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What is a tiny house?

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    If you’re thinking of downsizing to a more minimalist lifestyle or a smaller living space, you might ask, “What is a tiny house?” While a tiny house might offer reduced living costs and a smaller carbon footprint, the cost of these homes can vary substantially.

    Although Chase Home Lending doesn’t currently offer loans for tiny homes at this time, let’s look at what tiny houses are in greater detail and the factors determining their cost.

    Understanding tiny houses

    What is considered a tiny house? At its core, a tiny home is a compact living space, typically spanning no more than a few hundred square feet. Such radical downsizing from traditional home types may not be for everyone — but for those who choose it, the allure is often less about the square footage and more about a philosophy of minimalism and sustainability.

    Tiny homes tend to rely on creative, hyper-efficient design layouts to make the most of their limited space. This might mean features like fold-down tables, lofted sleeping quarters and numerous multi-functional features. While they may not be for everyone, the tiny house movement has gained traction worldwide.

    Types of tiny houses

    If you’re thinking about getting a tiny house of your own, you generally have three broad options to choose from:

    Pre-built tiny house

    Pre-built tiny houses might be the most convenient (but also typically more expensive) way to buy a tiny house. Companies that specialize in these homes often have a range of designs to choose from with various customization options, allowing you to tweak their base models to better suit your needs.

    Building from scratch

    If you have experience with construction or are interested in building your own house, creating your tiny house from scratch might be a viable option. This route could allow for the highest level of customization, enabling you to create a tiny home that reflects your needs and tastes. However, building a home can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, with important regulations and safety considerations to keep in mind.

    Tiny house kits

    A happy medium between the previous two options, tiny house kits might offer a balance of customization and convenience. Tiny house kits typically come with the necessary materials and step-by-step instructions, making them a potentially suitable choice for DIY enthusiasts without having to do everything yourself. However, while tiny house kits may save on certain labor costs, there is still considerable time and effort required to assemble your new home.

    Pros and cons of tiny houses

    Tiny houses are rarely a one-size-fits-all solution to your living needs and preferences. There are some additional considerations you may want to weigh before committing to a tiny home.

    Pros of tiny houses:

    • Lower cost of living: Smaller space often equates to lower utility bills — and possibly lower mortgage or rent payments.
    • Mobility: Many tiny houses are built as trailers, potentially offering the flexibility to move locations.
    • Simplified lifestyle: Limited space might mean less clutter, aligning with minimalist and conscious-consumption lifestyles.

    Cons of tiny houses:

    • Limited space: The reduced living space might inhibit storage, hosting guests or participating in at-home activities.
    • Utilities: Accessing consistent water and electricity may be complicated, particularly for mobile tiny homes.
    • Legal and zoning issues: Not all areas are tiny house-friendly and navigating codes and regulations may be complex and potentially costly.

    Factors affecting tiny house costs

    How much is a tiny home? Tiny house prices can vary widely based on a variety of factors, including:


    A key element in tiny home prices is the cost of construction materials. Using higher-quality materials will likely result in higher upfront costs but may offer savings in the long run due to their longevity.

    Labor and craftsmanship

    Another major factor in the cost of a tiny house is the labor. Skilled craftsmanship is rarely cheap and labor costs can add up during construction. Whether you’re hiring a professional builder or taking on a DIY project, the time, effort and expertise involved in the construction process — as well as the terms of any construction loan you might be considering — are essential elements to weigh when determining the cost of a tiny home.

    Location and land

    If you’re wondering where to buy a tiny house, remember that the cost of the house itself isn’t the whole picture. Location and land will also figure into your total costs. Land prices vary dramatically across different regions and there are related expenses to consider such as site preparation, utilities hookup and permit costs.

    Customization and amenities

    There’s also the level of customization and amenities to consider. If you’re looking for, say, bespoke design with high-end appliances and unique features, you can likely expect to pay more than a basic design with standard amenities.

    In summary

    A tiny house is more than just a compact home — for many, it’s also a lifestyle choice rooted in a commitment to minimalism and practicing more conscious consumption. The cost of a tiny house depends on a range of factors. From the type of materials to the location and level of customization, a tiny house’s cost can vary as widely as the designs available. Considering the type of tiny house most suitable for your budget, time and energy is often the key to making an informed decision.

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