Tiny Homes: The Ultimate Guide To Small House Living Lifestyle - Lisa Daniels

Tiny Homes: The Ultimate Guide To Small House Living Lifestyle - Lisa Daniels (2016)


The tiny home explosion has helped to redefine the American landscape in the last ten years. People are choosing to downsize into a smaller more eco friendly homes because they do not cost enormous amounts of money to maintain.

While some people may think a tiny home is not an acceptable size for anyone to live in, others think it’s the best and only way to be.

The average sized American home is now approximately 2100 square feet and millions of people have bought into the bigger is better mortgage fallacy. With a big house comes extra expense bills, so tiny home owners will tell you, smaller is superior.

Tiny homes offer home owners the freedom and affordability to travel around with their home right behind them. For many Americans who are living on a shoe string budget now, tiny homes also offer peace of mind in a very affordable price range.

As more people worldwide choose to opt out of the Bank Mortgage games, downsizing into a tiny home is a real option. After all who wants to be overextended and stressed out over finances when tiny homes have everything you need to be comfortable.

Is it any wonder more people are deciding to save money and buy or build a tiny home. It’s a viable option, economically affordable and allows people to have the freedom of moving around.

A smaller home will mean less cleaning, less electric costs and it will be cozy to live in no matter what season.

Throughout this book we are going to go over some of the positives and the possible drawbacks of owning a tiny home. We want you to have a well rounded view concerning the basics of owning a tiny home.

Tiny House History

Smaller homes were the normal way of living for millions of Americans once. The shotgun style homes built in the mid 1800’s through to the 1920’s were homes millions of Americans once lived in.

As you can see from the floor plan of a shotgun home, they were not much bigger than the tiny homes of today.

Picture Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotgun_house

Row houses and cottages were other styles of homes that were built with the average family in mind. You can still see many of these styled homes in American cities, Europe, England and Australia. One level row houses usually only had one-two bedrooms and five or more people used to live in small homes such as these.

Once in America it was normal to live in very small homes and the trend continued with cottage style homes in the 1920’s. After WW2 small cookie cutter style homes were built in cities all over America. Older style housing plans did have bathrooms fitted into the home, or bathroom facilities were placed downstairs in the basement. So as you can see it was pretty normal for people to live in smaller homes.

So why are there so many restrictions on building and living in tiny homes today? Unfortunately many of the restrictions come from city councils, counties and taxes on building codes. Making money on permits, fines and code enforcement is based more on revenue than anything else.

If you own 5 acres of land and want to build a tiny home, there shouldn’t be any restrictions on the size of the home if it has septic and water facilities. It seems ridiculous to most people but money is a huge part of the problem and sometimes unfair building permits, continue to make money for the city.

The tiny home surge represents people who want to go back to living simpler lives in America. With the mortgage crisis and our economy on shaky ground, people are choosing to give up their big homes and downsize to a manageable income level.

Another good reason to have a tiny house; because it gives a sense of freedom to go anywhere you want with your entire home. Another plus is the flexibility of having different tiny house plans to look over is also very appealing for many people. So with all of these great options to consider lets discuss the best type of tiny home for you!

What Is The Best Tiny Home For You

Picture Source: http://www.countryliving.com/home-design/g1887/tiny-house/?slide=31

As we previously discussed the tiny home revolution is for anyone who wants to sell their current home and downsize. It’s also about living in a home that gives us basic shelter, warmth and comfort. A lovely place to hang our hats...

Tiny homes are usually less than 300 square feet in size and they are as durable as any home you will find. Some tiny homes are built on trailers whereas others are built as permanent structures on posts in the ground.

Another style of tiny home living are the cool houseboat models especially created for the water lover in mind. Fishing poles will definitely be a much needed item on a tiny houseboat like this.

When The Mortgage Becomes Too Expensive

Many elderly people want to downsize into a tiny home because of their fixed income and living this way this is a fantastic solution for people who still want their independence and freedom.

It’s not just the elderly who are choosing to live in tiny homes either. Younger couples or single people are also opting for tiny home accommodations.

The truth is it’s not always easy living with other people especially if they are not your family. Roommates can be difficult at times and tiny homes offer a sanctuary for privacy and quiet without all the added costs and roommate headaches.

Another good reason people are choosing to live in tiny homes is because of the economy. No-one really knows what is going on at the moment and the building industry is not as busy as it used to be.

A tiny home offers a workable solution for people on budgets. After all who isn’t fed up paying for high cost mortgages and electric bills that are through the roof in the winter months? Because the economy and mortgage lending is on shaky ground many people are choosing to save their money and buy or build a tiny home. This is one of the best plans in remaining completely debt free and tiny homes can help you stay on track with the budget.

If you have an adult son or daughter who still lives at home and you want to become free, put your house on the market and buy a tiny home trailer.

