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Looked Closely at a Tiny House


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Just saw our first Tiny Houses today at a Tiny House Expo in Asheville, NC. Gotta say, we were mighty impressed. Having a chance to visit with the designers and builders is a lot better than watching on HGTV. Just like RVs, the quality of the builds run the gamut.


One we saw was 24 feet long, 102" wide. The frame was purpose designed with solid tubing all around. I'm not a welder so don't recall the exact sizes but the frame was beefy and solid. The unit was rock solid sitting the a parking lot. No motion transmitted at all as people moved about. The underbelly was all steel. The builder said he did not want a piece of road debris coming through. He is sizing axles about 4k over expected GVW. I don't know of any way to determine GVW, but I don't know how RV manufacturers come up with the numbers they throw around either.


The builder was a home builder for 35 years. All construction is well above home code. Plumbing is PEX, like most RVs now. PVC is schedule 40. Electric is house code or better. All construction is screws and glue. 2x4 framing. Hurricane strapping everywhere. Windows all double pane. Building is completely Tyvex wrapped. Subfloor is 3/4 ply, no OSB. Floor covering is 3/4 wide plank pine. Mini-Split A/C is popular. These rigs are HEAVY. Builder does not lie - says you need at least a 350/3500 to tow.


Overall extremely impressive. The only drawback I see is the size. With thick walls the interior was too narrow for my taste. Two people would be pretty cramped. A single occupant could be pretty comfortable. I would not like having to get into a loft type bed. If I were about 40 years younger, no problem.


Prices - over the top: 65k to 80k. Builders said they cannot keep up with demand. I do think this is a fad and in a few years you will be able to pick them up for a song. Also, I am sure cities will start changing laws so they cannot be parked in everyone's backyard.


After looking closely and talking to builders, these look comparable to high end trailers, Better than most, including my Montana. Would I buy one? Good question. The way we travel with just a few moves each year and multi month stays at FHU spots, perhaps. If they were 10 feet wide and longer with no loft they would be a huge contender.

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Most RV parks don't accept them. A lot of them have composting toilets, otherwise just regular plumbing - no holding tanks. I really can't see why someone would want one when a Park Model is cheaper if you are going to stay in one place, with no climbing to loft, or a regular RV if you are going to travel.

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Tiny houses are a fad of the times and strike me as nothing more than oversized lawn sheds. Anyone that would spend that much money for something like this seems to have more money than common sense. :rolleyes:

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Lately I've been looking at Municode in several southeastern states (county mostly) and what's striking is that very often the required minimum space is far larger than tiny houses so there's no place to put them other than in RV parks.

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Wonder what the interior looks like after an 8 hr drive at 50 mph in a driving rain? Wonder if those roof shingles or siding can even stand up to continual buffeting even without the rain?

 

I'll stick with the RV industry - they learned their lessons!

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I really can't see why someone would want one when a Park Model is cheaper if you are going to stay in one place, with no climbing to loft, or a regular RV if you are going to travel.

Those have always been my thoughts when I've watched Tiny House Nation (and others) when they're building a tiny house for someone who wants to travel. For the price they pay, they could get a nice RV without the problems and limitations of a tiny house.

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Most tiny houses are built to be permanently parked--like this one http://tinyhousegiantjourney.com/2016/03/28/vancouver-tiny-house/. Communities are developing around the need for places to park them such as an RV park near Orlando that is slowly being converted to a tiny house community: http://thisisthelittlelife.com/2015/12/09/visiting-orlando-lakefront-rv-tiny-house-park/. But some are built to travel. The best place, I think, to read about the latter is http://tinyhousegiantjourney.com/2014/05/21/tiny-house-giant-journey/. They built theirs to RV standards and are traveling a lot staying mostly in RV parks: http://tinyhousegiantjourney.com/tiny-house-camping/

 

I still prefer an RV but I learned some tips and techniques by reading about these tiny houses. And I understand why this more affordable housing with their custom designs appeals to many people.

 

Linda Sand

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I don't understand them either. It seems like an answer to a question no one (with any sense) has asked.

 

If you're going to move it around, get a regular RV. Lots of places to stay, and it's built for that.

 

If you're not going to move it around, get a traditional mobile home. $20k will buy a LOT of used mobile home. Don't want all the space? Get a single-wide. Want something special? They'll build it any way you want.

 

But I'll acknowledge there may well be something I'm missing.

 

Still, what I suspect, is that this is a "class" issue. Both RVs and especially mobile homes are associated with the lower social classes by many. Whereas the Tiny House movement seems to me to be mostly people from middle to upper-middle class backgrounds. Which doesn't necessarily imply they have a lot of money, but I bet a lot of them have fairly typical class issues. I'm not slamming them - concern over status is something that is hard-wired into us.

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Still, what I suspect, is that this is a "class" issue. Both RVs and especially mobile homes are associated with the lower social classes by many. Whereas the Tiny House movement seems to me to be mostly people from middle to upper-middle class backgrounds. Which doesn't necessarily imply they have a lot of money, but I bet a lot of them have fairly typical class issues. I'm not slamming them - concern over status is something that is hard-wired into us.

