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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.

Tiny House Appendix Adopted in MA, Effective 1/1/2020

The Tiny House Appendix will become official in Massachusetts in January 2020.

The newest complete edition of the MA Building Code will be released in 2021.  However, effective 1/1/2020, Appendix Q, also known as the Tiny House Appendix, is anticipated to be adopted into the current Massachusetts state building code.

From a letter by John Nunnari, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Institute of Architects:

“The BBRS… voted to bundle a package of previous approved amendments intended for incorporation into the current 9th edition of the state building code.

It is anticipated that these amendments will become effective on January 1, 2020, and they include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Adoption of 2018 IECC with MA amendments – including updates to the stretch energy code, new lighting power density requirements and incorporation of new EV- charging requirements for commercial project;
  • Revisions to Chapter 110.R3 manufactured building program;
  • Adoption of ICC’s 2018 base residential code Appendix Q pertaining to Tiny Houses;
  • New language outlining code requirements for the creation of micro-housing dwelling units within apartment and condominium buildings

What is Appendix Q: Tiny Houses?

Appendix Q: Tiny Houses provides building safety standards for houses on foundations that are 400 sq. ft. and under.  The Appendix pertains to the following aspects of designing a small or tiny house:

  • Ceiling Height
  • Loft Minimum Area, Height and Dimensions
  • Loft Access:
    • Stairway width, headroom, treads and risers, landing platforms, handrails and guards
    • Ladder size, capacity, and incline
    • Alternating tread devices
    • Ship’s ladders
    • Loft guards
  • Emergency Escape and Rescue Openings

Read the entire text of Appendix Q: Tiny Houses here. 

Timeline of the Advancement of Appendix Q

It’s been a long road in Massachusetts, full of starts, stops and quite a few government delays. But the hardest part is over and now other states should find it easier to adopt the Tiny House Appendix.  On January 1, 2020, Massachusetts and California simultaneously will join Maine, Idaho, Oregon and Georgia as the first six states to adopt the Tiny House Appendix into their building code.

Update 8/21/09: Virginia will also be adding the appendix to their 2021 code.

Here’s how it happened:

August 2016: Andrew Morrison submitted a proposed tiny house appendix to the International Code Council (ICC).

January 31, 2016: The Tiny House Appendix was officially adopted into the International Residential Code (IRC) by the ICC.  Now, it is up to each state to decide to adopt it into their own building code.

September 2017: Gabriella Morrison and Andrew Morrison traveled to Boston to present The Tiny House Appendix, then known as Appendix V, to the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards.  Jason at B&B Tiny Houses also testified to the BBRS.  Letters of support came from the American Tiny House Association and many, many tiny house enthusiasts in Massachusetts.

May 14, 2018: Tiny House Appendix Q Is Being Considered For Massachusetts’ State Building Code: Here’s How You Can Help Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS), at its regular monthly meeting, addressed Proposal Number 5-2-2018: “Consider adopting Appendix Q of the International Residential Code pertaining to Tiny Houses.”

July 12, 2018: Massachusetts BBRS Approves Tiny House Appendix: Here’s What’s Next After the BBRS approved the Appendix, it had to move through many state offices and be approved by each one.

September 5, 2018: Appendix Q “Tiny House Appendix” Advances in Massachusetts, August 2018. The Appendix was still moving though state offices, which was a good sign.  However, by the winter of 2018 we hadn’t seen any forward movement in Massachusetts and we couldn’t get an answer from the BBRS about whether the Appendix would be propagated.  In addition, there was a 35 day long government shutdown which we suspected may have hindered the progress of the Appendix.

January 22, 2019: Katie at B&B Tiny Houses worked with Massachusetts Senator Adam Hinds, Danielle Allard, Esq., the director of Budget & Policy for Sen. Hinds’ office, and the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance to find a solution.  Together, we filed SD.1636, An Act relative to Tiny Homes to encourage the state of Massachusetts to adopt Appendix Q: Tiny Houses.  Read the bill here.

June 11, 2019: The Massachusetts BBRS and Governor Baker’s administration vote to officially adopt the Tiny House Appendix into the Massachusetts Building Code.

January 1, 2020: Appendix Q will be in effect in Massachusetts.

Does The Adoption of Appendix Q Mean I Can Build A Tiny House Wherever I Want In Massachusetts?

Not quite!  Every zone of every municipality in the state still has its own zoning bylaws.  Therefore, you’ll need to contact your municipality to see if they’ll allow your tiny-house-on-a-foundation project.  Here’s how.