Selling your existing home will benefit you in four ways:

· You will unload the bigger home and get rid of the debt

· Have some extra cash for travelling

· Finally have some peace and quiet from the kids

· You get to travel around the country with your house

Before you go ahead with your plans here are a couple of questions you may need to answer first:

· Have you thought about where you might like to locate for instance: state, county and or living environment?

· Do you own an existing property where you can build your tiny home?

· Were you considering parking your home in the backyard with one of your children or a friend?

· Do you have a company in mind to build your home for you?

· Are you going to be the one who is designing and building the tiny house?

· What are the restrictions, codes and regulations for your area?

If you have some of these questions answered first, then you have a plan to get started on your tiny home today!

“Proper prudent planning prevents poor performance.”

Can You Build In Your Area?

If you have decided to build a tiny home on an existing piece of land one of the first questions you should be asking is: “What the restrictions in my area?”

The best advice we can give is to ask either the local county building, or city council. They usually have a list of what you need to do and how to go about following the regulations. In this day and age with so many restrictions on what is acceptable or not, you MUST find out first what is allowed.

Unfortunately some counties do not allow people to build a tiny home on their land because the regulations may require a minimum square footage of 600 square feet. That’s actually not much bigger than a regular tiny house style and something this size could easily be built.

If you build a tiny home on wheels, some cities may classify this type of home a trailer and therefore may only be eligible to park your tiny home in a trailer park. These are things you will need to look into first before moving into a particular city.

Source: http://tinyhousetalk.com/communities/

If you are planning on moving into a tiny home community ask questions like this:

· Find out about the people in the area first.

· Are their living rules in the tiny home neighborhood?

· Do neighbors get along or are there constant problems?

· Will you be required to pay a rent every month?

· Will you have to pitch in for amenities?

Sources: http://tinyhousecommunity.com/places.htm

A Home On Wheels

In this section we will talk about the mobile aspect of building a tiny home. You can easily build a tiny house on top of a flat bed trailer and sell the old clunking 5th wheel.

A tiny house usually doesn’t come with any code enforcement because it’s not classified a permanent structure on a trailer. If code enforcement officials had to inspect every tiny house ever built, they would never get anything done.

You are more likely to have problems with inspectors when building a home on the ground, than any tiny house on wheels. How many inspectors do you know would be blueprinting every KOA for Tiny Home inspections?

Once your home is hitched up to your vehicle, you can take on the road anytime you want. That’s the best deal of all!

Size and Load On The Highway

Are you so anxious to get out on the highway and see all those long awaited places? Tiny home construction is looking better every day but first you need to know what you can legally build to be legally acceptable on the highway.

All U.S.A States have certain regulations requiring trailers, weight, and types of Driver’s License. If you don’t have a CDL or license to drive a truck, there are a few road restrictions you need to adhere to. Drop by the department of main roads and pick up one of their flyers on load and weight requirements.

Your tiny home cannot be any more than 8 ½ feet wide, 13 ½ feet high and 40 to 60 feet long. If you look at some of the 5th wheels campers the width, length and weight load has already been taken into consideration. A 5th wheel is built to the maximum load capacity someone can take on the road without owning a commercial license.

So what you are really looking at creating is building a tiny home within the legal parameters and making everything work from that point. Building a home on the ground requires all kinds of different permits; it’s easy to see why so many people choose to build their tiny home on a trailer.

Picture Source: http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/road-limits-for-tiny-houses-on-trailers/

Weight Requirements

Most commercial trailers have been designed with aerodynamic features in mind. Many of the tiny homes built on top of trailers are usually about 7ft wide by 14 feet in length. Because every square inch is important space on a trailer, you will need to find a style of tiny home that fits your needs in every perfect way.

Size does matter in this case, especially if you are going to be towing a tiny home on the highways and roads across America. A tiny home built on a trailer, 19 feet long will weigh about six thousand pounds.

Once your house is built, adding in your belongings will naturally increase the weight load so you could be looking at 9000 pounds in weight. That’s a lot of weight to be pulling up a mountain pass and why there are restrictions on how big your tiny home really should be.

While the 40 foot length trailer can still be applied to a tiny home, you consider the weight and load you have to pull first. Eighteen thousand pounds is a lot of weight to be pulling on a highway, especially if you are planning on going to National Parks where the roads are not always reliable.

You will need a powerful truck with a decent sized engine to pull such a heavy load. Remember if you are travelling and making regular stops, you will be unhitching your tiny home a lot more too, so how’s your back?

Tiny homes are built with the same materials that you would build a regular home with. They use the same framework style of a regular home but only on a smaller scale. This means you still need to purchase shingles, wood, appliances, plumbing and other things you would see in any other home built on the ground.

