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Understanding Tiny House Systems: Toilets, Tanks, Power, and Water

How Do Utilities Work in Tiny Houses on Wheels?

You’ve seen beautiful tiny houses on wheels on TV, in magazines, and on the internet.  You could see yourself buying a tiny house one day.  You could use it for vacations, put it in your backyard to use as a studio or guest house, or you could live in your tiny house full-time.

Hoosic Tiny House Exterior

In this photo: The Hoosic Tiny House

But you may have asked yourself: if it’s on wheels, how does it really work?  How do you get power to a tiny house?  How do you get fresh water in and waste water out?  How are tiny houses climate controlled?  What expenses are you forgetting to include in your overall budget?  

There’s a lot more to buying a tiny house than just buying the tiny house.  You’ll need to have a good understanding of how it all works, and how you’ll deal with fresh water, waste water, power, and parking.  There are many options for different types of tiny house setups.  Before building, your builder will need to know how you plan to use your house so he or she can help you choose the best appliances and systems for your specific situation.  Read about tiny house design sessions.

Setting Up Your Tiny House

Because they’re on wheels, tiny houses can travel.  However, life on the road isn’t for everyone: most tiny house dwellers live in one place with permanent utility connections.

new tiny house constructionIf you’re traveling with your tiny house:

  • Buy a truck powerful enough to pull your tiny house.  Here’s an article on truck capacity for different tiny houses.
  • Make sure to let your builder know they’ll need to insulate for all climates.  When traditional houses are built, they are insulated according to what zone they’re in.  Houses in colder climates need a lot more insulation.  But when a movable house is built, it needs to withstand all kinds of weather.
  • Tiny houses that travel go through a lot of wear and tear.  The amount of wind and vibration a tiny house experiences when driving on the highway is the same as if the house were sitting still in a hurricane.  Secure your items well inside your tiny house, and prepare to perform more maintenance on your tiny house since it will be traveling often.
  • Make sure you know where you’ll be traveling to (RV parks? Friends’ houses?) and where you’ll store your tiny house when you’re not staying in it. It’s not always easy finding places to put your tiny house, so it pays to be prepared!
  • In the same vein, research the cost of renting space, what utility hookups are required, and include your transportation costs, like fuel and road food, in your budget.  Check out this article on the all-in cost of living in a tiny house.
  • If you plan to sell your tiny house when you’re done traveling, make your resale easier by buying a tiny house with a layout that’s as universally appealing as possible.

If your tiny house will stay in one place:

Most people place their tiny house on a gravel or concrete pad.  This keeps utility lines in place and systems working properly (for example, some mini splits can leak if they’re not level).

Anchors are a great idea: they’ll keep your house from shaking even in the worst weather.

Skirting, while not necessary, also reduces shaking in high winds, and, if insulated, helps keep your pipes from freezing.  Skirting creates a more permanent look to your tiny house.

If you don’t have a location for your tiny house yet, here are some things to consider when looking:

If you’ll be placing your tiny house in a backyard, here are some tips:

  • Tiny houses on wheels are generally legally considered RVs, so if you can park an RV in your yard, you can park a tiny house in your yard.  Whether it can legally be lived in full time is a different question.  You’ll have to find out from your town’s zoning board.  Here’s how.
  • Choose a spot in your yard for your tiny house wisely.  In addition to the space the tiny house will take up, you’ll need to ensure the delivery truck will have enough space to maneuver the house into place and then drive away.

Photos in this section: The Arcadia Tiny House and the Spectacle Tiny House (a custom-built park model that’s not in our catalogue).


Tiny House Water Systems

When people envision life on the road, they picture a life of freedom.  But if you’re a human, you’ll still need water for life’s basics: drinking, cooking, and bathing.

RV Hookups for Water

For water, RV hookups come standard on B&B Tiny Houses.  RV hookups have an inlet for a fresh water hose and an outlet for waste water.  You can connect the hoses to a hookup pedestal at an RV park or, if your tiny house is in a backyard, to the main house.

Tiny houses on wheels have four potential spaces where water is used: kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower or bath, and toilet.  Depending on whether you’ll be traveling or staying put, and what systems are available at your location, we’ll help you decide on the best type of toilet for your lifestyle.

If you’re traveling, here’s how to hook up your tiny house at a campground:

Some tiny houses have water tanks and some don’t. If you’ll always be hooked up to a water system when you’re using water, you won’t need water tanks.

If your tiny house has water tanks, the tanks can store fresh and waste water until your house gets to a pumping station.

If you have water tanks, here’s a video on how to empty waste water (black water) tanks at a dumping station.

Permanent Tiny House Hookups

If your tiny house is staying in one place, you’ll want a more maintenance-free water system.  Tiny houses on wheels can be hooked up permanently to the same systems traditional houses use: a well or city water for fresh water, and septic or sewer for waste water.

