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What are Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) and do I need them in my Tiny House?

What Do HRVs Do For The Air Quality In My Tiny House?

Do I need one in my tiny house?

The tiny houses built by B&B Tiny Houses are well insulated and sealed.  This works great for keeping the inside warm in the winter and cool in the summer, but it means the air inside can get stale.

HRVs, or Heat Recovery Ventilators, control a home’s humidity, reduce indoor mold and mildew, and exhaust stale, polluted air.  Unlike traditional vent fans, however, HRVs recover some of the warmth that’s being exhausted to the outside in the winter time, while removing the pollutants and moisture to ensure that the fresh air coming in is still warm.  Maintaining the temperature of the air while exchanging stale air for fresh air cuts down on the cost of heating a home.

The HRVs we use in our tiny houses come in pairs, where units are placed on opposite walls and air flow is transferred back and forth.  In a tiny house, only one pair is necessary, because it’s such a small space.   Each unit is installed directly on an exterior wall, so no ductwork is needed.  Even when the door to, say, the bathroom is closed, it’ll still work because we leave a 3/4″ space beneath the door in tiny houses with HRVs.  They are turned on and off by a switch.

From the 475 Lunos e² HRV website:

#6 in the photo is the part you’ll see on the interior wall of your tiny house.  #1 is what you’ll see on the outside of the tiny house.

Where should HRVs be used?

Heat Recovery Ventilators are for use in the USA’s northern states.  Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) are to be used in the southern states.

Does an HRV warm or cool the house?

No; it maintains the inside temperature, rather than sucking all the heat or cool out of house.

Is it loud?

The system contains a sound muffler.  It produces 0.12 sones at its lowest setting while a quiet refrigerator in a quiet kitchen produces about 1.0 sones.

Do I really need an HRV in my tiny house?

There are a few factors to consider when deciding whether to spring for an HRV.  The type of HRV we use costs around a few thousand dollars, so it’s worth spending the time to decide whether you really want one in your home.

Factors to consider include:

  • How many people will live in the tiny house?  The more people, the staler the air will be.
  • How often is the tiny house used?  Is this your primary residence or your vacation home?  If it’s just used as a weekend cottage, an HRV system is probably not necessary because new air pollutants will not be introduced every day; a simple bathroom exhaust fan, while less energy-efficient, should do the trick.
  • What is your sensitivity to mold?  HRVs prevent the buildup of mold and mildew: those with an allergy or sensitivity to mold or mildew will benefit from an HRV system.
  • Do you have breathing issues?  Those with asthma, dust mite allergies, and other breathing issues may benefit from this air exchange.
  • What is your cooking style?  Scents from cooking may linger in a home, even with propane stoves come with a range hood.  An HRV can help get rid of cooking odors.
  • How energy efficient do you want your house to be? HRVs introduce new fresh air, warmed by the old stale air, into the house.  Consider the cost of the HRV versus the cost of heat energy you’ll save by installing one.  If you aren’t heating your tiny house full-time in the winter, the HRV will take longer to pay for itself.

What if I don’t use an HRV?

It’s important to not let mold and mildew build up from the moisture created by your bathroom and kitchen.  But if you don’t have an HRV in your tiny house, there are other ways to get fresh air into your home.  Our tiny house bathrooms come with a vent fan that goes on whenever the bathroom light is switched on.  Vent fans will let the heat out of your house in the winter, but they are included with the basic model tiny houses and are much less expensive to install.  You can also just open your windows periodically to let the fresh air in. All of our houses with a propane stove/oven also come with a kitchen range hood.

How do HRVs work?

This video explains how a heat recovery ventilator works.  The example shown in the video is for a much larger house; the ones used in tiny houses look like white squares, CD case shaped attached to the wall at opposite ends of the 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?

Choose your favorite of our Signature Tiny House Models and then get an Instant Estimate for that house with the features and fixtures you want.

When you’re comfortable with your price, contact us to get started.

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?

 

What’s the Best Size Tiny House for Travel?

Tiny Houses on Wheels are sized for the road.

An 8 1/2 foot width is standard in tiny houses because that’s the maximum width that can safely travel down roads without an oversize permit.  We also build some tiny houses on wheels 10+ feet wide as Park Model RVs and procure oversize permits in every state they’ll travel through to get to their destination.  10+ foot wide houses, of course, aren’t recommended as houses that will travel more than once.

While the length of tiny houses is variable (we’ve built everything from 16 feet to 32 feet) the height is also restricted by the road.  13 1/2 feet tall is the maximum, which means the ceiling can be just over 10 feet from the floor inside the tiny house.  That’s why we can’t build a sleeping loft you can stand up in– unless you’re only two feet tall.

What size vehicle do you need to own to tow your tiny house?

You should have a vehicle with a towing capacity that exceeds the weight of your tiny house.  This article will help you determine what towing capacity you’ll need based on the estimated weight of your tiny house.

It can be helpful to take lessons first.

If you don’t have experience towing, see if there are classes offered in your area before you set out on the road with your tiny house in tow.  If you don’t want to take an entire course, have someone you know who’s experienced in towing give you a few pointers.  Having someone watch what you’re doing in-person is more helpful than YouTube videos, because they can tell you what you’re doing wrong and right.