There is a builder in Oregon who builds tiny homes up to the 40 foot version. Most of the construction he does is with a trailer park home in mind. Rich has some lovely styles with downloadable PDF’s on the styles he builds. Some of his tiny homes weigh in at nearly 10,000 pounds and that’s before adding homeowner possessions.

If you are looking for something a bit bigger you might want to check out his designs. The bathrooms are quite spacious along with a decent sized kitchen. There is also a washer-dryer hook up with a stairwell that goes up to a roomy loft used as a bedroom.

Source: http://richsportablecabins.com/

About Hans

Hans story is not unlike thousands of other people who all felt bigger was better. He ended up disliking living in a huge house because he spent so much of his free time, fixing and repairing items around the house.

He came to the conclusion he was basically imprisoned by his house, so Hans got rid of the 4950 sq foot home and downsized. Hans moved into another home that was 1600 square feet but again, it was just him and his dog and even that was too much.

Now Hans lives in a 40ft long tiny home with the dog and he’s completely happy. He gets to travel around and do whatever he wants with his home hitched up to a truck.

Source: http://www.gotinybefree.com/hans-32-foot-gooseneck-tiny-house-build/

Do You Have Special Needs?

Now that we’ve gone over a few of the requirements concerning the building of your tiny home, it’s time to look at the other needs such as space and what you really need to be comfortable.

There isn’t a lot of room in a tiny home, so bringing in all your personal belongings from the previous house isn’t going to work.

You will need to figure out how many changes of clothes, shoes and personal items you really need to have. What about family memories, arts and crafts because you need to think, small home means limited space.

Remember you also have to make allowances for any excess weight when pulling the tiny home. Extra weight means more wear and tear on your wheels and trailer frame.

Most people who want a tiny home have already decided to live in a minimalist fashion anyway. Being a minimalist means less clutter, cutting down on belongings and less cleaning.

One of the best examples of practicing minimalism: Older parents who want to travel but still have adult children living at home.

Below is an example of two people who decided to sell the family home and downsize to a tiny home. The couple wanted a fresh start without all the current expense. They didn’t want a mortgage or taxes anymore as it was weighing them down.

Jen and Mark:

Jennifer and Mark had spent the last 28 years of their lives raising three boys. The couple wanted to retire, buy a tiny home and travel but the boys were completely happy to live at home. The eldest son who was 28 still lived downstairs.

The only way the couple could be free, was to sell the house. It wasn’t that Jen and Mark didn’t love their children, it was just time for mom and dad to live how they wanted for a change.

Mark had been marketing online for years so there wasn’t any reason why the two couldn’t travel the highways of America. Jen wanted to travel, so she could take beautiful photographs. Mark loved to backpack and hike in the woods so their dream was about to become a reality.

The couple gave their boys three months notice and put the family home on the market. In the meantime Jen held frequent garage sales and got rid of things she didn’t need. She also handed the baby pictures and keepsakes over to her sons.

Mark and Jen engaged the services of a local carpenter who built a 32 foot home. Jen got her little balcony and Mark got his wood burning stove. The house provides for everything they need, which includes a comfy space for Riley the dog.

When Jen and Mark now visit their sons, their home is backed onto the eldest son’s driveway. The freedom to travel anywhere they wanted while earning a good income along the way, was all the couple ever wanted.


Good things do come from downsizing and getting rid of the clutter.

· It makes us think about what really matters in life.

· Downsizing forces us to let go of things that we no longer need.

· It frees us from waste and spending.

· The freedom to travel anywhere is extremely liberating.

Jen and Mark only kept the essentials in their tiny house and are happy and free. Who doesn’t want this?

How Much Space Should I Have?

You may have already looked over some plans concerning the style of your tiny home but there are a couple of interior items you may want to consider first.

Will your tiny house have a staircase or just a ladder? Obviously if you have problems walking, climbing or balance, a ladder may not be the safest option in a tiny home. If you have health issues that could become a problem in the near future, a one level tiny home is probably the best option for you.

· What about the kitchen space?

· What size refrigerator are you planning on putting in your tiny home?

· Will you be running appliances on propane?

· Will you be keeping a generator in your tiny home for emergencies?

These are important questions that need to answered before you start construction on your tiny home.

Tiny Homes For Families

Not everybody who lives in a tiny house is single or retired. There are families also living in tiny homes. Are you wondering how this is possible?

These families do manage and they are living quite comfortably in homes most of us wouldn’t normally consider. However if you remember earlier on in this book, we discussed how whole families in America were once raised in tiny homes. So it’s not that unusual after all. Actually it’s pretty amazing how creative people can be when they set their mind to it.

A home only 100 square foot in size is not ideal for a family of four. A tiny home that size, will only suit the needs of one person and possibly a small pet. However a 1000 square foot home could be ideal for a family of four and families can make the most out of a space this size.