If your tiny house is in the back yard of a traditional house, you can hook your tiny house up to the existing water system, as long as it has the capacity to add another “bedroom”, which is code for “the water usage equivalent of one or two people being added to a house”. Generally, when houses are built, the water system permits the house to add at least one extra bathroom, in case the house gets an addition in the future.

  • If the main house is on city water, you’ll need to check town records to see if the house is permitted to add another hookup to the water system.  Check with town records to see if this is true in your situation.  Most often (but not always) when houses are on city water, waste water will go to a city sewer.
  • If the main house is on a well, check to see if the well will need to expand its capacity to provide enough water for the tiny house.  Most often (but not always) when houses are on a well, waste water will go to a septic system.

Generally, we advise our customers not to DIY sewer connections, as there’s too much that can go wrong.  However, we want you to have an understanding of how it’s done, so please watch the following video of how one DIYer connected his RV to the sewer.

  • Contrary to what this DIYer did, we advise having a trench dug by site work professionals to bury your water lines.  This is for aesthetic reasons as well as to prevent freezing.  If your water lines are above ground and you’re using your tiny house year-round in a climate that freezes, wrap your hoses in heat tape from an RV supply store.

Tiny House Power Sources

Power is the second most important utility your tiny house will require.  If it’s good weather outside, you can survive without using power, as if you’re going camping.  But if you want to take a hot shower, operate lights and other electronics, and generally live like a modern human, you’ll need a constant source of power going to your tiny house.

  • Tiny House RV Hookups- Power and WaterMost tiny houses on wheels come with RV hookups where you plug an extension cord with an adapter into the side of your house.
    • These connections work best for those who plan to use electric appliances like ovens or washer/dryers in their tiny house.
    • If you’ll permanently anchor your tiny house, however, you can have your builder put a permanent power receptacle in.  It’ll go either underneath your house so the wires can be buried, or near the roof of your house so you can run overhead wires.
  • Solar power systems are another option.  Installing solar systems is much more expensive up front, but they can pay for themselves after 10 or so years.
    • If you want an off-grid solar system that powers your whole house, you’ll need to set aside outdoor space for solar panels and indoor space like a closet for batteries and the control center.  You’ll need to choose your appliances to work well with solar energy (for example, choose a gas fireplace instead of an electric heater) and use energy conservatively.
    • Most people use grid-tied solar, which supplements power from the power lines and sells energy back to the grid when you’re not using it all (your meter will run backwards!)  Another advantage to grid-tied solar is you won’t run out of energy on a cloudy day, because when your batteries are depleted your system will automatically switch to grid power.

Talk To Us About Designing The Best Power & Water System For Your Lifestyle

We hope this explanation of the many ways to set up your tiny house was helpful.  In your design session, we’ll ask you to describe what your living situation will be and we’ll go over the best options for your specific situation.

Here’s an article that walks you through the 8 steps of buying a tiny house.  When you’re ready to buy your tiny house, contact us to get started!


Thank you to YouTubersSean and Kristie Michael of Long Long Honeymoon, Mark Rowles, and BuckWSR for their instructional videos.

10 Tips for Downsizing To A Tinier Lifestyle

Whether you plan to move into a tiny house on wheels, a small house on a foundation, or stay in your current house but just get rid of some junk, you could probably stand to purge some items.

You might find that by downsizing, you’re expanding your world.

1. Downsize gradually.  This process doesn’t have to be a stressful one: as long as you go slowly and thoughtfully, downsizing can be a fun way to reminisce and for many, a cathartic relief.  The best way to get started is to figure out what you don’t use.  Arrange your in-season clothing on hangers facing backwards.  After you wear and wash a piece of clothing, replace it on a hanger facing forwards.  After a few months, say goodbye to all the pieces of clothing you didn’t use.  Repeat this process in winter and summer.  Similarly, in the kitchen, clear out one or two cabinets and mark them.  When you use a cooking instrument, put it away in the marked cabinet.  After a couple months, get rid of everything you didn’t use.

2. Less is more in your decor.  Pare down your collection of objets d’art to a couple small pieces.  You’ll want to use the small amount of space you have for things you can use and not be sifting through knick knacks to find them.  Likewise, be sure the objects you use every day that are kept within view are pleasing to the eye: they will become part of your new decor scheme.  Consider multi-use furniture as well; although things like Murphy beds and fold-up tables can be more expensive and you’d have to rearrange your house daily, with multi-use furniture you can save space and simplify the look of your home.

3. On that note, use multi-use and consumable seasonal decor.  For holidays, I prefer to use in-season flowers and greenery from my local garden center rather than objects I’ll have to store in the off-season.  I also use decor that’s appropriate for multiple holidays, like white bistro lights, rather than specifically red and green lights for Christmas that can’t then be used again for Independence Day.  My house truly gets in the Christmas spirit when my plates are heaped with gingerbread cookies; my visitors don’t need to see those cookies on a Santa plate to be put in the holiday spirit!

