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Could you build a tiny home? Everything you need to know to get started

Anyone can live tiny if they really want to.

I'm getting super excited about our build. We have a full blown structure now, with walls and a roof and everything! If you have no idea what I am talking about, then read my previous blog here about why we have decided to build our own tiny home in the Highlands.

Now comes the fun bit as we are finalising exactly how we want the layout. Next immediate steps will be to finish insulating, clad the outside with a combination of metal and wood and, of course, fit our windows and doors. I've included a wee video tour below. Make sure to follow me on Instagram to get all the behind the scenes updates.

So today, I thought I'd share some key considerations before you take the plunge and starting building yourself...

Where will you park it?

Ah, this is probably the trickiest question. If you are building your home on a trailer, then it is regarded as a temporary structure, so you won't need full planning permission like you would with a 'normal' house. However, it is still important to look into the planning restrictions in the area you are planning to park up.

You will of course need landowner permission, if you do not have land yourselves. We were lucky that the farm I currently rent a static caravan from are happy for us to park up here in exchange for a little rent. Agricultural land can be ideal, as it usually has less planning restrictions and plenty of space. This can be harder to find in more urban areas, but I know some tiny home owners who have had success in finding parking spots by putting up adverts on the likes of Gumtree and local Facebook groups. Its always worth asking as it might be a good little earner if the land is currently unused.

The land also needs to be practical, i.e. you need to be able to get the house there and park it safely. I learnt this the hard way after falling in love with a piece of land that had the most spectacular views, whilst disregarding that it would be totally impractical to get the house up the hill! You may also need access to certain resources, but that leads me on to my next point...

On or off grid?

This decision depends on what's practical for you. It basically means what resources, if any, you will be connected too e.g. power, fresh/grey water and sewage. We will be totally off grid, as we will have gas, our electricity coming from solar, our water collected and stored in a large tank and a composting toilet. This is likely to have more upfront costs (e.g. solar panels and batteries) but it gives us far more flexibility in where we can park. There is a lot of information with possibilities on the internet so I urge you to do your research early on.

DIY or contract?

If you are able to do some, or all, of the work yourselves, it will cut costs drastically. I am not going to pretend I am a skilled handyperson, but luckily my partner is! As we are doing all the work ourselves, we are likely to get this build completed for under £10,000 (excluding our trailer), which is far cheaper than many similar builds I've seen on the internet.

Of course, this isn't an option for everyone so its best to be realistic. Again, do your research on what areas you will need help with, from planning to the build itself. You may be able to do more than you think. As my partner says, its basically a big shed! You can also buy a ready-made tiny home. In the UK, there a few companies that offer this service, including 'Tiny Eco Homes', 'Tiny House UK' and 'Tiny House Scotland'. Some of these also sell tiny home 'packs' with all the required materials, so you just need to put it together yourself, which may be a good middle-ground. You also get the odd one coming up for sale second hand so its worth keeping an eye out!

What are your big upfront costs

Its good to get an idea on what your big costs are likely to be before diving in. For us, our biggest cost was our trailer, as we decided to buy one specially made for building tiny homes (from 'Tiny Eco Homes'), which cost us approx. £4,500. We did consider doing up a second hand trailer, but as this is the structure of our home, we decided that it may be wisest to invest . It has made the build far easier. Some of the other big costs include our cladding, insulation, windows/doors and our solar.

We have luckily been able to cut some costs along the way. For instance, we were able to get our cladding and windows/doors at trade price, due to some well placed contacts. We have borrowed some tools and are sourcing some of our insulation second hand. We are also attempting to get some of our fittings second hand, or build them ourselves. Cutting costs is great, but make sure you set yourself a realistic budget so you don't get some scary surprises further down the line!

So, are you convinced? If you need more inspiration, I will be setting up a whole 'Tiny Home' category on my blog, so make sure your signed up as a member of my site below to see how we are getting on. You will get even more behind the scenes of this build with our wonderful community forum. I may even be handling a tool now and again!


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