Some Americans are rethinking how much money and resources they dedicate to housing. Tiny homes are becoming an increasingly appealing option to simplify life, reduce expenses, conserve energy, and reduce waste. It’s a growing trend. In Seattle, the City Council recently passed new zoning rules that allow tiny homes to be placed in the backyards of existing homes.
Using one of the numerous tiny home kits available, you can assemble a new house in only a few days using basic building skills. These prefabricated houses range from 70 to 400 square feet and include step-by-step instructions for the construction process.
Advantages of Tiny Home Kits
The kit approach offers many benefits while allowing you to choose from a variety of models, layouts, and materials. Because the manufacturer does much of the work, the construction process is simplified — if the kit is a high-quality product. Unfortunately, kits vary widely by manufacturer, so it is crucial to conduct thorough research to make a wise purchase. Follow these tips to find your miniature prefab dream home.
1. Know What Your Tiny Home Kit Includes
Some kits include wiring, plumbing, and fixtures, while others provide just a building shell. Read the description carefully to make sure you know what is and is not included. Be sure that it’s what you envision or you’ll be headed for disappointment with finished home. Some promotional photos may show products that aren’t provided in the kit and are premium features for an additional cost. Be sure to get a complete inventory of the materials before buying.
But the good news is that kits may contain everything you want, including solar panels.
Also, keep in mind that you may need to complete site work, hire building professionals, install a septic system, make a driveway, purchase appliances, and pay for other work in addition to the cost of the kit, so budget accordingly. The low ticket price of a kit may be appealing, but it might just be one cost among many.
2. Consider Your Local Building Codes
Examine your local building codes and zoning regulations to determine if your desired tiny house complies.
If a tiny home is on wheels, it is typically classified as a recreational vehicle. If the home is on a foundation, it can be subject to building codes. Do some research before purchasing a kit to save some big headaches down the road.
Cities, including Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles, have introduced new zoning rules to facilitate tiny house placement on lots with existing homes. These may be used as a mother-in-law’s house or rented. The idea is to fill in urban space with efficient housing to alleviate rising home prices in cities.
3. Look for Green Features
Just because a house is tiny does not mean it is a net-zero home.
Consider environmentally friendly features when selecting your kit, such as passive solar design, nontoxic materials, water-efficient plumbing fixtures, sustainably harvested wood, and an energy-efficient shell. Another important green feature is durability. The longer something lasts, the less it will cost the environment over its lifespan, so consider the quality of the materials and how well the kit is made to determine longevity.
4. Find a Reputable Tiny Home Kit Manufacturer
Because tiny home kits are a relatively new concept, there are few companies that have been around for a long time and have a proven track record.
One big exception is some yurt companies that have been around for decades, like Pacific Yurts. A relative newcomer to the yurt kit market, Freedom Yurt-Cabins features natural wood and offers optional wool batting instead of fiberglass insulation. Kodasema, an Estonian kit home manufacturer, has won architectural awards and some models feature natural wood interiors, solar panels, and like many yurts, don’t require a foundation (when on level ground).