The following is a guest post by Ethan Waldman and an excerpt from the guide Tiny House Decisions: Everything I Wish I Knew When I Built My Tiny House, by Ethan Waldman.
If you are interested in building your own tiny home, this guide will walk you through each and every process, step by step, and ultimately help you build the tiny house that’s right for you.
Make sure you read until the end to find out how you can win a copy of Ethan’s new book.
What should the overall size be?
A lot can be said about the overall size of your tiny house. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to this: The smaller it is, the harder it’s going to be to live there. I know, that’s a bold statement, but think of it this way:
When you build a tiny house that you intend to live in, there’s no question that you are going to have to get rid of a lot of stuff. Most or all of your furniture will definitely have to go. Giant wardrobe? Forget it. Large specialized appliances? Find a different home for them.
Regardless of how big or small your tiny house is, you’re going to need to downsize. However, you don’t have to go as micro as possible. You can have a tiny house that’s still livable. A foot or two might not make much difference in a traditional house, but in a tiny house, it can be huge. Having a slightly larger 22-foot tiny house could mean the difference between you being able to have a kitchen sink of a usable size or not. Or it could mean the difference between being able to have a guest sleep in your “great room” or not.
You’re downsizing either way, so why not make your house as livable as possible?
In the end, this is just another one of those trade-offs we talked about back in the Introduction.
Pros of a Bigger Tiny House
The bigger your tiny house is, the more storage space it has.
When it comes to tiny houses, you may be required to put quotes around the word “storage.” However, you’d be amazed at how many creative ways you can sneak storage into a small space.
For instance, my main seating in the tiny house is a long structure that we called “the bench” during construction. Because my house is long, the couch is long — over 8 feet — and big enough for a guest to sleep on. And what’s underneath? “Storage” space! I have baskets with felt pads on the bottoms so they easily slide in and out under the couch.
Here’s another example: I like to cook, so I made storage space and functionality in the kitchen a priority. Despite the fact that I’ve been living in my house for over a year, I still have not filled up all the drawers and cabinets in my kitchen.
Some may consider empty unused space in a tiny house to be a bad thing, but I do not. The process of moving into the house and living there has never really felt limiting to me. I know that my house has room for me to expand into it.
Your house is more “livable.”
My tiny house is definitely on the larger side of the average tiny house on wheels. However, the 21 feet of interior space enabled me to include things like:
- a bathroom with a separate shower and toilet (no wet bath)
- a double kitchen sink and ample cabinet and counter space
- a 3-burner propane range (including an oven)
- an 11-foot loft with two closets and room for a queen-size mattress
I’ve seen other tiny houses that include such luxuries as a washer/dryer combo and even a tiny bathtub.
Cons of a Bigger Tiny House
You’ll need a bigger (and more expensive) trailer.
As I said earlier, my trailer was over $4,000. Trailers have weight capacities; most are 7,500 pounds. When you move up to the 10,000-pound capacity trailers, you add at least $1,000 because they require completely different (bigger) axles, more powerful brakes, and a heavier-duty hitch.
It’s more difficult to tow.
Tumbleweed estimates that its 89-square-foot Epu weighs just 4,700 pounds when empty. That is towable by most medium to large pickup trucks and large SUVs. However, a tiny house in my size range weighs close to 10,000 pounds, which is towable by only the largest pickup trucks on the road — trucks which would be highly inefficient and impractical to own.
You’ll spend more on materials.
It takes more materials to build a bigger house, and materials cost money. For instance, consider how many windows you’re going to want. My house has 12 windows. If it were half the size, I could probably have gotten away with four or five windows total.
On the flip side, building a very tiny house — one less than 120 square feet, in my mind — will yield you the opposite of the pro/con list above. Such a house will be easier to tow, need fewer building materials, and require a less expensive trailer. However, you’ll end up with a less “livable” space with less storage.
Despite the fact that it is heavy and difficult to tow, I would not make my tiny house any smaller. I’m so happy every time I use the kitchen, and every time I move around the house without bumping into anything. I definitely wouldn’t change that. For me, the trade-offs of a slightly larger tiny house are worth it.
That was one small excerpt from over 180 pages of Tiny House Decisions. Waldman’s guide presents all of the choices you’ll need to make in order to go tiny, along with the pros and cons for each. This is truly a valuable resource!
Enter to Win the Complete Digital Edition
Ethan is giving away one copy of the complete digital edition of Tiny House Decisions to one of our readers. This includes the book, 2 hours of interviews with tiny house experts, and 12 video system tours from Ethan’s tiny house.
To enter the contest simply leave a comment below and tell Ethan why Tiny House Decisions is the perfect resource to help you go tiny. One comment will be chosen by Ethan at random on November 24, 2014.