There is a trend happening these days where folks are leaving their large houses and escaping to what is called ‘Tiny House’. A smaller house could be thought of as a Tiny House, but in actuality, a Tiny House is a very small dwelling, usually under 400 square feet. About 2/3 of the time, they are built on a trailer chassis, so that they can be somewhat mobile. Some tiny homes are placed on a foundation or pilings, thus making them a more permanent home. Usually, the approximately 400 square feet is on the main floor, while there may be a loft area above one of the living spaces that is not counted in the square footage.
Why would someone want to live in tiny homes like these? For some people, it is about financial benefits. A tiny house can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000, depending on how much is DIY and how much is done by a professional. Also, the cost of materials can vary widely, as you decide on how deluxe you want to make this tiny house. Lower cost can equate to little or no bank involvement, providing some monetary savings.
It does also follow along with the minimalist philosophy, which is about streamlining life and belongings. By deciding to live in a tiny house, one is forced to prioritize belongings and decide what you really need or not. Tiny house living creates an evaluation of what is important to you.
Rather than being stationary forever, tiny house living allows the possibility of picking up your home and dragging it to a new location ( for those tiny homes on wheels ). Of course this creates a situation where research is needed to learn how to tow safely. I will address this later in this article.
This leads into the next thought, which is where can you legally park one of these Tiny Houses? The answer is not black and white, depending on where you live. Some cities will not allow tiny houses to park, as they consider them to be RV’s and they do not allow full time living in an RV. In some cases, the towns or cities have designated specific areas as Tiny House Villages. RV parks can sometimes be an answer as well. If you are out of town on an acreage or farm, it is still good to check with the authorities. In placing a tiny home, certain questions need to be answered, such as - where is the power source? Where does the water come from? And where does the sewage go? Often there are strict regulations governing these areas.
One of the big benefits of most Tiny Houses is the ability to be mobile. If you want to follow the sunshine, that is a possibility. Or maybe you would prefer a different view. Just hook up your Tiny House and away you go!
It may not actually be that easy though. To be legal, one needs to know the actual weight of this Tiny Home, if it is being towed. So, if you don’t know the weight use a heavy duty truck, suitable for towing heavy weights and tow the unit to a commercial scale and be weighed. The amount of weight will determine what size of vehicle you need for towing. Next to check is the type of hitch on the truck. Is is the correct category for towing this weight? Most of the newer trucks are pre-wired for towing, and some have brake controls built in. The House itself, usually built on a trailer, also has to be legal for towing. Brakes on the trailer are required, and an emergency braking system should the Tiny House become disconnected while being towed. As well, tail lights and brake lights are required. Check with your local authorities to determine if any additional lights are required.
Another challenge for a potential Tiny Home owner to work through is insurance. Probably the easiest insurance to obtain is insurance as a recreational vehicle. That sounds easy enough, but often insurance for a recreational vehicle is only for part time living. Insurance for full time living is a necessity in Tiny House living. It would be a good idea to have a video record of the construction, focusing on areas that normally require specific trades. Let’s say that insurance for full time living in an RV is obtained. The registration for this unit will be shown as a Recreational Vehicle, which can again cause issues with locations that will not allow RV’s. If certification as a modular home is required, then research needs to be done on requirements to meet the codes and certification of a modular home. This is a whole different ball game.
These details are just pieces of the puzzle to put together in order to make one of these Tiny Houses your home. Tiny House living can be very rewarding, both financially and socially, providing freedom, satisfaction, and enjoyment.
When looking at different styles of homes, another style of home to consider is the two storey home. A well designed two storey can offer a good amount of usable square footage while using a moderately sized footprint. Given the same sized lot as a bungalow, the two storey will give a greater amount of yard space.
A two storey house lends itself to flexibility in floor plans, from a small cozy layout to a plan with much grandeur and elegance. The most common two storey has the kitchen, dining room, and main living areas on the main floor with the bedroom and main bathrooms upstairs. Of course, the larger layouts could have a guest room, den, or other multi purpose room on the main floor. Additionally, there may be some bonus spaces upstairs. Many two storey houses have attached garages for convenience.
