The Tiny House movement has spawned many ideas about downsizing that may be useful to those who have need of a mortgage free smaller house. If food, water or electric shortages become severe it may be wise to consider an alternate location to live either temporarily or permanently. One solution is to find a farmer who is willing to lease a small parcel of land for a tiny house. Potable water can be transported, electricity can be made from the sun, greywater can be recycled and a composting toilet can all be used to create a very independent dwelling. Some living space options include:
- A tiny house on wheels from the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
- A travel trailer
- A tiny house of conventional construction
Some advantages of a travel trailer are:
- Ready to be lived in after sewer, water and electric hookups are finished
- Appliances are built in
- Used trailers can be very inexpensive, and if the world does not fall apart the trailer can be resold. Until my small house was ready I lived in a 35 foot long travel trailer that I purchased for $10,000. Five years later, after saving enough money to build my 621 sq ft house (Sassy Lilac), I sold the trailer for $4,000. That calculates to be a monthly cost of only $100. If I had given the trailer away the monthly cost would have been $167 per month. Now that is frugal living.
Some disadvantages of the travel trailer are:
- No place to put a wood stove which is the most reliable source of heat during stressful times and long supply lines
- Walls and roof are thin and poorly insulated which increases energy requirements for heating and cooling.
- A constant supply of electric power is needed in colder climates, more than can be provided by a reasonably priced solar electric system, to prevent the exterior water supply line from freezing.
The combination of a travel trailer and storage building, or travel trailer parked under a roof shelter with a storage building at one end can provide many options. In situations where the local inspection department must be dealt with, it may be possible to get a temporary use permit for the trailer if an approved sewer connection is available.
Tiny houses and apartment information:
- Tiny retirement home, 8′ x 20′, trailer compatible
- Tiny House Talk – less space, more freedom
- Mobile Hermitage is designed to be part of a community of tiny houses with shared common resources such as laundry, lavatory facilities, bath house, large kitchen, and activity center.
- Tumbleweed House Company, tiny houses on wheels and more.
- Tiny Texas Houses are 99% pure salvage.
- Summerwood Cabin Kits
- Jamaca Cottage Shop Outdoor Storage Shed Plans & Storage Shed Kits.
- Tortoise Shell Homes Tortoise shell homes are cozy (starting at 130 sq feet), mobile (mounted on a tow trailer), and built tough, like a larger house.
- Starter Cabin Inexpensive starter Homes, Cabins and Cottages you can build.
- 14×24 Cabin Expansion capability for two rooms if needed.
- Habitaflex, the folding and transportable home.
- Tiny House Blog
- 245 sq ft Apartment Smallest coolest apartment 2007
- 300 sq ft HouseplanGuys
- 416 sq ft HouseplanGuys
- 448 sq ft HouseplanGuys
- 480 sq ft HouseplanGuys
- Bungalow In A Box A BungalowInABox goes up on your foundation with a finished exterior appearance in in one or two days.
- Sidekick Homes Sidekicks are Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) – in other words a second living unit complete with kitchen and bath.
- Sheldon Designs A .pdf file download of plans for cabins, cottages, pole barns, sheds, outbuildings and more.
- Cabin Plans The Cherokee Cabin Company’s on line plans catalog.
- Family Home Plans A few small plans here and big plans too.
- Small Home Oregon Built one at a time then transported to your site.
- Brandy Bar Houseboat (featured in Mother Earth News)
- Small House Society Online
- Small house plans
Tiny House and Apartment videos:
A 6×10 with a shower, composting toilet and more.
- Moron Brothers Houseboat An unusually simple houseboat and colorful occupants.
- 200 sq/ft, 16′ diameter, 8′ height, or
- 450 sq/ft, 24′ diameter, 9′ height
Really Small Shelters
The Camper Bike, 9 pics and drawings of a picup truck camper scaled down for a bicycle.
Building Permits and Inspections
New houses usually require a building permit and health department permit before a well can be drilled and before temporary electric service can be setup. After electrical, plumbing and structural inspections have been completed a certificate of occupancy is granted. It may be possible to avoid some of these permits and inspections if you:
Provide your own electricity
Use a composting toilet
- Transport your own potable water
Counties usually have a building permit exemption for outbuildings less than a specified size. In my county that size is 150 square feet.
My projects are:
- Sassy Lilac, a 621 sq ft small house, is my current residence. The building permit with plans can be downloaded here.
- Sugar Shack, a remodeled 140 sq ft storage building, is a future guest cottage.
- Design and build a root cellar with guest house above and outhouse nearby.
- Creating Cabin floorplans, 150 sq ft or less (pdf file download)