4. Digitize your photos and files: an external hard drive takes up much less room than a file cabinet.  The process of going through photos and memories is a great way to connect to your past and get ready for your future, and it may be the only time in your life you’ll do so!  Books can be sentimental objects, so keep the ones that mean the most to you, but all others can be checked out of a library or read on an electronic device.

5. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to dedicate a space in your tiny house for coats and outdoor gear that’s separate from your regular clothing storage. That way, when you come in from a blizzard and peel off your boots and jacket they won’t get the rest of your clothes wet.

6. Think outside the house.  While your tiny house might not be able to fit a full chef’s kitchen or large lounge area, consider your deck or yard an outdoor kitchen and living room.  In addition to expanding your culinary offerings, grilling can be healthier, and in the summer, you’ll save energy by not heating your home with your oven or stove.  Set up lounge chairs or an outdoor sectional and spend more time outdoors.

tiny house woodburned siding tiny home arcadia b&b micro manufacturing

Photo: Kyle Finn Dempsey

7. Save your indoor space for the objects you use every day.  Invest in a storage shed to house things you won’t need to keep inside: vacuum-packed off-season clothing, craft supplies, outdoor gear.  If you’re skirting your tiny house, build a door or gate in your skirting so you can store skis, surfboards, bikes, and outdoor furniture underneath.

8. In your previous house or apartment, you may have had windows on only one or two sides of each room.  In a tiny house, you’ll have windows on all sides of you, and you’ll be closer to your windows at all times.  While this is spectacular in daylight, when night falls you’ll want them to be covered.  Choose light-blocking, thermally insulated window coverings for your privacy and comfort.

9. Look into community sharing programs.  Everything from bikes to clothing to lawn equipment can be shared, either in a neighborhood or through a rental app.  Some public libraries even have a “Library of Things”, where you can check out a theremin, a Check Engine scanner for your car, or a video projector when you want to have a movie night (to celebrate the start of summer season, this author hosted a screening of Wet Hot American Summer for her friends with the help of her local library).  Your tiny house might not have a guest room, but visitors can always stay in a nearby AirBnb.

10. Get involved in community activities.  If you enjoy stretching and physical activity, you’ll have less room for that inside a tiny house, so go to a gym, yoga studio, or dance studio. Likewise, exchange your home office for your public library, local coworking space or coffee shop.  Instead of a home theater, support your local independent movie theater and community playhouse.  Take advantage of inexpensive or free community programming, like adult education classes, group hikes, and cooking classes hosted by your local Parks & Rec department or Meetup.com.  By thinking of your community as an extension of your home, you’ll end up healthier, more invested in your neighborhood, and with an expanded social circle.

To learn more, check out these books on downsizing (from your library, of course!)

Put Your Life on a Diet: Lessons Learned Living in 140 Square Feet by Gregory Johnson

Gregory is considered one of the founders of the American tiny house movement.  This book is where the hanger trick came from!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo then it seems you’ve already downsized your media consumption as well.  She’s currently the world’s most famous expert on decluttering.

Downsizing The Family Home: What to Save, What to Let Go by Marni Jameson for AARP

Published by the AARP, this book offers advice on downsizing an older relative’s home.

What downsizing tips did we miss?  Email us at info@bbtinyhouses.com to let us know!

How To Find Tiny House Land: Resources and Knowledge You’ll Need

For many tiny housers, finding land is the toughest part of the journey.  Here’s how to start your tiny house land search.

Before having your tiny house built, you should already have a spot to put it lined up. You don’t want to end up with a tiny house and nowhere to put it!

Because tiny houses are a relatively new phenomenon, most municipalities have never had anyone approach them to ask whether they can live in a tiny house.  Therefore, most municipalities don’t have any bylaws saying you can or can’t live specifically in a tiny house.  Use this guide to learn what you’ll need to know to get the perfect parking spot for your tiny house.

Start Here:

Learn about the tiny house buying process.

The 8 Steps To Buying A Tiny House: Everything You’ll Need To Do To Go Tiny

This post covers your entire tiny house buying process, and the first and most important step is finding a place to put it.  Whether you’ll be buying or renting land, familiarize yourself with the tiny house buying process and how long it’ll take, before starting to your land search.

Learn how to look up zoning laws and how to ask your zoning board to live in your tiny house.

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

Here, you’ll learn how to find and read your town or city’s zoning laws to find out whether there are already rules for tiny houses, whether on foundations or on wheels.  If your town doesn’t have laws pertaining to tiny houses, you’ll learn how to approach your town to ask.  Importantly, you’ll also learn what to look for in the land, including hookups for fresh water, waste water, and power.

Rent or buy land for your tiny house.

