I Spend All Day Every Day Inside A Tiny House. Here’s What I’ve Learned About Small Space Design.

I work in a tiny house.  More specifically, a mobile office.  Here at B&B, our company has grown faster than our factory has, so now a few of us share the 8 1/2′ x 20′ Brodie Mobile Office for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  During that time, I’ve learned quite a few things about how to best design a small space for maximum working and living.

Here’s what I’ve learned:


Windows and skylights make a huge difference.

Before moving out to the mobile office, I was working inside the factory in a little room we built into the corner of the warehouse.  This room had windows to the factory but no windows to the outside.  Now that I’m in the mobile office and my desk faces two windows, my quality of life has really improved.  The old office, although it was bigger than the mobile office, felt a bit cave-like, and not in the way of grand echoing caverns; it was more like those tiny spaces spelunkers narrated by David Attenborough have to squeeze their bodies into.  Anyhow, with its tall ceilings, skylights, and windows all around, the tiny mobile office, although smaller than the old office, feels way more spacious.

Both for air exchange and light, it’s nice to have windows on all sides of you.  Opening a window at either side of the house creates a nice breeze. Because you’re surrounded by windows rather than looking at one or two walls with windows, the space feels more expansive and airy than a smaller space.

The take home: In a small space, you’re closer to the windows, so they don’t have to be as big as you’d think to provide a huge amount of light and views. Careful placement of windows to maximize light, view and air exchange makes all the difference. 


Choose your floor color wisely.

This goes for any house, not just tiny houses, but it’s something I’ve learned from this particular tiny house so I thought I’d share it here.  I can’t stress this enough: choose a floor color that’s not going to show every single piece of dirt, dust, sand, mud, piece of grass, and microscopic pebble.  This house was photographed on a day when the snow went up to our knees and we mopped the floor just before the shoot.  If we hadn’t, you’d see all kinds of smudges on it.

The absolute best floor for mud-concealment is this grey one with lots of color variation.  This house (the Arcadia Tiny House) has been exhibited on rainy, muddy days with hundreds of people (and double that number of boots!) walking through and you couldn’t even tell it was dirty.

 

Left: The dark floor of the Brodie gets dirty   Right: The varied-color floor of the Arcadia doesn’t show dirt!

The Take-home: If, like me, one of the things about tiny living that appeals to you is your laziness for cleaning, don’t get a floor that’s going to drive you crazy if you don’t mop it every day!  (The bright side is I only have to mop 140 sq. ft!)


Mobile offices are great for greeting customers outside the work area.

Our workshop has six tiny houses being built at a time, with houses, trucks, deliveries, forklifts, et cetera rolling in and out of our factory doors all day.  We don’t generally like to invite visitors inside this active work environment simply because it’s too much of a liability.  Having the mobile office outside as the face of our company allows us to greet customers in a safe environment, free of sawdust, noise and hazards.

The take home: designing your tiny house is the most important thing– but placement of the tiny house can make or break your experience inside.


More people can fit in an 8 1/2′ x 20′ space than you think without feeling claustrophobic.

We’ve had non-claustrophobic meetings with ten people inside.  The level of claustrophobia definitely depends on the amount of stuff inside the house.  Since this is an office, not a home, and most of our files are digital, not on paper, we really don’t need that much stuff inside the mobile office.  We keep architectural samples, like color chips, siding swatches, and stain samples, but other than that pretty much everything’s digital.

Additionally, the objects that we do have are stored inside the cabinetry so they don’t add to visual clutter.

The take home: we live in a world where you no longer have to have a lot of physical stuff.  In a small space, digitize (and back up!) everything.  One might think closed cabinets make a small space feel smaller than open cabinets, but they’re great for hiding clutter.


Get white noise and air exchange for a shared tiny space.

It’s quiet in the mobile office.  Really quiet.  It’s a side effect of being well-insulated.  So during mealtimes it can be a bit… overwhelming for someone who doesn’t like to hear others chewing.  My favorite white noise generator is Celestial White Noise on YouTube.  Ten hours of a gentle hum that you tune out after a minute and don’t have to hear every time your coworker shifts in their chair.