We’re compiling a list of every municipality in Massachusetts’ attitude toward tiny houses on wheels and on foundations.  It’ll always be a work in progress as we research more municipalities and as zoning rules change over time.  If you have info to add to the list, please let us know!

Here’s what the Tiny House Appendix does mean for Massachusetts residents: wherever a house that’s 400 sq. ft. or under is allowed, there are now rules in place for how to build it safely and effectively.  Before, small and tiny houses on foundations would have had to adhere to certain building codes that work well for large buildings but would have been impractical or impossible to follow in small spaces.

What’s the difference between zoning code and building code?

Building code provides a set of safety standards that new buildings must adhere to by law.  These standards ensure the safety of the people using the building.  There are separate building codes for residential buildings (like houses and apartment buildings) and all other buildings (like shops, factories, schools, and workplaces).  The Tiny House Appendix is set to become part of the Massachusetts state building code, which is based on the International Residential Code.

Zoning code pertains to what types of buildings municipalities (cities and towns) allow, and where.  Often a city or town has several different zones, and each zone has different rules.  Zoning bylaws are decided by the zoning board of a city or town, and can be amended to better fit the needs of each city or town.  Zoning boards generally have regular meetings that are open to the public, where the public can share their concerns, get clarification on what is allowed to be built, and request a change to the zoning bylaws to improve their municipality.

Appendix Q is part of the Massachusetts building code, and serves to legitimize tiny and small dwelling spaces in the eyes of local building inspectors and zoning boards.  Municipalities that see there are ICC-approved codes to build tiny and small houses may be more inclined to adopt those types of homes into their zoning.

Green River Small House   kinderhook tiny house in snow park model

Left: Appendix Q applies to tiny houses on foundations that are 400 sq. ft. or under.

Right: Appendix Q does not apply to tiny houses on wheels. 

How Does The Tiny House Appendix Relate To Tiny Houses On Wheels?

Currently, the Tiny House Appendix, or Appendix Q, only regulates houses that are permanently-affixed.  It does not relate to tiny houses on wheels.  However, there is a movement to create a new version of Appendix Q for tiny houses on wheels as well.  Martin Hammer, Andrew Morrison, and Gabriella Morrison were instrumental in introducing Appendix Q to the International Building Code and then again to individual states including Massachusetts.  See their website for more info on future plans for a tiny house on wheels appendix.

 

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!

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.

The Coolest Tiny Home Add-Ons

At B&B, all of our tiny houses are customizable to your preferences. That means that you get to pick all of the finishes in your tiny house. Check out some of our customers’ favorite features and add-ons below.

Solar Panels

Solar panels can be fully installed on your tiny house for as little as $10,000. Grid-tied solar energy offers a great way to live sustainably and you even have the option of selling back excess electricity–a win-win!

Read our blog post on the two most common types of solar panels: off-grid and grid-tied. 

Shiplap

Who doesn’t love shiplap? At B&B, we offer shiplap bare, painted, or stained. You also have the option of having the shiplap on the ceiling.

Shou Sugi Ban

Shou sugi ban is as practical as it is functional. Originating from Japan, shou sugi ban weatherproofs the exterior of a house through charring the panelling of a house. The result is a beautiful, contemporary house. Shou sugi ban can come in a range of colors from lightly charred to completely black.

Futon sofa

Sleep up to two more people in your tiny house through a convertible futon sofa.

Expanded Porch

If you know that you will be keeping your tiny house in a single location, then an expanded porch is a great way to even better enjoy your surroundings. Also, they are great for entertaining!

Apartment Sized Fridge

Living tiny doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice a full-sized refrigerator.

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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!


What's your approximate budget?

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

You’ve been dreaming about your very own tiny house for years.  Are you ready to take the leap?

Here are all the steps you’ll take in the tiny house buying process.


Choose a tiny house site.

For some this is easy: a backyard, a piece of property in a town that allows RVs, or an RV park.  For those who don’t yet know where to put their tiny house, finding a location to put their tiny house is a crucial step.  We’ll build your tiny house differently depending on whether you plan to travel often with your house or it’ll stay in one place.  There are many different customization options available for your tiny house, which often depend on what kind of utilities are available at your tiny house site.

You’ll need to make sure your site has an access road and enough room for a truck to deliver the tiny house.  If you send us the layout of your property we’ll help you determine the best spot to place your tiny house during your design session.