Where Can I Put My Tiny House? A Near-Comprehensive List Of Tiny House Parking Resources

Now that you know how to look for zoning laws and get permission to live in your tiny house, you’ll need to do some networking to find a spot for it!  Facebook and Meetup are both great networking sites for tiny house enthusiasts, and this list links to Facebook and Meetup groups about tiny houses in almost every state.  In addition to networking on tiny house specific sites and groups, advertise on local forums on Facebook, Craigslist, and community bulletin boards asking for those willing to rent out or sell land for a tiny house.  The sooner you find land the sooner you can get started with the build.  Good luck, and let us know how your land search goes!

tiny house woodburned siding tiny home arcadia b&b micro manufacturing

Arcadia Tiny House at Woodlife Ranch. Photo by Kyle Finn Dempsey

 

Where In Massachusetts Are Tiny Houses Legal?

Where Can You Put A Tiny House in Massachusetts?

With your help, we’re compiling a list of every city and town in Massachusetts and its attitude toward tiny houses on wheels and on foundations.  This is part of a larger initiative by the American Tiny House Association to gather tiny house information for every state in the US.  (Katie at B&B Tiny Houses is also ATHA’s northeast regional director.)

As you’ll see in the chart, most cities and towns don’t already have a policy on tiny houses, whether on foundations or on wheels, so their stance on tiny houses is currently unknown.  Municipalities probably won’t consider whether to allow tiny houses unless someone brings it up with them!  As we’ve seen in Nantucket and Auburn, all it takes is one person to ask.

What Does Tiny House Appendix Q Mean For Tiny Houses On Foundations?

Tiny House Appendix Q has been adopted in Massachusetts, effective January 1, 2020. Appendix Q: Tiny Houses provides building safety standards for houses on foundations that are 400 sq. ft. and under.  However, the appendix doesn’t mean you can build a tiny house on a foundation wherever you want in Massachusetts: you’ll still have to adhere to your municipality’s zoning code.  Here’s more info on the Tiny House Appendix.

Please add to the list:

If you have spoken with your municipality’s government (zoning board, building inspector, or someone else) about tiny houses on wheels or on foundations, we would love to add your info to the list.  There’s even a column for rumors, if you’ve heard a town might be amenable to tiny house living but haven’t spoken with them directly yourself. 

How to find out if your city or town allows tiny houses:

Zoning codes for many municipalities can be found on your town’s website or on ecode360.com. 

If you haven’t spoken with anyone in your city or town government yet but would like to know whether a tiny house on wheels or on a foundation would be legal, send a quick email to your town’s zoning board (you can find their contact info on your town’s website).  

Be sure to include the following information:

  • What kind of tiny house you’re inquiring about (on a foundation or on wheels?)
  • What code the house would be built to (if it’s on a foundation, does it comply with Massachusetts residential building code? If it’s a tiny house on wheels, is it certified by the RVIA or another third-party inspector?)
  • A description of where you’d like to put it (in a backyard, on its own lot, or in a community) and the address so your zone can be confirmed.  If you don’t have an address in the town but would like to move there, let them know that as well.

Someone on the zoning board be able to tell you right away whether tiny houses are already approved.  If tiny houses are not currently mentioned in the zoning bylaws, they’ll be able to advise you whether it’s worth pursuing a change.  

If you have info on a specific municipality, please email info@bbtinyhouses.com and we’ll get your info added to the list.

Here are some tips to use the spreadsheet effectively:

  • The spreadsheet retains its formatting if you’re on a computer rather than on a mobile . If you’re on a mobile you won’t be able to sort columns.
  • To sort a column, right-click the letter at the top of the column and select “Sort A-Z”. For example, if you want to see all the towns in Hampden County, right-click “B” at the top of the second column (or click the small triangle next to “B”) and select “Sort A-Z”. Then scroll down to where the Hampden County section starts. If you only want to see towns with information added about tiny houses on foundations, you may select that column, which is “D”, and sort. Scroll to where the info starts.
  • To see all the information in a cell, click the cell.  The full text will show up in the bar above the sheet.

 

Tiny House Design Sessions

Ready to schedule a design session for your tiny house? Here’s what to expect.


Before Your Design Session:

1. Choose your favorite tiny house from our catalogue.

Our catalogue has a variety of tiny houses to choose from for all types of lifestyles.  Look through the photos and descriptions and choose your favorite.  You can ask us any preliminary questions about our designs.  We build all of our tiny houses for four-season use anywhere in the United States.  Once you’ve chosen your tiny house design, you’re ready for the next step.

2. Send us the details of your property.

We can’t start customizing your tiny house until we know where the house is going and how it will be used.

Before scheduling a design session, please send us a topographical map or aerial view of your property so we can make sure we’ll be able to deliver your tiny house and place it correctly.  We’ll also need to determine what site work may need to be done before we can deliver your tiny house.  We need to know what utilities (power, water, and waste water) your property has so we will be able to build your tiny house systems accordingly.