  

Pictured: the mobile office’s in-wall electric heater, which doesn’t include air exchange

I have hot soup for lunch all the time in the winter.  To make sure the mobile office doesn’t then smell like soup for the rest of the day, I always open the restroom door and turn the extractor fan on after eating a hot lunch.  It only takes a couple minutes to return the air in the house to freshness.

Certain heating and cooling systems also include air exchange (ours doesn’t)– I’d recommend getting that if possible.

The take home: get white noise and an extractor fan. 


tiny home brodie mobile office studioTall ceilings and not too much clutter on the walls really make a space feel bigger.

Perhaps this goes without saying, but I think it’s worth mentioning the tall ceilings inside this tiny mobile office.  In order to be road-legal, the tiny house has to be under 13 1/2′ tall so it can fit under bridges, trees and power lines.  With the inside floor being just over 2′ off the road, there is still room for a taller-than-usual ceiling inside– and it makes a huge difference!

The take home: Be sure to design your tiny space with as much ceiling height as you can. 

 

 

Creating an Original Tiny House Design vs. Purchasing a Pre-Designed Tiny House

Why Our Clients Usually Purchase Pre-Designed Tiny Houses

At B&B Tiny Houses, we are often asked if a prospective tiny home owner should buy a custom tiny house or choose from our catalog of tiny house designs. Most of our clients will ultimately decide that they want to customize an existing tiny house design for the reasons below.

Pre-Designed Tiny Houses

Because we have over 10 models of pre-designed models, most prospective tiny house owners will find a plan that will work for them. With this option, B&B customers will get to choose the finishes on their tiny house for no additional cost. This means that clients will have the option of picking the finishes for the interior and exterior of their tiny home: including the roofing, ceilings, walls, fixtures, and floors. The customization process of the pre-designed tiny homes allows owners to add their own style to their tiny house. The pre-designed tiny houses also allow clients the option of changing the blueprint–i.e. adding an extra closet or rearranging kitchen appliances. Read more about our blueprint changes fee.

Perfect for weekend vacationers, the Prospect has a beautiful observatory bedroom with large sliding doors on three sides.

The Sentinel is designed for someone who wants to live tiny but won’t compromise on kitchen space. The kitchen has a full size fridge, oven, and sink, and ample cabinets.

 

Original Tiny House Designs

Customers also have the option of working with B&B’s design team to create an entirely original design.  Original tiny house designs allow you to create the exact tiny home that you’re envisioning, but due to economies of scalei.e. custom houses taking longer to build due to the fact that each one is unique and not able to be mass produced— this option can be quite costly. In addition, with a custom house, there is an extra fee to design the sketches of the home and create an estimate. Read more on original tiny house design fees. Custom plans and builds come at a substantial increase in cost and build time, but they also allow those that are willing to pay more to receive a beautiful tiny house designed for their exact needs and lifestyle. 

Clients can give our designers sketches of their dream home and see their ideas come to life.

 

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Why Tiny Houses Can Be for Almost Anyone

Who should own a tiny house?

Tiny houses have risen in popularity over the years, and there’s a good reason for this: tiny houses offer many perks that will appeal to almost anyone. Tiny houses are economical, sustainable, and can even be a great investment or supplementary source of income.

 

Baby Boomers

We’ve had baby boomers choose the tiny house lifestyle for a multitude of reasons. Some want a big change in their life, want a simpler life, or want to travel more. Also, we have had baby boomers choose to live in a tiny house and rent out their traditional house for additional income.

Millennials

With educational loans and rent costs rising, many millennials are delaying buying a house–only 20 percent of millennials have a mortgage. In addition, many millennials find the pros of living more sustainable and minimalistic very desirable. Tiny houses allow millennials to put money that would otherwise be going down the drain towards an investment that they can get back.

Those Wanting a Simpler and more Environmentally Conscious Life

If you’re looking for a change in your life and yearn to get away from all hecticness  that overconsumption can bring, the tiny house lifestyle may be the solution you’ve been seeking. The minimalistic lifestyle is about owning the perfect amount and focusing on your needs and talents in order to become the happiest version of yourself. Because space is a commodity in a tiny house, it makes you to only keep and buy what will add value to your life. Read more about minimalism here.

