It's nice to see you again here on the Tiny House Expedition Blog. If we haven't met, my name is Alaska, and when I'm not writing you letters, I'm running a going-tiny help desk called The Tiny House Concierge.
As you can probably imagine, my job requires looking at a ton of tiny houses! And it usually takes me less than five seconds to decide if I would ever buy or live in a particular home. So today, I thought I'd tell you what red flags I look out for and five tiny homes I'd never buy.
I want to make it clear that what follows are my personal dealbreakers. I will, however, explain why I feel the way I do, so you can decide if they are also ones that make sense to you. Sound like a plan? Let's do this!
Keep reading for 5 Tiny Homes I'd Never Buy...
Tiny homes I'd never buy include…
A tiny home with a single heat source.
Let me paint you a picture. I had owned my tiny home for approximately four months when a blizzard hit Texas. My water line froze, I couldn't flush the toilet, and the power grid went down, taking my electrical heating system with it. I lived in these conditions for almost a week, but while I know people who burned furniture to stay warm, I was OK.
Why? Because my tiny home had multiple sources of heat.
My home heating system was electrical, but my stove was propane. Now, just to be clear, I DID NOT light the burners and leave them on to heat my tiny home. Don't do that. But a propane stove did allow me to make hot water bottles and hot food to stay warm during a difficult time.
You might think that a blizzard in Texas is unlikely to happen to you (or again!). And hopefully, you're right, but the fact remains that having multiple heat sources has saved me four times in the two-and-a-half years I've owned my tiny. I ran out of propane on two occasions and tripped my electrical breaker another time, so power issues happen. You just don't want them to happen to you when you have a single heat source and live in a tiny home in a cold climate.
A tiny home with a kitchen that doesn't flow.
I have long insisted that I have the best tiny kitchen ever. This is because my kitchen is set up to allow me to move left to right as I cook, clean, and dry dishes. I never have to backtrack or turn around to use another counter, which makes using my tiny kitchen a seamless endeavor.
To that end, I would never buy a tiny home that doesn't have space for a drying rack to the right of the sink. Or one with the sink and stove on opposite, parallel counters. Oh, and speaking of stoves, If there isn't room on both sides of the stove for setting spoons and spices, it will not work out either. At least not for me.
A tiny home with too few windows.
I have twelve windows and three skylights in my tiny home, which is not too many! Natural light is everything when you live in a small space, and while you sacrifice a bit of energy efficiency, I think it's worth it. Of course, windows (and skylights in particular) can add to the cost of a tiny home, so I wouldn't insist on the same number I have now.
But I would prioritize them to the degree that I could afford to.
I want to live in a tiny home, not a tiny box!
A tiny home with poor ventilation.
Friends, tiny homes get stuffy! And I say this even as someone who now lives in the Colorado desert. My lips might be peeling from the dryness outside, but inside, my Damp-Rid cans are filling with moisture. Leaving my home unattended for even a few days is enough to turn it into a stuffy jungle!
I am a firm believer in high-quality air, and I am also super paranoid about mold. Proper ventilation is so important for your health and for the health of your tiny home! Mold is bad news and can crop up more easily in small spaces.
So it’s essential that you mitigate this risk by having proper ventilation.
My current home doesn't have an HRV (heat recovery ventilation) unit, but I would definitely want one in any future tiny home. HRV units bring fresh air in and move stale air out while preserving energy efficiency. As it stands, I have to open all my doors and windows for a few minutes twice a day. Yes, even when it's literally snowing.
HRV units come with a price tag, though, so if having one wasn't an option, I would at least look for windows that open and insist on bathroom and stove vents.
A tiny home only plumbed for a traditional toilet (only).
I got lucky in that my tiny home was doubled-plumbed to support a traditional or composting toilet. Unfortunately, when the blizzard hit, I had the traditional toilet installed. And because the water froze, I couldn't use my toilet and had to borrow my chihuahuas' wee-wee pads. So, now you know.
Composting toilets take water out of the equation! And this will be helpful to you beyond surviving unexpected blizzards.
You see, toilets require that you have a place to put blackwater (see; poo-water). And this requires that you have either a sewer or septic connection. #Expensive #TrickyToFind.
If you plan to live in an RV park, you will likely have a sewer or septic connection, but if you dream of parking your tiny home on private land, that setup is much less likely. This is why a composting toilet massively opens up your parking options!
If you’re nervous, I’ll tell you this: I love my composting toilet so much that I would put one in a regular house.
It's that easy to clean and smells that little. Also, if you ever choose to sell your tiny home, the type of toilet could make or break the sale for the new owner, depending on their parking plans. Just something to consider!
Tiny Homes I'd Never Buy Bonus Round...
Alright, Friends, there you have it! Those are five tiny homes I would never buy! And as a bonus round, I would also never buy a tiny home for which I hadn't had an inspection.
Actually, can I just flex my real estate license here for a second before I go? You are buying a house. So please, please, please, remember to get an inspection done!
You should know that new home inspections are a thing, and also that while it is sometimes tricky business getting a traditional home inspector to look at a tiny house, they can sometimes be bribed with this combo: their full rate + lunch + the best Google review in the world. If you have any problems, just reach out to your tiny house concierge! I will do my best to help you navigate.
If you're in the information-gathering stage of your tiny home journey, be sure to follow this blog so you don't miss a post! Tiny House Expedition has the 4-1-1 coming your way each week so stay tuned.
I'll be back soon, but in the meantime, good luck on your tiny journey, and remember to stand by your own red flags!
Until next time,
Alaska is a writer, realtor, and tiny homeowner living in the great state of Colorado. She is the founder of The Tiny House Concierge, a company that offers consultation and copywriting services for people looking to rethink their housing and rewrite their lives. In addition to her website, she can be found on Instagram and YouTube.