If you don’t have land yet, here’s what to look for when buying property for your tiny house.  You’ll need pre-approval from your town to have a tiny house on your property (let them know whether it’ll be used as a primary residence or a guest house) before starting your design process with us.  We want to make sure you won’t have any issues with the building inspector or zoning board of your town after you’ve sunk your time and money into the design!

Or, if you plan to travel with your tiny house like an RV, let us know and we’ll build it slightly differently than a tiny house that’s meant to stay in one place.  We’ll also advise you on the truck capacity you’ll need to tow your tiny house.

3. Get an idea of what materials and colors you’d like in your tiny house and how much you want to spend.

The pricing listed on our website generally reflects what you see in the photos.  The final price of your customized design can change, either up or down, according to what materials you have chosen.  To prepare for your design sessions, look through our photos and videos of our tiny houses and check out the customization options for colors and building materials, which are listed in each category from the least expensive to most expensive.

When you’re ready to schedule your design session, contact us.

Pictured: Floor Plan of the 8.5′ x 30′ Stony Ledge Tiny House 

During Your Design Session:

We’ll start our design session by finding out how you plan to use your tiny house.  Will you travel with it?  Will it be used as a permanent residence, guest house or vacation home?  Do you plan to host visitors?  Do you love to cook?  Is physical accessibility a priority?  We’ll end up designing your house differently according to whether you need water tanks, whether you’ll move your house often, or whether you’ll use solar power, so we like to know up front what your plans are so we can design around them.

Next, we’ll go through all your choices for fixtures, materials, and colors.

After our design session, we’ll spend a week or two creating a quote for you.

 

stony ledge

Pictured: Interior rendering of the Stony Ledge Tiny House.  

After Your Design Session:

We’ll have another short meeting to answer any questions you may have with your quote.  If you’d like to alter it, we will go through the process with you until you’re happy with your quote.

When you’re ready to move forward with having your tiny house built, let us know we’ll send you a construction contract to sign.  Once we’ve received your first payment (or, if you’re financing your build, when your financing comes through to us) we’ll be able to start ordering the materials for your house and building it.  We’ll keep you updated about the status of your build and scheduling delivery, if needed.

Ready To Schedule Your Own Tiny House Design Session?

Image: Completed Kitchen in the Stony Ledge Tiny House.

How To Save A Ton of Money on Your Tiny House Build

tiny homes kitchen b&b new england

Many people who want to go tiny do so because it’s a wallet-friendly housing choice.  Whether for a primary residence or a vacation home, tiny houses use less materials and less energy over time than traditional single family homes.

Much of saving money on a tiny house build involves understanding the many different options available to you in the tiny house buying process.  Here are some points to consider when saving money in your tiny house.


tiny home investment additional income New England

Go with an already-designed tiny house, not a custom design

This is the single greatest money-saving action we can suggest.  Custom designs will cost more than a house that’s already in our Signature Designs, and this applies to every step of the process, not just the design phase.  Even after the designer’s finished with the blueprints, the builders will need to spend more time on each aspect of the house, since it’s not one they’ve built before.  Time is a very large percentage of the final cost, and cutting down on our time spent working through new challenges with a custom tiny house will cut down your overall final cost.

But don’t worry, you can still make your tiny house your own, even if it’s picked out of our catalogue of Signature Models.  You’ll be able to choose all the colors, materials, and fixtures for your tiny house.

We offer three options for making your tiny house your own:

CUSTOMIZATION CHOICES, like exterior and interior wall materials, appliances, colors, open shelving versus cabinetry with doors, are always free— these choices will be reflected in the materials and installation cost.  These choices don’t require the tiny house designer to change anything about the blueprints of the house.

ALTERATIONS TO OUR EXISTING BLUEPRINTS are $800, which includes two free revisions.  Any further revisions are billed at $50 per hour of the designer’s time.  The extra build time and materials for an altered floor plan will be built into the quote.  Alterations include adding a loft to houses where possible, changing window sizes and locations, designing a custom staircase, and changing the roof shape where possible.

ENTIRELY ORIGINAL DESIGNS are available when we will be building three or more tiny houses; there is a design fee of $2500. This includes two free revisions.  Any further revisions are billed at $50 per hour of the designer’s time.  The extra time taken to build a custom, rather than a mass-produced, tiny house will be built into the quote.  Custom tiny houses generally start at $90,000.


Choose standard materialsarcadia tiny house bathroom

We can build anything you want as long as it’s within the RVIA’s safety standards.  One of the owners of B&B Tiny Houses, Mitch, likes to say “we’ll build a slide off the roof” (we haven’t received an order for that one yet)!  However, just because we can build something doesn’t mean it’s not going to cost money.  Similarly to the previous section on choosing a standard design, choosing standard materials that we already know how to install and that they work well in tiny houses will save us time and save you money.

