The allure and design of minimalist living often packs a lot of punch in a small package. Tiny homes come with all the comfort and are a great escape route to the heavy burden of expensive mortgages.
Tiny homes can last between 7-10 years depending on materials and regular maintenance. However, Park Model units last longer and are aesthetically similar to traditional homes with full range structural, mechanical, and technical builds. Meet Ariel who has been living in a tiny house for 6 years!
Some people plan to stay in petite homes forever. This guide will help you decide whether a tiny house can last long and make an ideal choice for permanent living. So, read on;
How Long Do People Live in Tiny Houses?
The small house movement is relatively new and has attracted more attention as affordable and ecologically friendly. Tiny houses have various uses, from accessory dwelling units, recreational movables to retirement homes.
Some people opt to live in confined spaces to cut back on clutter and embrace minimalist living. There are also those looking for miniature residences away from their larger homes. However, tiny houses face many challenges, from legal to safety issues.
The average size of a tiny home is between 400 square feet and 1000 square feet. They contain a living area, a kitchen, bathroom, sleeping loft (which you can access by rolling-up ladder), and a bathroom.
In the United States, petite homes’ popularity became a sweeping phenomenon following the financial crisis of 2007-08. Tiny houses came in as an affordable option for many who were rendered homeless due to foreclosures.
A typical house in the US costs $266,800 to $310,000 but, that figure depends on where you purchase it. On the other hand, building a tiny house is approximately $23,000 to $60,000, which is still far below a regular home.
According to the American Tiny House Association putting up a tiny house was a “cute” idea, and the question of where you were going to build it didn’t come up much.
However, small homes received tremendous media coverage, which led to an increase of amateur builders. Some concerns came up regarding their safety and where people could build them.
Besides, homeowners of tiny houses, especially those on wheels, have trouble finding sites to settle in a community. These recreational vehicles are only allowed to stay in an RV park legally for a limited time, causing headaches to homeowners who want to settle.
Other people are lucky enough and can request a friend or a family member to accommodate their tiny house in their compound, although they run the risk of being ordered to leave.
Petite units are increasingly becoming a trendy and affordable housing option. But, how long can a tiny home last? Like any regular-sized house, the long-term viability of a small abode depends on the right build and continuous maintenance to enjoy it for decades.
Harsh weather conditions and other non-weather related damages are the most significant hazards that diminish your tiny home’s life span. Besides, the constant human presence and increased foot traffic on the limited spaces available degrade your small abode quickly.
Since tiny homes are relatively new and coupled with innumerable challenges, it’s hard to establish how long people can live in these small spaces. Before you consider pouring thousands of dollars to build a tiny house, here are some other reasons to think through whether you’d want to stay in a confined space permanently.
Tiny House on Foundation vs. Tiny House on Wheels
One chief factor that determines how long a tiny house can last is its mobility. There are two types of miniature houses: the ones on wheels and the ones with a land foundation.
Tiny House on Wheels
Tiny houses on wheels homeowners enjoy the mobility of their miniature structures. However, hauling your home from one place to another causes vibrations and sudden jolts into various areas that can damage insulation systems, the water tank, and pipework.
It’s important to restrict movement to no more than every three to six months unless your home is built for endurance to withstand the stress of moving now and then.
Additionally, like any other regular house, individuals who live in tiny homes stay 24/7; hence, constant human presence can present wear and tear. Unlike cars, different parts such as wheels and axles degrade faster than a car. Besides, they cannot be parked inside a garage to protect them from weather elements.
Tiny homes utilize timber framing construction to ease damage in movement, transportation, and relocation, which is lightweight but less durable. However, this tradeoff affects the longevity of the house’s exteriors in addition to the general wear and tear.
Tiny House on Foundation
Unlike mobile homes, a tiny house on a foundation doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. You won’t experience common complaints like loose insulation systems, fixtures, cabinets, door handles, and sinks.
