What exactly is a Tiny House?
A Tiny House is, as Is readily apparent from the term itself, a small or “tiny” house. So far so good. But where does this probably smallest dimension of houses begin and at what point does it no longer count as “tiny”?
In the USA, where the Tiny House Movement has its origins, it is now enshrined in building law that a Tiny House must have a prescribed floor area of no more than 37m². Whether the Tiny House has a solid foundation or is built on wheels and is therefore mobile, is not specified.
The situation in Great Britain is somewhat different. Here, a Tiny House or Tiny Home is generally understood to be the mobile Tiny House variant. Due to the trailer construction and the fact that they are subject to exact specifications regarding dimensions, the floor space of these Tiny Houses is usually a maximum of 200 square feet. However, there seems to be no absolute clarity in terms of terminology. While some manufacturers of mobile Tiny Houses additionally subdivide them into Micro, Tiny and Small, other distributors offer Small Houses up to approx. 1000 square feet (~100m²), which are therefore not mounted on a trailer, but built on solid ground. When in doubt, you should therefore take a closer look at what is behind the respective term.
Where does the Tiny House trend originate?
Tiny Houses are not strictly speaking an invention of the past years, even if their increasing popularity might indicate this. The first attempts to give houses mobility and put them on a trailer can indeed be dated back to the 1920s. What may have seemed like a rather rustic invention at the time was to become the subject of a new movement, the so-called Tiny House Movement, almost eighty years later. After the topic of “Tiny Houses” had entered the public discourse in the USA at the end of the 1990s with the publication of a book (Sarah Susanka: “The Not So Big House”), the economic and financial crisis at the end of the 00s gave the Tiny Houses their latest major boost, which made them attractive to a wider public. After all, Tiny Houses are above all one thing: by far the cheapest form of real estate, which is a powerful argument in times of recession or exploding rental and property prices.
However, the reasons for the growing interest in Tiny Houses are by far not only financial, but also result from the growing awareness of their followers for alternative lifestyles and sustainability, as will be shown in the following.
Why is the Tiny house trend so attractive to so many people?
As early as the beginning of the 00s, the term “Tiny House” showed an increasing trend in search queries in Great Britain. In the following years, search interest initially declined, but since the beginning of 2015, the term “Tiny House” has been searched on Google more than ever before! In a European comparison, however, the UK is only in eighth place in terms of search interest. This can be taken as evidence that the Tiny House Movement is only just starting to make inroads here in the UK – despite steadily increasing search interest – while the trend in other European countries seems to have already manifested itself. Ultimately, the rising number of people looking for tiny houses is a reliable indicator of the growing popularity of the mini houses. But what exactly is their appeal?
- Minimalism and downsizing: Those who accumulate more and more possessions are not automatically happier. On the contrary: they not only take up space in the house and apartment, but usually also a certain amount of storage space in the back of our heads, where they are always present. It’s not for nothing that “downsizing” or shrinking has become one of the most popular current lifestyle trends. True to the motto “less is more”, people who separate themselves from everything superfluous not only reduce ballast and costs, but also experience the newly discovered clarity within their own four walls above all as a feeling of freedom never before experienced. For those who find themselves in the downsizing trend, a Tiny House to live in is ultimately the logical consequence.
- Freedom and mobility: Especially Tiny Houses on wheels offer their owners maximum mobility and freedom. Anyone who lives in a mobile Tiny House always has his or her proverbial seven things with him or her. This makes moving and changing your place of residence child’s play and requires only a minimum of planning. After all, this newly gained flexibility is another component of the liberal attitude to life that Tinyhouser reports on.
- Low running costs: Running costs (electricity, water, heating) are significantly lower in a Tiny House than in a conventional house. Anyone who also relies on a self-sufficient supply of the Tiny House will save additional costs in the long term.
- Sustainability: If you decide to buy a Tiny House, and you really want it to be your only residence, you are also involuntarily making a contribution to the environment. On the one hand, Tiny Houses can be made largely from sustainable or sustainably produced materials. On the other hand, with an average living space of 15-30m², consumer behaviour has to be inevitably adjusted or reduced. In short: If you have less space available, you are in danger of not filling it up and thus saving resources.
Three things every tiny house enthusiast should know
If you are toying with the idea of acquiring a Tiny House, a lot of questions naturally arise. In the following we want to get to the bottom of three of the most important ones.