On and off-grid options allow tiny house owners to reduce their carbon footprint–a net zero carbon footprint is possible in off-grid living. Tiny houses require less materials to build and use significantly less water, heating, and cooling because of their size. In addition, their size limits the amount of waste produced. Check out these two blogs to learn more about simple living and off-grid living.

Families

Families that decide to go tiny may use the house for vacations or live in it full time. Although living with your family in a tiny house will undeniably bring its own challenges, the benefits of living in a tiny house are immeasurable. Teaching your kids about the importance of memories and family are just a few!  Read about this five person family that decided to go tiny full time.  

Families Looking for Flexible and Accessible Housing 

Families with aging parents or those that want to provide their older children with special needs an increased sense of independence can turn to tiny houses. Nursing homes cost an average of $235 daily for a shared room, which is a hefty sum for most families. Our tiny houses can be built to ADA standards and are a much cheaper option. Additionally, the tiny houses can be placed and hooked up to your utility grid–allowing you to be walking distance away from the tiny house (as long as you ensure your town allows tiny houses).

Anyone on the Move or Looking for Weekend Getaways 

Because many tiny houses are on wheels–ours at B&B are on wheels and RVIA certified–tiny houses can go wherever you travel. If you’re a person that loves to travel or are looking for a weekend getaway to go hiking, skiing, or otherwise enjoy yourself and save money by opting out of an expensive hotel, then a tiny house is a perfect fit for you. Whether you decide to build your tiny house on or off-grid, you will have many places to keep your tiny house; the amount of places you can keep your tiny house off grid are endless and in most places you can stay in your on-grid tiny house wherever a RV or trailer is allowed.

 

Developers, Renters, Campgrounds, and Hoteliers 

Developers have started investing in tiny house campgrounds and hotels. These sites offer guests a unique way to travel and experience their surroundings. Check out these tiny house hotels across the United States.In addition, tiny house owners can rent out their tiny house on sites like AirBnB when they are not using it. Read our blog post on turning your tiny house into an investment. Tiny houses provide a great business venture for those that wish to embark.

 

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Are You Financially Ready To Buy A Tiny House? 4 Ways to Get the Best Loan for Your Tiny House

Fortunately, there are multiple ways to get financing and save up for your tiny house, whether it’s a turnkey RVIA certified Tiny House on Wheels or a DIY shell or frame.

Choosing the Best Tiny House for You

Tiny Houses on Wheels Vs. Tiny or Small Houses on Foundations

Before we talk about the best way to finance your tiny house, let’s talk about the different types of tiny houses. Please note that securing finance for your tiny house will have different processes depending upon if your tiny house is on wheels or on a foundation. Permanently-affixed tiny houses will be able to get traditional construction loans which can include site work. For this article, we will be focusing on financing a tiny house on wheels.

tiny home brodie mobile office studio The Brodie Mobile Office photographed by Steph Rapsiarda

Tiny House on Wheels: Price Difference Between Original or Off-The-Shelf Design

Building a tiny house of your original design through B&B allows you to create the exact tiny house that you’re envisioning, but due to economies of scalei.e. custom houses taking longer to build due to the fact that each one is unique and not able to be mass produced— this option can be quite costly. The second option is to buy a pre-designed tiny house. There is a wide variety of options and at B&B we will allow you to customize materials, colors, and appliances (click here for all of the customizable options at B&B). This is a great option for those that want to stay on budget and still put their personal touch on their tiny house.

tiny home new england tiny shellDIY Tiny House Frame

Build Your Own Tiny House Using a Shell or Frame Kit

The third option is to buy a wood-framed tiny house shell. A tiny house shell has the exterior complete and the interior incomplete. Shells can have windows, doors, plumbing, and electric complete or incomplete depending upon your needs and budget. Lastly, you have the option to buy a steel frame kit for your tiny house. This option ensures that you have a professionally built frame and allows you to customize your tiny house how you please; however, we do not recommend DIY options for anyone that does not have construction experience.  The shell and steel frame option are not certified by RVIA, meaning that it would be more difficult to get a loan. Both of these last two options can be a great choice for someone that wants to complete their tiny house by themselves or wants to self-finance their own tiny house in stages. The RVIA cannot certify shell or frame kit options because the tiny house will not have been finished in a RVIA certified location; however, it may be possible to get a personal loan for the shell or frame kit.  

