If you’re considering one, interested in one, the glamour channels showing off the fanciest tiny houses won’t tell you diddle about actually living in one. So here are a few things I’ve found living tiny.
If you’ve planned your house right, good walking space, lots of glass doors and windows, you won’t fell cramped at all during the summer. Get some outdoor furniture or a deck, open up those French doors, and it will feel like living more connected with nature. It’s nice.
On the rainy days – you will feel a bit of cabin fever. I have a few solutions to this, electronic candles to make it feel more cosy at night, bright lighting for dark days and a great entertainment system I can get lost in. You’ll go out more, and those windows still help.
It does help if you have some ‘separate’ spaces, so that it feels like you’re doing different activities, be it sleeping, bathroom or whatever. Mine is mostly open plan, but my slightly bigger bathroom with bath feels like a whole different space. Of course, with walls you lose a sense of space too, so it’s a balance.
You will need something like a shed, or just an outdoor storage box, because some things you just can’t store inside, and storage is a premium.
Speaking of storage being a premium, I got rid of stuff about 4 times before moving in and planned the heck out of my storage in the design. But even now, there are things I probably don’t need. It’s a business pairing back, but you definitely need way less stuff than you think you do.
You can’t be untidy in a tiny house. You’ll hear people saying cleaning takes less time, and it really does. But you’ll be doing it all the time.
A bit of clutter in a small house, whether it’s kitchen, floor, storage – it gets right in the way. Plus, like a caravan, you’ll track in all sorts from the likely field you are living in.
Get yourself a stick vacuum cleaner, and get used to getting a day off at most, if you get rectangled, hung-over, busy or lose sleep.
Also, that composting toilet is kind of like soil. That’ll need a regular tidy too.
No one talks about these. Well, not really. It’s an adjustment, there’s a method to using them. It’s not hard to figure out. But here’s the thing I learnt.
You have two ingredients to the mixture you use. They are both expensive if you buy them from a composting loo specialist. One of them, coconut coir, is used for moisture absorption. Oh, this is so important, because that’s what absorbs the odour. Find yourself a good garden supplier of bulk compressed coir bricks. Make a 50/50 mix. Use plenty.
Now everyone says a composting loo does not smell. That’s sort of true, but if you use a plain bucket style, it will, faintly, mainly immediately after use. It mostly smells just of composting mix, and it’s WAY less than regular flush loo because the odour is actually all about air and moisture, and generally you won’t notice it. Just use plenty of medium.
You also need untreated wood shavings because coir doesn’t let enough air in to compost well. Lumber places will sell this, again, pretty cheaply, in compressed bales.
Two last points – you’ll fill those buckets quicker than those units that use fans. Get a large composting bin, not a small one. And you’ll need to add stuff like grass, weeds, and food scrapes to really get it going.
Honestly it's a pretty pleasent experience, and not at all yucky. But it is an adjustment.
The ground moves like a caravan. In high wind, the whole house wobbles slightly. Tiny houses are built light, and so they move.
You really do get used to it. But if you want a little more stability, get some extra stabilizers. And if you live in a high zone area, get some tie downs built into the side of your tiny.
It doesn’t take shit to heat a well-insulated tiny space. With some double glazing, blinds, even with direct air leaks, it’s very quick to heat. Don’t go overboard. Forget about a fire. They look nice, but a small propane or diesel heater can too, without throwing out as much heat. A regular thermostat electric heater is fine too – infrared especially efficient.
On the flip side, it doesn’t take much to get food odours or moisture from the bathroom, or other smells floating through the house. Not only do you need strong fan ventilation for both, but you’ll need to crack the windows on the regular or use HRV systems, or at least run one of those fans to get the air moving.
It costs about the same as regular living to be honest. Rent itself is way cheaper, but all the other expenses are similar. You pay less for LPG, less for power, more for internet, more for insurance. Rent is definitely cheaper, so you do save.
It’s not that easy to level out a tiny house. So you need land that is not too sloped. More leased land comes with power, than with mains water – a number of them have rainwater collection or animal water. So a water filter is probably more useful initially than solar. If you’re stuck finding some, try local Facebook groups.
High draw appliances like heaters and multi-cookers can't run on 10 amp house plugs. You need a 16 amp caravan plug to run those - it needs to be wired. Something to keep in mind.
It’s a great experience. It’s fantastic to own your own wee space; it’s much cheaper than other housing. They can be custom made; tailored for you. You can easily afford premium elements like wood, or nice fixtures. It gives you freedom to move, puts you closer to nature. It’s great; there are just a few adjustments no one mentions.