Learning to use the most of space you have is extremely important, especially when it comes to children and room. Starting off small is the ideal way to go because you can make the house grow with you. If you decide on a simple framework, eventually there is room for an extension, especially if your tiny home was built on the land.

The below image belongs to a family who built a loft bedroom on either side of their tiny home. They connected the lofts together with a see through walkway. The idea is clever and the children have a loft space they can call their own.

Picture Source: http://www.treehugger.com/tiny-houses/pequod-rocky-mountain-tiny-houses.html

Here are a couple of suggestions for families considering a tiny home. You may want to build on solid ground and these below suggestions will give you added room.

· Instead of having an 8 foot wide home, see if you can manage 10 feet

· Extend the home to 40 feet in length

· Start with a small home first and as the children grow, extend the house for privacy reasons

· Build multiple tiny homes so the kids can have a separate space too

· Outdoor living becomes more important in a tiny home, so make room for a deck

Another thought you will need to consider is city legalities. Can you legally park your tiny home at a friend - relative’s home for indefinite periods of time? Will local coding allow for your tiny home to be parked in a driveway or a backyard?

What about elderly parents who still want their independence but need grown children to check in on them?

If you are a caregiver with an elderly parent, will the local building codes allow you to put a tiny home in your backyard? Why should mom or dad have to live inside your house, if they prefer to have a tiny home in the backyard, especially with all the independent it brings? A tiny home doesn’t have to be on wheels. It may be an old garage that can be converted into living quarters for an elderly parent.

In today’s society many elderly are shipped off to nursing homes without any thought to a secondary option, such as a tiny home. However this is a great solution for elderly folk who are still fairly independent and active. There are a couple of other options which we are going to be discussing in next section of this book, so read on. We are now going to be discussing shipping containers and domes.

How About A Tiny Home Neighborhood?

As we previously discussed not every city in America will allow you to keep a tiny home in suburban areas but there are locations around the USA that have created Tiny Home Neighborhoods.

These communities benefit people without a lot of money or the homeless. In other areas tiny homes can now be built for the elderly who want their own little community. For someone who is considering living in an area like this, there are some questions to ask first.

Source link: http://www.shareable.net/blog/11-tiny-house-villages-redefining-home

· Are there any conflicts going on, ask around because the neighbors will let you know. The last thing you want to do is move into a community where people are arguing all the time.

· What is your share of the bills such as rental space, electric, water and sewer?

· What are the local codes like and can you keep a pet like a dog or cat?

· What other restrictions do you need to be aware of?

· Can you have a small garden if you like growing food and flowers?

· Are the weather conditions harsh in that particular area?

Getting the facts first can save you a few headaches with disagreeable neighbors or being stuck in an area you don’t particularly like.

Cottages For The Elderly

Picture Source: https://smallhousebliss.com/2015/11/28/n2care-medcottage/

As we had previously touched on, tiny homes can become great secondary living quarters for an elderly parent. They don’t have to be large quarters because old backyard sheds can be converted into comfortable living spaces for mom or dad.

Med-Cottages have been specifically designed for an aging parent who cannot climb stairs or who just wants a little privacy. These homes are designed to be flat on the ground and are uniquely designed to help people with disabilities. The interior is designed and set up for medical equipment if need be.

The 288 square foot cottage comes with a bathroom, bedroom-living area and small kitchen. The house also has a monitoring system hooked up just in case mom or dad should fall. Depending on how active the person is, these neat little tiny homes can also come with a washer and dryer.

The idea here is convenience for the adult child taking care of an elderly parent, while giving the person who lives inside complete privacy if they need it. The Med-Cottage can easily house an elderly couple so there isn’t any real problem with room.

A MedCottage can also work for a disabled child who wants some independence from the rest of the family. Just because one of your children is disabled, doesn’t mean they don’t want their own freedom. A small space like the Medcottage would be ideal for someone who still needs family support but also wants their independence away from mom and dad watching over them all the time.

Source: https://smallhousebliss.com/2015/11/28/n2care-medcottage/

Another viable option is an old garage. You may not have considered the old garage in the backyard that could easily become a new home for an elderly parent-grandparent. An older structure like a garage 30 years old, could be eligible for conversion into a great living space for grandma.

If there are any older building codes that allow for the upgrade of an existing building in your area, why not take advantage of this great opportunity? Ask the local building department about existing structures tell them the age of the building and find out about laws that have a “grandfather clauses” in them.

“Grandfather Clause: a part of a law which says that the law does not apply to certain people and things because of conditions that existed before the law was passed.” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grandfather%20clause


Now that we have given you some information on weight, size, where to park your tiny house and even how a family can manage, let’s talk about design and style. We have looked over so many different tiny home construction plans and came up with a few concepts that we think can work for you.

