Tiny Homes vs Small Houses, Cabins & Trailers [ALL THE THINGS]

As the name suggests, tiny houses are well, tiny. Think 100-400 square feet (sq ft). Tiny houses are most ideal for people who are living alone, although, recently, couples and people with small families are also considering tiny houses as it allows for affordability as well as security. 

As the popularity of tiny houses have grown, the confusion surrounding them has also increased. People are confusing tiny houses for RVs, cabin houses, and even tree houses. However, tiny houses are honestly a league of its own. In this article, we will put all your doubts to rest by explaining how tiny houses differ from all other kinds. 

Key Takeaways

Tiny Homes are 100-400 square feet best suited for a single person or a couple.

A small house is 500-1000 square feet and can accomodate a family.

A cabin is usually a small house in a scenic or remote location.

A shed needs to be converted to a tiny home to be livable.

What is a Tiny House?

The tiny house movement basically started as an architectural and social movement against capitalistic ways of living with luxuries. Tiny house movement advocates for “living with less” and minimalist living. Tiny houses can come in different variations; as stand-alone houses or attached with trailers. 

A tiny house is generally a one-unit house with a kitchen, a room, and a bathroom that is 100 to 400 square feet in size.

It has proper insulation and other installations as a traditional house, but requires less materials and less cost due to its size. Tiny houses are attractive to younger people because of their affordability and sustainable style. 

Read more: Pros & Cons of Tiny Houses

Difference Between a Tiny House and a Small House

A tiny house can occupy from 100 to 400 sq ft, whereas, the size of a small house ranges from 500 to 1,000 sq ft. While a tiny house is ideal for a single person, small homes can be a great way to reduce clutter and follow a minimalist lifestyle even when you’re living with a family. Small homes are also affordable compared to a traditional home built today and prove to be a worthy investment, with a good resale value. 

There isn’t much difference between a tiny and small house, as both require the same materials and skills to construct, however, the cost of manufacturing a small house is a little more than for a tiny house, given the difference in space to cover. 

The cost per square foot will likely be very similar depending on the built-in elements desired to maximize function and storage of the home.

Difference Between a Tiny House and a Cabin

Legally, tiny houses are categorized as mobile homes if on a trailer & not permitted in some areas since they’re so small, whereas cabins are a more permanent category of houses as they are situated on a piece of land that really fit in the small house category in size generally).

Cabins are generally more likely found in a scenic or remote destination and closer to the 1,000 square feet size whereas tiny houses are less than 400 square feet and fit in a city or rural location.

However, for tiny houses that are not attached with trailers or otherwise mobile, tiny houses and cabins have a distinction of where it is situated and when it is livable. Usually, people keep cabins near forests or other destinations near nature and natural beauty, and tiny houses can exist anywhere in suburbs or cities. 

Moreover, cabins have an appeal of seasonal or occasional living, like a staycation or weekend getaway, while a tiny house is more of a lifestyle choice and permanent way of living. The cabin is also made up of a sturdier material, with the interior rustic to reflect the provincial view from outside. However, a tiny house can be as traditional and modern as you want it to be, with luxury appliances and furniture. 

Read more: Can You Live in a Tiny Home PERMANENTLY?

Difference between a tiny house and a trailer

This one is a bit complex. Tiny houses are often registered as on-wheels houses, given their size and other regulatory restrictions in some states. Thus, tiny houses can be built on a piece of land, or attached with a trailer. Given that attaching a tiny house to a trailer gives a huge perk to its residents if mobility is important to you. 

The difference, however, between an RV and a tiny house is that an RV is originally a vehicle, and the size of it is smaller as compared to a standalone tiny house (immovable). RVs are one-unit lodgings which are built in connection with the vehicle itself, while a tiny house may be built separately, with different materials, and then attached to a trailer, if preferred. 

Read more: 30+ Reasons to Live in a Tiny House

Difference Between a Tiny House and a Shed

Sheds are easily the wildest living space in this list. Some states do not allow living in a shed because of the lack of basic necessities of water, gas, and electricity. When you think of a shed, you’re thinking of a building not as secure as your house usually specifically for storage or garage purposes. People like to keep their items and tools in it, treat it as a workspace, and things along those lines.

Tiny houses are built with the amenities that make a home livable to withstand storms and provide warmth with insulation whereas sheds are built for utility purposes. For a shed to be livable, it would need to be converted to a tiny home.

However, sheds aren’t usually comfortable enough to reside in, not even on a temporary basis. First of all, it lacks the basic interior of a house, i.e. no separate bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen. Second, a shed building does not provide for good insulation and thus become inhabitable in extreme temperatures. Tiny houses provide for insulation and are basically meant to be habitable permanently. Tiny houses are really traditional houses – but tiny. 

Read more: What size tiny home do you need?

What is the best option for me?

Out of all these options, the ones costing the minimum to build can be the RV/trailer. However, given that they are mobile and move from place to place, it can be a bit of a hassle to keep up with their maintenance cost.

Cabins are perfect for people to go on stays or to keep themselves closer to nature after a hectic work week, but not for permanent living. 

The real battle is between tiny house and small house, as both are basically the same, except for their sizes. Small houses are ideal for people who have families to live with and want the facilities and comfort of a usual-sized house. Tiny houses are ideal for a single person or a couple as it is also cheaper to build and maintain. 

All in all, the real thing that matters while you are planning where to live is what’s important to you and what your purpose is. All these housing options call for minimalism, green, and sustainable living, as all require lesser materials and lesser money to produce. Furthermore, their life is also known to be really long, if maintained well of course. 

Most people also recommend that if you are opting for a tiny house, go for an immobile one. Once you have an on-wheels tiny house, and if you want to sell it, it does not have good resale value. An immovable tiny house can have a long-term living condition, and even if you want to sell it, it’ll be upscaled in value because it is treated similar to a traditional house. 

Read more: Help Find a Place for Your Tiny Home (Legally)