Our list of common upgrades for our tiny houses doesn’t represent everything we can do and everything we’ve ever built into a tiny house, but it’s a great representation of what upgrades we are comfortable making and already know how to install efficiently.  We are happy to research, price, design for, and build with materials or fixtures that aren’t on that list: we’ll just have to build the extra time spent on non-standard materials into the final price.  Don’t worry: we think you’ll be very happy finding exactly what you want within that extensive list.  Sometimes we even have leftover materials from a previous project that might work well in your house that we can offer you a discount on: we’ll be sure to let you know if so.


Choose inexpensive materials & fixtures from our listtiny homes kitchen b&b new england

Another way to save money on your tiny house is to go with basic materials.  Each tiny house is listed with a starting price.  This starting price includes basic materials and fixtures.  Here’s a list of our basic materials and what an upgraded material in the same category might be.  The difference between tiny houses using all basic materials and tiny houses using all upgraded materials can be quite significant in the final total.

The kitchen shown in this Hoosic tiny house uses all basic materials included in the starting price: a two-burner built-in cooktop, a small kitchen sink, a mini-fridge built into the cabinetry.  Of course, you can upgrade this kitchen to include an apartment-size fridge or built in fridge and freezer drawers, a propane stove and oven, a large undermount sink, and a convection oven/microwave (see these features in the Kinderhook tiny house), but this will, of course, cost much more.  Being frugal with your appliance choices makes for a great deal of savings in the end.

Starting Price Includes: Upgraded Tiny House Might Include:
Exterior Vinyl Clapboard Vertical Solid Wood Shiplap
Roofing Asphalt Shingle Ribbed Metal
Interior Walls Sheetrock Solid Wood Shiplap
Climate Control In-Wall Electric Heater Mini Split (Electric Heating & Cooling)
Cooking 2-Burner Glass Cooktop Stainless Steel 3-Burner Propane Stove/Oven with Range Hood
Refrigerator Mini-Fridge Apartment Size Fridge (24″ w x 68″ h x 25′ d, 10.1 cu. ft.
Dishwashing Kitchen Sink Kitchen Sink & Dishwasher (Certain Models Only)
Shower/Tub Insert Vinyl Custom Tile
Bathroom Sink Mini Sink with Vanity Mini or Full-Size Sink with Vanity
Washer/Dryer Not Included
Washer/Dryer Combo (Certain Models Only– Not Available with Solar Power)
Toilet Your Choice- Inquire For Pricing Your Choice- Inquire For Pricing

 


Choose standard power and water hookups rather than going off-grid

Tiny House RV Hookups- Power and Water

Going off-grid in a tiny house is possible, but the up-front cost isn’t cheap.  Likewise, if you’ll want to run electric appliances in your off-grid tiny house, you can, but not as many or as often as you might when you’re on grid.  The cost of setting up a solar system capable of running appliances in the same way that one normally might in an on-grid situation can double the cost of the tiny house itself!  Running large appliances like a washer/dryer, or many appliances at once, will require large battery storage as well as an array of many solar panels: more that can fit onto the roof of a tiny house.

If you will go with off-grid solar and want to be frugal (or if you’d like to travel with your solar panels), you’ll have to eliminate most electric-run appliances from your list and plan on using other sources of energy, like propane.

The simplest, cheapest power source for your tiny house is running an extension cord and a potable water hose (with heat tape in winter!) from a building that already has power and water.  Many people who live in their tiny houses full-time park their houses beside or behind the house of a friend, relative or landlord.  Others may lease or purchase a property that already has a power source.  The cost of these hookups is included in the starting price of all our tiny houses.

Check out this blog post for more info on how to hook up your tiny house to water and power.


Ready to get started on your tiny house?

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Tiny House Security

How to Secure Your Tiny House Against Break-Ins and Theft.

 

A thief would have to be pretty determined to steal a whole house.  A tiny house on wheels is a highly visible item and most are custom-built, making it an easily recognizable theft. It’s not the type of thing a thief can slip away with in the night and sell on the internet, never to be seen again.  There are only so many places on the internet to sell one, all of which can be monitored to see when the house comes up for sale. Additionally, to transport a tiny house, one can take it on certain roads, but it has to have a license plate, and any tiny house owner can attest that tiny houses on the road generate a lot of buzz.

However, two recent thefts of tiny houses have popped up in the news, reminding us that while rare, it can happen.  On that note, it’s important to find a way to secure one’s tiny house and prevent or at least deter thieves from breaking in or stealing it.

The best course of action to ensure your house’s security is having multiple theft deterrents.  The idea of theft deterrence is realizing you can’t do everything possible to ensure your house will never get broken into or stolen altogether, but there are many small things you can do to discourage criminal activity.  Many thefts are crimes of opportunity: if you make it a difficult and time-consuming for a thief to quietly drive away with your house in tow, they are more likely to pass your tiny house up.

Just a note: we’ve included links to certain products in this article.  We aren’t being compensated for posting any of these products and we don’t necessarily recommend or guarantee these exact products: the links are here so you can get a feel for what they are and how they work.


