wheels they will be considered at best a “travel trailer” or R.V. Only after you put them an the ground are they a home. the community you want to build has already been done. It’s called a trailer court.

  15. A great deal of the problems currently facing people in this situation are quite solvable. However, we need people with the specialized knowledge and time to solve them. The code questions require lawyers, the co-op insurance questions require people with finance and law backgrounds, just like the designs we are now all so grateful for required people with backgrounds in art, architecture, engineering, carpentry, etc.

    It would be very useful to reach out to local universities (or to academics, grad students, and other relevant professionals among your readership) to find people willing to put this knowledge together in an accessible format. For example, one of the most common questions at this juncture is “where can I build it?” The two basic answers are “no one knows – codes vary too much” and “no one cares – we’re just doing it until we get kicked out.” (Tom Meyers is doing his best, Ken Kern wrote some good stuff once-upon-a-time.) I appreciate the magnitude and difficulty of the undertaking, but these are quite solvable problems. Identify an interested economics/polysci/etc M.A. or Ph D student, or a professor willing to do a year or two of research in this area, or a lawyer with the necessary experience and the time to commit to the project, and this and other problems could be quickly solved. Having solved the “what might it look like?” question in a variety of ways thanks to people like Jay Shafer, the “where can we put it?” question seems the most at this juncture. After that, yes, we need knowledgeable people to assemble strategies for collective financing, insurance, communal living, etc. This requires a coordinated effort that takes advantage of the email lists, blog readerships, and other communication networks already in place to identify the people who are already on our side who could get the ball rolling on this.

    Is anyone in a position to start doing this sort of coordination? I imagine that, at the most optimistic, it would take 3-5 years to put together this sort of information. Of course people can go forward with their own individual efforts, and the civil disobedience approach is an important and commendable one, but it won’t be sustainable on its own. Anyone interested in following up on this? I’m willing to contribute in coordinating these sorts of communications, but I don’t have access to the email lists or blog readerships, nor do I have the skills to actually do the work nor anyone in mind who does. But we can make this happen!


  16. We’re taking a shot at a small (4 tiny home) community here in DC. www.boneyardstudios.com

    • Love that video of Jay’s house going up, thanks for the link Brian!

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  18. Reading these 2012 posts but it is now almost August 2015. Wondering if anyone here has any leads on parking an 8×25′ tiny home on wheels in the Santa Cruz to Big Sur area? A bit top heavy so roads will be a factor to get it parked. Thanks if you can assist!

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