The team at Close to Home has years of experience working with buyers and sellers – of tiny and not so tiny – homes. We believe that buying the right home is all about buyers being honest with themselves prior to house hunting. Start by making that crucial list of what you want and need in your tiny home, then figure out the difference between the two. When people start with this step, the path to the right home becomes clear.
1. Location, Location, Location
You’ve done some reading and you understand that going “tiny” has location implications. So you’ve got to sort out your location first. This issue may dictate what you buy or build:
- Can a tiny house on wheels be “parked” legally according to your local zoning codes?
- Are you dependent upon a friend or family member to “host” you on their lot/land?
- What are the implications of your “build” (of any sort of tiny) to the property?
You’ll need to think through getting basic utilities such as water and electricity. Also, understand the site well so you can design your home to maximize light with your window and door placement, etc. This front-end planning can help you enjoy more light and less energy use down the road.
Remember, be honest and up front with yourself and others; don’t assume that Aunt Sally will allow you to put your tiny house on wheels in her backyard for free. Aunt Sally might be moving, or she just might charge you more rent than you can afford. It’s crucial to get these details in place without making assumptions. Which leads us to the next topic…
2. Paying For Your Tiny Home
This is such a crucial step to take early in the process. Set aside some good time to dive deep into your finances. Yes, a lot of folks want to live tiny to find that work/life balance or to pay off debt.
If you are a typical borrower, it’s tempting to want to maximize what you can spend, and push yourself to spend more. If you work on this financial piece of the puzzle early on, you’ll save yourself the time and energy spent looking at homes that are above your budget. Some of this looking can be useful for design inspiration, but just be honest with yourself about where your focus needs to be.
Once you figure out what you can spend on your down payment, upfront costs, and ongoing monthly payments, you’ll have a much better idea about what your options are.
We’ll cover more about financing in another post. Financing is tricky as it can be dependent upon the type of home you want to build or purchase.
So stick to the basics to begin:
- Where are you financially right now?
- What money do have to work with up front?
- What can you afford to pay on a monthly basis?
3. To Build or Not To Build
This step involves research and another opportunity to be honest with yourself!
Look around your current home:
- Do you have projects that are incomplete?
- A quilt that you never finished?
- A bathroom remodel that you never got around to?
- Or is your “to-do” list crossed out and vanquished every night?
This reality check will help you figure out if you are the type of person who should completely or partially build your tiny home. Maybe you should hire out this work to have it completed in a timely manner. After completing step 2, you will know if you can afford this option. Even the glorified tales of tiny home builds show builders having moments we can all imagine; wanting to throw in the hammer. It’s not easy. This is where being honest about your skills and about the support you will receive from friends and family is going to lead you to the right decision.
Who knows, maybe your circle of friends and Aunt Sally are all about this step toward independence, and will help get you there with free tools and labor. Maybe you can afford a fully finished home; delivered to you and ready for occupancy. There is no shame in this option. It’s much better for you if your time and talents are required elsewhere.
4. Your Slice of Tiny
Here is where things can start to become a lot of fun. There are lots of options out there. The previous steps will have helped you to find your price range, and now you understand the implications of how much designing and work you’ll do on your home. Now you must marry that with the functionality of the home – and how you live your daily life.
One of the big design differences in tiny homes is a sleeping loft vs. main floor bedroom space. Designers understand that lots of potential tiny buyers are not interested in climbing up and down a ladder or stairs in the night. There are choices in designs. Your research on location will have helped you narrow your options of size and transportability of your new home. That decision itself will narrow possibilities. Homes with the sleeping loft and additional sleeping accommodations on the main floor will obviously appeal to more people. If you are thinking about resale, this is something to take into consideration.
In the end, you need to think about living through a typical month in your new home.
- Will you be having guests over frequently? A well-designed kitchen/living space could help with hosting.
- Do you work from home? Maybe you should prioritize a work space separate from your living space.
It’s all about understanding what you want and need to make the tiny lifestyle work for you and then marrying those issues with the best matched tiny house on the market.
5. Experts Can Help!
Finally, finding expert guidance on your journey can help a lot. You would probably not think to purchase a “large” home without the assistance of a real estate agent.
The tiny house world has experts too! Spend some time researching them. From builders and designers to DIYers and bloggers, you will learn a lot and will hopefully find an expert you’d like to work with. Asking the right questions and understanding the answers are a part of the journey as you figure out which kind of tiny house will feel like home to you!