1. What is the cost of a Tiny House?
Basically there are Tiny Houses in many different designs and varieties. If you are willing to do some work yourself and are not afraid of larger jobs indoors, you can buy a Tiny House Kit for as little as 6500 pounds! Fully upholstered models can vary greatly in price depending on your requirements. Standard models are available for about 30,000 pounds. However, if you are looking for maximum comfort in terms of features and spaciousness, you can expect prices of up to £55,000. Compared to the costs of an ordinary house, the prices for a Tiny House are nevertheless much more manageable.
2. What legal barriers are you likely to encounter?
In contrast to the USA, where Tiny Houses are already part of building law and construction projects are accordingly easier, the situation in Great Britain is much more complicated.
Those who want to transport their mobile Tiny House from A to B in GB generally do not have to expect any reprisals, as long as some central traffic regulations (road traffic regs) are observed. Thus, the width of the attached Tiny House may be maximum 2,55m and its length maximum 7m. Furthermore, the maximum towed load of 3.5t may not be exceeded. In addition, driving licence class BE is required to transport a Tiny House.
Under certain circumstances the permanent parking of the mobile Tiny House is no problem and does not require any permits! Since Tiny Houses are officially subject to the same regulations as caravans, this also applies to parking. A Tiny House does not require a building permit unless it is used as a main residence and does not exceed 65ft in length and 22ft in width. However, for a Tiny House to qualify as a caravan, it must comply with the regulations set out in the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Acts and be able to stand up to scrutiny. If you want to park your Tiny House on your own property, you may do so either in the driveway or in the garden (note: officially this is often referred to as “curtilage”) – but not in front of the property. In addition, there are also special conditions which must be observed. For example, a Tiny House in the garden may not exceed a maximum height of 4m and must maintain a minimum distance of 2m from the property line.
As long as the regulations mentioned here are observed, there is nothing to prevent the Tiny House from being transported or placed on your own property! However, those who want to make their Tiny House their main residence or are planning to build a permanent Tiny House are faced with much greater challenges. In this case, the bureaucratic effort associated with a building permit cannot be avoided. Such a project is generally not hopeless and the growing popularity of Tiny Houses in the UK gives rise to the hope that bureaucratic hurdles will soon be removed. However, the project “mobile Tiny House” is currently much easier to implement and also has less potential for frustration.
3. How do heating and sewage work?
Anyone who has ever been in a caravan in winter knows that they are not the most well heated places. For a long time it was not necessarily different with Tiny Houses. But in the meantime, a lot has changed in terms of insulation and heating technology of Tiny Houses, which is why it is basically also possible to live comfortably in a Tiny House in winter.
The various, sometimes very sophisticated heating system solutions that are available for use in the Tiny House include infrared heating. These are space-saving, can be easily mounted on the wall or ceiling, are easy to regulate and are also multifunctional, as they can be used as a memo board or mirror at the same time. If you want to keep your electricity costs as low as possible for reasons of sustainability, we recommend choosing a gas heating system. Underfloor heating has also been installed in Tiny Houses. The choice of suitable heating systems is therefore now quite large and makes one thing clear: nobody has to freeze in a Tiny House these days.
For building law reasons, fixed Tiny Houses in Great Britain must always be connected to the drinking and waste water system. Nevertheless, probably only very few Tiny Houses use a flush toilet, as these are space-consuming on the one hand and on the other hand they are not necessarily in line with a sustainable way of life. However, if you decide to live in a tiny house, concepts such as sustainability, self-sufficiency and ecology are usually close to your heart. For this reason, waterless toilet systems such as our TROBOLO® Urine-Diverting toilets are used particularly often in Tiny Houses. The TROBOLO® TinyBlœm was developed specifically to meet the demands of life in a Tiny House and combines sustainable production and functionality with a space-saving design.
How sustainable are Tiny Houses?
At first glance, Tiny Houses not only appear to be a cost-effective alternative to an apartment or house, but also appear to be far superior to them in terms of sustainability. To what extent this is actually the case, or what you may need to pay attention to in order to keep your ecological footprint as small as possible, the following fact-check is intended to show.
