If you’re thinking of trading your home for something more manageable, the idea of a tiny home might have crossed your mind. There are many good reasons to downsize, but it’s worth knowing that it’s not always as simple as it sounds.
In the first part of our ‘Tiny Homes’ series, we looked at how making the move to a tiny home can have an impact on your lifestyle. In this second part, we take a look at the logistical side of things. Laws, regulations and restrictions can all dictate what you can and can’t do, so if you were planning to knock something up out of scraps, you may need to think again!
Mobile Homes are Classified as RVs
Those thinking about making the move to a tiny home are given 2 choices: a permanent structure on a plot of land, or something you can move around at will. Mobile tiny homes must conform to strict weight limits, dependent on your trailer and vehicle. Bear in mind that the maximum weight a trailer can carry must also include the weight of the trailer itself. Height is another concern and it’s wise to avoid building too tall, or you might find the roof over your head is scattered under the last bridge.
A mobile tiny home will be registered as an RV and must conform to the appropriate laws and regulations. Additionally, mobile tiny homes cannot simply park anywhere they like overnight – they must find official areas and dispose of waste in accordance to local laws. Waste is another area to focus on during the design phase and your intended use will play a large role in deciding how to go about it.
If you aim to always park your home somewhere with electrical and plumbing hook-ups, you may consider a self-contained unit. Easily modified hook-ups are a good idea and cover you for whatever the future throws at you – these can include fittings to which renewable energy sources can be attached, such as wind turbines or solar panels.
Permanent Structures Must Follow Strict Regulations
Permanent structures on the other hand are subject to more stringent regulations – as applied to typical houses. Building regulations must be followed to the letter, the relevant building permits must be obtained and the home must pass numerous inspections.
On the other hand, when built correctly, permanent tiny houses are easier to insure and hold their value much better. Mobile homes tend to lose value rather quickly and can be more difficult to insure and indeed classify.
A permanent structure can be more readily modified and can also take into consideration a cosy outdoor area, such as decking or a vegetable garden. Additionally, renewable energy devices such as solar panels can be more easily installed.
Building a Tiny Home is a lot of Work
Many of us dream of building our home with our own two hands and envision sitting back at the end of each day to admire our work. With tiny homes, you may think that it’s a small project and, as a result, it’s fairly easily accomplished. However, things are never as simple as they seem!
Building a tiny home requires a command over all of the skills required to build a normal home. From carpentry and roofing, to electrics and plumbing, you will need a firm grasp of all construction skills if your home is to be structurally safe and sound. On top of that, you will need to be well versed in the regulations and building standards in order to comply – especially when building a permanent structure.
If you’ve never built a tiny home before, it’s well worth increasing the amount of time you predict it will take to complete. For a qualified builder, 25% extra should cover you and for anyone who isn’t a professional, up to 50% more time may be required. Ensure also that you have your work inspected at each stage – this can take time, but it’s well worth it in the long run.
You Will Need Insurance
Despite what you might have heard to the contrary, all tiny houses, be they mobile, permanent, self-built or bought, must be insured. Finding an insurance company that is willing to insure your new home is another issue. Some are reluctant to do it at all, while others insist you meet their strict criteria.
Often, an insurance company will only cover a tiny home if it was built by a certified builder – laying ruin to the dreams of many would-be DIYers. Others insist that building plans must be certified before construction commences. It’s essential that you’re specific when you approach an insurer. By telling them the full details and by being aware of their small print, you’re more likely to have your home fully covered.
The key to success when considering tiny homes is to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Small and simple don’t necessarily go hand in hand and having a solid idea of all the potential pitfalls puts you in good stead. Knowing the legalities in advance saves you a lot of trouble, time and money further down the line.