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4 Things You Should Know When Considering a Tiny House

I won’t start you off with a lot of fluff, here are 4 things you should know before getting started on your tiny home journey. Click the link if you’d like to learn more about an online tiny home building workshop you can take from home at your own pace!

1. How do tiny houses promote a sustainable lifestyle?

Tiny home living promotes a simpler, less consuming lifestyle by forcing you to break away from excess consumption. While the average home uses 10,399 kilowatts and emits 16,000 lbs of carbon dioxide per year, tiny homes use only a fraction of that at an average of only 914 kilowatts and 1,144 lbs of carbon emissions per year. In fact, commercial and residential greenhouse gas emissions account for about 11% of all carbon emissions in the US, and with climate change a major issue, every little bit of savings counts. But the benefits of tiny homes don’t stop there. The average home consumes three-quarters of an acre of forest to build whereas tiny homes use about 7 times less. Less deforestization means more trees to help combat climate change.

2. What is the cost of tiny house living?

Tiny Home Builders

The cost of a tiny home can be less than $10,000 if you build it yourself or upwards of $80,000 if you have someone build it for you, but the average price per tiny home is around $23,000. Maybe you’d like to build one yourself but don’t know how, there are companies like Tiny Home Builders who offer online and hands-on workshops to help guide you and build your confidence in building your own.

There are other hidden monthly costs to consider with tiny home living some people don’t realize. Since there is a limited amount of space to work with, most tiny homes don’t have room for a washer/dryer unit so taking clothes to the laundromat is the remaining option for most, which can add up. A solution for that, though is a portable wash/dryer unit designed originally for boat houses and RV’s. Another spacial issue could be food storage. With limited space, you buy less food in bulk and end up buying food more frequently, but the upside to this is that less food goes to waste. You could also build a detached storage shed if it’s a possibility for you. If you don’t own land, a rental space would be required which could cost a few hundred dollars each month.

On a more positive note, financing and insurance for your tiny home is pretty easily obtainable. A quick google search brought up the company Lightstream for financing options and Insure My Tiny Home doesn’t get any more self-explanatory.

3. How does a tiny house get utilities?

Most tiny houses get their utilities the same way RV’s and conventional homes do through services provided by utility and power companies. However, occasionally people wish to locate their homes where these services are not provided. In these cases, their house needs to be off-grid, meaning the individual is responsible for providing their own services. Sometimes a house uses a combination of both grid and off-grid services. For instance, if grid power and water services are available, but sewer is not.

Standard Hook-ups

Standard hook-ups or utilities are usually available at RV parks or existing homes. For instance, if you plan to park your tiny house in someone’s back yard, you should be able to use what the primary house is already using. If available, standard hook-ups are the easiest route to take because it’s what most of us are already used to. Flushing toilets and endless reliable power and water whenever needed has become a given for most. But that’s not to say they are perfect. The environmental impact and reliance on others have driven some to look for alternatives. However, if you are looking for the path of least resistance, you’ll want to find a location for your house that offers standard hook-ups.

Water

For water, you need nothing more than a spigot and a hose. I know what you are thinking: “That water tastes horrible!” Well the problem is the hose, not the water. If you use a RV white hose you will find that your water tastes exactly the same as tap water at your kitchen sink. Many people choose to have a filter in their tiny house as well. Also you can check out how generate your own free water with Zero Mass Water

Power

Most tiny houses get their power the same way that RV’s do, through an extension cord. This extension cord is sized differently depending on the power requirements and hookups of your house. If your house is smaller and only requires 20 amp service, you will be able to plug your house directly into an existing outlet. If it requires 30 amp or 50 amp service, you’ll likely need to contact an electrician to add a suitable plug near your house. If you are parking in an RV park, most parks have spaces with all three power hookups; 20 amp, 30 amp, and 50 amp.

Sewage

If the property that you are keeping your house on is hooked up to city sewage or has a septic tank, you can splice into the existing sewer line. Just make sure the connection between the house and the sewer line can be removed like with an RV. This semi-permanent connection is often desired not only by the owners but by many legislatures that need you to verify that the house is truly “mobile.”

Internet and Cable

It doesn’t get much easier than this: Standard cable provided by a service provider. If you are at a private campground or RV park, most have a cable hookup as well.

Off-Grid Hook-ups

These hook-ups are what you would use if your house was located where no utilities are provided, for instance in a remote location or undeveloped land. Keep in mind that “going green, costs green.” These options may be money saving, but most have a pretty high up front price tag to consider.

Water

Most people feel that they will just use rainwater for all of their water needs. However, tiny houses are typically not large enough to collect enough rain water for daily use. Which means that you are either going to need to supplement your supply by bringing water in, or add an accessory structure to increase the collection area’s square footage. Don’t forget you are also going to have to supply room for tanks, too.

If you don’t plan to move your house for an extended period, another option is to drill a well. There is a high up-front cost to drill a well, but then it can provide free water for a long time. Again, another free water option is Zero Mass Water.

Power

Solar or wind power are the most common ways of powering your tiny house off-the-grid. This is DC power stored in battery banks, then converted to AC as needed by using an inverter. It may sound complicated but believe it or not, there aren’t that many components and installation is pretty easy. Estimation on the other hand can be tough as you have to be careful to account for all of your consumption. This is important because how much power you consume determines the size of your system. If you overestimate, you end up paying a lot more for a system bigger than you need. If you underestimate, you run out of power too soon. So, the first step is calculating what your consumption will be and comparing it to what you can collect in your area. For instance, in the case of solar, you need a smaller system in areas that get more sunlight. This calculation can be difficult since there are several factors involved, however, there are online calculators that have made this job a lot easier.