- Minimalism: Living in a Tiny House literally forces you to part with the superfluous and to adapt your consumer behaviour to the new, “tiny” living dimension. As a result, less is consumed, which in the end does not have to be reproduced and thus benefits sustainability.
- Small floor space: Tiny Houses, living space is reduced to the absolute essentials. This means that, in contrast to a large-scale residential building, there is no need to heat unused rooms or attics. In terms of resource balance, a Tiny House therefore performs significantly better.
- Sustainable materials: If you want your Tiny House to be as sustainable as possible, you can make sure that the materials you choose come from certified production or that only renewable materials are used. There are also various ecological options in the area of insulation materials. Here, however, the devil is in the detail. Often ecological insulation materials, such as seaweed, do not insulate as well as their industrially produced counterparts and ultimately lead to greater heating costs. This is where it is particularly important to obtain detailed information in order not to unintentionally push up the energy balance of the Tiny House.
- Residency: Here the issue is simple: Provided that the Tiny House is the primary residence and is also permanently occupied, a sustainable lifestyle can be led without any problems. However, if you use it more as a holiday or weekend home and also maintain an apartment or house at the same time, you are using twice as many resources and reducing the sustainability balance.
- Use of resources: Tiny Houses are predestined to use resources sparingly and responsibly. If you have to reduce the amount of space required to furnish a home, you are only a small step away from using the same amount of water and energy or even making use of natural resources. There are completely self-sufficient Tiny Houses, for example, which generate their electricity from photovoltaic systems and collect rainwater for further use. Especially in terms of water consumption, about 40 l can be saved per day by choosing a waterless toilet system like our TROBOLO® Urine-Diverting toilets. Why our TROBOLO® TinyBlœm is optimally suited for use in Tiny Houses is explained briefly below.
The TROBOLO® TinyBlœm – the perfect toilet for Tiny Houses
The latest model of our TROBOLO® urine-diverting toilets, the TROBOLO® TinyBlœm, has a particularly compact design, is easy to handle as usual and was specially developed to enable the use of a urine-diverting toilet even in rooms with limited space. In addition to its waterless operation, the TROBOLO® TinyBlœm is particularly impressive due to its electrical exhaust air system, which eliminates all odours with minimal power consumption and also offers various connection options thanks to its USB port. The toilet is permanently mounted on the floor or wall of your Tiny House, which effectively prevents it from moving about, for example when transporting the Tiny House. In addition, the external urine drainage option, which can be easily connected to the wastewater connection of your Tiny House, makes separate disposal unnecessary. Finally, the rounded appearance of the TROBOLO® TinyBlœm makes it a truly unique design that fits perfectly into any room concept.
The TROBOLO® BilaBlœm and TROBOLO® IndiBlœm - optimal toilets for on the road
Developing our TROBOLO® BilaBlœm and TROBOLO® IndiBlœm models, the special requirement was to design particularly compact urine-diverting toilets that can also be used in rooms with minimal space.
The TROBOLO® BilaBlœm is a permanently installable urine-diverting toilet which, thanks to an efficiently operating electric exhaust system and an external urine drain, meets the special requirements of motorhomes and caravans in particular. The particularly energy-saving exhaust air system, whose integrated USB connection also offers flexible connection options (12V, 24V or 230V), eliminates odours completely and reliably! The external urine drainage system can be easily connected to the existing grey water tank of the motorhome or caravan. This saves you from having to dispose of the urine additionally and emptying the solid waste tank is also simple and hygienic, as you are used to with our TROBOLO® separation toilets. The mounting kit included in the scope of delivery also enables the TROBOLO® BilaBlœm to be firmly screwed to the wall or floor of the motorhome. This guarantees convenient and comfortable use of the TROBOLO® BilaBlœm at all times – even while driving!
The TROBOLO® IndiBlœm is a mobile urine-diverting toilet with litter in the usual TROBOLO® quality. Thanks to the waterless mode of operation, you are not dependent on any connections and the integrated and reliably working separation system reduces odours to a minimum! In addition, the TROBOLO® IndiBlœm is characterised in particular by its low weight and very compact design. Two practical transport handles also make it possible to change the location in no time at all. Thanks to the integrated spill-stop mechanism, safe and hygienic mobile use is guaranteed at all times, even if you are away from asphalted roads. This makes the TROBOLO® IndiBlœm ideal for use in mobile homes, minivans or even on sailing boats!