Shorter tiny houses are lighter.

We recommend a house up to 24 feet long for towing.  Anything larger (or heavier) gets unwieldy for travel.  (We can still build a bigger house if you’re not planning on traveling with it!)

If you don’t want to tow your house, hire a professional.

There are companies that do this all day, every day so you don’t have to.  If you’re only moving your house once, it may be best to leave the towing to the pros.  If you’re on the east coast, email us at [email protected] for a towing company recommendation.

 

What’s The Difference Between a Modular Home and a Tiny House on Wheels?

Resideo Tiny House, Resideo Tiny Smart Home

Left: A Tiny House on Wheels- the wheels are obscured by shrubbery.  Right: A Modular Home: no wheels, slab foundation (coming soon!)

 

 

 


Tiny Houses on Wheels

Tiny houses on wheels are permanently on the chassis.  The tires can be removed but the house will always be on the trailer. If you want a tiny house on wheels but don’t plan to travel with it, we can also permanently anchor a tiny house on wheels to the ground, remove its tires, and skirt it.  Road-legal limits of 8 1/2′ wide and 13 1/2′ high constrain the size of tiny houses on wheels. We are certified to build tiny houses on wheels by the RVIA, so our tiny houses on wheels are legally considered RVs.  Tiny houses on wheels don’t require a building permit, but you’ll need to make sure RVs are allowed in your zone of your town.

Modular Homes

Modular homes are constructed in pieces in a factory and then transported to the home site to be assembled and attached to the foundation.  They look just like traditional houses– you can’t tell the difference between a modular home from a traditional home just by looking at it– and can be any shape and size as long as each module is small enough to travel from the factory to the build site.  After a modular home is built and inspected inside the factory, it is transported to the site and then permanently attached to a foundation (basement, slab, or pin foundation) where it is inspected again.  B&B Micro Manufacturing is certified to build Industrialized/Modular Homes by the State of Massachusetts.  Modular homes are financed using traditional home financing and there’s no difference in zoning for a modular home versus a traditional site-built home.  B&B Modular designs will be released soon.

Both types of homes are built inside our factory in Massachusetts.  The advantages of factory-building include a quicker build time (we don’t have to stop working in extreme weather) and a less expensive build, especially when the home is built alongside other homes of the same design.

Choosing the Right Towing Vehicle for Your Tiny House

Choosing the Right Truck for your Tiny House

All of our tiny houses on wheels are able to be towed; however, if you will be moving around regularly, we recommend purchasing a tiny house under 24 feet long.

The weight of B&B Tiny Houses depends on the size and materials used.  A vinyl-sided 20′ Hoosic weighs around 9400 pounds, while a solid wood clapboard-sided 20′ Hoosic weighs around 10,000 pounds.  The 20′ Brodie Office/Studio with T-111 siding weighs the least of everything we’ve weighed so far, at 8,000 pounds, and the 30′ Stony Ledge with solid wood clapboard siding comes in at around 14,000 pounds.

As a general rule, our tiny houses weigh between 400-500 pounds per foot, so to determine the weight multiply the number of feet by 400 and 500 to give you an estimate.

new tiny house construction

Pictured: The Arcadia Tiny House

Our tiny houses can be delivered anywhere in the United States, so if you plan on staying in only one spot, then you do not need to ever worry about towing your tiny house.

We tow our tiny houses that are under 24 feet with a Chevy Silverado 2500. For larger tiny houses, we hire a professional shipping company. As always, our customers are welcome to pick up their tiny house at out manufacturing plant. If you are looking for trucks with large towing capacities, then check out this article on the trucks with the highest towing capacity.

Smaller Tiny Houses for Those on the Move

All of the houses below allow you to customize the interior and exterior finishes to your choosing.

The 20′ Brodie

Perfect For: a mobile office, art studio, backyard guest house, mobile clinic

Features: The Brodie can be used as an office, guest house, and much more. The Brodie features an electric in-wall heating system, half-bath with a dry-flush toilet and sink, storage and countertop space, and a freshwater tank and water heater.

The Hudson 20′

Perfect For: a weekend getaway for 1-2 people, guest house, rental property

Features: Enter the Hudson into a small sitting area.  A queen size bed with nightstands is to the left on the same level. To the right is a kitchen, with a sink, mini-fridge, cabinets, shelving, and a two-burner cooktop.  Through the kitchen is a full bathroom, with a macerating toilet, sink, and shower.

The Arcadia

Perfect For: full time luxury living for two, sleeps an additional two guests on a sofa bed

Features: The kitchen has premium fixtures and appliances, including poured-in-place sealed concrete countertops, a three-burner propane stove and oven, a range hood, and under-counter refrigerator and freezer drawers. The sofa slides out on rails to convert into a full-size guest bed, allowing the house to sleep four. The bathroom has a rain shower head, subway tiles in the full-size shower, a macerating toilet, and a porcelain hand washing sink.  The loft fits a queen-sized bed with a little extra floor space.  The loft has 360 degree views with windows on all sides, plus skylights. An optional built-in Bluetooth audio system connects to your smartphone.

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