If you are DIYing your tiny house, consider all the costs associated with building, not just the materials cost.

Are You Financially Ready To Own A Tiny House?

Consider Your Total Tiny House Cost– Not Just Monthly Loan Payments

Once you have decided on the best tiny house option for you, you will have a better idea of the loan you will need.  Because B&B is RVIA certified, you would be qualified to apply for an RV loan for any of our turnkey tiny houses on wheels. When determining your tiny house budget, you will also need to consider monthly costs such as electricity, maintenance, insurance, and where you will be keeping your tiny house. In addition, if you need site work–grading, clearing trees, adding a pad–or infrastructure–fresh water, waste water, and power–you’ll need to consider these costs in your total budget. You will want to estimate these costs before you decide the amount of the loan you’re willing to take out. Just like a home mortgage, your income, credit score, market factors, and down payment will all affect the terms of your loan. After you’re pre-approved, B&B will schedule a design session with you in order to get your final quote.  

tiny home brodie mobile office studio

 The Brodie Mobile Office photographed by Steph Rapsiarda

4 Ways to Get the Best Loan for Your Tiny House

Improve Your Credit Score 

Improving your credit score will help you lower your monthly payment. This is because the bank views those with higher credit scores as being more reliable and thus will give them better rates and bigger loans.  Here are 11 ways to improve your credit score.

Save for Your Down Payment

The more that you save for your down payment, then the lower your monthly payment will be, so start adding to your tiny house piggy bank!

Choose the Best Tiny House Type For You, then Choose Your Floor Plan

After you’ve chosen the best type of tiny house for your needs, whether it’s a DIY frame, shell, or a turnkey tiny house that’s move-in ready (and RVIA-certified), you’ll be able to get an estimate on the floor plan you want and start researching your loan options.

Shop Around

It’s a good idea to contact a few different financial institutions to get the best deal for you.  Check out all your tiny house financing options here including getting a Tiny House Loan through Adams Community Bank, an RV loan through Lightstream, and a personal loan through your own bank or credit union.

Grid-Tied vs. Off-Grid Solar Power in Tiny Homes

Picking the Best Solar Power Option

Many tiny home owners chose to adopt the minimalist lifestyle in order to live more sustainably. Solar panels offer a great form of renewable energy, but there are many considerations that you will need to keep in mind before you decide if solar power is the right option for you. In this post, we will talk about the differences between grid-tied and off-grid solar power.

Grid-Tied Solar Systems

As the name suggests, grid-tied solar systems connect to a utility power grid.
Pros
– Net metering: Net metering is when excess energy created by your solar panels is sent to the utility power grid for others to use. This allows solar panel owners to be paid for the excess electricity that their panels create.
On-grid Connectivity: If the solar panels do not create enough power for your tiny home, then the electrical grid will give electricity to your home as needed. This can allow a tiny home owner to buy solar panels in phases and increase the amount of panels their home relies on whenever the owner pleases.
– Affordability: Grid-tied solar power is the cheapest option for solar energy.
Cons
Lack of Transportability: Many tiny home owners like to frequently move around with their tiny house. Because of this, a grid-tied system would not be the ideal choice because they might not have access to an electrical meter while on the move.

grid-tied solar system tiny home

Off-grid Solar Systems

Off-grid systems are able to move with tiny home owners as they travel. Off-grid systems work by converting sunlight to power during the day and then storing this power in batteries for future use.
Pros
Transportability: With this option, you are able to travel with your tiny home and have a source of power.
On-grid connect-ability: There are off-grid options that can also connect to the grid, which enables tiny home owners to not have to worry about not having electricity and allows owners to sell back surplus electricity.
Cons
 Price: Compared to grid-tied systems, off-grid systems cost more money. In order to prevent a lack of power, most off-grid systems are oversized to make sure that there are no outages; this usually takes into consideration 1-2 days without solar panel generation.

Lack of Electricity: Solar panels may not produce enough electricity due to weather or because your tiny home is using more power than predicted. As discussed above, this is why most off-grid systems are oversized. Tiny home owners do have the option of charging the batteries via a generator if there is not enough solar power produced.

off-grid solar system tiny home

Depending on how you are wanting to use your tiny home and budget will probably be most tiny home owners biggest considerations when deciding which solar system to opt for. Want to stay up to date on the latest tiny home news? Fill out our email sign up for newsletters.

