I'm new to this board, and I'm building my first Tiny Home and I would love some tips and tricks from other people that have built or bought their own house!!
For example, do you wish you would you picked a trailer that was longer? That you would or wouldn't have put in a composting toilet? That you had a bigger bathroom? Maybe even bought it from the start, vs building it yourself?
I just want to make sure I do all my research first!
Thanks for all the help!!
I live sometimes in a camper/trailer. It is 8 feet wide and 20 feet long. The nicest thing that it has going for it is that the appliances (and lighting) are propane only. They do not require electricity to operate. I wish that it had a wood burning stove. The windows are terribly leaky. A covered porch would be really nice: someplace out of the sun/rain to sit and eat a meal.
I do not rearrange the furniture during the day. Things get left in the "night" position pretty much all the time.
I'm really happy to hear you like the composting toilet, I have never used one and I'm happy you like yours so much.
Joseph, question on the propane vs electricity. Why do you like the propane so much better? Easier to cook with? No batteries/generator to worry mess with? This is something I haven't heard before.
Lastly, thank you for the documentation tip... I have started my list!
Jack Edmonds wrote:Joseph, question on the propane vs electricity. Why do you like the propane so much better? Easier to cook with? No batteries/generator to worry mess with?
I like not having electricity... I like that the heater, oven, stove, lighting, and refrigerator all operate from propane only, and do not require electricity. Makes life easier to only have to maintain one utility system instead of two. I really dislike modern ovens that won't cook if the electricity goes out. I really dislike modern heaters, that won't heat if the electricity isn't working, etc... A lot of RV refrigerators can operate from either propane, or electricity.
I have a small solar panel and battery, but the system only provides temporary lighting at night, and charges batteries for portable devices like flashlights.
Any chance of another? or more
Composting toilets are a must. Chemical toilets or other options are just awful IMO.
If its a full time thing, you're going to want power. A decent camping fridge (60L+), batteries and solar (if possible). Cook with either wood fire or gas.
Heating? well...depends where you are/what fuel you have access to
Having the entrance protected from the elements will make life a lot more comfortable.
Everything must have its spot/storage. If it doesn't you'll do your head in/spend huge sums of time organising things and it'll just become painful.
You planning on doing clothes washing? you'll want some sort of machine that will spin clothes. There are good manual operated options out there
Hot water? Gas or other options?
Water storage - how much/source to refill?
Insulation is critical, so you want masses of it and you want to minimise thermal bridging and need to have it sealed up as tight as possible. Small mechanical fans (12 v) will/should be sufficient to manage fresh air (or a window)
Joseph: How big is your propane tank, and how long does it usually last you?
Peter: Thank you for chiming in! This is pretty much going to be my home, and right now it's just me (trying to convince the GF to join me in it). After hearing form Joseph, I'm leaning toward propane for sure. For washing clothes, I hadn't really thought about that too much. I will look into the manually operated ones. Water storage, I would like a tank built into the Tiny Home, but not sure what size. Recommendations? Good tip on the insulation.
Thank you all again for the feedback!
Jack Edmonds wrote:Water storage, I would like a tank built into the Tiny Home, but not sure what size. Recommendations?
Depends if you're washing clothes and or showering. The clothes thing is a big one, and will vary depending on method used....
Showering.....well, you can have a satisfactory wash with about 7L of water in my experience.....want to do that long term?....it gets tedious. We've lived without a "real" shower at home for nearly 9 months now (long story). But we do have a small portable gas hot water system, so we can stick our head under it and get somewhat clean. Its not such an issue in winter, and in summer you can just use cold water, but it really depends. My wife needs to clean her hair at least once a week without complaints reaching atmospheric levels....but that is fairly straight forward with a bucket and our little portable system.....want to live like that long term? I suggest not.
With the water it depends how you're going to source and collect it. if you're parking this thing on a block with town water its easy....just plug a hose in....if not, well how are you going to replenish it? rain only? if that's the case you'll want a bigger catchment and a bigger storage.
We (me, wife, daughter, 2 dogs) put up with 3 x 20L jerry cans for water for about 3 months. Then a neighbor lent us a 400L poly tank - whenever I went past a free fill spot in town I'd fill the 3 jerrys and empty that into the 400L tank....that made things a bit easier....but it was tedious.
