BY: TIMOTHY ELLIS
The Tiny House Movement has been gaining momentum recently. Some tiny home dwellers have even chosen to live completely off the grid. Others are enjoying all the amenities of being plugged in. And some have taken their tiny homes on the road, not setting down roots anywhere in particular. If you think you are ready for a tiny house, here are a few tips for potential home dwellers.
Living in a tiny house requires owning less stuff. Before you even decide how big your house will be, you need to take stock of everything you own and figure out what the essentials are that you need to have in your new home. The rest can be sold, donated, given to friends, or placed in storage if you feel you can’t part with certain items. This might be the hardest step in deciding to go tiny. However, it can be liberating.
It is very important that you prepare a detailed budget for how much you can afford and what it will cost to live in a tiny house. Some items you will want to include are:
- Your income
- Purchase vs. rent cost of the home
- Utility costs vs. alternative energy
- Land ownership vs. lease
- Cost of daily living, such as food, clothing, recreation, and medical
The cost of tiny houses varies depending on size, materials, and amenities. A basic home with minimal plumbing and electrical, less than 200 SF, can cost as little as $6,000, or as much as $30,000. Larger homes with full kitchens, generators, and complete plumbing systems can cost closer to $60,000 and maybe more.
Get Creative with Furnishings
There are some funky furniture ideas for tiny spaces. One that works very well is a desk that folds up against a wall when not in use. It can serve as a framed mirror when up. Your main seating can be a trundle style bench that opens up into a bed to sleep 2 for when guests visit. And, there is a lot to be said for folding chairs that you can hang on the wall when not in use.
Now that your budget is determined, it is time to research which home fits your needs best. Tiny homes can be custom or pre-fabricated. You can get a sense of plenty of design options online by looking at homesteading sites. You will then need to step inside actual tiny houses to get a real sense of the space.
One of the best tips for potential home dwellers is to spend time inside some tiny homes and to connect with actual owners who can give you first-hand, experienced feedback. These are the real experts who have lived the dream and learned from it. Feel free to ask about all the pros and cons. This will help you finalize how much space you need, size of appliances, and how far off the grid you are comfortable going with.
Storage is one of the biggest issues with tiny homes. In your research, you will see clever and creative storage ideas. In essence, every hidden space is potential for storage, such as in stair risers, under built-in seating, and between the rafters of a sleeping loft. Every inch of wall space is usable for hanging items.
Give Thought to Utilities and Appliances
Heating and cooling, plumbing, electrical, and appliances can take up a lot of real estate in a tiny home. Some helpful space saving tips for potential home dwellers include:
- Electric coil radiant floor heating
- Sink/toilet combo
- Washer/dryer all-in-one unit
- 24” range (apartment size)
Looking to save some money on utilities and don’t mind some DIY projects or living a bit unplugged? Then consider solar roof panels for electricity, a rain water collection system with filtration, and a composting toilet.
If you are thinking about downsizing to a tiny house or maybe moving into a studio apartment in an urban environment, make sure you do some planning up front. It doesn’t have to be a difficult transition where you feel that you are giving up amenities. It is entirely possible to live comfortably with less space and fewer possessions. In fact, it may simplify your life giving you more free time.