Here’s a blog post on where to put your tiny house, and what to know if you’re thinking of buying land for your tiny house.

One way to find a location is through networking.  Here’s a list of tiny house networking sites: most of these groups are through Facebook or Meetup.

If you’re finding it difficult to find a town that already allows tiny houses, you’re not alone.  In fact, most towns’ Planning/Zoning Boards haven’t even considered whether to allow tiny houses on wheels: all it’ll take to start the wheels turning (pun intended, sorry) is for someone to ask.  The American Tiny House Association (Website, Facebook) is a great resource for those who would like to ask for permission to live in their tiny houses.


Choose a tiny house model.

Know where you’ll put your tiny house?  Great!  Browse our tiny house catalogue online and decide which model is the best for you.  Each of our models is customizable: customizations like materials and paint colors are free, while having our designer change the blueprints is an extra fee.

Some of our tiny houses are the road-legal limit of 8 1/2′ wide.  If you’re looking for a tiny house you can tow with you, check out our Lightweight Models for Towing.  We also offer Park Model Tiny Houses at 10′ wide, the Taconic and the Kinderhook.  Park Models are great when you want a little extra elbow room and don’t plan to move your tiny house after it’s put in place.

Don’t want to climb up a ladder to go to bed?  Click here to see our models with a first-floor bed.


Get your finances ready.

B&B’s Tiny Houses on wheels are inspected by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, or the RVIA. Your tiny house will come with an individual seal showing it’s been certified.  Because they’re certified to RVIA standards, our tiny houses are legally considered RVs, and can get RV financing, insurance, and access to RV parks.  Having this certification also helps when explaining to your town’s Planning and Zoning Board exactly what a tiny house is and how it’s certified.

If you’ll use financing, down payments differ based on the financial institution, but they’re generally between 20 and 25%.  If you’ll pay cash, we generally charge 60% up front and 40% when the house is complete.  You’ll need to have this amount saved before you buy a tiny house.

To find out about how much the tiny house you want would cost, try our Instant Estimate Generator.  This will give you a ballpark estimate so you’ll know how much to save.  If you’re not comfortable with your first estimate, you can go back through the Estimator as many times as you’d like, choosing different options.  Here are some suggested financial institutions for getting RV financing for your tiny house.

Keep in mind that the cost of the tiny house itself isn’t the only expense you may have when placing a tiny house.  Depending on your site and what your municipality requires, you may need to have utilities connected, a gravel or concrete pad poured, and anchors installed.  If you’re not towing your tiny house yourself, you’ll need to pay  about $2 per mile for delivery (we’ll connect you with our trusted delivery company).  It’s important to factor in the all-in cost of buying a tiny house before paying a deposit.


Schedule a tiny house design session.

Whether you’d like to make changes to the blueprints of the tiny house or not, a design session is the next step. If the only design changes are your selections for colors, materials and fixtures, these choices are free to make; the cost of the materials you choose will be reflected in your final quote.  If you’ll make changes to the blueprints, we charge a Design Alteration fee before our design session (scroll down past the customization options to see the fee).

Contact us to set up a time for a design session, whether via Skype, phone, or in-person.  If your session is in person, we’ll walk you through any tiny house that we may have at our shop so you can get a feel for the space.  During our design session, we’ll go through, in detail, which options you’d like, and the pros and cons of each depending on your location and how you’ll be using your tiny house.  You’ll have a chance to get your tiny house questions answered as well as learn more about which options are realistic for your living situation.


We’ll create a quote for you and send you a contract.

After your design session, our team will create a quote for your tiny house.  If you need changes to the existing plans, we’ll create a new drawing: this can take a few weeks depending on our design pipeline.

We’ll review your quote and final customization plan (your choices for colors, materials, fixtures, etc.) with you.

When you’re ready to finalize your choices and move forward, we’ll send you a build contract.

When we receive your signed contract and first payment (if you’re paying with cash, 60%; if you’re financing, we’ll need the payment from your financial institution) we’ll start ordering materials for your tiny house.


We’ll build your tiny house.

shou sugi banOur build schedule varies throughout the year: sometimes we can start building a tiny house right away, and other times there will be other projects in the pipeline.  We’ll be sure to keep you updated on our build schedule.

Trailers take about five weeks to build; your tiny house, depending on its size and level of complexity, should take 6-12 weeks after that depending on our build schedule.  We’ll keep in touch with you during the build process.


Get your site ready.

