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  • Mike Erkkinen

Common types of "Tiny Homes"

Updated: May 25

We see Tiny Home as a lifestyle, as opposed to a building or vehicle, however the building or vehicles are important and fun. We'll talk about some of the most common types here, as there are always creative individuals adding to the reservoir of out of the box homes.

This funky looking house that is built on a flatbed trailer is pretty much the flagship of the tiny home movement. It's portable, you can theoretically bring it anywhere. It's self-sufficient. To our eye it is very elegant looking. It is a compromise in many ways. In order to make it "street legal" for transportation, it is limited in height and width. It isn't quite as easy to move as a travel trailer or motor home. It is a nice combination of the solid aspects of a permanent home, with the mobility to let you try living in different places or move with the seasons.

This type of tiny house, or cottage is very compact, but lives on a permanent foundation. This foundation can be made from a few different materials: concrete walls or slab, pier, pressure treated lumber, or various other modern methods. The benefit of this type of house is that you aren't limited to sizes and shapes that can be mounted on a trailer, while it's still small enough to build in a pre-fabricated shop and deliver to the site all ready to live in. The down side is that it will be placed on one permanent site and could be subject to some local building regulations that a house on wheels wouldn't be subject to.

"Schoolies" are literally "too cool for school". Many folks are creating amazing mobile homes from these buses that are being replaced by school districts because of age or mileage. These buses tend to be very well maintained and make excellent core structures for these homes. A down side is that the curved metal structures of the buses take special skills, typically welding and sheet metal skills, along with solid woodworking skills, in order to renovate. There is also the whole vehicle drive system to maintain: engine, transmission, etc. which involve yet more specialized skills. There is also the issue of fuel cost for a truly mobile lifestyle.

There are certainly pros and cons of living afloat. This is our little schooner. She is a design that hasn't changed much in 250 years, though she has some modern features. We have a woodstove to heat and cook on, a compost toilet, running fresh water, and DC electricity. We make power with solar or when the diesel engine runs. The coolest thing about living afloat in my opinion is that your house travels in the most elegant way possible - by wind power. It is a beautiful way to move about! The down side can be finding a safe harbor, or anchorage, and storms. The maintenance can also be daunting, as sea and sun will beat up a home faster than one on land.

Who doesn't want to live in a tree? There can be some challenges with connecting the house to the tree, and then some tree houses are challenging to get up to, but what a whimsical way to live! With good trees and good connections, a tree house has similar building and maintenance challenges to a house on a foundation.

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