Tiny houses are popular, not only in the USA, but in Europe as well. The low cost of building or buying a tiny house is what makes it attractive to most people in the middle and low class. This type of dwelling can be as comfortable as a traditional brick-and-mortar house, depending on how it is designed, manufactured, furnished and finished. There are professionally built small houses with standard and high-end specifications. Living in such a home will make you feel like you are in a 4 star hotel room or lodge. With that said, there certain considerations that you have to take into account when choosing a tiny house
It’s easy to be hooked by a good looking interior and exterior, but before you close the deal with the property agent or contractor, you have to see that the property meets your requirements. The following are some of the things that you have to look at:
No of Storeys
Like a standard home, a tiny house may be single level or multi-level. It’s very hard to find tiny dwellings with more than two levels or floors. If you are purchasing a home, you will most likely see those with one or two levels.
Single Level Tiny House – This is a good choice for people who don’t like climbing stairs or ladders to reach the upper level. In a house with small kids and the elderly, stairs are much better than ladders for safety’s sake, but a single level home where all rooms are on the ground floor is the best. In this house, the kitchen, living room, bath/shower and bedrooms are on the ground floor, so you don’t need to climb stairs.
Two Level Tiny House – In a tiny home with two levels, the upper level which is usually a loft is reserved for sleeping, so it’s often used as a bedroom. You have to climb the steps to go to bed. The lower level will have spaces for the kitchen, lounge and bath/shower. If there are more than two bedrooms, the second bedroom will be on the lower level.
The disadvantages of a two-level house is that the upper bedroom doesn’t have enough standing room for an adult, so you have stay low all the time, which means you will either be sitting, lying down or crouching if you need to stand up.
The second disadvantage is that some of these tiny houses have a ladder instead of a staircase or steps to climb up to the upper floor. A ladder is not a safe tool or structure for accessing heights, especially in a day situation like home living.
The third disadvantage that you will observe in some of these two-level dwellings, is that the loft (upper floor) doesn’t have guard rails or safety balustrades to prevent somebody from falling accidentally.
Permanent or Mobile Tiny House?
There are basically two types of tiny houses – mobile homes and permanent homes. Permanent homes are built on site where you will have a fixed address, much like a brick-and-mortar house. However, just because it’s a permanent home doesn’t mean that it can’t be moved or relocated. Most prefab houses in the USA are semi-permanent. They have a base which can be anchored to a concrete bed or foundation. When you are moving, you simply detach the anchors from the dwelling unit. This is so for residential containers, which can be hoisted by a crane onto a haulage truck, and other modular houses which can be disassembled and the parts transported to another site.
Mobile homes also known as trailer homes, caravans or tiny house on wheels are convenient for people who like moving from one place to another. They have wheels, which allow the entire dwelling to be connected and pulled by a vehicle. These units can be furnished and equipped to the same standards as permanent homes.
A tiny house is a cost alternative to traditional homes which require huge savings and loans to build or buy. Most people cannot afford to buy a standard home without taking a mortgage loan. This loan has to be repaid over several years, usually 5 to 20 years, depending on your income, amount borrowed and installment plan.
In the USA, a standard home starts from $300,000 which is equivalent to 4 million South African rands. Building or buying a tiny house will save you up to 95% the cost of a traditional home. Tiny houses can be acquired for as little as less than $20,000 and the most expensive house that you can get is $150,000.
Basic House (under $20,000) – This will be a complete shell or housing envelope with minimal or no furniture/ fittings. You may be required to apply wall, floor and ceiling finishes and other installations at your own cost.
Standard House (over $25,000) – This comes with standard fittings and built-in furniture.
Super Standard House (over $30,000) – This comes with standard fittings and built-in furniture, including shower / bath etc.
Luxury House (over $60,000) – If you are looking for lifestyle homes with high-end installations – fittings, built-in furniture and materials, including shower/bath, air conditioning, mechanical engineering etc.
The cost is related to the type of specifications prescribed by the architect and/or engineers. What kind of materials are used, will there be built-in cabinets, what kind of finishes will be used for floors, ceilings and walls? Will there be HVAC, fire protection systems, special kitchen, lighting, cooking and drainage systems? What kind of doors, windows and roof will you have?
To reduce cost, prefab homes are recommended. A prefab house is built from modular units which are manufactured at the factory. It’s very quick and easy to assemble these units on site, reducing both the contract duration and cost by a large margin. A tiny prefab house can be set up and completed within a day’s work. A traditional brick-and-mortar house will take weeks or months to complete.
Type of Structure
Most types of small/free-standing dwellings that you have come across – chalets, cabins, containers, tree house, igloo, trailer home, huts, studios etc fall under the general term “tiny house”. They might look different in shape and structure, but hey the common objective for building these structures is providing affordable accommodation for people who can’t afford the exorbitant cost of renting or buying a standard house.