Once you know the size of the system you need, everything else falls into place. There are many online retailers that are eager to help you select the appropriate parts to complete your system within your budget.

Sewage

When it comes to off-grid waste water or sewage, you need to consider the source. Shower or sink water, referred to as greywater, can be handled differently than toilet waste, referred to as black water.

Greywater

Greywater is relatively clean, and assuming appropriate biodegradable soaps are used, it can often be disposed of into the ground. This is normally accomplished through the use of a French drain, which is essentially a hole in the ground filled with rocks and pebbles. This acts to temporarily store the water while also exposing it to a larger surface area of the ground for it to leach into.

Blackwater

Blackwater is trickier to deal with and so most who go off-grid avoid it altogether. By using a composting or incinerator toilet, the waste from your toilet is converted to either soil or ash. This resulting material is both safer and more pleasant to deal with. Popular options for composting and incinerating toilets include Natures Head, Seperatt, and Incinolet.

If you don’t plan to move your house for a long time, another option is to install a septic system for all waste water. A septic system is similar to a French drain, in that it allows your waste water to be absorbed into the ground. The difference is that a septic system is much bigger and has larger chambers to hold solid waste and give it time to break down and decompose.

Internet and Cable

There are several different ways to get internet in your tiny house. In remote locations wireless and/or satellite internet access is available. These options don’t necessarily have the best speeds or run in the best price range, but it is out there. Here is a great article that compares the two biggest internet satellite providers.

Tiny Home Builders

4. Where can you park and live in your tiny home?

If your tiny home is built on a foundation, it is subject to all the local building codes. These codes are in place to make sure there is a minimum quality and safety standards that these homes are being built to. If you are building on a trailer, there isn’t typically a governing body who needs or wants to inspect your home. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow the rules. The building codes are there to keep you safe. Before building your houses, be sure to do your research. Many private RV parks are making special accommodations for tiny houses and grouping them together, essentially making small tiny home communities within them.

Hopefully the information contained here gives you the foundation you need to start on your tiny home journey. Below is a list of tiny home communities in the U.S.

LuxTiny Communityhttp://www.luxtiny.com/
Lakeside, Arizona

Ponderosa RV Resorthttp://www.ponderosarvresort.com/
Lakeside, Arizona

Kings River Hitchin’ Posthttps://www.kingsriverhitchinpost.com/
Huntsville, Arizona

Lemon Cove Villagehttp://lemoncovevillagervpark.com/
Lemon Cove, California

Delta Bayhttps://deltabay.org/
Isleton, California

Palm Canyon Mobile Clubhttps://www.palmcanyonmobileclub.com/
Palm Springs, California

Escalante Villagehttps://www.escalantevillage.com/
Durango, Colorado

Peak View Park https://www.peak-view-park.com/
Woodland Park, Colorado

Orlando Lake Front http://www.orlandolakefrontth.com
Orlando, Florida

Gracious RV park https://www.graciouspark.com/
Lake Okeechobee, Florida

Circle Pond Tiny Communityhttp://circlepondtinycommunity.com/
Tampa Bay, Florida

Green Bridge Farmhttps://www.facebook.com/agrihoodplowboy
Guyton, Georgia

Little River Escapehttps://littleriverescape.com/
Cloudland, Georgia

The Shire Village at Mountaintownhttps://www.tinyinthemountains.com/
Ellijay, Georgia

Copper Moonhttps://www.tryittiny.com/properties/969
Indianapolis, Indiana

Cottage Estates http://traversebayrv.com/
Williamsburg, Michigan

The Sanctuary Minnesotahttp://www.thesanctuaryminnesota.com/
Ogilvie, Minnesota

Cross Timbers Communityhttps://crosstimberscommunity.com/
Kissee Mills, Montana

Burro Mountain Homesteadhttp://www.burromountainhomestead.com/
Silver City, New Mexico

Acony Bell TH Village https://www.aconybellnc.com/
Mills River, North Carolina

Coral Sands Pointhttp://coralsandspoint.rockhighdevelopment.com/
Lexington, North Carolina

High Covehttps://highcove.com/small-tiny-houses/
Bakersville, North Carolina

Wheat Hill Mobile Home Communityhttp://www.wheathill.net/
East Palestine, Ohio

Simply Home Communityhttp://www.simplyhomecommunity.org/
Portland, Oregon

Tiny Tranquility https://tinytranquility.com/
Waldport, Oregon

Ceder Springs Tiny Villagehttp://www.moderntinyliving.com/villages.html
New Paris, Ohio

Creek Walk Communityhttp://creekwalkcommunity.com/
Greenville, South Carolina

Lake Walk Communityhttp://www.lakewalkcommunity.com/
Greer, South Carolina

Richmond Orchardhttps://www.richmondorchard.com/
Knoxville, Tennessee

Spurhttp://www.spurfreedom.org/
Spur, Texas

Silver Sky Ranchhttps://www.silverskyranchtulia.com/
Tulia, Texas

Vintage Gracehttp://www.vintagegracetexas.com/
Yantis, Texas

Headwaters Garden and Learning Centerhttps://www.headwatersvermont.org/
Cabot, Vermont

Canoe Bay Escape Villagehttps://www.escapevillages.com/
Rice Lake, Wisconsin


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