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Why aren’t lofts included in a tiny home’s square footage?

Determining the Square Footage in Tiny Homes

We are often asked about how we calculate square feet in our tiny homes. This is a great question as there is no regulation regarding calculating square feet–this is true even in traditional homes. Rather, there is an accepted code that the industry follows. Other competitors do not always follow the same code that we at B&B use when calculating square feet, which can make comparing tiny homes confusing.

Pictured: the Hoosic Tiny House

The Technicalities

Let’s dive into some of the different criteria for what spaces must meet.  We use the International Building Code, specifically Building Code Appendix Q, which describes the code for tiny houses on foundations.  Although much of what B&B Tiny Houses builds are tiny houses on wheels, we use the international building code as a guide for calculating square footage.

From IBC Appendix Q:

Minimum ceiling height: habitable space must be over 6 feet and 8 inches with the exception of bathrooms and kitchens which must be over 6 feet and 4 inches

Loft: located at least 30 inches above the main floor, is open to the main floor, and used as a living or sleeping space

Pictured: The Arcadia Tiny House

Calculating Square Feet in Tiny Homes

Tiny houses on wheels, in order to be road-legal, must be 13 1/2′ off the ground in order to fit under bridges.  Therefore, it would be impossible or a tiny house to have a loft one can stand up in.  Because lofts in tiny houses on wheels do not meet the minimum ceiling height to be considered “habitable” space in the building code, they should not be included in a tiny home’s square footage.

To calculate the square footage, multiply the inside width and length of the tiny house. Almost all of B&B’s tiny houses on wheels are the road-legal maximum width of 8 1/2′; their length varies.  The exterior walls of our tiny homes (unless otherwise specified) are 6 inches thick on each side and end. To calculate the square footage of the Stony Ledge which has outside dimensions of 8 1/2′ x 30′, we multiply 7 1/2′ x 29′ to get 217 1/2 square feet.  The Arcadia, which has a loft, has a square footage of 142 1/2 plus a 45 square foot loft.

When shopping for tiny homes, you should always check how the square feet has been calculated. Otherwise, it can be like comparing apples and oranges. If you are interested in learning more about the square feet in tiny homes, read this post about why tiny homes cost more per square feet than traditional homes.

Picking Out the Best AC and Heating System for Your Tiny Home

Types of HVAC Systems

You’ve got many different options when it comes to picking out which type of AC and heating system you would like. When deciding which system to choose, it’s important to note factors like the climate, specific use, location, ease of convenience, and cost. All tiny home owners should make sure a professional installs or checks their HVAC systems, so that you can ensure your tiny home is a healthy environment to live in.

heat fire firewood tiny home

In Wall Electric Heater and Air Conditioning

In wall electric heaters and air conditioners are a popular choice for your tiny home. They are relatively cheap and will get the job done. Some tiny owners may choose another option, however, due to the fact that they take up precious space that could otherwise be utilized in your tiny home. In addition an in wall system, because it takes up a significant amount of space, can affect the overall aesthetic of your tiny home.

in wall heater new england tiny home

Mini-Split Heat and Air Conditioner

Mini-splits are the ideal choice for most tiny home owners. Mini-splits function like traditional homes’ HVAC systems in that the condenser is placed outside the home and the fan is placed inside the home. The obvious benefit to this is that it frees up space in your tiny home and becomes less of an eye sore when compared to a window or in wall heater. Mini-split units are also very energy efficient. Read more about finding the most efficient heating and AC units. Although these systems are more energy efficient, they require a higher cost upfront. 

mini split system

Window Heater and Air Conditioners

Window heater and air conditioning units are a cheaper option than in wall or mini-split heaters and can be easier to install; however, we recommend having a professional do the installation in order to avoid any potential health concerns. There are many energy efficient options on the market, which can help lower your monthly utilities bills. One drawback to this option is that it will be an even bigger eye sore than in wall systems because they will not blend in with your tiny home.