Because of the raised elevation of the second storey, there could be some impressive views, depending on location. Upstairs security is better with a two storey house, as windows may be open with a lesser chance of intruders through an open window. Of course, if someone really wants in, they will still find a way to get in.
In some locals the two storey homes are built from the ground up, whild other locations will still dig below the frost level to build the foundation and will make a basement at the same time. The basement will usually be of a lesser size than that of a bungalow with a similar amount of square footage. This can give the house even more options for separate use rooms.
Although a two storey house has numerous wonderful features, there are some ‘challenges’ that people need to be aware of. The biggest one of these is the stairs. Stairs up and stairs down. Stairs to go to bed, and stairs to have a meal. Stairs to get changed and stairs to go out. This tends to make two storey house less preferable for aging people as well as those with disabilities. In addition, numerous people have had the misfortune of stumbling on the steps and having an unfortunate accident.
Another challenge that may not be as noticable while considering a two storey house is the noise factor. Many 2 stories transfer a very noticeable amount of noise from upstairs to the downstairs, especially if there is a person who tends to thump while they walk. So the quiet conversation on the main floor can be disturbed by someone stomping around upstairs.
Maintenance can also be more challenging in a two storey house. Washing windows can require a long ladder, as will cleaning the rain gutters. Of course, these can be contracted out, but at a cost.
An additional expense in a two storey house is the heating and air conditioning. We all know that heat rises and cool air drops. This can lead to a warmer upstairs while trying to have a comfortable heat range on the main floor. Or if the air conditioning is on to cool the hot upstairs, then the main floor could become cold. Because of this, some believe that a two storey home is more expensive to heat than a one storey or bungalow.
There is another style of two storey houses that are seen in some locals and seldom in others. This is the two storey house with the garage built in. In this style, the entrance is at ground level near the built in garage. The main living areas such as the kitchen, dining room, living room, and bedrooms are upstairs with the family room, extra bedrooms, and possibly laundry are on the entrance level. Of course, bathrooms can be on both floors as well. Again, this style may be popular in some locations and not others.
The two storey house may be an excellent option for some and be not the best for others. It is good to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages before making a decision on which style of home to consider purchasing.
This post is for those who are looking at real estate and trying to decide what kind of home is best for them. In a number of future posts, I will address a few different kinds of houses. In different parts of North America, and indeed, the world, there are different names for similar types of homes.
One style of home that is becoming popular for those who are maturing, is the bungalow or rancher style of house. One of the big advantages to this house is the lack of stairs. There is a ground level or slightly raised entry so that when one is in the house day to day activities can be done on one level with no stairs to climb. Because of this feature, this style of home is ideal for the aging as well as those with disabilities. Typically there is a larger great room with kitchen and bedrooms off to the side.
With all the usable rooms on the one floor, this style of house tends to have a fairly large footprint or square footage, leading to a higher cost per square foot to build. This does tend to decrease the popularity for some people. On the other hand, a larger footprint also suggests that a bungalow will be on a piece of property that is large enough to accommodate it, sometimes a larger piece than is required for a two story house. Those that own a bungalow are also quite pleased at the ease of washing outside windows.
In colder climates where the foundation needs to go down below the frost level, it sometimes makes sense to excavate just a bit deeper and make a basement at the same time. While this does add stairs, all the living needs can be on the main floor while the basement provides extra space for storage, a furnace or utility room and maybe an extra bedroom or games room. There is a bit of loss in having no stairs, but a gain in having more useable square footage.
Another item for discussion in considering a bungalow is security and privacy. Basically, if they want in, they will get in whether it is a bungalow or a two story. Today's security systems are a help in either case. As for privacy, trees and bushes can provide a greater level of privacy for a bungalow than some other styles of homes. Also, in case of an emergency, it is much quicker to find an exit, either through a door or through a window if the window is suitable for egress.
More styles of houses to come in future posts.
Bruce has been involved in a few industries though out his career. Included in these experiences are a number of years as a realtor and other industries revolving around the housing industry. As well as real estate, Bruce has had a keen interest in the wellness industry. RV's and RVing as well as camping have also played a part in Bruce's life. And like many people, when possible, travel has been an enjoyable part of life too. This blog will touch on all these areas. Enjoy!