It’s time for style talk…

Do you want those sleek modern contempory lines or a cute cottage feel? Are you going to going to have a loft or will your tiny home just be one level? Have you decided to incorporate a few of your own ideas and need someone to make a blue print on your behalf?

How about appliances? Are you going to buy all electric or propane? If you are planning on being off the grid propane is cheap enough. You can also alternate with electric power by adding a few solar panels to the roof of your tiny home.

There are so many different styles of tiny homes you can build yourself but you have to look at the one style that will work in load capacity, the type of vehicle you plan on using to haul your tiny home. You also need to consider the roads you will be travelling on. Will they be highways or camp sites where travelling down a small dirt road, can be bumpy, filled with pot holes or have sharp rocks all over the road.

For example: some secondary dirt tracks near mountains and scenic roads may not be in the best condition. Hauling a tiny home into these areas where a lot of rocks are on the road, can pop your tires or eventually damage the framework underneath the trailer. If you want to park in areas like this make sure your tires and tiny home can handle the journey first.

*Just a reminder: Before you build any structure like a tiny home, you really need to check with your Local County or city building codes first. It would such a shame if you build a home on a trailer only to be told you are not allowed to keep something like this on your property because you made be in a Covenant Community.

Most tiny homes do not have many building requirements but counties and cities do have code enforcement, so it’s just safer to find out what you can or cannot build first.

The Bohemian

The bohemian tiny house comes with an old world feel. Shingle siding and port windows give this house a whimsical feel. Modern windows with old world charm give this tiny home its character.

There are also retractable stairs included in this plan, which is great for someone who has an older dog.

The home has a bathtub, compost toilet and hatch, sleeping loft and extra storage. There is also a laundry area, kitchen and small fireplace.

If you have a pet this house is ideal for your travelling companion.

Picture source and download: http://www.thesmallhousecatalog.com/afewsmallwords/no-30-the-bohemian-tiny-house-on-wheels

The Tamarack

The best feature about this sleek design is the open floor plan. The design comes with a full kitchen, laundry area, stairs that lead up into the loft and bath-shower area.

There are French doors that lead out onto a small balcony along with an open fireplace for those cold days.

This tiny home design is 32 feet long and may need some modifications to the trailer first like an additional axel added to the trailer before building this home.

Picture source and download: http://www.thesmallhousecatalog.com/afewsmallwords/tamarack-tiny-house-on-wheels

Ana White’s Quartz Tiny Home

This plan does not include a bathroom but it would be fairly easy to add one into this style. Our suggestion would be to take out the ‘tilt out storage area’ from underneath the loft.

Ana also recommends the type of stove, refrigerator and sink she put together in the kitchen.

The total dimensional space of the quartz tiny home:

24 feet x 8 feet - 6 inches x 13 feet - 6 inches

Picture source and download: http://www.ana-white.com/2016/06/free_plans/quartz-tiny-house-free-tiny-house-plans

The Writers Cottage

Cute and comfortable is the only way to describe the Borealis Writers Cottage. This is a 12’ by 12’ cabin that has a compost toilet, kitchen and loft space.

If you want to add a shower facility you could easily move the compost toilet and water closet around to accommodate for a small shower cubicle.

The house also has room for a wood burning stove which in cold climates is such a great idea and the foundations on this tiny home are post and pier with 8 feet of height between the floor and loft.

Picture source and download: http://www.thesmallhousecatalog.com/afewsmallwords/borealis-cabin

Homesteader’s Cabin

This tiny house is one of the most popular styles because it is set on the ground. It could become an ideal home to have mother in law apartment, guest quarters or college student. A home like this one can also be installed into a community that allows for tiny home construction.

A little bit of information about the Homestead: its 12 feet wide x 24 feet high with a 12 - 12 loft and roof. The good thing about this plan is the loft can be extended which makes the upstairs space larger. Downstairs can have a kitchen, bathroom, laundry hook ups and common area.

Picture source and download: http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/homesteaders-cabin-v-2-updated-free-house-plan/

Shipping Containers?

Photo Source: http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/fifteen-amazing-shipping-container-homes/2/

As natural disasters become more prevalent around the world, people need affordable and strong homes. Most of us are already aware of the damage hurricanes and tornadoes can do to our property but steel is not that easy to destroy.

Steel shipping containers can be made into apartments for students and low income families.

“The CubeDepot Custom Projects team helped to improve the quality of life in a low income community by constructing an affordable student housing apartment complex out of retired ISO steel shipping containers. This container apartment complex was built for a fraction of the cost, labor, time, and materials of traditional construction. By striving to build with the resources that are so abundant around us, this project represents a transformation in waste management, resource conservation and community outreach.”