Traditional Fans and Electric Heaters

If you are only going to be living in your tiny home during a particular season or live in mild climates, you may be thinking about using fans or plug-in electric heaters in your tiny home. With this option, you may run into problems with moisture and ventilation. If there is excessive moisture, then you can run into problems with mold. Click here for more about the health considerations about indoor air quality.

fan

Wood stove and Propane Heaters

Wood stove and propane heaters allow you to have the option of off-grid living. In addition, you may prefer the look of having a propane or wood stove heater in your tiny home. Wood stove owners will need to source and carry firewood into their home, start the fire, and clean out the ashy heater. Wood stoves, as the name suggests, can also be used as a stove by putting a cast iron skillet on top of the heater. Wood stove owners also have the choice of optional add-ons like including a baking oven in their heater. In the long run, wood stoves are a cheaper option due to the relative high cost of propane. Wood stove heaters also provide an unmatched aura—who doesn’t appreciate the nostalgia of sitting by the campfire making s’mores as a kid?

wood stove heater

Compared to a wood heater, propane tanks are smaller, less of hassle, and lightweight. Propane will usually burn more efficiently and hotter than wood. Unlike wood heaters, all propane heater owners need to do is make sure that there is enough propane in the tank. With a propane tank—like a wood stove heater—you will need to have a vent attached that either goes through the ceiling or wall. There are not many of these types of heaters on the market. With the Newport Propane Fireplace being the most popular option on the market, the $1400 heater does not come cheap. In addition, with all propane heaters you will need to pay around $15-20 for the propane gas for every 5 hours the heater is active.  

Have additional questions?

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  • We offer delivery of our tiny houses on wheels anywhere in the continental US. We also build permanently-affixed homes within a reasonable distance from our workshop in North Adams, MA. If you are planning to live in your tiny house on wheels full time, please check your local zoning bylaws to make sure living in an RV is allowed.
  • Our tiny house designs can be found in "Tiny Houses" in the main menu.
  • The starting price of our tiny houses on wheels range from $39,000 to $89,000. Permanently-affixed modular homes or in-law cottages' pricing depends on a number of factors.
  • After the design is reviewed and the contract is signed, our normal time frame to finish a tiny house is 8-12 weeks, depending on our build calendar.
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4 Ways to Get Water Into Your Tiny Home

Figuring out which water system will fit your tiny home best may seem like a stressful task, but it’s actually more straightforward than you’d expect. Deciding on the best system for you depends on things like the location you’re planning to live, budget, and even level of sustainability that you wish to achieve.

water faucet source tiny home new england

Options for Water Sources in Your Tiny Home

water tank waste tiny home new englandNo Water Source

Having no plumbing may seem like the simplest option, but it can make everyday living cumbersome. If there is no plumbing, then the only way to get water into the house is by bringing it in. This would mean that you would have to transport water bottles, bubblers, or jugs often.

Showering can also be a difficult task. In addition, storing water may become a hassle. If there is no space inside your tiny home, then you will have to keep the water outside your home; however, a problem may arise during frigid winters if the water freezes.

Not having plumbing is a great solution if your house is used for camping or as a backyard studio or guest house, but for those living in tiny houses full-time, it’s not recommended.  One benefit from this option, though, is that it will keep the cost of your tiny home down.

Tank

You may choose to install a tank into your tiny home. In this system, you will fill the tank in your home manually, via a hose or other mechanism, and then the pump will circulate the water throughout your home. You will need an electric source in order to circulate the water. This is a great option for those that want their tiny home to be able to live off the grid. With an alternative energy source like solar panels, you would not need to connect to a traditional power source, which makes this option a highly sustainable choice. Read more about living off the grid.

Like having no plumbing, this option still requires you to seek out a water source and then store the water. Tanks can be hidden in tiny homes relatively well, but it will still take up valuable space, either under the floor in part of the house, requiring steps up into part of the house, or in a utility closet. In addition, the smaller the tank is then the more often you will have to refill the tank. Having a limited supply of water will force you to be cognizant of the amount of water that you’re using and you will most likely consume less water than the traditional household (the average American household consumes up to 100 gallons of water per day).

RV Hookup

If you know that your tiny home will be staying in one location, then you may choose to directly connect to a water source. This is done the same way as a RV hookup with a simple garden hose connected to a potable (drinkable) water source. This method is the least hassle.  Those who plan to move around frequently should plan ahead to travel to places with potable water sources.