However, if you choose carpet flooring, it can prove bothersome to clean, especially if you have pets and kids. Conversely, prioritize material durability and functionality such as wooden floors, which are easy to clean and re-polish to make them new again.
Most pieces of furniture in tiny houses serve two or more purposes. For instance, couches and beds act as extra storage areas or as stools, often requiring a lot of movement, leading to increased wear and tear. Therefore, we suggest you choose furniture with a sturdy build that will last you a long time to come.
The two structural differences of a tiny house on wheels and the one built on a firm foundation significantly determine how long a small home can last.
The Choice Of Trailer
Sometimes, it’s easy to overlook the choice of your trailer, although it is the main piece of your small structure. The trailer’s health is the most critical factor that determines how long your tiny house can last.
The trailer can make or break your petite home. Trailers come either as used, new, or custom- made. The type of container you select will determine the susceptibility to your tiny house’s wear and tear in the long run.
A Used Trailer
A used trailer is a lot more affordable and comes with the extra cost of renovation to reinforce the existing structures. For instance, it will need a tire and axle replacement, repainting, and sanding. You also need to check the rails which might need replacement.
However, a used trailer would make an excellent choice for attachments, which you can pay for on an as-needed basis. It’s also the cheapest option in the market.
Custom-made trailers offer flexibility over the building materials. You can personalize the size to meet the needs of your tiny house. It’s also easy to complement your small home with additional features such as emergency brakes, and specialized tires.
The trailer is entirely new with no wear and tear; therefore, you can expect your tiny house to serve you for a long time. But, it is more costly and requires special permits to build and can prove difficult to resell.
Firsthand trailers are completely newfangled with no wear and tear. A brand new container can be size-optimized for your tiny house to serve you for decades. It offers flexibility on the type of trailer you can choose.
However, the available options in the market may not be the most suitable for a tiny house. Conversely, general manufacturers may not have builds specific to small structures.
Whether you choose a brand new, custom-made one or a used trailer, proper maintenance will ensure that the tiny house can serve you many years to come.
Factors That Can Reduce the Longevity of Your Tiny House
Many factors can diminish the health and longevity of your tiny house. Here we will look at the top three aspects.
Members of the tiny house concentrate in one area, unlike traditional home settings where people scatter throughout the house. Foot traffic is more substantial, and every corner maximized, increasing the rate of wear and tear.
Additionally, unlike regular houses, appliances and facilities are often used, leading to further and faster degradation.
Harsh Changing Weather Conditions
Unlike regular homes, your tiny house is more vulnerable to changing weather conditions, which leads to wood damage and electrical damage. Rain and storms can cause havoc on the foundations of petite homes built on the land.
Periodic maintenance will ensure that the various parts, like the foundation, wood, or wheels, are at their peak performance.
Non-Weather Related Water Damage
Although weather damage takes tremendous blame on a tiny homes’ longevity, other non-weather water-related issues can cause significant damage to your miniature house.
If the toilet, sink, dishwasher, washing machine are leaking, they can cause water damage and affect your home’s life span. Perform regular inspections on the various parts and household items to avoid domestic water-related damages
Tiny House Maintenance: Make Your Tiny House Last Longer
There are dozens of reasons why many states in the US impose strict standards on tiny houses. For instance, if harsh weather conditions can damage a regular home, how much more is a small house that feels a strong-wind away from damage?
Here are tips that will help you secure your mini home against factors that diminish its life span.
Reinforce the Structure of Your Petite Home
If your tiny house is on wheels, the most affordable measure to secure it against floods is to elevate the whole structure. Conversely, if your home has a foundation on land, you can build it on higher ground.
You can also toughen the roofs, doors, and windows against strong winds, especially if you live in hurricane-prone states. There are wind-rated asphalt shingles and high-wind rated coverings that you can find in the market. Besides, re-nailing the roof sheathings is a simple way of strengthening your roof.
Weather-strip and seal windows, doors, and walls to avoid moisture, leaks, and rust to prolong fixtures’ lifespan. Vinyl and metal weather stripping are the two most common seals as they increase durability.
