Living on a fixed income and having a mortgage can be a real challenge. For that reason, many millennials and retirees are opting for a simpler life. People would rather spend their money on travel than being suck in one place paying for a house they work too much to enjoy. The market has been flooded with tiny house designs. Tiny homes come in all shapes and sizes. Some tiny houses aren't tiny at all. In general, the living space must smaller than 400 square feet to qualify as a tiny house. Since the average American lives in 2,600 square feet, that's quite a big difference.
Tiny houses are often built by hand on the back of trailers for portability, however, there are now large commercial companies that build them as they are becoming rather popular as vacation homes and hunting cabins. The real advantage for a tiny house is that it can be totally off-grid living. Since a tiny house is on wheels it can be moved to a warmer climate for the winter or away from large cities in the event of a crisis.
The sky is the limit with tiny house living. If there is a way to make everything fit in 400 square feet or less then it's yours. Some tiny houses have custom marble countertops, a king size bed, multiple sleeping areas, or a large jetted tub. It all depends on what the priorities of the builder are. Just keep in mind the weight of each item you want when building. The heavier the trailer is the harder and more expensive it will be to move.
When designing your own tiny house keep emergency preparedness and off-grid living in mind. Think about what you really need. 400 square feet isn't that much space and is easily filled up with pointless items. Everything in the tiny house should serve a purpose, preferably more than one purpose. The sofa could also be a pull out bed for guests, the stairs could be a closet, the dining table could fold away to make more room for floor space, etc. Small comforts should be included in any house to make it really feel like a home.
A composting toilet is a must for off-grid living. There are several models on the market. The idea is that the toilet doesn't require water or a septic system. Simply toss some wood saving in afterward and empty when needed. You'll need to conserve all the water you can in an emergency. The drain pipes from the roof can be used to collect and store water. This water can be purified for drinking or simply used for washing as 'greywater'.
Solar roof panels are a fantastic idea. They can power the entire house, and charge electronic devices. Connect the panels to a battery power bank for night time use and darker days. Using a wood stove to heat a small space works quite well. The solar panels won't be as drained trying to heat the house as well as provide lights. A gas cooktop still allows you to make tasty food in the middle of nowhere while being energy efficient with the solar panels.
How many people are going to be living in the tiny house? Children are small and can fit just about anywhere. Adults, on the other hand, need more room and might not want to climb down stairs or a ladder in the middle of the night to reach the bathroom. Most sleeping areas don't have a great deal of head space since laying down does require ample headroom.
Off-grid living must haves
- solar panels
- composting toilet
- rainwater retrieval system
- wood stove
- gas range
- plenty of storage
- dual purpose items
- comforts of home
(Plans for this tiny house can be found here)
Laws regarding tiny house living vary greatly city by city. There are several places in Oregon that have become tiny house villages due to the rise in popularity. Keeping a tiny house in your backyard is fine in most places as long as it is not rented out as an accessory apartment. When disaster comes, you'll be prepared for off-grid living and have a ready-made home packed and ready to go someplace safer.
Photo Credit: https://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/tumbleweed-locations/tumbleweed-tiny-house-factory-colorado-springs-co/