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How NOT to buy a Tiny House

I toyed with the idea of posting this for a LONG TIME. Then I realised it wouldn’t be authentic if I didn’t. You’re welcome.


FOR CONTEXT

I've lived in my Tiny House on Wheels since October 2018. I did very little research before actually buying one. And I bought a self-built one from a young couple sight unseen 😅

When I took delivery of her- I was very surprised to find a few things lacking.


WINDOWS

The awning windows had no locks or fly screens. You just pushed them open and grabbed the handle to pull them shut. So to transport it down to Vic from NSW- we had to screw them shut.


And as soon as they arrived I had flyscreens and wind-out style window locks fitted. My ASD daughter WAS NOT having a bar of all the flies and insects swarming inside.


Their location was also NOT designed with thermal efficiency or cross-ventilation in mind. While I LOVE LOVE LOVE my main picture window next to the bed (which is a fixed, non-opening window), the only other window letting in light in my main living area is a smaller one at a right angle from it at the foot of the bed. This one does open- but the only other opening windows are two MUCH smaller ones in the bathroom at the other end of the house. In Summer- air flow is absolutely non-existent- and cooling it down after a hot summer day takes HOURS.


There’s also only one large window (at the bed end) which faces north (on my block) for light. RIDICULOUS!! In Winter, the house is so dark on cloudy days that I tend to leave the door open just so it doesn’t feel like night-time. NOT good for keeping the house warm.


FRONT DOOR

Everyone loves a barn door- they're GORGEOUS! But don't ever let anyone tell you they're a great idea for an external door.


Mine had no lock or latch, so it couldn’t even be screwed shut for transit. It had to be tied with rope through the handle. Which is beside the fact that I couldn’t lock and secure my house on arrival. And being a barn door- there is just NO way to create an air lock and stop hot/cold air entering and escaping.


Maintaining a constant temperature is HARD. Which isn’t even to mention that because there’s at least a 10mm gap around all sides of the door- bugs come flying in whenever the hell they want. Also not Aspie-friendly.


I've been trying to have this damn door replaced since I bought it! Because it's a non-standard size opening, five builders have put it in the "too hard" basket and never come back. 😥


KITCHEN/ETTE

My kitchen is SUPER BASIC. Single sink, and about 600mm bench space either side. On one side I have my thermomix (which doesn't actually see a lot of use) and microwave- and the other side is my prep space. I don’t have an oven- which suits me fine coz I am definitely NOT a cook or baker, and I love to eat out.


And I don’t have a permanent cooktop- I have a single-burner ceramic induction cooktop I bought from Kmart that lives in my bottom pot drawer, and gets plugged in on my bench when I cook up a stir fry (or anything remotely exciting). This has worked for me really well so far.


When meal prepping I tend to use the much larger bench space on my coffee table...


FRIDGE/COFFEE TABLE

Yep. My fridge IS my coffee table. It’s simple genius- there’s a wooden tabletop screwed to the top-opening lid of my fridge. All smart Tiny House designs have fixtures and furniture that serve double duty 👌


On the downside? You do have to think ahead (not my strength!) when planning meals- if you want a drink or the tomato sauce with your meal- you can’t get it out of the fridge once all the plates are on the table... I do spend a bit of time every day transferring items from the tabletop to the couch so I can open the fridge and put things away...!


Given that it’s the only table space in my house- it can be a bit limiting. But I HAVE realised I can absolutely do without a dining table. Although a breakfast bar setup would be nice... *adds to bucket list*

POWER

The power situation was kinda sketchy too.

There were no 240v power points. A solar panel on the roof hooked to a battery ran the 12v fridge, LED lights and toilet extractor fan. I couldn’t plug in any standard appliances unless I ran an extension lead through the window.


The first thing I did after taking delivery was was getting a sparky in and wiring it for 240v- with an external 15amp inlet plug (similar to what most caravans have). This gave me the ability to plug in at the caravan park where we started out- and now we’re on our own off-grid block, my solar pv system plugs into it (or generator on cloudy days).


Flexibility is CRUCIAL. You might be fine using it with external solar panels- but if you need to sell and the new owner wants to plug straight in? It’s an overhead they’ll mentally deduct from the purchase price they’re willing to pay.


PLUMBING

What a nightmare. It was a whole other thing! The DIY builder had used 13mm IRRIGATION POLY and a low voltage pond pump to the sinks and shower, fed by the onboard subfloor water tank.


NONE of this was known to me- until I got it to our short-term home at the caravan park and plugged it into mains water. Water exploded EVERYWHERE. There was a LOT of colourful language.


I had a plumber come in and redo the whole house. They removed all existing "pipes" and used a higher grade flexible plumbing poly (the skinny ones because my internal wall cavity between bathroom/kitchen was less than 100mm thick. Not sure what they're called).


They also fitted the gas hot water unit professionally. I hadn't even realised they had installed the gas bottle in a lock box over the drawbar that also housed the 12v battery....!! We were damn lucky we hadn't used the gas yet, as we'd been using the caravan park shower block. I hate to even think what might have happened..!!


And that’s not to mention the epic leaks in my shower base. Initially I thought there was leakage due to the long transit.

However- once I had another plumber fully inspect it- he discovered 2 things:

1) the shower base had been installed wrong way around- sending water down the wall and into the gap between the wall and base.

2) the drainage plug had also been installed incorrectly- sending ALLL the shower water right into the gap between the shower base and sub-floor...!!

The floor rotted and went mouldy in a matter of months. Its still on my list of things to replace.


FOR EXTRA CONTEXT

The young couple that built my Tiny House had done so with the intention of living an idyllic lifestyle in a scenic paddock on their 100+ acre family farm. They ran an extension lead for power. And they filled the 100litre water tank from the farm tanks every so often. They built it cheaply to live cheaply. Which was fine for them- but not so suited to it’s new owner (me).


I hope when looking to purchase or design your Tiny House, that you take these points into account. Where possible- learn from the experiences of others who live Tiny, and adjust your plans to suit YOUR lifestyle.


You'd be forgiven for reading all this and thinking I'd made a MASSIVE MISTAKE buying this house.


Well, it truly is the journey that helps you appreciate the end result.


Despite all the perceived “flaws” in my house- it is STILL 100% THE BEST THING I’VE EVER DONE!!


I love falling asleep staring at a perfect sky of stars.

I love how close to nature I now feel because my front door is literally 2m from anywhere in the house.

And I love how aware I am of the weather and seasons as a side-benefit of living off the grid and having to rely on the sun.

Our start wasn't ideal- but after 3.5 years of tweaking and adapting, it's now the only place I've ever lived that truly feels like home.



WOULD I DO IT ALL AGAIN?

Hell yes. Ten times over. It's all mine, I'm debt free, and I will never have to worry about being homeless again. Life is magic.

xBry

NOTE: I’ve specially chosen a photo that shows the reality of Tiny living. It’s romantic and idealistic yes- but with two kids it’s also messy and there’s stuff everywhere!! There’s a million Tiny House inspo pages online with perfectly styled prettiness- but I will NEVER share anything other than our day-to-day reality.

People ask me often what it's like "Living Tiny" with kids?

THIS. This is what that looks like 😂

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