Complete Guide: 21 Tips for Buying a Tiny Home


Buying a tiny house is exciting, but it’s also a major financial investment. You’ll want to know all of the tips for buying a tiny home so you can streamline the process, obtain the home you want, and get the most bang for your buck.

The lower price on a tiny home is appealing because it holds the promise of homeownership on a budget, but it’s not always smooth sailing when you decide to embark on the tiny house lifestyle. You’ll run into challenges like financing, zoning/ building regulations, and where to put your tiny home.

With proper preparation and knowing the tips for buying a tiny home, you can overcome the obstacles and start enjoying tiny house homeownership.

The Tiny House Craze

The love of tiny homes has taken the nation by storm. HGTV launched the hits, “Tiny House Hunter” and “Tiny House Revolution” which added fuel to the fire and made tiny homes a red hot ‘must-have’ for many homeowners. Tiny homes offer affordability and are a practical living choice. If you are dreaming of taking the path towards homeownership, then you’ll want to read the top tips for buying a tiny home.

What is a Tiny House?

A tiny house measures 400 square feet or smaller (on very rare occasions the home might reach 500 square feet). Most are easily transportable because they are affixed to wheels, but some are delivered and placed on a foundation. The petite size means you’ll need to downsize and declutter, but many new homeowners find the experience freeing and exhilarating.

Two types of tiny houses are available”

  • Movable tiny homes (often called tiny houses on wheels). A trailer is used as the foundation of a tiny house on wheels so that the residence can easily be moved from place to place if necessary.
  • Tiny homes placed on a foundation. A tiny home with a foundation is often built directly on the lot or built off-site and delivered to the lot. They are also frequently considered an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) which is a small residential dwelling that is placed on some lot as any other single-family residence. Many people also opt to put an ADU on their property to function as a guest house or mother-in-law suite.

Tiny homes carry a much lower price tag than a conventional home which makes them extremely appealing for first-time home buyers, retirees, or individuals who want to save money. You’ll save on the actual cost of the house and taxes. Also, heating and cooling a tiny home is extremely economical.

The so-called “Tiny House Movement” is not only a social movement but also architectural. Participants believe that a large house is too expensive and unnecessary. A tiny house frees its owner from focusing on the accumulation of material things. Instead, the tiny home helps to liberate the owner.

Other people turn to a tiny home to reduce their carbon footprint. They want to live a simpler lifestyle. In many regards, the tiny house movement is a lot like trailblazing and pioneering. The lifestyle is a return to a simpler form of life that resembles the pioneers of the 1800s who lived in small homes without a lot of personal belongings. Instead, the early homesteaders made do with only the necessities which is viewed as liberating by many modern tiny owners who strive to follow in the footsteps of the early pioneers.

DIY’ers also find a tiny house appealing because they want to design their small dream home on a budget. They can pick their own customized touches to truly personalize their small abode. Pre-built tiny, shed homes even offer customization options.

Benefits of a Tiny House

Living the tiny house lifestyle offers a lot of benefits:

Financial Perks of Owning a Tiny House

You’ll save on the initial cost of the tiny house because they are cheaper than a traditional home. Most tiny houses are cheaper than the cost of a new automobile. Unlike a recreational vehicle, a tiny home is built to the same quality standards as a conventional home and offers the same lifespan. When properly built, a tiny home will last for decades providing quality housing to its occupants.

Owners of a tiny home will enjoy savings on their utility bills and overall maintenance costs. Electrical and gas bills are usually substantial.

In most areas, a tiny house is not considered a permanent structure or improvement to the land, so the property taxes are reduced.

A Simplified Life

You’ll own less stuff, so you won’t be faced with clutter issues. Many people embrace the simplified lifestyle. They feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders because they no longer must worry about filling a huge house with furnishings and other expensive items.

Eco Friendly

You’ll use fewer utilities when living in a tiny house, so you’ll make a smaller carbon footprint. Many tiny homeowners opt to live completely off grid and rely on solar power. With less consumption, you won’t contribute substantially to the waste of landfills.

Building a Tiny Home

If you want to build a tiny home, then you have a couple of options. You can go the DIY route or invest in a pre-built tiny home which is often fully customizable.

DIY Build

Building a tiny house yourself isn’t easy if you are not experienced in construction. Yes, you’ll have the opportunity to be involved in both the creation and design of the home, but you must consider the downsides to the process.

You’ll need to obtain all the materials yourself and without a contractor’s license, the price is often substantially more. In most cases, you’ll also need to outsource all or a portion of the labor because you simply cannot take care of all the building processes alone.

There are tiny house kits on the market which provide you with instructions, blueprints, and materials for a single package price. The packages are not customizable.

