Tag: tiny home downsizing

A Guide To Tiny Home Sizes (What Makes A Tiny Home Tiny?)

A Guide To Tiny Home Sizes (What Makes A Tiny Home Tiny?)

The tiny home movement has made a significant rally these past few years as it continues to disrupt the housing industry. Today,  there are roughly 10,000 tiny homes in the US alone. While this figure is not that impressive, it’s proof that people are open to the idea of downsizing.

But what makes a tiny home err… small?

Tiny homes got their names because they are much smaller than your traditional housing. An average tiny house only measures 200 to 400 square feet. In contrast, the average American dwelling is 2,687-square feet, according to the 2015 census by the US government. 

While that might be a bit cramped for most people, some homeowners saw value in small living spaces. The majority of tiny homes sits on a trailer, which allows them to be hauled almost anywhere.

In this post, we will let you in with everything you need to know about tiny homes. You can use this guide to help you decide whether the tiny home lifestyle suits you or not.

What is the Largest a Tiny House can be?

A tiny house can’t exceed precise dimensions . In the US, tiny houses on wheels should not exceed 40-feet in length, 8.5-feet in width, and 13.5-feet in height.

Because of these restrictions, very seldom does a tiny home exceed a floor area of 500 square feet. 

Consequently, most mobile small homes usually have at least 120 square feet of livable space to exempt the unit from getting a building permit.

Much of the limitations for a tiny house on wheels are there to make them road-worthy. The total length of the unit and the tow vehicle should not exceed 65-feet when using the roads or highways.

However, if you plan to build your tiny house on a foundation, you can exceed the dimensions that we’ve just mentioned. In most states, it can be considered as an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) to the primary residence.

 The floor space of a tiny home also varies depending on its number of floors. A small house can have up to two levels of livable space. However, it can also have a third floor meant for storage purposes.

 A Tiny Home is like an RV, Only More Homy

You can say that a tiny home is quite similar to a recreational vehicle (RV). However, the main difference is that RVs still closely resembles a vehicle, while small homes are simply dwellings on wheels.

Most tiny homes resemble traditional housing closely. The only difference is that the former uses lighter materials such as plywood for walls and thin metal sheets for roofs.

Things inside a tiny house are also downsized to accommodate the essentials of a traditional house. Most tiny homes usually have:

  • Living room
  • Bedroom or two
  • Small kitchen
  • Small refrigerator
  • Bathroom with shower
  • Laundry area
  • Air-conditioning
  • Heating System

Another thing that tiny homes have that RVs don’t is the feeling of a home. The facade and design of a tiny home resemble a traditional house. Meanwhile, an RV can feel a bit boxy both from the outside and inside.

 Factors that Determine the Dimensions of a Tiny House

When designing your own tiny home, there are several factors you need to consider. Based on these factors, you can quickly establish the size, shape, and design of the tiny house that best suits your needs and preferences.

Here are the things you need to evaluate before finalizing the blueprint of your small house:

1. Zoning Laws

Different states usually have varying laws when it comes to tiny homes. If you build a tiny home on a foundation, it must cover a minimum land area and must comply with the city’s building code.

Only a few dozen cities in the US cite tiny houses in their regulation handbooks. Hence, if you are not from those cities, you need to build your tiny home under the local law. Aside from size restrictions, the building codes also stipulate strict guidelines like having at least two directional exits for each room.

2. Individual Needs

 We all have different needs and preferences when it comes to our dwelling. Some people may prefer a larger kitchen, while others favor more space for their living room or sleeping quarters. The individual needs of the residents of the tiny home can affect much of its design.

 Another factor to consider is the number of people who will live in it. A couple may share the same bed, but a family with two children may need at least two separate bedrooms. If the tiny home owner expects a regular guest, they may want an additional loft where their visitors could stay.

3. Modes of Transportation

If you plan to build a tiny mobile home, the first thing you need to consider is the tow vehicle. For example, if you own an SUV, can it haul the entire weight of your tiny home? If not, do you need to buy a new one to pull your vehicle?

The length of the towing vehicle can also significantly affect the length of your tiny home. For example, full-size pickup trucks are about a foot or two longer than crossover SUVs. Manufacturers have also produced “gooseneck” tiny homes to maximize the area on top of towing vehicles.

4. Length of the Semi-Trailer

 Tiny homes on wheels usually sit on top of a semi-trailer. For this reason, you can say that the size of the trailer may also limit the length of the tiny home. Consequently, the trailer makes up for roughly 20-percent of the building cost of a tiny home.

If you plan to use a double axel flatbed trailer, it can only hold 7,000 to 10,400 lbs of weight. A single axle flatbed can carry half of that. If the tiny home exceeds 24-feet in length, it will require additional tires and axles.

5. The Size of the Lot

Some jurisdictions allow people to build tiny homes on private property. However, their houses must be made on a foundation, much like traditional residences. The good news, however, is that a tiny home doesn’t usually conform to the lot sizes of a conventional home.

You can own a rural lot that has an area of half an acre to 1.5 acres and still build your tiny home in it. However, it can be quite complicated to build a tiny home in a lot meant for traditional housing, especially in urban areas.

Different Ways to Increase the Size of a Tiny Home

One of the main issues that homeowners have with their small house unit is there is often no room left for your new stuff. If you are unhappy with the current size of your tiny home, you can actually increase its size without having to tear its walls apart.

1. Connecting it to Another Tiny Home Unit

Tiny homes built on a foundation can be extended by connecting it to another tiny home unit. There are numerous ways to do this, but the most typical one is to build a common deck between the two neighboring units.