My take on all this:
If you can nail those four this project will be a great success, if you cant you're setting yourself up for failure longer term. Cooking etc is easy if you're comfortable.....but trust me, a couple of big batteries, a decent fridge (we have 2...but then there is 5 mouths to feed) and a solar panel are you're best friend.
We're living in this thing at present (all five of us - its crap):
Things I can suggest from my experience so far:
1. - Do not use a direct vent cadalitic propane heater in a small space unless you want serious moisture condensation problems. The camper came equipped with such a heater and I had to stop using it and go to using an electric space heater because of moisture problems. Opening a window a crack (required for fresh air anyway when using such a heater), opening big window all the way, electric fan forced fresh air circulation, etc. . . None of that is sufficient to prevent moisture problems with extended use and the last two options you loose most of your heat as well. Cooking with propane is not a problem and a propane heater that vents outside would probably be fine as well. Just DO NOT think you can use one of those direct went cadalitic heaters for a long term heat source. Yes they are really efficient and probably cheaper for the camper manufacturer to install but they are not suitable for a long term small space heating solution.
2. - Insulation is important and the foam board stuff is awesome! The camper I'm living in while I build has only 1-1/2" thick walls but they are filled with just basic white foam board not even the better quality foam board and even with that thin and lower quality foam and thermal losses through the windows and thermal bridging through the 2x2 studs in its walls it still stays toasty warm with just a 1,500 watt electric space heater all the way down to sub-zero Winter weather. Some of that is helped by being parked inside the pole-barn shop structure but that really only serves as a wind-break/buffer since the structure is un-heated, un-insulated, and not even completely weather tight. The tiny house for comparison is going to have over double the thickness of foam board board insulation on the walls and more then four times the thickness of foam board insulation on the roof and with very few thermal bridging possibilities. Thus I'm expecting my tiny house to stay just as toasty warm with the same or even less heating input even though it's going to be significantly larger then the camper.
3. - Floors are the hardest thing to heat and cold floors are a real pain! I would strongly suggest considering some form of in floor heating especially for a tiny house on wheels. Even though it's floor is insulated with foam board the same as the walls and ceiling in the camper I'm living in while I build no matter how hot I get it inside the camper in the winter the floor is still cold because heat rises and being up above the ground on jack stands with a pocket of cold outside air underneath it the floor never warms up. Which with a tiny hose built on a trailer would be the same situation and no skirting doesn't help all that much. Probably the cheapest and simplest way to do heated floors in a tiny house would be with the those cut to fit electric heating mats, for me though in my build since it's not on a trailer but I am putting in a deep insulated perimeter natural stonework foundation with stonework floor I am using a combination of passive geothermal and water circulation tubes installed in the floor an hooked up to both a water jacket on the wood stove and a gas hot water heater. But if I were building the usual tiny house on a trailer I would install electric heating mat in the floor for sure.
4. - Furniture that folds up/down or otherwise transforms to fill multiple rolls will only actually be used as such if the conversion is VERY EASY to do! If you are going to have a murphy bed or bed/table conversion it will stay as a bed unless it is very easy to convert when you get up in the morning. To this end I have designed the murphy bed unit for my tiny house such that it folds up via electric winch (just hold the winch button down to fold up bed) and you have to fold the bed up to easily get to the clothes storage drawers built into the wall. Thus the bed will actually get folded up!
5. - You don't actually need very much electricity if you are smart how you use it. So far I have had no problems living off of a single 20amp 120V service including electric heat. Granted my hot water heater and stove/oven are propane. But I am running a small fridge, medium chest freezer, microwave, TV, computer, lights, airconditioning, and the electric space heater all of just that single circuit. All the appliances are energy efficient models and I use LED light bulbs and when I want to use the microwave I turn off the electric heater or air conditioner for a moment while using the microwave and then turn back on when done using the microwave. If you are already using propane for cooking and hot water and especially if you heat with it as well unless you have a specific energy hogging electric appliances you must run together at the same time you really don't need anything more then 20amp 120v service for a tiny house. Which if you limit yourself to that gives you a lot of options sine all you need is a heavy duty contractor grade extension cord and a full 20amp rated exterior plug in to plug into. Without electric heat you could probably even get away with just a 15amp standard exterior outlet service.