After living in our house for nearly 8 months, we’ve learned that expectations about the tiny life are often not equal to the reality. Take our first-hand experience: here’s our countdown of Myths & Facts About Tiny House Life!
Myth 10: “A door that is mostly glass basically functions as an extra window, right?”
FACT: Yes, this is true but with one downside: at night the glass attracts moths and bugs, which fly in whenever you open the door! And since it’s a tiny house…well, once a bug is inside you’ll know it’s there. With a screened window or opaque door you rarely will have this problem.
Myth 9: “I’m worried about keeping the house warm, so I should splurge on insulation and a powerful heater.”
FACT: Keeping a tiny house warm is easy. Although many people choose spray foam or SIP panels, unless you’re in climate zones 6 or above you don’t need high-performance insulation. It might be cheaper, even in the long run, to go with a mid-performance insulation. I actually recommend slightly undersizing your heater – you don’t want to cook yourself out of your loft every time your oversized heater turns on! On those rare extra-cold days you can always add supplemental warmth. Remember that cooking, electronics, solar gain, and even body heat all add up.
Myth 8: “When building your house, it’s ok to move in during construction once it’s livable.”
FACT: Personally we recommend waiting as long as possible to move in, at least until after everything you deem essential has been completed. If you wouldn’t live in the house forever without “x”, then don’t move in before “x” is finished. Because the longer you live in the house, the less and less likely you’ll make progress on it, at least not very quickly. This leads to the next Myth…
Myth 7: “You can always upgrade/finish it later!”
FACT: Yes you can, but will you? We learned that the smaller the project (like installing one piece of trim or touching up some paint), the longer it will take to actually do. Once you move in, finishing the last 10% of the house will probably take as long as the first 90%. We still have plenty of little improvements left to do.
Myth #6: “In the bathroom, you don’t need a fan as long as you have a window.
FACT: I cannot stress it enough, if you have an indoor shower then you need mechanical ventilation in the bathroom to get rid of the steam. Even with a window open, air circulation in a tiny bathroom is poor.
Myth 5: “I will change my habits once I ‘go tiny’.”
FACT: You’re the same person no matter where you live. If you’ve always been messy or had a habit of collecting stuff, chances are a tiny house won’t change that. If you like to entertain, you’ll still host get-togethers at your tiny house. If you’re happy in your marriage, you’ll probably stay happy. On the flip side, remember that a house cannot fix what is wrong with our lives or our relationships.
Myth 4: “I’m going to travel around a lot with my tiny house!”
FACT: While it is possible to tow a tiny house to new locations, moving something that big is difficult, slow, costly, and somewhat risky for the structure and other drivers. A handful of people do travel frequently with their tiny homes, but usually they have lots of towing experience, a heavy-duty truck, and/or their house is very tiny. Honestly, an airstream or RV is the best bet if you plan to move regularly. Even though our house is on wheels, we hope to move it not more than once and will definitely hire a professional.
Myth #3: “Painting trim and wall paneling once it’s inside and nailed up is easiest.”
FACT: Paint and stain things OUTSIDE. Painting things once they are in place is risky. Tiny splatters get everywhere no matter how careful you are or how many drop cloths you put down (tried it). Plan on lots of painters tape and clean up drips immediately. The benefit of painting inside is that you don’t have to worry about debris or rain messing up the paint while it dries. We learned that bugs like checking out wet paint so be watchful of this.
Myth #2: “It doesn’t really matter what primer you use. You only need one coat anyways.”
FACT: Even though you’ll never see primer in your finished project, it is important. If painting knotty pine, be sure to apply several coats of BIN shellac primer to seal up the knots. Especially on light colored paint, the resins from knots will bleed through eventually – even when using 2 coats of high quality paint. We skimped on the BIN for some boards and had knots bleed through our white paint. Boy is it ugly. For regular priming (wood with few knots) we like Kilz or Ben Moore. We tried a cheap generic primer and the coverage was not good, so you get what you pay for.
….And the #1 Biggest Myth of All….
“A tiny house is so much easier to clean than a regular house!”
FACT: While it is true that there is less physical area to clean, things get dirty way faster than in a regular house (especially with our new kitten). Dust and messes get concentrated in a small space instead of diffused around, so you’ll need to clean more often but in shorter bursts. Bedding also seems to get dirty/gritty faster – maybe because the bed is on the floor or it’s easier to track in stuff? Due to the tendency for higher humidity, you also have to be vigilant about noticing if mold is forming anywhere. Living tiny makes you stay on top of picking up. We can’t delay taking out the trash or leaving dirty dishes because the house will start to smell.
Cleaning a little bit every single day is the key. For example, we sweep every day, wash bedding once a week, and dust all surfaces about twice a month. A swiffer or small vaccum is helpful for getting fine dust and hairs that escape regular sweeping.
Hopefully this post gives you some insight about the rewards and realities of living tiny!