Tiny homes may have begun as an eco-conscious housing choice, but the
idea has evolved into a much broader solution that is already being used to
address myriad housing challenges. Reaching far beyond minimalists and
eco-warriors, tiny homes are now being explored as a solution to housing
veterans, the homeless, boomerang kids, and even aging parents. But that
doesn’t mean that tiny home living isn’t without its own set of challenges.
From zoning restrictions to financing, there are administrative hurdles
to building a tiny home. This is in addition to the realities of tiny-home
living, which require a change in mindset from societal expectations of
housing. Before you start drawing up plans for your tiny home, consider these
challenges, and how you’ll deal with them if you come across them:
Finding a Location
The first hurdle in tiny home living is finding a location for your new
home. Many communities simply aren’t ready for the tiny home revolution. That
can lead to problems in getting a permit, finding a builder, and locating
suitable sites. Many communities have minimum square footage requirements,
which tiny homes just can’t meet. Others restrict “wheeled” living
units or those that are on trailers. Some simply won’t accept tiny homes in the
community, forcing would-be buyers to look for land far outside of town, which
presents problems such as inability to access to water, gas, electricity, and
One solution to the legal challenges of tiny homeownership is to give up the DIY approach and work with a local tiny-home builder.
“Before building a home of any size, a homeowner should always
consult with their local planning office for zoning and building code
information on a specific piece of property,” says Jim Greer, the National Tiny
Home Brand Manager for Clayton Homes. “Building to state and local codes also
helps homeowners meet many more zoning requirements, where a tiny home on
wheels may not.”
If you are hoping to secure a mortgage for a tiny home, you are in for a
challenge. Many traditional lenders don’t offer loans for tiny homes because
the amounts are relatively small compared to traditional homes, and tiny homes
don’t have good resale value. It’s a risk for lenders.
Again, this may be simply a function of there not being demand for these types of loans yet. With time, it’s likely that banks will realize there is a market for these loans and begin to offer them, particularly in certain areas where the tiny home movement is strong.
In the meantime, tiny-home buyers may be able to secure an RV or trailer
loan, or take out a home equity loan against their current house to finance the
tiny home construction. It’s also possible to secure financing through a tiny
home builder in some cases, particularly if the builder is constructing an
entire tiny home community development.
The tiny home lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Americans like stuff. We have more than we need and it can be a challenge to part with it, but purging is a must if you want to live comfortably in a tiny home. There isn’t space for excess – even bulk grocery shopping will have to go.
In addition to paring down your possessions, you’ll need to keep the
home tidy; the more cluttered your home is, the smaller it will feel. Of course,
it’s much easier to keep a tiny home neat than a regular-sized home! Most tiny homes
are also designed with custom storage solutions so that everything has a place …
but you’ll have to make sure everything gets back to its rightful place!
For this reason, tiny homes may be best suited to individuals or childfree
couples. It’s very tough to raise a family in a tiny home because there just
isn’t enough room, and privacy is hard to come by. If you do choose to move the
whole family into a tiny home, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to give
one another space, establish ground rules for cleaning up, set strict
boundaries, and make an effort to get out of the house.
One of the most unexpected challenges to tiny home living is isolation.
Since so few communities allow tiny homes within their boundaries, tiny-home
owners often have to seek out plots of land that are outside city limits. These
plots are often fairly large and may be located in rural areas far from friends,
family, and amenities.
“I thought that being out in the country was what I wanted,”
tiny-home owner Jonathan Bellows
recalled. “I figured I would have my own land, have my own property, be my
own master, but I came to find out that it’s very isolating. I felt very
Tiny Home Resources
These challenges haven’t let tiny home
advocates stop them, though. If anything, the movement is growing. This is to
be expected – as interest and awareness grow, and people come to understand the
many benefits of tiny homes, demand naturally increases. In many ways,
municipalities and the housing industry are still playing catch up.
If you’re interested in tiny home
living, check out NewHomeSource’s archive of tiny homes
articles – we dive into the legal aspects of tiny homes, reputable tiny
home builders, a cost breakdown of building a tiny house, and more.
Liyya Hassanali is a Project Manager and Content Strategist for Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides marketing strategies and content for architects, interior designers, and landscape designers. She is a 15+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry, working closely with her clients to provide written content that meets their marketing goals and gets results.
Liyya is passionate about home design and décor and is a confessed HGTV and Pinterest addict. When not providing content writing services for her clients, she can be found browsing home décor sites or spending time with her family.