Source: http://www.cubedepot.com/resources/low-cost-container-apartment-complex-residential-applications/

Thousands of people are now purchasing shipping containers as viable ways to have a home and some homes in Florida are now being built from shipping containers because of their durability.

There are thousands of these containers rusting and sitting around on docks throughout America and other parts of the world and they come in different sizes. For the most part the average shipping container will usually be 9 feet 6 inches high, 8 feet across and up to 53 feet in length.

So how tough is the steel that goes into making a shipping container? Usually the top and sides of the steel containers are made from welded 14 gauge (.075”) corrugated steel, on a 7 gauge (.18”) tubular steel frame. The corners are made from milled cast steel which is welded onto the outside and inside corners.

The base or floor of a shipping container is usually created from marine based plywood and the paint on the container is usually a standard exterior paint. So if you are looking for strong, the shipping container home may be ideal for you.

Questions To Ask First

Because shipping containers are made from reinforced steel many people are not aware of welding or other things that need to be taken into consideration first before building this type of home.

Another consideration is rust. Obviously if you are planning on having a shipping container home, the first consideration would be finding something that is in fairly good condition. Some companies will repaint older containers which can be deceptive when looking for signs of wear and tear.

Because there has been a surge in popularity in containers they are becoming easier to find in local communities and cities. You can rent them for storage as well as being able to rent them. The art of making a deal could come into play here because it’s easier to purchase a couple of 40 foot long containers with as little as $500.00 down.

Also you need to know if the company who originally used the container still owns it. Yes folks there could be a possibility the original company who hauled the freight may still have ownership rights on your future home.

If you are planning on putting the containers together yourself, basic knowledge in welding will be required. If you are not sure then hire someone who can do the job properly for you.

The top three thing people should know about shipping containers before purchasing:

· Finding the right type of shipping container and where to purchase them

· Planning and permitting in your local city or county

· Finding the right people to help you put these containers together properly

· Can you get insurance for your home?

Architecturally shipping containers can be arranged in very unique ways and the style of shipping containers is very sleek and modern. The only really big problem you will need to watch for is condensation building up inside the home but you can fix this issue by using better insulation.

I wish I knew how to insulate the shipping container; we ended up soldering elements on the walls and then sprayed them with a foam anti-fire insulation. Also I wanted to know how to keep the sun off the roof; in the end we did this by double ventilating the roof. Finally how could we utilize passive solar energy for the container? We did this by placing large windows in the container facing south west. -Arnold

Source: http://www.containerhomeplans.org/2015/04/what-i-wish-id-known-before-building-my-shipping-container-home/

How Much Do These Homes Cost To Build?

Depending on how good you are at wrangling a deal on price, shipping containers can be purchased at a fair price. If you know of a local distributor then ask about their prices first.

Putting containers on trucks and lugging them across the country could easily bust the budget. Most local container companies will have already considered their shipping costs into the price of purchasing. You can also look over their containers and purchase the best options that are available.

How big are you planning on having your home?

Will you be stacking these containers side by side or placing them on top of each other? Most people who already own these styles of homes will tell you, it works out to be cheaper to stack the containers side by side instead of needing a crane to move them up to another level.

The average new home construction works out to be about $125.00 per square foot, so the cost for your shipping containers will need to be lower if you are planning on doing this by pinching pennies.

We wanted to share a story with you that we found about a Denver couple who built a huge home with shipping containers. This couple purchased 9 shipping containers, 40 foot long containers that cost the couple $2200.00 each. The home ended up being 4000 square feet with upstairs containers being made into another living area for mom.

The owners decided to use the containers as the outside framework of their home and placed a huge area in the center for hanging out in. The home is very contemporary looking, which seems to work well with shipping containers.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3523876/Denver-couple-spent-500-000-turn-dirt-lot-nine-shipping-containers-dream-home.html

While most of us are not looking at owning a 4000 square foot home, the idea is simple; shipping containers can be used as a viable system for building a beautiful contemporary styled home.

There are so many options you can use to build an amazing tiny home so we are about to introduce a couple of other unique styled homes, you may not have thought of before, so keep on reading.

Other Styles Of Tiny Homes

Now that you have the shipping container information we are going to discover the other options people have to build unique small homes. Other styles of tiny homes include designs like domes, yurts, earthships, earthbags and revamping old shotgun style homes.

Advice on building code restrictions concerning earth building

To be fair we should also mention, some of these homes you may not be able to build unless you live in a county where they fully allow for the recycling of garbage like tires or cans. Earthship walls are filled with tires, dirt, bottles and empty soda cans. Some counties are resistant to allowing this type of building because of the garbage content involved.

The biggest reason authorities make it hard to build earthships is because of landowners leaving garbage left strewn across the landscape. On top of that owners move on when their building fails and they do not clean up the mess.

