Tiny houses are “totally in right now”. It seems that everyone wants their own slice of that tiny freedom. However, tiny houses do not work for everyone for various reasons. Let’s dive into those reasons, as well as, answer the question:
Are tiny houses bad? What are the criticisms of tiny houses?
1. Tight Space For A Family
A huge part of living in a tiny house is to reduce your footprint. Carbon and physical.
You can do this by moving into a smaller space. You’ll automatically use less energy to maintain less square feet. Think electricity, gas, and potentially water and sewer use.
Then layer in that you overall just have less space to worry about.
However, the tight space isn’t for everyone.
A tiny house is usually about 400 square feet in floor area according to International Residential Code, Appendix Q. But a more liberal definition is that a tiny home can go up to 1000 square feet (source).
This means that it can be difficult for a family to fit in a tiny home comfortably. Adding pets to the mix will make it even more of a challenge (source).
Can you imagine? Claustrophobia on the weekends when everyone is at home at once!
Of course, as you reach closer to that 1,000 square feet limit, it becomes less of a space constraint. That true 400 square feet is near impossible without going up with the use of lofts for sleeping and storage.
And while a tiny house is easier to clean, it also needs to be cleaned more often since more people are moving around inside. Things must be put back in their place when not in use to keep from the house feeling out of hand with that many people in the space.
Insider mentioned that the tiny house lifestyle should be more targeted toward children-less couples or single people due to the limited space. I can see where having kids in a tiny house is a very personal decision.
While a tiny home could work for when the child is a baby, it could be different as the child reaches a stage with a lot of energy to burn off. This is especially true if you can’t send them outside courtesy of foul weather!
Plus teens. This stage in particular sounds difficult in a small home.
Everyone needs their own space in their own home. That looks very different in a tiny home.
2. Even Tiny Homes Need to Be Built to Code
There is some gray area assuming that tiny homes are a DIY project. They certainly can be, but regardless of who is building the tiny home, it needs to be built to code.
It is still a home! Anything mean to be a structure to live in should adhere to building standards for your safety.
Not building to code can result in fines, as well as, damage. It could be outright not safe to live in!
In addition, not all jurisdictions account for tiny houses specifically. While there most likely is a process going on to get these codes sorted out, it may take a while.
3. They’re Not as Cheap as You May Believe
While buying a tiny house is a lot cheaper than a standard size house, this isn’t always be the case.
The overall square feet is lower, but the cost per square feet is much higher than traditional homes. Each square foot of a tiny house must accommodate many functions in less space. Let’s just start there!
Plus, if you need to find a location to live in your tiny home, it becomes difficult in some parts of the country to find a piece of property that even permits them.
Of course, if you need to put in utilities, there is a cost there, as well, and off-grid needs make the initial outlay more expensive in many cases (not all). Putting in culverts, sewers, well, and the rest certainly add up!
But, those initial expenses to live off grid certainly keeps costs low down the road.
4. Tiny Homes are Hard to Finance
The elephant in the room here is how much harder financing a tiny home can be. As Quicken Loans mentions, it is harder to find a traditional mortgage lender. They are a monster in the industry, so these words should carry some weight.
There are a couple of reasons behind this. Most lenders have a minimum loan value for borrows.
Additionally, it can be harder to sell a tiny home which means it may be difficult to recoop the cost in the event of a foreclosure. This makes the overall loan riskier for lenders.
Plus, some loans have a minimum 400 square foot requirement to even qualify for a loan. Therefore, your regulated mortgage options are fairly limited not to mention that you would most likely not get access to low-interest rates.
5. Insuring a Tiny Home Is Harder
And getting insurance is another problem since tiny house insurance does not really exist. There are guarantees if you get a tiny home built by a company.
However, if you want to build one yourself then many insurers will not cover it. If you are thinking the DIY route is the route for your family, reach out to a local insurance agent before you do anything!
Some tiny homes fit in the RV segment, and RV insurance becomes an option. I hear the process is a tough one, and it definitely only applies if your tiny home is on wheels with an axle (or 2).
6. Selling Can Be Difficult
Tiny houses are in trend now, however, this does not mean that they are easy to sell. Many buyers just want space. Whether this is for family reasons or because they want a craft room.