Custom Build

The easiest and most stress-free option is to go with a custom built or prebuilt tiny home. You can use a local contractor to build a tiny home on your lot or you turn to a builder that creates portable custom homes at a manufacturing facility and then transport the tiny home to your lot.

Collaborating with a team of builders who understand tiny home construction, permits, and codes is highly beneficial. When complete, you’ll know that the tiny home has been constructed to meet all requirements and standards to ensure safety and longevity.

21 Tips for Buying a Tiny Home

If you want to buy a house, then we encourage you to read the following tips for buying a tiny home before you embark on the road towards tiny home ownership.

Determine a Location for Your Tiny Home

Before you decide to purchase a pre-built tiny home, you’ll need to decide where to have the house delivered. There are parks that allow tiny houses. Most tiny home lots rent $250 to $500 per month depending on your region. Purchasing a tiny house lot in a tiny house community or co-op usually runs around $65,000.

If you want to purchase a lot in your community then you’ll need to find out about any city or county zoning regulations which can impact where you place your tiny house. In some states, a tiny house on wheels is legally considered an RV, so you must place the home in an area zoned specifically for RVs.

Many residential areas will not allow a home that is less than 1,000 square feet unless it is being added as a guest house or mother-in-law suite. You’ll need to talk to your local zoning department to determine exactly where you can place your home legally.

Whether you are building a tiny house or having one moved to your lot, you’ll need various permits such as plumbing permits and electrical permits. The cost of permits does vary from place to place. Always take the time to find out your local building permit requirements for your city or county.

Financing a Tiny Home

The price of tiny houses varies dramatically and can easily range from $10,000 to $100,000. The cost of a tiny home varies depending on size and amenities. When buying a tiny home, you’ll have plenty of options to pick between that are added to the base price such as:

  • Rim options
  • Sky lights
  • Custom interior design
  • Front steps
  • Loft
  • Interior framing
  • Electrical and plumbing
  • Dormers

There is usually a charge for the house delivery.

Most would-be tiny house owners will need to obtain a loan to purchase their home. The main options for obtaining a tiny house loan include:

  • RV Loan
  • Traditional Home Mortgage
  • Bank Loan
  • Credit Union
  • Builder Loan
  • Peer to peer or private lending

Many tiny house dealers and manufacturers work with lenders. They can help you obtain much-needed financing. At SaddleBrooke we work with several financing companies to help you finance your portable tiny house.

Conventional lending on a tiny house usually has several obstacles such as”

  • The tiny house must be on a permanent foundation
  • An FHA loan requires that a home have a minimum square footage which is larger than that of a tiny home.
  • Appraisers must have comparable homes in the region to base the price of the tiny home’s appraised value on (unfortunately, in many areas there simply are no tiny homes to compare with).
  • Minimum home loans often start at $50,000.

Other financing options for a tiny home include:

  • Work closely with a tiny home builder who has ties to lenders.
  • Take out a home equity loan or a line of credit if you are adding a tiny house to your property as a guest house or a mother-in-law suite.
  • See an RV loan if your tiny house has wheels. You can certify a tiny house with the RV Industry Association as an RV if it has wheels and is not your permanent residence so that you can obtain an RV loan.
  • Charge your tiny home on your credit card, but always pay it off quickly to avoid high interest charges.
  • Use a personal loan to obtain a tiny home.
  • Contact a credit union to apply for a travel trailer loan on your tiny home .

Normally, to finance a tiny house, excellent credit is required with a credit score of 670 or higher to obtain an unsecured loan. You can gain a secured loan with good credit of 580 or higher. If you have a high credit score, you’ll obtain a lower interest rate.

Finding a Place to Park or Build Your Tiny House

Before you decide to buy a tiny home, you must have a place to park or build it. There are parks that allow RVs, mobile homes, and tiny homes. You either rent the lot or purchase it. You can also place your tiny new home on your lot as a guest house or on your own land.

Nowadays, many tiny house communities and co-ops are springing up nationwide. When purchasing an empty lot or land, you’ll want to check city and county zoning regulations to ensure that you can place a tiny house on the lot.

Determine if a Tiny House is Right for Your Lifestyle

Are you on the fence about tiny house ownership? You’ll want to consider if the small home will work for your lifestyle. A tiny home is a popular choice for retirees, singles, and couples, but it's not so great for families who require extra bedrooms and privacy for children. Pet owners with larger pets might also struggle with the tiny house lifestyle.

A tiny home provides room to sleep, prepare food and shower. It is a return to the basics for many. Owners of tiny houses often focus on the outdoors as an extension of their living space by barbecuing and gardening.

