Tiny houses. Are they worth the hype or are they another faux pas destined to make a dramatic crash into millennial oblivion? Read on to see what living in a tiny house is really like; costs, maintenance, expectations, experience, and the like.
The short of it:
-tiny space brings us closer
-tiny fridge allows us to be more mindful of the money we spend on food
-composting sewage system: saves water, saves environment
-quick heating time and low energy cost
-potential to save a boat load of money (property taxes, energy costs, etc.)
-too much time and money to build
-loft stairs hurt to walk on a daily basis
-composting sewage system takes work
-sink too small to do dishes comfortably
-lack of water pressure and hot water
First things first, our tiny house (before and after):
For a more in-depth before-and-after video, check this video out.
Net cost (a completed house and nothing more): $9,600
Final cost (after all the other things we had to buy like a new heater, chain saw fuel for cutting fire wood, dish soap, etc.): >$15,000
-we had to spend more money after "finishing" the house because we were not comfortable with how the house originally turned out. Yes, we technically built the house for $9,600 and could've lived in it without investing more money into it.
The first obvious critique we have of building the house is that it cost more than we wanted to be comfortable living in it. Also keep in mind that neither the net or final costs take into consideration the labor needed to bring this thing to life. Had we of included labor.... the house would've been more than a new car I'm sure...
The second critique would be how nice it was to have such a small space dedicated to only things that we need/use on a daily basis. There was absolutely no room for things we didn't use as you can see in the photo below, the table was just big enough for us to sit and eat comfortably. It also folded down and hung flush with the wall. Our chairs also folded.
A third opinion was how we originally designed the stairs to the loft. It might've been a good idea, but having to step on gas pipe every time we wanted to go to bed (or get down) got real old, real quick. Lesson learned: first choose practical, then go for design. As you can see in the photo below, Kiah got up with the gas piping on the bathroom door whereas Travis had to climb up on the counter, then onto the gas piping on the left side of the photo.
Also evident in the photo above, we had a tiny fridge to go along with our tiny house. This was a blessing in disguise. Travis grew up with a family who always had a huge fridge (like many people do). What many people don't realize is; with a big fridge you can (and often will) store more food than you or your family can eat before it goes bad. Food gets pushed to the back where you can't see and goes back quick. If you're lucky to see it when you clean the fridge, you'll easily add up the costs of wasted food to be far more than it should be.
Having a tiny fridge required us to face what food we've bought recently and eat it in a timely manner.
The photo above shows our composting toilet set-up. That's a little bit of a misleading phrase, it isn't a composting toilet, rather, a bucket which we empty into a compost bin which decomposes our human waste. This is an important distinction because there are legit composting toilets that deal with the human waste right then and there. Anyways...
Having a composting sewage system opened both of our eyes to how much water we waste flushing down our sewage!!! Why do we Americans use clean water to flush down human waste?? Our sewage goes to a giant sewage system where the water is separated, bleached, and ruined before going back into our drinking system. Seems like a broken system to me!
One negative is that it takes work to maintain. You have to have an ample supply of cover material (stuff you use to cover your business in the bucket after you go), you have to empty the bucket and maintain the pile to make sure it's decomposing properly. Is it worth all the trouble to save some water and the environment? Hell yes!
Evident in the photo above, we had a fireplace. I said "had" because we promptly got rid of it. Why?? check this blog post out for a more in-depth explanation. The short of it is; it sucked. That is a BIG negative but the stove isn't a reflection of the tiny house experience, it's a reflection of poor craftsmanship.
The positive related to this stove is; it doesn't take a lot of energy or time to heat this 250sq ft. home. We left the heat off for an entire day, came home with it being around 1 degree and heated it all back up to a comfortable 70 in about 25min.
Ultimately, we decided that there was too much stress involved in the constant upkeep of our home. Do all tiny housers experience that? Probably not. Our stress was directly caused by the fact that we didn't do things by the book (housing codes, titling the trailer, heating, size of the kitchen sink, etc.).
Our final verdict, which should be obvious by now, is that having a tiny house isn't worth the time and money it takes to build on your own. This is strictly our opinion and it does not reflect all tiny housers.
What are we to do with the tiny house now that we've built it?? Donate it.