Regardless, tiny homes attract a specific segment of the real estate market, and this means the customers to market to is smaller when it comes time to sell!
7. Not Easy To Get Approvals In Many Locations
Another big issue when it comes to owning a tiny house is that many states in the US consider them illegal!
This can be due to the idea that they are not built to a certain safety standard that is agreed upon by the government, or the specific jurisdiction hasn’t updated their codes to include them.
Therefore, tiny homes are not mentioned in many local zoning codes meaning it can be a challenge to find a place to place these little homes.
This is such an issue that it is illegal in some places to park a mobile tiny house in a friend’s or family member’s yard without paying rent. However, the Tiny Home Industry Association (THIA) is in the process of trying to get tiny homes legalized with more standardized regulations and requirements.
So far they have managed to win over Los Angeles which is a huge step in the right direction.
But, until the rest of the US follows suit it will be an ongoing challenge for tiny homeowners to find a place to house their tiny homes.
8. You Better Love the Outdoors for Gatherings
Due to the space limitations, this means that social gatherings with friends and family would have to be held outdoors. Spreading your own legs looks the same, so having company over means it’s an automatic outside get together.
This can be an issue when it comes to the weather. Unexpected rain comes into play here.
Let’s say you have a birthday party planned to celebrate your 30th (or 60th), and you’ve invited 20 of your closest pals. If it’s going to rain, you can’t simply move it indoors!
Unless they all stand and do not move in the space.
This would not make for a fun experience.
9. Privacy Is Difficult
Privacy in a household is needed to keep the mental health and well-being of the family. If someone wants to have a space for themselves inside this can be difficult to do since there is not enough space to do so. Sure many tiny houses come with lofts.
However, these are often open to the rest of the home since they do not have a door. Meaning that all anyone has to do is look up, and your privacy is gone.
You could try to hide in the bathroom, but if someone truly needs to use that bathroom, then you would be all out of luck!
10. Limited Storage
Limited storage can be something that can turn many people away from owning a tiny home. The idea of the “secret departments” may be appealing at the beginning, but it can take a toll at a later date.
While you can keep what you need, the idea of having spares can be an issue, as well as, if you want to buy new items. Such as clothes, shoes, towels, etc. All these types of items can be worn with time and use. However, not to the point that you need to throw them out.
Furthermore, storing food can also be an issue since there is not, often, too much space in the kitchen. And you would be lucky if you have a pantry.
Oh and hobbies.
11. No More Hobbies
Something that is often overlooked when it comes to living in a tiny house, is having hobbies that aren’t necessarily outdoor hobbies.
Hobbies take up space, which as you know, is very limited in a tiny house. If you are into crafts, painting, sports, etc. you would have to find somewhere to store your equipment.
Or you can rent out separate storage for your equipment and do your hobbies.
However, this would mean that you would have to go to and fro which is definitely a nuisance. Of course if that works for you, this rent will add to your tiny home budget.
12. Always Moving Something Around
Let’s say that you have a Murphy bed that you can fold into the wall when not in use. But, if you have a chair in the same area then this would have to be moved, blocking something else to pull down your bed.
This can also apply to storage in the kitchen and closet since you would have to place certain items in exact ways. This can be good if you do not need the items. But, if you brought them then you are planning to use them.
So you would have to move around a few items to get to that one that you want. This can just be time-consuming and a bit annoying after a while. Certainly so after a bad day.
13. Small Lofts
Many tiny houses come with an upstairs loft usually for either a bit of extra storage or to sleep in. However, these often have low ceilings meaning that you can easily bump your head in the night. Imagine if you had a nightmare.
Plus, since they are upstairs or ladders this can be a bit annoying when in the dead of the night you need the bathroom which is below. Not to mention a tiny, bit dangerous while it is dark in the house. Furthermore, you cannot switch on the light unless you want to wake up the rest of the household.
There are many benefits to living in a tiny house if you do not have too many pets or any children. However, while tiny homes are “in” it does not mean that they are for everyone. Some people would prefer more storage and more importantly space.
And the lack of the latter as well as privacy is a major issue when living in tight areas. You could step outside, but it is often not the same thing. As well as if it rains, then you are stuck inside.
So if you are someone who likes their space and privacy, maybe check out a big apartment or a small house instead of going tiny. Even more so if you have a family or are expecting.