Take the Time to Vet the Tiny House Builder

One of the most important tips for buying a tiny home is to vet the builder. Always contact multiple builders for various quotes. Do not stick with just one builder.

  • Use the internet to look up testimonials and reviews of any tiny house builder you might want to work with.
  • Ask the builder how many tiny houses they have built.
  • Learn about the communication process during the entire process. Does the builder offer acceptable customer service?
  • Look at the builder’s background to see if they have changed ownership or filed for bankruptcy.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau website for complaints.

When collaborating with a builder, make sure that you have a solid contract with the builder.

Ensure You Have Everything in Writing

It doesn’t matter if you are building a tiny home, purchasing a premade tiny house, or buying a used tiny house shell, you'll want to get everything in writing. Always have a paper trail that you can fall back on. The builder should take photos throughout the entire building process and provide them to you. If a problem should occur and you must show proof of the tiny home’s build quality, then you’ll have the documents and photos.

Always try to visit the manufacturer in person to ensure that the build is correct, and you are truly getting everything that you want in a design.

Do Not Hesitate to Get an Inspection

You might not think an inspection is a necessity for a tiny house but think again. You must find an inspector who is willing to look over your tiny home. An inspection will check the work of the builder and ensure that everything is as it should be for safety and longevity.

If you are purchasing a used tiny home, then a home inspection is a necessity. You want a professional to look for possible water damage, leaks, or faults that could become a nightmare after you move into the house.

When hiring a home inspector, consider also having the home undergo a mold inspection, especially if it is a used model. A standard home inspector will usually only look at exposed surfaces for the presence of mold, but sometimes such a quick visual look is not sufficient.

A small house is vulnerable to mold in humid locations because of the confined space. Left untreated, the mold can quickly become dangerous. Having a mold inspection to determine if there is anything growing in the home’s walls is a necessity to ensure your health.

Know What Certifications are Needed

A third-party certification lets you know that your tiny house was built both legally and safely. It’s true, not all financiers or insurance carriers require certification, but as tiny houses become mainstream, having certifications will prove beneficial as they become required and requested.

The fact that tiny homes on wheels are portable makes certifications difficult because you might move your tiny home to a location where the certification that you have is not accepted. Also, preferred certifications may start to change as the industry changes.

Undoubtedly, certifications provide a homeowner with assurance which gives validity to the tiny house movement and can bolster progress. Ideally, when you purchase a tiny home, you should receive certifications and you might want to even check things out by calling the certification company to ensure that the certificate is valid on your tiny new home.

Always Make Sure You Have a Clear Title

When you purchase a home, your realtor will turn to a title company to run a title check to ensure clear title on the home. A clear title means that the person selling the property is the rightful owner and can legally sell the property. A title search will also be launched to go back and make sure that the title is free of liens or other encumbrances.

A title search is done to ensure that no one can come forward to lay claim to your new house. However, when you buy a tiny house on wheels, you cannot use a title company because a tiny house has no records.

You’ll want to run the VIN on the trailer via the DMV to see those to whom it is registered. Is the person listed on the registration the person you are buying the tiny house from? Once you complete the transaction, you’ll want to go to the DMV to request a new title in your name so that you are listed as the owner of the tiny home.

Depending on where you live, some DMVs must conduct a visual inspection of the tiny home before you park it. Also, the DMV does not refer to the residence as a ‘tiny home’ but as a ‘travel trailer.’ Remember, a tiny house is like a travel trailer. It is a house on wheels.

When Buying Used, Question the Neighbors

If you are buying a tiny home that is used, then you’ll want to question the neighbors. Yes, the seller of the tiny home has probably given a reason about why they are selling, but sometimes the reasons are sugar coated. If you research the area and question the neighbors, then you might discover the area has recently sustained a storm or flooding. You want to try to get to the root of why they are selling the tiny home, especially if the deal is too good to be true.

Consider Weight and Transportability

A tiny house is usually a portable home on wheels. It is a moveable structure. However, a tiny house weighs a lot. An experienced builder will factor in weight distributed so that if you must take the tiny house out on the road to change locations then it will pull okay. You need to know the weight of the tiny home so you can safely relocate if necessary.

Consider What is Included with the Tiny House

Every builder has different prices and includes unique features. Occasionally, a tiny home builder will sell a tiny house model fully furnished. Others sell the tiny house with all appliances. Some sell the tiny house as a shell with the interior being fully customizable to meet your own unique needs. You’ll want to find out what is included in your tiny house purchase price. Will all fitness potable hose and extension cords be included? Are the appliances included?

Once you know what is included in the purchase price, be sure to get it all in writing and then carry out an inspection and inventory to ensure that everything is included when the portable tiny house is dropped off to you and you are finally given the keys to your new home.

