First things first: there is no right or wrong answer to this question. But let’s start by clearing the elephant in the room: tiny homes are not for everyone. Pretty obvious. Sure, everyone can experience living in small spaces but can they live full time in a tiny home? Maybe. Am I the expert? No. Am I figuring this out as I go while learning and gaining skills from this experience? You bet.
Hi I’m Ursula and I’m building a tiny home on wheels in Ontario, Canada.
Ask me 10 years ago if I would have ever imagined living in a tiny home and the answer would have probably been no. Fast forward to today, I’m joining this wave of the tiny home movement, minimalism and living a simpler life. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing simple when it comes to building a tiny home. There’s still the endless research, time and financial commitment involved in building a home from the ground (or trailer) up.
Financial success has been reflected in the size of homes we buy hence the upward trend in building bigger homes in densely populated areas. The average size of a home today has risen to around 2,500 square feet compared to around 1,500 square feet in the 1950s. Homes are getting bigger, as is the price tag and mortgage rates continue to increase. That goes to say the tiny home movement is not just tackling the reduced price tag on housing but more importantly the pursuit of a different lifestyle than the societal norm. My reason to go tiny: minimalism, financial freedom and travel. I enjoy living with less – less things, less clutter, less cleaning, less organizing. I buy quality not quantity, supporting brands that pay fair wages, put the environment first and create products to last. There’s no doubt about it, smaller homes = more financial freedom and allows me to put my paycheck towards more than just my daily house expenses. I embrace a cosmopolitan lifestyle, one where travelling and sharing cultural experiences shape my outlook on life. Having a home-base with low overhead costs allows me to continuously encompass a lifestyle exploring beyond my backyard.
No matter what your decision or reason for going tiny – welcome! I hope you can find some insight into tiny living here and gain some knowledge from what I have learned through this process. This is my sole opinion on tiny homes and tiny living. There is no one right or wrong way to build a tiny home and all choices/decisions will be based on some main factors of location, access to facilities, and climate. That being said my tiny home build is based in Ontario, Canada. My tiny home will be very different than one based in California, USA. I encourage anyone looking into going tiny to start by doing the research.
Starting Your Research Process
Your first set of research should be browsing through images and videos of tiny homes – even visiting or staying at an AirBnb tiny home. See if you can imagine yourself living in such a small space. Can you live with only basic essentials and amenities? Look at what you would have to give up in your current living situation to move into a tiny home. How many people plan to move into the tiny home? Are you wanting to give up space for more financial freedom? Do you have a spot to legally park your tiny home? Once you can give yourself an answer to these questions (and more!), you will know if you’re ready to take the leap into tiny living.
When it comes to construction – be realistic. If you don’t have experience with construction (like myself) then find yourself a carpenter! Or at least find someone with experience that you can sit down to go over the logistics of your tiny home plans. Maybe you will consider hiring a contractor to build your entire home or just the framework to get started and complete the rest yourself.
Bottom line: you don’t want to go to all the work, time and money just to have a house that’s falling apart after a few months.
At the end of the day, you will be happy you’ve made the investment in your research and planning to build your home right the first time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to discourage anyone from a DIY build! I encourage everyone to learn new skills which can be accomplished in DIY projects but must face the dreaded ‘homework’ part before getting started. Always seek out expertise in areas that you may lack knowledge or experience. Whether it’s building to code in your region or installing plumbing, water or heating systems – these areas are not ones you want to get wrong. Don’t be afraid to ask and learn as much as you can from others.
Great Resources For Tiny Living
Here are some resources I’ve used – will continuously update:
You can find anything and everything on YouTube! I’ve spent hours watching other tiny home builders show off their unique designs, tips and tricks, water/plumbing/heating systems and timelapses of builds from start to finish.
My Favourite Channels:
- Living Big In A Tiny House
- Exploring Alternatives
- Tiny House Giant Journey
- Tiny House Expedition
- Tiny House Living: Ideas for Building & Living Well in Less than 400 Square Feet by Ryan Mitchell
- Living Big in a Tiny House by Bryce Langston
- The Big Tiny by Dee Williams (also check out her TedTalk)
- Turning Tiny The Small-Living Paradigm That’s Reshaping The Way We Think, Live and Dream – Various Authors (The front cover photo was the first tiny home I saw and imagined myself living in a tiny home on wheels!)
…And many many more!!!
Speaking to Professionals
It never hurts to speak to a professional in the field whether it be carpentry, plumbing, heating or design. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family that have expertise in these fields or allocate some of your budget to sit down with a professional in the trades. You learn valuable insight to your build and possibly find solutions to problems you didn’t think you had! Speaking to a professional ensures you will create a home that will last forever and provide you a greater resale value in the future.
The Tiny Home Build Begins!
At the end of the day, it is your decision to go tiny. There are many positive outcomes to living in a tiny home but like everything in life, comes at a cost. Everyone will have their own reasons to join the tiny home movement (or not!). I welcome those who are interested in taking the jump to build a tiny home and join me as I build my future home on wheels. I hope I can share with you my own personal advice along this journey and answer some questions when it comes to building a tiny home on wheels step by step.