Proper Weight Distribution and Load Limit
Movable Tiny houses are tricky to handle, especially if you travel frequently. They are slightly heavier than trailers and RVs; therefore, you need to be cautious and keep everything inside to avoid surpassing the recommended weight limit and weight distribution.
Additionally, ensure that your car has an excellent towing capacity for smooth towing of your tiny house. Heavy-duty SUVs like Chevrolet, Ram, and Ford can pull more than 30,000 pounds. Conversely, your towing vehicle should be up to date with the service schedule to avoid fluid leaks, engine failures, or on-road malfunctions.
Protection Against Theft
Tiny homes are small and mobile, that’s why they have become targets of criminals’ radar. It’s crucial to invest in proper security methods to keep thieves and burglars at bay.
Wheel cramps and claws are excellent anti-theft systems that will prevent your tiny house from getting stolen. The anti-theft wheel locks have lug nuts that keep the wheels of your home secure.
In addition to clamps and claws, heavy-duty chains that feature clevis grab hooks on both ends help set your tiny house firmly. You can also use trailer hitch locks, which are simple, affordable, and easy to install. They can resist crowbars, sledgehammers, and saws to keep your house from being towed.
An alarm system is another excellent way to protect your small house from a sneaky robbery attempt. Look for those that are fully-functional for RVs and tiny homes. Additionally, you can conceal a tracking device with motion sensors to send you a notification on your phone in case of a break-in.
Is a Tiny House an Attractive Option for Permanent Living?
Although small homes have their advantages, some critics have different opinions concerning building and living in tiny houses. There are many reasons why some people would prefer a traditional house over a small structure.
Many young first-time homeowners build tiny homes as a platform upon which to start their homeownership dreams. As a result, they can cut back on their spending and save more money to buy a traditional home with extra square footage.
However, when they start families, they find confined spaces unsuitable for kids and fall into the demographic of those who don’t intend to live in miniature houses forever.
On the other hand, older people who choose a minimalist life can live in tiny homes permanently for the simplicity it offers. The older forks have more experience with life and know what they like or dislike. For them, a small house would offer them a minimalist lifestyle and financial freedom.
There are many other reasons why people wouldn’t choose a tiny house for permanent living. Here are the top three general views of why some people would not opt to live in miniature houses for a long time.
The Cost of Building
Tiny houses have received tremendous media coverage wooing people who are starving for a down-sized life. However, they don’t cost a small sum as building one can go up to $30,000 alone while buying one can cost up to $60,000.
The location, building materials, builders, and permits are significant elements that can affect construction prices.
If you choose to go with a prefab model, it could save you tons of labor costs. However, you’ll not escape hefty shipping fees. Don’t let the idea of minimalist living stop you from considering the additional expenses that you might incur in the journey.
Structural Safety Concerns
Like regular homes, tiny houses are not 100 percent safe and can risk their occupants’ lives when there are storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
To ensure your tiny home’s structural endurance is secure, you have to be ready to spend more money for increased safety. States like Florida experience hazardous weather patterns, and the building codes expect that you have secure ties to set your home in place or construct a permanent foundation.
You must also consider the maintenance of your electrical wiring, the foundations, windows, roof panels, and water pipes.
Too Many Legal Hoops and Obstacles
Even though the tiny house movement is spreading worldwide, getting a petite home is simply complicated. If you’re looking for a place where you can live for years, it can take you a long time before you can properly settle in one.
Here’s the thing, even if you hire a realtor to take care of things for you, there’s a parade of exhaustion and financial setbacks in the journey. Besides, if you want to go for a downsized life, you must buckle up and toughen up.
Regardless of its value, your tiny home is not just an accessory but an investment.
Like any other regular home, it will go through the general wear and tear. Proper maintenance is critical to ensure it serves you for decades.
However, reinforcing your tiny house’s structural build with sturdy materials can increase your house’s durability. A home – big or small – can only last long if properly built and well maintained.