Try Out the Tiny House Lifestyle

It’s easy to watch the hit television shows and become instantly enamored with tiny homes. What’s not to like? They are cute! However, living in a tiny home day in and day out is a completely distinct experience.

Many vacation spots rent tiny homes to guests. Why not book a tiny home for a week to see if living in such a cramped space works for you. Visit a tiny home community and see if you really fit in with other tiny house enthusiasts.

Make a list of what you like and don’t like about living in a tiny home and then weigh the pros and cons before deciding if the tiny house lifestyle is right for you.

Create a Must-Have Checklist

Living in a tiny house is a lifestyle choice. You quickly learn that every inch of the tiny home has meaning. You don’t have the luxury of large areas of empty space. Instead, you must utilize every inch of living space in a tiny home.

Sit down and create a must-have checklist. What are you needs and what are you willing to forfeit. Are you okay with only having a shower for the rest of your life or is a tub your must have item? Do you need closet space to hang items or are you okay with drawers? These are all considerations when creating a must-have checklist.

You’ll want to make use of every square inch of space in the tiny home. Yes, you’ll need to give up some luxuries when living in a tiny home but for many people certain things are non negotiable, so you'll need to make note of them before contacting a tiny house builder.

Create a Budget and Stick to It

A tiny home might carry a smaller price tag than a large conventional house, but you still need to budget because you’ll encounter a great deal of price variances between builder and features. Determine what you can afford to spend and stick to your budget.

Consider all the additional costs such as transporting the tiny home to its locations, appliances, and even pad rental. Unforeseen expenses can damage your budget and you might end up in the deal upside down if you aren’t careful. It’s easy to get carried away with extras that you don’t really need.

Consider Your Outdoor Space

Living the tiny house lifestyle means that you find new ways to use space. Outdoor space becomes an essential part of your life. You can extend living space onto decks and porches. Many tiny houses are even located on several acres of land so that the owners can have outside sheds or gardening areas. Some even install hot tubs or pools.

Add Multifunction Storage

When living in a tiny home, you must make use of every inch of space. You’ll want to think about furniture that has multiple purposes such as a bed with a built-in dresser under the mattress, so you don’t have to have both a bed and a dresser.

You can also have a table built into the wall of the tiny home that folds up when not in use. Many tiny homeowners like having a Murphy bed to fold away. There are many ideas for maximizing space in your home so you can have ample storage and still enjoy enough room to move around.

Think About Ceiling Height

When purchasing a shed tiny home or having one built, you’ll want to think about ceiling height. A tiny house with a high ceiling feels bigger. Many people extend the roof. When you have a higher roof, you can also have a loft space or put in higher windows to make use of the natural light. A high ceiling is a fantastic way to make the home feel more livable and comfortable.

Bring in the Light

Living in a tiny home takes adjustments. If the space is dark, then you can quickly start to feel depressed instead of liberated in the tiny house. Ensure that your new tiny home has lots of windows to truly make use of the natural light. The light will improve your mood and make your home’s space feel larger.

Wheels or Fixed: Which is Best?

A portable tiny home has wheels. Even with wheels, many people put their tiny home on a foundation. However, some people often enlist the skills of a contractor to have a tiny home built on a foundation on their lot.

With a portable tiny home, you can move the home from place to place if needed. However, you should always think about the weight of the house because roadways do have weight restrictions that vary between states and locations. Typically, it must be 3.5 tons or less to move the tiny home on wheels down a roadway.

You’ll need to weigh your own tiny house needs when trying to decide if you want a tiny portable home with wheels or want to have a fixed tiny home built on a foundation. Both have their own benefits and drawbacks.

If you opt to have a portable tiny home built on wheels, then you’ll want to collaborate closely with the builder to ensure that lightweight materials go into the home’s construction to keep its total weight as low as possible.

Think About Warranties

One of the most overlooked areas of tiny home purchase is warranties. You should always consider the warranties being offered by the manufacturer . Find out what is covered in the warranty and how long the warranty lasts.

Some builders stand behind their workmanship and building supplies. A tiny home created by a manufacturer will not only have the manufacturer's warranty but may also have warranties on the materials used such as siding and roofing plus the home’s appliances.


The above tips for buying a tiny home will help ensure that you are ready to embark on the tiny house lifestyle without any major hiccups. You should know exactly what to expect and what to consider when building or buying a tiny home.

At SaddleBrook, we offer cabins and homes that are fully customizable and delivered to you. With our cabin shells, you can focus on the interior design you want and need. Imagine the home you can create with our tiny home shells. Contact us today to learn more!