Last weekend, we had the pleasure of attending Miranda's Hearth's 3rd Annual BIG Tiny House Festival in Stoughton, Massachusetts. We met TONS of tiny house enthusiasts and future tiny house owners and got to show them our most recent build - an 8x24' tiny house shell (shown below on the morning of the first day!).
Over the course of the 2-day event, we fielded lots of great questions and thought-provoking comments.
Below, you will find answers to the 5 most frequently asked questions we received last weekend. Hopefully, this be helpful to all those with tiny house curiosities or those just beginning their tiny house journey!
1. Where do I park my tiny house and what kinds of permits do I need?
This was the most frequently asked question of the weekend! However, this is not a question that has one easy answer. The needs of each potential tiny house owner will vary wildly. Some people can go wherever tiny houses are welcome. Others may be tied down to a particular city or region.
Which scenario describes you the best?
If you know what town you want to park in, call the town hall and ask. It’s that simple! If that town says no or is unsure, try a neighboring town. You will likely need to be your own advocate. Be persistent and have your tiny house knowledge honed in.
If you are not wedded to a particular location, get online and start doing research. Are you looking for privacy or a community to join? Here are a few awesome resources to check first:
I recommend looking to see where tiny houses already are and then letting that refine your search - after all, if a town has already allowed one tiny house, perhaps they will be open to yours! Also, try posting on Craigslist or asking around to local farms to find parking.
Permitting needs will be specific to each town and - in some cases - each neighborhood. This question is an obvious follow-up question to ask when you talk to the town officials. Make sure you ask about temporary dwellings (as your house is on wheels) or accessory dwellings (if your tiny house will be parked next to an existing house.
Here are a few more questions that will affect how your house is received in your area.
Will you be living in your house full time?
Is your house technically an RV?
Will you have an existing structure to support you or will you be the only structure on your land?
What kinds of utilities will your house be hooked up to?
Keep in mind that every potential parking area will have different utility access. It may make sense to figure out where you will be parking your house then finalizing your design rather than building your tiny house and being limited by your utility design.
Read more: tiny house parking guide
Bonus question: Where are all the tiny house communities?!
Ah, the elusive tiny house community! While they do exist in the wild, I’ll admit they are hard to find and seem to be in distant locations. I do not know of any tiny house communities that exist in New England just yet, but I have heard of a number being planned. I’ll let you all know as soon as I know!
And how much does it cost to rent a piece of land for a tiny house? Depending on your arrangement, I have heard anywhere from just covering utilities to $500 per month.
2. What kind of truck do I need to pull a tiny house?
To pull your tiny house, you will likely need a ¾-ton or 1-ton truck, such as a Ford F250 or F350. This will depend on the weight of your home, which will differ based on size. A 24’ or 28’ tiny house will likely be 9,000 to 10,000 lbs GVW when filled with your furniture and belongings.
Read more: tiny house towing
3. How much does this tiny house cost?
As many people learned, the tiny house unit we brought to the festival was not going to be finished by us, but instead sold as a shell. Our client will be finishing the interior himself. While we typically finish the interior ourselves, we can build a tiny house to suit any specifications at any level of finishing, making us a great option for DIYers - whether you want us to start the build for you, or even finish it!
Base 8x18’ shells start at $20k and finished models start at $50k. Custom pricing will be based on utilities, design elements, and desired building materials.
Ready for your own? Request a free quote on our website!
And what if you want to build one yourself? Expect total material costs to be between $17k and $30k.
4. What is that building material?!
If you were at the festival and toured our tiny house shell, you were able to see some of the “behind the scenes” building materials only visible before the house is finished.
Many people commented on the strange, black netting that covered the tiny house. What was that?! That is a rainscreen underlayment - the particular brand is called Cedar Breather, but there are several varieties of rainscreen on the market. It is an underlayment that is applied between the exterior siding of the tiny house and the siding. It creates an air gap that prevents moisture from getting trapped between the building materials. It is vital to maintaining dry building materials and preventing mold growth - a prevalent issue in tiny houses.
Read more about mold and humidity: Winter Utilities Guide, Part 3: Insulation, Humidity, Condensation, Mold, and Wood Stoves
Behind the rainscreen is the ZIP System exterior sheathing. It is plywood that already has a weather resistant barrier applied to it (the green “skin”) that eliminates the need for traditional Tyvek House Wrap. On the inside, we will apply an eco-friendly, closed-cell spray foam insulation for an R-value of 21.
ZIP sheathing, rainscreen, and spray foam insulation are three building materials that we always include in our builds and we will not compromise on these elements to save money. Trust us, they will make your tiny house investment last and keep your house healthy!
5. Will this be able to withstand New England winters?
Yes! We build exclusively for New England winters. In a turn-key ready tiny house, there are non-negotiable elements we include to keep the house sealed, cozy, and dry. This includes an appropriately sized heater, rainscreen, spray foam insulation, point-of-source ventilation, and ERV humidity controls.
You can read more about what to expect during the winter in your tiny house in our 3-part Winter Utilities Guide.
Check out our tiny house interviews to see how actual New England-ers manage their tiny houses in the winter.
*Bonus!* Where are you located?
We are located in the southern Green Mountain region of Vermont in the small ski community of Londonderry. We build out of our home workshop in the spring, summer, and fall, generally working on one house at a time. Typically, we are able to complete two to four tiny houses a year depending on the complexity of the builds. We can serve tiny house clients all over the country!
Londonderry is located 3 hours from Boston, 4 hours from Montreal, 4 hours from NYC, and 1.5 hours from Albany. Visitors are welcome to our workshop on an invitation-only basis.
Are you interested in pursuing a tiny house with Tiny House Crafters? Our build season is open for 2018, but will likely fill up before December. If you are serious about a tiny house, the time to act is now!
Crave more advice like this? Want to build your own, but feel overwhelmed by all the options and information out there?
We also offer Research and Design services, Custom Drafting services, and Technical Support services. Let us help you guide you through your build and feel confident in your finished product.
In the meantime, don’t forget to read all the features on our blog!