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Tiny House Options

Updated on April 13, 2012

It used to be that when you thought of options for a tiny home, that a trailer or camper was what most people pictured. I am so happy to report that this just isn't the case at all anymore. The world of options for tiny houses is virtually limitless

Small trailers are still an option but they seem to have a limited lifespan, flimsy construction and can look dated within a few years. There are models of trailers that are called Park Models that are a step up, with better construction and interior materials but they are still a trailer and some people just can't see themselves as trailer dwellers.

If you want a small home but don't want a trailer, then you will be pleased to find that tiny houses are quickly gaining popularity. You can buy a used one, you can custom order one, build your own or buy one that has the major work such as plumping and wiring installed and do the finish work yourself. You can also just buy the plans and do it all on your own. There are options to suit every budget and skill level.

If you want to build your own, a general rule of thumb is that anything smaller than 200 sq. feet usually doesn't require a building permit. You should check your local laws before you start building to save yourself an expensive mistake. If you are building a permanent structure, be sure of the building requirements of where you live. Many cities restrict the size of houses than can be built or have regulations that you have to adhere to.

You may find that building a tiny house on wheels may help you avoid some of the housing laws and give you greater freedom as to where you will live. But you still need to check out the local building codes as well as parking laws, travel requirements if your tiny house is one that will be on the road.

There are many websites to refer to for ideas on the perfect tiny house for you. Tiny Tumbleweed houses are one of the more well-known companies that sell little houses or the plans to build them, but their prices are definitely in the top range so don't be discouraged by them. There are many other options which are much more affordable. is a favorite site of mine when I am dreaming of building a new tiny house, especially if you are looking for a kit house that is simple to put together. Their website offers so many options for styles, sizes and amenities for you to choose from. You select what you want, and they construct the panels which are packaged up and shipped. Your kit house is sent to you by truck, assembly is quite easy, and can be done in minimal time with a few tools and a few good friends. These houses have more of a rustic cabin look, which is completely charming. I like the fact that they post their prices and options so that you get a very good idea of the costs.

“Katrina Cottages" are small houses which were designed after hurricane Katrina as an alternative to expensive FEMA trailers. They are created to be easy to build, compact and easy to add on to. is the website where you can view these homes and their floor plans. These cottages have a southern flair to them as some are like the "shotgun houses" of New Orleans. They have lovely porches, can be painted any color and have floor plans that make the most of their small space. Their website estimates that they cost about $115 per sq. foot to build but cost will vary with your materials, labor, options and locations.

There are many other options that cost much less. Many tiny houses are built by their owners using salvaged or recycled materials which will bring the cost down a lot. Some people choose to take a small shed or garage already on their property to convert. Doing the labor yourself is one of the best ways to save money. You can begin one as a weekend project and learn as you go. Because most of the work will be small jobs, you can easily get a friend who knows about plumbing, wiring or whatever specialized skills you need and have them help you.

Many people are drawn to tiny houses because of their green factor. They use fewer materials to build and less energy to run. They can be built with recycled or salvaged materials. Their small size means that they can often be run using solar power or other alternative energy sources.

Metal cargo containers, such as the ones that can be used to ship things overseas or on land by truck or by train have become a popular option as well. There are strong and hurricane proof and simply need to be insulated fitted with wiring and plumbing and customized to suit your style or needs. One of the most attractive feature of these is that can sometime be gotten for free or for a couple of thousand dollars. Another attractive feature is that you can buy a few of them and put them together to make a bigger house or even a 2 story house. The options are endless. They are almost like LEGO pieces that can be fitted together to make whatever kind of house that you want.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of tiny house options. I haven't even gone in to yurts which are sturdy tent like structures, converted buses, mud houses, tree houses, houses built of tires and many of the other more creative ideas. There truly are an astounding number of quite clever tiny house options to suit everyone. Take the time to do you research on the worldwide web and I am sure you will be able to find the tiny house that is just right for you.


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    • MichelleRobert profile image

      Michelle Robert 5 years ago from Down by the River

      Thanks ThunderMama, I really do love this way of life and the freedom that it gives me. Thanks for giving the motivation and support to keep it up!!

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 5 years ago from Canada

      Another tiny house triumph. Love, love, love your hubs.