There were counties like Costilla County in Colorado that allowed for earth type dwellings like Earthships but have since updated their county building codes, which did not include this type of building. The biggest complaint the county had was garbage left on properties or abandoned buildings when land owners could not complete the building project due to faulty planning.

Because of the garbage abandonment issue it forced this county to become stricter and last year it was a hot topic for people wanting to live off the grid in this county.

When people moved in from other states to build off their off the grid home, they were met with strong resistance from the community and code enforcement. Our advice, before you move into any county find out what is available to you through the planning and building codes first.

Which kind of home will suit your needs is something only you can know but we can give you a few unique prospective on other styles of homes people are happily living in.

About Earthships and Earthbag Homes

Twenty years ago Earthships were virtually unheard of. Michael Reynolds became known as the garbage warrior and he built homes that incorporated cans, bottles, tires and anything else he could get his hands on into the construction process.

The earthship community in Taos, New Mexico will tell you there is nothing better to live in. They spent time, money and energy into creating a home that recycles water and grows food in the living room.

Source: http://earthship.com/

These homes recycle waste water, draw solar power and use everything that can be used to help maintain a healthy environment for living.

While the idea is sound not everyone wants to build a home made from tires. Even though some people will tell you these homes are safe, the offgassing from tires is always a question others still believe is a problem with this style of home.

The solution is simple, go to earthbags and there will be no question about the earthy connection to the land. This style of home can be made from 1 bedroom to as many as you wish. The great thing about earthbags is the way YOU get to create it.

Most earthship homes have a standard look to them with the slanted front windows, while earthbag homes can be built in round shapes. Earthbag homes have the ability to be just about anything you want them to be and because they are made from bags filled with soil, sand and clay, there are no health side effects.

Earthbag homes also help to trap heat in the home throughout the cold winter days and keep you cool in the winter. One caveat in the building of homes in this style, you really need to help someone else build their home first, so you know how to do your own correctly.

“Earthbags filled with earth are excellent providers of thermal mass, which serves an equally important function in a well designed house. Thermal mass has the capability to store heat (or coolness), so a large interior placement of this mass will help stabilize indoor temperatures. But it needs to be insulated from the outdoor environment or it will lose this heat or coolness to the atmosphere”.

Source: http://www.earthbagbuilding.com/

Yurt Style Homes

Yurts have been around for a very long time in places like Russia, Mongolia, Turkestan and other northern European - Asian countries. The best example of yurt living would be the gers in Mongolia.

The Mongolian people live year round in Gers on open plains, where some of the in harshest conditions in the world still exist today.

“The word Yurt originally came from a Turkic word referring to the imprint left in the ground by a moved yurt, and by extension, sometimes a person’s homeland, kinsmen, or feudal appanage. The term came to be used in reference to the physical tent-like dwellings only in other languages.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yurt

Traditional yurts are constructed with a wooden lattice frame, then a large felt - woolen overlay is placed over the top of the frame. Usually a canvas is also extended over the top of the felt for more durability and weather resistance. A small door opening is also placed into the yurt which keeps warm air from escaping inside, to the frigid temperatures outside.

The yurt is then wrapped on the outside with heavy rope or leather strapping and sturdy poles are placed around the outside to prevent the wind from blowing the canvas away. Some yurts have wooden floors whereas others will build directly on the ground and cover the floor with a heavy canvas or skins. It just depends where in the world you live and how much money you are prepared to spend on sprucing up the yurt.

Some yurts can have traditional lavish furnishings so they can be comfortable to live in. The inside walls are usually covered in silks and other rich colorful fabrics for extra comfort. Normally a stove or firepit can be set up in the middle of the yurt for cooking and warmth. The good thing about yurts, you never know how cold it actually is outside until you have to leave because there are usually no windows in yurts unless you purchase a modern kit.

Some of the more common questions people ask about yurts:

· Do yurts heat up in summer? It’s a great question to ask because the temperature factor has lot to do with the way yurts are put together. Most modern yurts have insulated materials placed onto the roof first to help fight against rising summer temperatures. Some yurts also have removable caps in the center of the roof so hot air can escape. There are also designs of yurts that have windows in them for cooling and air flow.

· What about sizing? Yurts come in different sizes just like container homes do. Circular measurements for yurts can be anywhere from 16 feet to 30 feet round, with a wall height of 7 feet. You can also create interior private spaces like a bedroom in yurts. If you would like to see more interior styles inside a yurt take a look at the source below:

Source: http://www.rainier.com/yurts/yurt-info/yurt-floor-plans/

· What about building codes? Each county has their own list of restrictions on building. Yurts can be considered a temporary structure, therefore some research is needed to see if your county will allow you to build one. We know it seems like we are harping on about building codes but more often than not, people tend to overlook this factor. If your county won’t allow you to build a Yurt for fulltime living, then what other alternatives homes have you decided on?