What I am seeing is mostly young people who would love to buy a house but cannot afford to do so. They see the tiny houses as affordable S&B. Yes, they build them on trailers but that appears to be mostly because they don't see working one job for the next 40 years so they want something they can move to where the jobs are. The main problem I see is that they can't find a place where they are allowed to park them once they get them built--neighbors complain then they get evicted. Esthetically most of them want houses designed to fit their personalities. And they don't want things like property taxes.

 

Linda Sand

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I think most young couples would be better off to buy a home in the same price range that is very livable and then as their budget allows fix it up to be exactly what they want. Or - for much much less they can buy a Katrina cottage down south. Most are a pastel color - shingle roof with a porch and have seen what I would consider a single size that's maybe 12x12 or a 12x24 for more people. They are actually in high demand for use a rental cottages at the coast. There are many still in use as homes on private property. This is not the famous fema trailers, but actual stick built type homes. Just portable if need be like a mobile home.

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I don't understand their thinking either. The young women think they're "precious." By the time they try to store just their shoes the poor spouse will be pitchin' a tent. Then when the babies start comin' along (and they always do), they'll wish they had saved that money for a real S&B. Live and learn...die and forget it all. It's their money.

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I think most young couples would be better off to buy a home in the same price range that is very livable and then as their budget allows fix it up to be exactly what they want.

The problem is the lack of livable housing in their price range. A lot of tiny home builders work and therefore want to live in Portland, OR, or Vancouver, WA. Empty land there goes for $70K and finding housing for less than that is nearly impossible. Ross Chapin Architects are known for building small house communities. Here's link to the only one of their existing homes currently for sale: http://www.cottagecompany.com/for-sale/listing-detail.aspx?lid=33. Did you read far enough down to learn this 1000 sq foot house in Redmond, OR, is priced at $593,000? Of course that's much larger than the tiny homes being built on a trailer but these are the tiniest S&B homes being built commercially. Is it really any wonder that these people want to build their own?

 

Linda Sand

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I know three couples and a bachelor that have tiny houses.

The one couple tries to reduce their footprint. Everything used in the house was either recycled or repurposed. They spend almost nothing to heat or cool.

Another couple bought four acres and are living in the house so they can eventually build a 1500 or 2000 sq. foot house without going too far in debt.

The bachelor has no plans of marrying and travels the world every chance he gets.

The one couple has theirs because he works in jobs like construction or oilfield. None of the jobs he has had so far has lasted more than ten years and they are always in the northern United States. Costs less to heat the tiny house then an RV and he can move wherever he finds a job.

I guess to each their own.

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Most of the time when I'm watching the Tiny House HGTV show I find myself talking to the TV and mumbling "why don't they just buy an RV?" On the other hand I have been living in my MH, which is really a tiny home as well, for almost 7 years and consider it way better than most of the tiny homes I see on TV. I do enjoy watching the show and find the tiny home builders creative in how they solve living and storage issues.

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So the original intent of tiny houses was to use all repurposed building materials. It was to be as lean and green as possible.All about a small carbon footprint. The problem is, it caught on as a "cute" and "fashionable" thing to do. If you stick with the original intent, they are a very practical and great way to live. Many are now in tiny house "communes" where resources are shared and sustainable living is the way. I think the people who live by it's original intent are to be commended and admired. I think the ones that build glamorous tiny houses with all new materials are just posers.

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I just like how creative they are with building furniture and things.

c u on the road

My favorite used antique trunks, crates, dressers, etc. stacked up in such a way as to become a stairway to the sleeping loft. At first I didn't even realize it was a stairway; it just looked like innovative storage. Now it has become common to build storage into the side of a stairway but they aren't nearly as attractive.

 

Linda Sand

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think most young couples would be better off to buy a home in the same price range that is very livable and then as their budget allows fix it up to be exactly what they want. Or - for much much less they can buy a Katrina cottage down south. Most are a pastel color - shingle roof with a porch and have seen what I would consider a single size that's maybe 12x12 or a 12x24 for more people. They are actually in high demand for use a rental cottages at the coast. There are many still in use as homes on private property. This is not the famous fema trailers, but actual stick built type homes. Just portable if need be like a mobile home.

Isn't that where the Tiny House movement started

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The tiny houses, for the most part, are much better insulated than RVs. So there are more places you can live year round with them. Even Canada and Alaska. They also do not have to cost that much. Many are building their own. It is great for those who want to lower there cost of living, live debt free, live green, etc. I think it is great. More eco-friendly lifestyle and leaving a smaller footprint. Humans as a rule always try to mess up a good thing by overcharging, getting on the new "thing",etc.!

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Having built several houses, I find the construction very poor..especially at their cost. I even wonder of they are engineered because I have seen blown axles and tires.. they are certainly not built to any sort of code.. some of what they do isn't even safe... and movement is not their friend.

 

Without holding tanks.. that is just nasty to think about when they are parked on someone's property.. and I really wonder about resale.

 

I too think why don't they just buy a good rv...

 

Now if they were building a tiny house on land..then that is another story...

 

I will be curious how long this trend runs..

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