Tiny House RV Hookups- Power and WaterThe needs of tiny house sites vary greatly.  If you’ll be traveling with your tiny house and parking it at RV Parks, there’s not much you’ll need to do other than reserve your spot.  If you’ll be keeping your tiny house in one place, you’ll need to make sure you can get water and power to your tiny house and waste water away from it.  Depending on the permanency of your tiny house, you may want to have a gravel or concrete pad poured, and lay water and electric lines.  If you’re going solar, you’ll need to contract with a solar company to have your panels installed on your site.


Pick up your tiny house at our shop or have it delivered to your site.

If you’ll be towing your tiny house, here’s a primer on what size vehicle you’ll need.

Those who do not plan to tow their own tiny house may have it professionally delivered to their site.  Contact us for a delivery estimate.  We’ll schedule a time with you to ensure you’re on-site when your house is delivered, and we’ll answer any questions you might have about setting it in place.


Ready to choose a tiny house model?  Check out our Tiny House Designs and then get an Instant Estimate.

Have Questions?  Contact us.

Comparing the True Cost of a Tiny House Versus a Traditional House

Tiny Houses at first glance are much cheaper than traditional houses.  However, let’s take a closer look at the costs involved in tiny house living versus traditional house living.

The cost to build a tiny house is more per square foot, but less overall.

Why? Tiny houses are smaller.  The cheapest square footage in any home, whether tiny or not, is empty space.  The most expensive space per square foot in a home is the kitchen and bathroom, which have appliances installed that need electricity and plumbing.  A tiny house on wheels still has all the appliances and fixtures: a toilet, shower, and sink in the bathroom, and a fridge, sink, and cooking device in the kitchen, just like a “big house”; what we’re eliminating when building tiny is the cheapest space: empty floor space.  That’s why the cost per square foot is higher in a tiny house.

However, in a tiny house, the overall material cost is less than in a traditional house, simply because there’s less space, which means less material, labor, and time to build.

The cost of a tiny house doesn’t include land or hookups for water and electric.

With a tiny house on wheels, whether you’re planning to buy land, lease a spot in an RV park or stay in the backyard of someone you’re renting a space from, you’ll need to factor this cost into your overall budget.  Tiny houses can be connected to RV hookups in an RV park or permanently hooked into water, septic and sewer.  If you’re buying raw land (with no water and power) you’ll need to have a well dug and power connected.

Generally when buying a traditional home it’s already hooked up to utilities and is being sold with a plot of land.  Therefore, be sure to factor in not just the cost of the tiny house itself, but the land and hookups when comparing the cost of a tiny house to a traditional home.

Tiny house financing is often for fewer years than traditional mortgages.

B&B’s tiny houses on wheels are certified by the RVIA and therefore financed like RVs.  RV financing can be through your own bank or through a national lending institution.  As an example, as of 12/21/18 Lightstream’s website lists their RV loans up to 84 months, or 7 years.  Traditional mortgages are often 15 or 30 years.  Tiny houses, because of their smaller price point and smaller finance time, are usually paid off before a traditional mortgage.

Remember, though, that RV loans are just for the tiny house itself, not the land the house is on.  If you’ll be buying a piece of land to put your tiny house on, that would be either paid for all at once or financed separately.

Tiny houses’ utility bills are less.

Tiny houses are smaller than traditional houses, which means less space to heat or cool.  Because they’re on wheels, we never know where they’ll end up, so we build our tiny houses to withstand any climate in the continental United States.  Our shop is in a rather extreme climate zone so we understand the need to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  The tiny houses on wheels we have built have been toasty warm in New Hampshire in negative temperatures as well as nice and cool in the Texas heat.  Double-glazed windows, high R-value insulation in the floor, ceiling and walls, and efficient heating and cooling systems used in B&B Tiny Houses make for some pretty tiny utility bills.

If your tiny house design gets big enough, in some cases it can make more sense to just buy a regular house.

B&B Tiny Houses’ longest tiny house is 32′ long (on a 30′ trailer with a small overhang) and our widest tiny houses are 10′ wide (the Kinderhook and the Taconic Park Models).  If you’re not planning on moving your tiny house, “large” tiny houses can be a great way to get some extra elbow room.  When you start going bigger than 10′ x 30′ though, depending on all the other factors mentioned above it may make more financial sense to just have a traditional permanently-affixed home, park home, or modular home built.

To recap, be sure to consider all of the costs involved with living tiny versus living “large”: not just the cost of the houses themselves.

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.