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Building a tiny house is a big undertaking, so it is important to plan well. Research-based construction plans are essential to successfully build a tiny house.
There are also a few tools and materials that you will need to purchase to start building your first tiny house. Some of these tools, you may already have on hand or borrow from friends and family, particularly if they are construction savvy or ‘build-your-own-patio’ type of folks!
The materials you need will vary, depending on the layout and architectural design of your tiny house. For example, most people use wood to build the interior. However, if you are looking for a more cost-effective option, you can use drywall instead of wood. Drywall is cheaper and offers added fire protection.
The materials which you choose for the exterior as well as the interior of your new house will also depend on the climate and weather for your region. You will need to consider if your region, i.e. where you intend to live in your tiny house, tends to have extremes in weather.
For e.g. here in Canada, we find extremes of weather in most of the region, particularly in the northern provinces. In winter it can easily get to -35 and in summers it can rise to +35! So, keep these weather extremes in mind when choosing not only the design of your tiny house, but also the building materials.
When it comes to external decoration, keep your design simple. While some tiny houses look like works of art, it is more important to focus on function over appearance.
Another factor to consider is the weight of the building. If you are planning to transport your tiny house, you will need a trailer that can carry the weight.
Choosing the right type of trailer is important. You will also need to have a good idea of the weigh of the tiny house after build, so you can determine if the trailer you have access to, will be able to bear the weight of your tiny house and allow you to safely deliver it to its final location.
In addition to the above, you will also need to consider building codes and how much space you will need. When considering these factors, it is best to consult a professional architect and/or tiny house designer.
Lastly, you will need to research the legal aspects of building a tiny house. Different local jurisdictions have different laws and building codes. Some that will allow people to have a tiny home on their property and others that will not allow a tiny home to even be parked in the backyard.
Legal Aspects of Building and Living in a Tiny House
Before you build your tiny house, it is crucial to get permission from local authorities. The first step is to ask your local planning committee for permission. You will need to meet certain criteria, including zoning laws and following local building codes.
Many counties will only permit tiny houses as an ADU on larger primary residential property, and some cities will not allow them at all.
While there are no state laws governing tiny houses, the laws in many established communities are more flexible and lenient when compared to those for traditional homes. However, some jurisdictions may require a building permit for sheds larger than 200 square feet. And some local governments may prohibit kitchens in ADUs.
In established communities, many a times, tiny houses are allowed as accessory dwelling units. For example, some towns have a minimum square footage requirement for buildings in residential zones, while others only allow those that are 100-300 square feet. They may also have protocols that require a minimum number of windows or meet fire code requirements. There could also be stipulations that state that the tiny house should have stairs leading to loft areas.
In addition, tiny houses must meet zoning regulations in the municipality where they are built.
In many communities, Homeowners' Associations (HOAs) do not allow tiny homes. These jurisdictions generally don't allow tiny houses unless the empty lot has been voluntarily annexed into the HOA. Even if your tiny house is small enough to meet these requirements, it can still be difficult to get permission from local officials.
Tiny houses are still a new phenomenon, and in many communities the local jurisdictions have still not caught on to this environmentally friendly and sustainable trend. Though, many municipalities are slowly responding to the growing need and laying down proper rules, protocols, and bylaws for building a tiny house in their region. Some cities and towns are also re-zoning their lots to allow tiny homes.
Many a times property owners tend to forget or are even hesitant to contact the local jurisdiction. But is a very good idea to check out the rules before building.
Some neighborhoods prohibit building, while others allow it. Remember that if your neighbors complain, you could end up having to demolish your tiny house and pay a fine.
So, before you decide you build your new house, be sure to clearly understand the local rules, regulations and by-laws concerning the building and living in a tiny house.
Then next ensure you have a good design that will meet your living space needs and last but not the least consider the various costs that you will incur in the process of building your tiny house. Not just in terms of tools and building materials but also labor cost, transportation fees, municipal levies, home association payments and so on.