In climates where it can get cold, use heat tape to prevent your hose from freezing.  You can also bury the hose if you live in a climate that doesn’t deep freeze.

Tank + Hookup

You may choose to get the best of both worlds by installing a tank and using the RV hookup method. In doing so, you will most likely use a smaller tank than you normally would, which would allow for more space in your tiny home. The great perk about this option is that it does not close any doors. You can live off grid when you need and also on the grid whenever you please. This combination is usually ideal for most tiny home owners.

How to Pick the Best Water Source for You

Now that you know all of your options, you probably have a better idea of which option will best fit your needs. When deciding the best option for you, it is best to keep in mind how often you’re wanting to travel, if you are going to be on or off the grid, budget, level of sustainability, and you’re willingness to spend extra time to get water into your tiny home.

 

 

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How to Make Money by Renting Out Your Tiny Home

With New England’s quintessential towns and breathtaking scenery, it’s no surprise that many of our tiny home owners use the area as a second home for weekend retreats. Because these homes often sit vacant, owners will often rent out their tiny homes in order to share the tiny home lifestyle with newcomers and make additional income. The best part of renting your tiny house to others is that it’s easier than you would think!new england fall foliage tiny homes outdoors

How to Earn Extra Income with Your Tiny Home

If you’re thinking about turning your tiny home into an investment, then you’re surely asking yourself a lot of questions. How do I pick the best location? How do I find customers and manage my property? How do I ensure I make a profit? Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered.

Picking the Best Location

When determining where to place your tiny home, think about your future customers and what their needs are. Are the customers you’re trying to reach looking for a place to stay while they hike New England’s serene mountains or are they seeking the comfort of being close to some of New England’s most memorable towns? The best way to figure this out is through research and talking with members of the community that you’re interested in. The local inhabitants will know the most about the types of tourists that their town receives. In addition, growing your network and connections with the local community is a great way to help spread the word about your tiny home.

In order to find land after you already have an area in mind, you can use websites like Zillow or Landwatch to see available listings, but it may be worth it to contact a real estate agent. Like the local inhabitants, real estate agents will be able to give you the inside scoop of particular areas and tell you which areas they think will make the most lucrative investment.

But is it legal?

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this question as it depends on the town’s zoning bylaws. The good news is that it is relatively easy to find out if you can have a tiny home in a certain area by checking the town’s online building code or by simply giving the town hall a call. Click here to learn more about finding out where it’s legal to have tiny homes. tiny home kitchen new england

Finding Customers for your Tiny Home

Get Connected and Engage

Just as it is important to get connected with the local community when finding a property, it’s as equally important when attracting customers. Word of mouth is a great way to attract customers. Another great way to become connected is by establishing partnerships with local businesses. For example, you may establish a partnership with a local outdoors shop where you agree to leave coupons for the shop on the bulletin board in your tiny home for guests to see in exchange for a standup ad poster in their store. Also, use social media to develop interest in your tiny homes. Encourage guests to share pictures of their experience in your tiny home. Allow others to see the magnificent time past customers have had in your tiny home!

Use Third Party Platforms

Websites like Airbnb, VRBO, FlipKey, and Homeaway are another great way to find potential customers. Try It Tiny is a tiny house-specific website for renters, landowners, and tiny house owners looking to rent out their houses.  What’s great about these platforms is that you don’t need to do anything besides build your online profile; the customers will come directly to you!

tiny homes bedroom b&b micromanufacturing

Maximizing Your Profit

It’s apparent that the quality and location of your tiny home are some of the driving factors that determine the price you are able to charge customers, but there are even more factors affecting the price and therefore interest of customers in your property. Below are some of the other most important factors.

Amenities and Competition

Amenities such as the size of the kitchen, wifi connectivity, or an outdoor sports court help determine the price that you are able to charge. In addition, it is important to analyze your competition to see what they offer and at what price. It is also just as important to make sure that you offer something that your competition does not–what makes your tiny home extra special? Is it the views from the property, the outdoor grilling area, or the luxurious fixtures?

