How to Build a Tiny House – A Step by Step Checklist
In the rapidly changing world, the economic and environmental changes continuously motivate us to assess and reassess the lifestyle we adopt.
Now, imagine owning a house where you save a substantial amount of money on tax, mortgage, and utility bills. In these modern days, people dream to live a rent-free and debt-free life. Count it as an added benefit, if the house is well-equipped with electricity and water supply.
This has been made possible by the Tiny House Movement, which is sweeping the world with the minimalistic lifestyle it has to offer. Living in a Tiny House offers a simple yet beautiful way of life.
Life within a Tiny House reduces the environmental footprint exponentially by reducing the number of resources consumed by us. Adapting this simplistic lifestyle gives us hope for a more sustainable future. Moreover, you get to live an environment-friendly life while attaining financial freedom.
But while the manner of living is alluring and promising, adapting the same can be a little difficult without proper guidelines. To help with building your own Tiny House, we have compiled how to build a tiny house step by step.
Let’s dive in!
The first and foremost thing you need to do is to pick out a location for your Tiny House. It is important to select a safe, practical, and affordable land area for your dream project. There are certain factors you need to consider before finalizing the plot.
For instance, if you decide to build it on the outskirts, consider the distance from your home to the nearest town, as you will need to rely on the town to acquire supplies, services, and other assistance in times of need.
It can be challenging to find the right-sized plot for your Tiny House.
In such cases, you can always opt to build it on someone else’s space, perhaps an empty section of a warehouse, farms, or ranches. Set up a rent agreement to use a part of the land or you can even trade work for it.
Tip: You can also set up a tiny house on wheels. This will give you the freedom to travel with your home.
2. Zoning Laws
Once you have shortlisted specific locations, check out the zoning laws and building codes that apply to these areas. Zoning laws dictate the specifications of the construction, its installation criteria, and its functioning, whereas building codes monitor the safety standards.
While building, your home must adhere to these codes as a building inspector will personally visit and verify the various connections that you have set up within the construction. In certain scenarios, if the house is on wheels, you might need to store it in a trailer park or campground.
You need to communicate with the local municipal building code enforcement office to get a clear picture of what is achievable and what is prohibited while building the Tiny House. Get the different permits required before the construction starts, as failure to do so could result in the shelving of your project.
3. Plan the Budget
Planning your finances before you plan your dream home is vital. You need to consider how much are you willing to spend on the house versus how much you must spend on the house. Analyze the entire list of expenditures, from buying land to build the home and even insulations and decorations.
If you do not have sufficient money, you can borrow from a loved one. You should also check out other finance options such as opting for an RV loan or a personal loan. However, be sure to study the payment term of the loan as certain banks do not offer long-term loan plans, leaving you with a higher repayment amount per month.
If you plan on hiring a workforce for the building purpose, remember to browse through different construction companies to find the most economic partner. Remember, if you are new to construction, it is better to invest in professionals than creating something inhabitable on your own.
4. Design the House
Now comes the part where you let your imagination run wild. Explore different plans and designs to get an idea while creating your minimalistic lifestyle.
Visualize the structure for the home and sketch out the layout for your Tiny House. You could always use designing software to turn your plan into a measured drawing.
There are certain things you need to remember during the designing phase, such as avoid narrow window and door frames, and complicated designs. Plan out the placement of furniture and equipment, as well as map out the electrical and plumbing designs to avoid any regrets and expenses in the future.
Moreover, remember to keep the clutter below the waist level, this offers you a better sense of space and keeps your arms from hitting things constantly. You may consider designing high ceilings where you can install windows that would allow more natural light within the living space. Also look for more tiny house storage ideas for better storage in a small space.
Tip: Install sliding walls. This will give you the freedom to convert your one big bedroom into two small ones when required.
5. Execution: Floor, Walls, and Roof
The next step is to turn your design into reality. The first thing you need to do is start with the flooring. Build a stable and secure flooring for your structure. Using standard lumber as a foundation is a good choice. You must reinforce the joints and finally sheath it with plywood to ensure the durability.
Next, move up to give shape to the Tiny house. Frame the walls using metal bracing, which will give the structure the sturdiness it requires. Once the framing is done, wrap it up with either plywood or OSB. You can also consider Wood paneling for walls which gives a great feel to your tiny house.
Moving on to set up the roof, As the roof is one of the most complicated structures, consider building a simple design. Repeat the framing and sheathing process with the roof. However, consider insulating the roof to fight against tough weather conditions.