Trailer Hitch Lock:

A hitch lock is an easy, quick theft detterent.  It can be cut off, but not without spending some time and creating some noise.  This will at least slow down a potential house thief, and some have the added benefit of preventing runaway trailers.

There are numerous types of trailer hitch locks, ranging in price from about $17-$45.   Here’s a list of reviewed trailer hitch locks from thetoppro.com.


Wheel Lock:

These work in many different ways, but the one pictured here covers the wheel, rendering it immobile.  You can also purchase locks for the lug nuts themselves.  Here’s a list of wheel locks from etrailer.com: they range in price from under $10 to $180.


GPS Tracker:

God forbid someone actually gets away with your tiny house, it would be easy to track if you have one of these in or on your tiny house.  Hundreds of discreet GPS trackers are on the internet, and many are inexpensive enough to make the purchase worth the peace of mind you’d get from having one.  The tracker pictured here, from Brickhouse Security (here are their best GPS trackers), is less than 2″ x 3″, so you can place it inconspicuously so a thief doesn’t know it’s there.  You can track its location on your phone or computer.


Security Camera:

As the economy forces package thieves to become bolder and bolder, the market for home security has exploded, and security cameras are getting cheaper every year.  Even if your security camera doesn’t prevent the most determined thief, it is certainly a theft deterrent.  Some security cameras use motion detection to start recording a ten-second video; others record all the time.

Security cameras that store the images and/or video inside them are only helpful after you recover the camera itself.  A smarter choice is either a wifi-connected home security camera like Arlo or Nest, or a trail cam, which operates on cell data (you’ll have to pay monthly).  Both a wifi-connected cam (here are PC Mag’s top picks for 2019) or a trail cam (here are Trail Cameras’ Reviews for 2018) allow you to see the images in near-real-time on your phone or computer.


Smart Home Security System:

If a security camera isn’t enough, you can have a whole integrated security system in your tiny house, as long as your house gets constant power.  Smart home security systems like Honeywell’s allows you to choose a la carte what features you’ll use, such as notifications when windows or doors are opened, motion light activation, facial recognition of those entering your house, and voice control with Amazon Alexa.

(Full disclosure– Honeywell’s not paying us to post this, but we did build a tiny house for them integrating their smart home tech, so we’re familiar with their technology and we like their brand).


Timed Lights:

These lights are great for when you’re not at home but want to give the impression that someone is there.

The simplest and cheapest option is a light timer, which can either be plugged into a wall socket (this one’s by Dewenwills, pictured at left) or integrated into the light switch plate (this one’s by Honeywell, pictured at right).  It turns a lamp or electric outlet on and off at a specific time or times every day.  The mechanical ones make a clicking sound that will drive you nuts in a small space, so we recommend an electronic light timer.


Motion-Sensor or Remote-Controlled Lights:

Most people have been familiar with motion sensor lights for decades.  Not only can they be a theft deterrent by attracting attention to the house when there’s movement, they can also increase the security of the tiny house dweller when coming home and fumbling for keys in the dark.  Here’s The Spruce’s list of best motion sensor lights for different outdoor areas.  Some of these contain the sensor within the bulb, so the bulb can be screwed directly into any light socket, which means you won’t have to do any wiring to make them work.  Some of the lights on this list run on their own solar power which is nice for when your tiny house isn’t connected to a power system.

Like timed lights, remote controlled lights help create the illusion that someone’s home, but they’re a bit “smarter” in terms of going on either when they sense motion or when you decide to activate them from afar via your electronic device.  Remote-controlled smart lights, for when you’re far away to your wifi-connected tiny house, allow you to turn on a light in your home via an app on your phone. Here are a couple ways to integrate smart lights from Make Use Of, whether your house hasn’t been built yet and you can install these during the building process, or you’d like to install plug-and-play smart lights in your exisiting tiny house.  You can also get remote control of the lights in your tiny house by incorporating them into your existing smart home security system.

 


Neighbors:

This one’s pretty simple: although not all tiny house owners are parked near neighbors, those who are and have a friendly rapport with them can ask their neighbors to keep an eye on their tiny house.  Having possible witnesses close by is a major deterrent to break-ins and thefts.

(Pictured: The Hoosic Tiny House flanked by two other tiny houses. Photo by Try It Tiny)


Location and Recognition:

When choosing a location for your tiny house, from a theft deterrent standpoint, consider how easy it is for someone to get away with your tiny house.  Anyone who’s ever towed a tiny can attest that tiny houses attract a lot of attention on the road.  People peer out of their windows, take photos, post them on the internet.  Whether you want to attract attention or not, it’s like being in a single-float parade.

Likewise, if your tiny house is easily recognizable, it’s more easily recovered.  An unusual looking tiny house can’t go as far and long without being reported.