Make Hospitality a Priority

Sites like Airbnb allow customers to give reviews to their hosts. These ratings are out of five stars and visible to all prospective customers. Low ratings will certainly deter prospective clients; likewise, high ratings with personalized experiences allow you to build trust with future customers. High ratings with personalized experiences are made through experiences that humanize the lodging experience. What will your customer remember about their experience? Was it your useful advice of things to do in the area, the complimentary welcome basket with a handwritten note, or your high level of responsiveness to your guests questions? Click here to learn more about how to be the best AirBnB host. 

tiny home investment additional income New England

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Now that you know more about the mechanics behind turning your tiny home into an investment, you’re one step closer to becoming an entrepreneur! Reporting to yourself and being able to make the decisions that impact your investment can be a very exciting opportunity. So, what are you waiting for?

 

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Things to Know Before Buying Land For Your Tiny House (Or, Where Can You Put A Tiny House?)

So you’re ready to buy some land to put your tiny house on!  What are some financial and legal factors to consider when searching for tiny house property?


You’ve found beautiful land, but can you put a tiny house on it?

Although many people dream of a completely off-grid tiny house in the middle of nowhere, you’ll still need to find a way to get water and power to your house.  The less distance from the road, the less expensive it’ll be to have power and water lines installed.

For electricity, the cheapest and easiest option is to plug into an existing power source.  Others choose to power their homes with solar power.  Click here to learn more about solar power for tiny houses.

For fresh water and waste water, city water and sewer are one option; pieces of property in less dense locations that don’t have city water and sewer will need to use a well and septic systems.

If the land already has electricity and water hookups, you won’t need to worry about having those put in.  Generally, although not always, it’s less expensive in the end to buy land that already has utilities than buying land without and then paying to have them installed.  Be sure to factor in these costs when looking for land.

Become familiar with the town’s laws for the type of tiny house you want.

Every zone of every town has different laws regarding where you can put different types of tiny houses, so unfortunately there aren’t any exhaustive lists of “where to legally put a tiny house”.

The first place you should look for answers is in the town’s zoning bylaws and building codes.  If the town’s website doesn’t have them, you may have some luck with searching for your town on ecode360.com.  Otherwise, call your town hall to ask about your tiny house project.  Note that there may be different rules in different zones of each town, so find out what zone your property is in (there will often be a zoning map alongside the zoning code on your town’s website) before moving forward.

For permanently-affixed houses, meaning houses on foundations, find out if there is a minimum square footage for residences.

Even if there’s not a minimum square footage,  other factors may affect the size of your house, like the road frontage on the property.  In the zoning and building codes, use the search terms “minimum”, “frontage”, and “square feet” or “sq ft”.  Water and electricity would be connected permanently to a tiny house on a foundation, just like a regular-sized house.

Interested in a tiny house on wheels?

Not all tiny houses are certified, but the turnkey tiny houses on wheels B&B builds are certified by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, or the RVIA, meaning they are built to high safety standards that the government can understand, they can be financed as RVs, and they can be parked anywhere RVs can go, using RV hookups to get water and electricity to the house and wastewater from the house (Click here to read more about RV hookups on tiny houses).  Use the search terms “RV”, “Recreation Vehicle”, “Recreational Vehicle” in your town’s zoning code to see if RVs are allowed in your property’s zone.  Building codes won’t apply to RVs since they are legally considered vehicles rather than buildings.


Arcadia Tiny House at Night with pond

After you’ve looked over the zoning and, if applicable, building codes for your specific zone of your town, you may need to ask the town permission to have a tiny house on your property.

Although people have been traditionally living in very small living spaces since the beginning of humanity, in more recent history, tiny houses are a relatively new phenomenon in our modern western world.  Therefore, most towns don’t already have tiny houses written into their zoning or building codes.  If this is the case, don’t be discouraged: it doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it just means you’ll have to introduce the concept to the zoning board.  In this blogger’s experience, zoning boards are made up of passionate people who want to find housing solutions for their towns.  With tiny house TV shows and news stories all but taking over television networks, no doubt at least a couple of the folks on your town’s zoning board will already have an idea of what tiny houses are.  They’ll let you know whether you need a special permit to have a tiny house on your property, and if so, guide you through the process.

Pictured: The Arcadia Tiny House, photographed in its permanent home at Woodlife Ranch by Kyle Finn Dempsey