6. Wrapping Up and Installing Fixtures
Once your structure is ready, wrap it up! House wrap is essential as it keeps the interior of the house dry while protecting it against excessive moisture. As it is made of up a breathable material, it helps avoid the deterioration of the house.
After it is done, set up the windows and doors. Installing windows and doors can be a tricky work if the measurements are off. Therefore, they must be perfectly leveled and squared off. Avoid using complicated geometrical designs for windows, as they not only make it difficult to set up but also can waste a perfectly good amount of area.
Then, you need to use a sufficient amount of sealing tape to round off the edges of the windows and doors. It is advisable to opt for a professional’s help as any crack around the edges could allow the rains to sweep in.
Tip: You should install plenty of windows as that gives your home a bright and open look.
7. Plumbing and Electricity
Remember the plumbing and electricity plans you made while designing the house? It is time to execute them. You have your structure ready, and now you need to work extremely carefully to set the plumbing drains and pipes as well as electricity lines. Any error at this point can be disastrous for the entire project.
For plumbing, you can either use plastic or classic copper plumbing. Although cheaper, the latter could be tricky to install. If you find yourself fumbling with the process, enlist the assistance of a professional. With this, you can also throw in a water heating system. For small and beautiful kitchen, here are some great small kitchen ideas.
For electric lines, you can lease in a generator, in case you have opted for a house of wheels, or you can set up electricity the regular way. If you are looking for an environmental-friendly option, you can set up solar panels to generate power.
Tip: It is advisable to get help from an expert to avoid fire hazards and electrocution.
Now before you go painting and decorating the home, you still have an essential thing left to do. Insulate the interior of your home. Now the insulation option you prefer depends on factors like the mobility of your house, your budget, and how natural the product is.
You have standard batt insulating options such as cotton insulation, fiberglass insulation, rock wool insulation, etc. Then there are rigid foam insulation options, spray foam insulation, cork rigid panels, and many others.
The most optimum option, however, is to use low-VOC material (volatile organic compound) since it is a healthier alternative due to the cleaner and more pure air quality it has to offer.
Remember to cover even the tiniest spot for the best results. You may also use multiple insulation options to achieve optimum protection against the harsh weather. For instance, use spray foam to cover the sharp edges and uneven air leaks.
9. Seal up
The final step is where you have to cover up the entire structure. Seal up the outer portion of the with exterior quality plywood which offers to clad to the exterior. You may select to use a fibrous concrete board, which offers not only cladding but also an additional layer of sheathing to the structure.
Next, coverup the interior with a material of your preference; it could be wood or drywall. Opting for drywall is cheaper, plus it offers additional protection against fire hazards.
Apply any finishing touches required. Caulk any gaps or cracks that went unnoticed. Trim off any excess edges and structures that are unnecessary. And finally, paint the exterior and interior of the house to give it an aesthetic look you always dreamed of. To make the interior look more spacious, use light-colored paint.
Note: After completing the cladding, trimming, painting, and caulking of the house, install the electric outlets, faucets in the kitchen and bathroom, and any other fixtures such as lamps, curtain rods, ceiling fans, etc.
10. Decorate it
Your Tiny house is finally ready, all you need to do is decorate it to your heart’s desire and turn it into the palace you always dreamed of. You can add readymade furniture, cabinets, etc. or channelize your inner designer and build them yourself. Or you can visit online furniture websites for getting latest trend in your tiny house. Here are some of the best online furniture stores to decorate your tiny house.
Use every nook and cranny for multiple uses. For example, design a kitchen table that can be folded into a wall to offer extra floor space. Use convertible sofas that can be turned into a bed. Or storage cabinets, that can be pulled out to turn onto chairs.
Understand the importance of downsizing. Get rid of any unnecessary object that could cluster the space, turning the house into a nightmare. In case you have built two storied tiny houses, then feel free to use space under the stairs, or you can add drawers instead that extends out to be the stairs.
Tip: Hang full-size mirrors that will not only let you admire yourself but also enhance the visual size of your home.
Designing and shifting into a tiny house is living a new life entirely. You change the way you used the space, you save a hefty amount on rent and mortgages, and finally, you get an opportunity to give back to nature by adopting a minimalistic and self-sufficient life.
It can be scary to change the way of life so drastically. This checklist acts as a roadmap towards your new lifestyle. However, there are many different ways you can build your tiny house. Get creative! You can check out and apply ideas used by others or twerk them to meet your specific needs.
If you find yourself stuck somewhere, you can always find a solution from others already living this life. Finally, you may hit roadblocks during the project. But remember to focus on your goals, plan back up options, and act accordingly to live the mini life.