Tiny House Anchoring:

For those who do not travel with their tiny house, tie-downs aren’t just a good idea for theft deterrence.  They’re also a great idea to keep the house from rocking or even lifting during a hurricane.  Although one can remove the house from the anchors (with varying degrees of difficulty depending on which type of anchor you’re using), this takes time and is another way to deter theft.

Additionally, building a porch onto the front of your tiny house not only expands your livable space in nice weather and creates a more welcoming entrance, it makes it more difficult for a thief to quickly steal your tiny house.


Tie-in to septic and sewer:

Like anchoring with tie-down straps, it’s not impossible to remove a septic or sewer tie-in, but it takes longer, requires tools and knowledge which means it takes longer to steal someone’s house.  Of course, not all tiny houses stay in one location– they are on wheels, after all– but for those that do, this is a great option.

Image from My Camper Home on Youtube 


Remove tires:

When the tires are removed, a thief can’t just hook up a tiny house to their truck and roll away with it.  It takes time and tools to attach four or six tires to the wheels of a trailer: time that exposes a thief to witnesses.

You can’t say for certain that your tiny house will never be broken into or stolen.  However, the chances of that are very slim; you can make them slimmer by taking some of these simple precautions.

Quiz: Which Tiny House is Right For You?

We know: there are so many beautiful designs to choose from and the choices can get overwhelming!  Which is the best tiny house for you?

Click each answer that’s the best fit for you: there are no wrong answers!


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Tow it yourself or have us deliver?

Which master bed configuration is your favorite?

How many people will be sleeping in your tiny house?

Which Tiny House Design Is Right For You?
Hudson

The Hudson is a compact 8.5 x 20' tiny house with a kitchenette, 3/4 bath, and first-floor bed. Click to see more photos and info of The Hudson.
For another tiny house with a first-floor bed, you might also want to check out The Taconic, & for another tiny house that's lightweight for towing, the Hoosic.
Hoosic

The Hoosic is a compact 8.5 x 20' tiny house with a kitchenette, 3/4 bath, and loft bed. Click to see more photos and info of The Hoosic.
For another tiny house with a loft bed, you might also want to check out The Arcadia, & for another compact tiny house that's lightweight for towing, the Hoosic.
Arcadia

The Arcadia is an 8.5 x 24' tiny house with a porch, full kitchen, 3/4 bath, and sleeping loft. Click to see more info and photos of The Arcadia.
For another tiny house that can sleep four (two in the loft and two on a sofabed), you might also want to check out The Hoosic, & for another tiny house with a beautiful full kitchen, the Stony Ledge.
Stony Ledge

The Stony Ledge is an 8.5 x 30' tiny house with a full kitchen, full bath, and first-floor bedroom separated from the rest of the house. The Stony Ledge Tiny House is right for you!
For another tiny house that has a full kitchen, first-floor sleeping and a bathtub, you might also want to check out The Ashmere, & for another tiny house with all the above features but two lofts instead of a downstairs bedroom, the Cold Spring.
Silver Lake

The Silver Lake is an 8.5 x 32' tiny house with a large living room, full kitchen, 3/4 bath, and bedroom separated from the rest of the house by a wall. The Silver Lake Tiny House is right for you!
For another tiny house with a full kitchen and no loft, you might also want to check out The Ashmere, & for another tiny house with a beautiful full bathroom and separate, first-floor bedroom, the Stony Ledge.
Ashmere

The Ashmere is an 8.5 x 30' tiny house with a beautiful clerestory roof, full kitchen, full bath, and a bed on the ground floor. The Ashmere Tiny House is right for you!
For another tiny house that has its bed on the ground floor, you might also want to check out The Hudson, & for another tiny house with a full kitchen and full bath, the Stony Ledge.
Cold Spring

The Cold Spring is an 8.5 x 26' tiny house with a full kitchen, full bath, and two sleeping lofts. Out of all our tiny houses, it can sleep the most people: 2 in each queen-sized loft and 2 guests in the living room. The Cold Spring Tiny House is right for you!
For another "large tiny house", you might also want to check out The Kinderhook, & for another tiny house with a full kitchen and full bath, the Stony Ledge.
Taconic

The Taconic is an extra-wide 10' x 24' tiny house with a porch, kitchenette, 3/4 bath, and ground-floor bed (no loft!). With its boxy roofline and porch with windscreens on four sides, it's one of our most modern designs. The Taconic Tiny House is right for you!
For another tiny house with modern design, you might also want to check out The Silver Lake, & for another extra-wide tiny house, the Kinderhook.
Kinderhook

The Kinderhook Tiny House is an extra-wide and extra-long 10' x 30' tiny house. It has an extra-wide sleeping loft, full kitchen, and your choice of either a full bathroom or a 3/4 bath + washer dryer. The Kinderhook is right for you!
For a miniature version of the Kinderhook that's lightweight for towing, you might also want to check out The Hoosic, & for another extra-wide tiny house, the Taconic.

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