· Can I own a yurt in the tropics? Some yurts have ceiling fans installed for those hot tropical days. Some resorts in the tropics have yurts build on platforms along the coastal areas so yes; you can build a yurt in the tropics. Building a Yurt on a raised platform will keep the air flowing underneath the house which also helps to cool things down a bit.

In modern times you can buy a yurt and put it together in a short space of time. You can find Yurt construction happening in the Rocky Mountains throughout regions of Colorado. The State Wildlife Department in Colorado actually has yurts they rent out for vacationers throughout the year, so these types are dwellings are becoming more popular with people.

Source: http://coloradoyurt.com/

Domes And Pre Fabricated Homes

Picture Source: http://www.greenmagichomes.com/technology.php

For people who are looking for a more green environmentally built home we have a couple of options to show you. If money is not a problem for you, we have a couple of suggestions that just might have you looking at this style of home over a tiny house.

About Monolithic Domes

Domes were once a fairly popular style of home to build throughout the 1960’s and 70’s, when people were trying their hand at building unusual and strange styled construction. The 1960’s was about the hippy era, when being different and unique was cool and adventurous.

A Framed homes and domes were all the rage in this time and for very good reasons. Living in a dome was not only like living on another planet, but it was also an ingenious way to stay warmer. The dome shape was also a good aerodynamically design which made the home strong and sturdy. The average sized monolithic dome was not a big home and usually averaged 2 bedrooms.

In many ways the round shape of a dome is similar to Yurts. The interior walls and style inside can easily be planned out in the same way. Rooms can be sectioned off as private areas such as a bathroom or bedroom.

“Because a Monolithic Dome is so well built and insulated, your home will be energy-efficient, disaster-proof, virtually maintenance free, durable and cost-efficient.”

Source: http://www.monolithic.org/homes

Most monolithic domes start their construction with a large EcoShell or Airform bag. The bag is very similar to blowing up a balloon and this is where the shape of the house of formed.

One of the latest in Monolithic domes is the Tiny Version Cabin. The cabin is transportable and weighs anywhere from 9 to 14 tons.

The dimensions of the different cabins range in size from 12 to 24 feet in circumference, with an approximate living area of 155 to 266 square feet. Most dome cabins are 10 feet high measuring from the bottom of the floor to the roof.

Source: http://www.monolithic.org/cabins

Green Energy Pre Fabricated Homes

The latest in snap together homes comes from Green Magic Homes. These are prefabricated panels made from heavy laminate materials which were specially designed to protect from UV radiation. This style of home can be built on flat ground or slopes and can also be used as a base for earthbag building.

“Green Magic Homes components are fast and easy to assemble. Each component has perforated flaps which screw and seal together. The entire structure is then anchored to the foundation with galvanized steel screws. Components with composite ducts and channels for electrical wiring and water pipes, as well as mechanical ventilation ducts, can be added to the shell at any point necessary.”

Source: http://www.greenmagichomes.com/technology.php

The green magic houses are also built with a prefabricated polymer fiber which is strong and lightweight. This house is also mold resistant, waterproof and will not rot like wood. No wood also means no carpet ants or termites. The best part about purchasing domes like this; they are easy to put together and provide an already perfect base as a mold base for other earth built homes and garages.

In some ways The Green Magic Homes remind us of Hobbit Holes because they are completely covered by earth. The thermal heat factor makes this style of home, extremely useful for someone who wants to build an earthbag constructed house.

By using the green magic shell first, it will make the earthbag construction easier for flattening and shaping of the bag. Earthbags need to be tapped down into position and can easily split during this process if they are not shaped correctly. By simply using the Green Magic framework, this will prevent excess tearing of the earthbag.

Depending on how big you want your home to be, 2 panels can be enough room for 1 or 2 people.

Does this type of house style make the green magic homes a good idea? We think so.


Throughout this book we have encouraged the reader to do as much research as possible before purchasing or building a tiny home. There are so many advantages to downsizing into tiny home living but unless you are ready for this type of commitment, it will take some thinking and planning to accomplish your goals.

Whether you are a single person or a small family living in a tiny home, people can do this successfully. The idea of paying less for a place to call home is very appealing for millions of people, who are financially struggling in the current economy.

One size does not fit all and tiny homes are for people who want to leave much of the rat race behind because their desire is to live more simply. Not everyone can go from large to small but there seems to be an understanding with people who live in Tiny Homes; it’s about living your best life without all the strings and burdens attached. A minimalistic way of living life seems to suit tiny home owners perfectly.

As we have been able to show you, tiny homes come in all shapes and sizes to suit all needs and desires. Whatever your future direction is, we know some of the suggestions in this book will help you find the perfect place for you to call home…

Best wishes!

Lisa Daniels