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10 Mistakes to Avoid When Moving into Tiny Homes

Interior of a tiny wooden house

Have you considered joining the increasing number of Americans downsizing to increase your manner of living by decreasing the daily expenses of living in a house? Seventy percent of tiny homeowners have no mortgage, while the average tiny home costs $23,000 to build. However, it should be noted that before joining the tiny home movement, there are a few things to consider that play into comfortability and livability. Here are 10 mistakes to avoid when investing in tiny home living.

1. Purchasing Land in the Wrong Area 

A common rule of thumb is to first check into your local building regulations regarding small dwellings. It can be tempting to buy land for the view or location, but hold off on this. You might discover some local zoning doesn’t allow tiny homes to be built in your dream area, or that mobile tiny homes can only be used for short-term residence. Some communities and homeowner associations are looking to ban tiny homes in their neighborhoods due to fearing lower costs of the tiny home living drive down local real estate prices.

2. Neglecting Local Zoning Laws 

Before making plans for tiny house living, start by looking for building plans or hiring a builder. Check into your local zoning ordinances. Many towns allow a tiny home as an accessory building unit, which is a second dwelling on land with an already existing standard house. Yet others will not allow a tiny house to be built on the land. Some municipalities are building whole communities of tiny houses, such as Whispering Aspen Village in Colorado.

3. Skimping Out on Research 

It is always best to evaluate and research what tiny house living is actually like. Discover what you are comfortable giving up in your day-to-day living as you decrease the space and size of your future house. Many great articles and websites are at your disposal about what it is to live in a tiny house. Consider reading the memoir “The Big Tiny” by Dee Williams, an early tiny home pioneer. Or, join a local small house group or find one online.

4. Not Understanding the Building Process 

Because tiny homes are gaining popularity, an increase in number of builders are becoming skilled and far more experienced in building small dwellings. Hiring a builder to take on all the work instead of learning how to do it yourself can work in your favor. However, even if you use a builder, you should take workshops or seminars on tiny homes to understand the basics, therefore putting you in a better position to spot if your builder is qualified.

 Interior of a tiny wooden house

5. Lack of Planning 

Good planning prevents poor performance. Proper planning from mapping out every step of the process, to knowing how much material and equipment you will need before you start the building process is vital. This way, it is easy to avoid nasty surprises or unexpected expenses.

6. Downsizing too Late 

If you want to start ridding yourself of possessions until your tiny home is finished, then you will have a lot on your hands. An average American household typically has 300,000 items in their home. This is far too much to pack into a tiny home. It is instead better to start downsizing early as soon as a builder is hired, or before you finish the final draft of your plans.

7. Too-Large Appliances 

Greg Kennedy of Calgary Real Estate suggests: “When transitioning to a smaller home space, you will usually have to use furniture and spaces custom designed, smaller, or dual purpose. For example, a specifically built bed with a platform hides storage space to fit into smaller spaces. It all falls to planning and priorities.”

8. Choosing the Wrong Toilet

Many tiny homes use composting toilets. These are handy because they don’t require flushing or even plumbing. Instead, these toilets break down waste into soil-like compost homeowners empty daily. They are inexpensive, waterless, and very easy to use. However, they do not always fall under zoning regulations, so it is important to ensure before you build you won’t be required to have a flushing toilet. Unfortunately, if you have to install a toilet later, you will also have to install expensive plumbing, as well as find a sewage connection.

9. Not Enough Storage or Shelving 

Space is limited in a tiny home. When moving into a smaller dwelling from a standard-sized home, you lose a ton of space. You or your builder will have to get creative when finding space for storage. Think under the stairs, under seats, under counters, etc… Anywhere you can squeeze in drawers or shelves will work in your best interest.

10. Not Enough Space for Guests 

Standard tiny homes typically only have room enough for one sleeping area. They can occasionally include a separate area for meditation, working, or playing music that can be easily turned into a spare bedroom. This can be an issue for you if you love to entertain/host guests, or family members. And unless you never have guests over to sleep, it is a good idea to include a fold-out sofa, spare futon, or seating that can convert into an additional sleeping area.