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.
Our 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.
The 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.
Have Questions? Contact us.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to get financing and save up for your tiny house, whether it’s a turnkey RVIA certified Tiny House on Wheels or a DIY shell or frame.
Choosing the Best Tiny House for You
Tiny Houses on Wheels Vs. Tiny or Small Houses on Foundations
Before we talk about the best way to finance your tiny house, let’s talk about the different types of tiny houses. Please note that securing finance for your tiny house will have different processes depending upon if your tiny house is on wheels or on a foundation. Permanently-affixed tiny houses will be able to get traditional construction loans which can include site work. For this article, we will be focusing on financing a tiny house on wheels.
Tiny House on Wheels: Price Difference Between Original or Off-The-Shelf Design
Building a tiny house of your original design through B&B allows you to create the exact tiny house that you’re envisioning, but due to economies of scale—i.e. custom houses taking longer to build due to the fact that each one is unique and not able to be mass produced— this option can be quite costly. The second option is to buy a pre-designed tiny house. There is a wide variety of options and at B&B we will allow you to customize materials, colors, and appliances (click here for all of the customizable options at B&B). This is a great option for those that want to stay on budget and still put their personal touch on their tiny house.
Build Your Own Tiny House Using a Shell or Frame Kit
The third option is to buy a wood-framed tiny house shell. A tiny house shell has the exterior complete and the interior incomplete. Shells can have windows, doors, plumbing, and electric complete or incomplete depending upon your needs and budget. Lastly, you have the option to buy a steel frame kit for your tiny house. This option ensures that you have a professionally built frame and allows you to customize your tiny house how you please; however, we do not recommend DIY options for anyone that does not have construction experience. The shell and steel frame option are not certified by RVIA, meaning that it would be more difficult to get a loan. Both of these last two options can be a great choice for someone that wants to complete their tiny house by themselves or wants to self-finance their own tiny house in stages. The RVIA cannot certify shell or frame kit options because the tiny house will not have been finished in a RVIA certified location; however, it may be possible to get a personal loan for the shell or frame kit.
If you are DIYing your tiny house, consider all the costs associated with building, not just the materials cost.
Are You Financially Ready To Own A Tiny House?
Consider Your Total Tiny House Cost– Not Just Monthly Loan Payments
Once you have decided on the best tiny house option for you, you will have a better idea of the loan you will need. Because B&B is RVIA certified, you would be qualified to apply for an RV loan for any of our turnkey tiny houses on wheels. When determining your tiny house budget, you will also need to consider monthly costs such as electricity, maintenance, insurance, and where you will be keeping your tiny house.
Read our article on the all-in costs of a tiny house versus a traditional house.
In addition, if you need site work–grading, clearing trees, adding a pad–or infrastructure–fresh water, waste water, and power–you’ll need to consider these costs in your total budget. You will want to estimate these costs before you decide the amount of the loan you’re willing to take out. Just like a home mortgage, your income, credit score, market factors, and down payment will all affect the terms of your loan. After you’re pre-approved, B&B will schedule a design session with you in order to get your final quote.
The Brodie Mobile Office photographed by Steph Rapsiarda
4 Ways to Get the Best Loan for Your Tiny House
Improve Your Credit Score
Improving your credit score will help you lower your monthly payment. This is because the bank views those with higher credit scores as being more reliable and thus will give them better rates and bigger loans. Here are 11 ways to improve your credit score.
Save for Your Down Payment
The more that you save for your down payment, then the lower your monthly payment will be, so start adding to your tiny house piggy bank!
Choose the Best Tiny House Type For You, then Choose Your Floor Plan
After you’ve chosen the best type of tiny house for your needs, whether it’s a DIY frame, shell, or a turnkey tiny house that’s move-in ready (and RVIA-certified), you’ll be able to get an estimate on the floor plan you want and start researching your loan options.
It’s a good idea to contact a few different financial institutions to get the best deal for you. Check out all your tiny house financing options here including getting a Tiny House Loan through Adams Community Bank, an RV loan through Lightstream, and a personal loan through your own bank or credit union.