Aside from a shared deck, you can also connect two tiny homes via another room or structure. The Ohana house is an excellent example of such innovation. In the middle of its two tiny homes is a transparent sunroom that also serves as a common room for its residence.

Container-type tiny homes can also be connected by merely attaching the front or rear of the home to another container unit. In some cases, you can also bore a hole in one of the walls and connect another tiny home unit from there.

2. Installing a Slide Out

Installing a slide-out is another way to increase the real state of your tiny home. These mechanisms extend individual sections of the house to increase the space inside significantly. In some cases, it may even double the livable space of a tiny mobile home. 

A tiny home can have one or more slide-outs depending on the preference of the owner. When installed in a living room, it can add more legroom or extend the walkway. Consequently, adding it to a bedroom can also provide enough space to add a closet.

Sections with slide-outs can also be used for storage purposes. However, slide-outs are also quite expensive, especially when they added to an already complete tiny home unit.

3. Adding a Second Floor 

Mobile tiny homes usually need a ceiling height of only 7 feet, which leaves another 6.5 feet before it reaches its maximum allowable height. For this reason, some tiny home owners choose to add a second floor to their unit.

There are also plenty of design options you can choose when adding a second floor. Some prefer a fully floored second floor because it provides vast living space. While some only install a partial second floor to utilize more vertical space for chandeliers and other decors.  

However, the main challenge with adding a second floor is keeping the structural integrity of the mobile home. The added weight can also result in replacing the current trailer with a larger one. Furthermore, some jurisdictions also don’t allow the second floor on tiny homes on wheels.

How to Maximize the Livable Space in a Tiny Home

You might be wondering how tiny homes can have all of the amenities of a traditional home despite its limited space. The answer lies in maximizing the livable space so you can put in more stuff inside the house.

Below are some ways which tiny home owners have used to fit all the necessary rooms and appliances inside:

1. Downsize Everything

One of the best ways to fit a lot of things inside a tiny home is to downsize everything in it. That means instead of getting a 6-feet tall refrigerator, you may have to settle with a smaller 3-feet high fridge.

Almost everything you see in your house has a smaller version of itself. Best Washer and dryer combos, for example, can be as little as 1.5 cubic feet. Consequently, flat-screen TVs, too, can be as small as 24-inch.

2. Prioritize Necessities Before Wants

Ultimately, your tiny home can’t have everything that a residential house can offer. And yes, more often than not, compromises need to be made.

When designing your tiny home, you need to weigh necessities and wants. You need a toilet in your tiny home, but should it come with a bathtub? Stuff like this is often taken into consideration when living in a small home.

Often, mobile tiny homes also use batteries or a generator to power everything inside. Most tiny home owners prefer to be off the grid and use renewable energy, such as solar. Hence, they often have fewer electronic appliances and gadgets than your average home.  

3. Get Multi-Purpose Furniture

Saving space inside a tiny home is almost an art. Getting multi-purpose furniture is one sure-fire way of getting more functionality around your tiny house without eating away too much room.

Some couches are foldable and can quickly turn into a bed. There are also chairs with a compartment enclosed in its legs that doubles as a storage bin. Furthermore, some sinks rapidly transform into a tabletop just by putting a wooden plank on top.

 You can find similar dual-purpose products on most home depots, and they are also available online.   

 4.   Add a Loft Whenever Possible

 Tiny homes often have some sections with a lot of headspaces. So, what do you do with them? Adding a loft is a great option to consider.

Most tiny houses can accommodate roughly two to three residents at most. However, if you add a loft over a free spot, then perhaps you can accommodate one more person. The loft can also serve as sleeping quarters for your guests.

 Moreover, you can also use the loft to store some of your stuff. Just make sure that the access to the loft has a secure foothold.

5. Replace Traditional Doors with Sliding Walls  

Traditional doors consume a significant amount of space if you put into the equation their turning radius. For this reason, it’s highly recommendable to instead use sliding walls in most entry points in the house.

Sliding walls also offer a significantly larger doorway than conventional doors. This feature is quite welcome, especially in a cramped environment like a mobile house. Moreover, sliding walls are also generally cheaper and much easier to install.

 Curtains are also used to divide a section of the house. They can also be used to provide a bit of privacy when needed.

 6. Utilize the Outdoor Space

Depending on the weather, you can also utilize the space outside your tiny home for a variety of purposes. For example, you can create a makeshift patio when it’s sunny outside. When parked in a shady area, it’s an excellent opportunity to go on a picnic without leaving your home.

Some tiny homeowners whose unit sits on a foundation also use a vacant piece of land to place their solar panels. Consequently, you can even barbecue outside of your tiny home when it is allowed in the area where you are currently parked.


A tiny home is considered “little” because its size is almost incomparable to the colossal dimensions of a traditional home. While they may be small, it can be significant in other ways, too, such as giving its owner a chance for financial freedom.   

Related Questions

 What is the Smallest a Tiny House can be?

The smallest tiny home that is currently on the market is only 70-square feet. It’s called the XS House from Tumbleweed Tiny Housebuilders, and Jay Shafer designed it. The house is 7-feet wide, 11-feet long, and has a height of 12-feet and 9 inches. 

 Is a special license required when driving a tiny house?

Most states consider starenergy tiny homes as RVs, especially when its registered as such. Hence, towing an RV doesn’t require a commercial vehicle license (CVL). Your driver’s license will suffice, provided that your tiny home does not exceed 26,000 lbs, which is rarely the case.