First, let’s give a little background on what a tiny house community is, the types of tiny houses, advantages and disadvantages of living in a tiny house community, and all the checklist items you need to tick in order to learn how to start a tiny house community.
Living in a tiny house will mean making a significant change to your lifestyle and one that you cannot reverse in a short while. It’s a big investment not only in terms of finance but you also have to invest your priceless time and a lot of effort to make the change work. If you don’t consider and actively research the pros and cons of living in a tiny house, then you’ll be in for some nasty surprises, which you may or may not be able to overcome or adjust to.
What is a Tiny House Community?
Simply put, a tiny house community is a collection of tiny houses in one place. The community part becomes a reality when like-minded people who own tiny houses come together to form a communal bond in order to live as one community for many reasons, some of which may be security, freedom, a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and a good place to raise their families their way without any outside interference.
Some of the most important factors that need to be collaborated in order to make a tiny house community a reality is real estate holdings or land, a support group (typically consisting of like-minded people), time and effort, financial and labor resources, and skills such as architectural and landscaping. If you aren’t willing to put in this much time and effort then don’t worry, there are plenty of tiny house communities around the world which you can join.
Types of Tiny Houses
Tiny houses are not just downsized versions of your homes. Tiny houses can be created from many kinds of projects. Some of the most commonly created tiny houses are mentioned in the following.
Converting a Bus into a Tiny House
If you are into DIY (Do It Yourself) projects, then converting a bus into a tiny house is a great way to start. You should start by removing the seats, but leave the driver’s seat and all the bus’s electronics and driving paraphernalia intact, as you might want to turn your tiny house into a mobile home and drive from state to state like in a RV (recreational vehicle). The enormous space provided by the bus’s interior will serve as a great canvas for you to design your new tiny house. Plus, all the windows will provide plenty of natural sunlight into your new home. And with the addition of a long curtain, you can easily add all the privacy you need.
If you own a piece of land or have a friend or acquaintance who will let you use their land, then you can create a Cob house. Cob houses are made with a mixture of sand, straw, and clay, which are all-natural materials. An overhanging funnel-like roof will absorb all moisture away from the walls and also help to keep the foundation strong against the elements. When finished, a Cob house will look very much like a small clay hut. It’s a dream home for nature lovers and environmental activists. Not to mention that a Cob house is extremely durable and inexpensive. In fact, in England there are numerous Cob houses which have withstood for more than half a century.
Vardo Tiny Homes
Vardo tiny homes are perfect for people who are into the minimalist lifestyle. Traditionally, the Vardo tiny house is based on the British Romani wagons used by the Romanian gypsies who were historically nomadic tribes. These Romani wagons used to have exquisitely decorated interiors with woodworks and carvings. Modern Vardo tiny houses only retain the iconic British Romani designs of a rounded bow top and are almost exclusively towed behind pickup trucks or such large vehicles.
The first tiny houses ever to have existed were the RVs or recreational vehicles that used to be extremely popular in America and Europe. But since a RV is technically quite a big investment financially, it’s not viable for everybody who wants to change their lifestyle to the minimalist tiny home way. That being said, the RV is still a great option for anyone who is able to foot the bill to start their tiny house adventure straightaway since it comes with all the amenities needed for home life, albeit downsized. As RVs come pre-built with mobility in mind, you can start travelling and living out of your RV. Owning a RV means you can go camping and enjoy the outdoors from the safety and comfort of your own mobile home. Most modern RVs come with sophisticated designs that allow you to comfortably withstand even the harshest of winters and the most hellish summers.
A trailer home is very similar to a RV except that it’s not mobile on its own. It’s towed on the back of a large vehicle, typically a pickup truck. Trailer homes can be built with many materials but are most commonly built with timber, aluminum, or steel. You may hire a contractor, buy pre-built, or do it yourself depending on the level of your expertise and the sophistication of the design of the trailer home that you have in mind.
One of the most durable options for tiny houses are shipping containers. These can withstand the worst hurricanes or forest fires since they are made from tough materials and are resistant to rust as well. Just add a few windows and a little plumbing, and your dream tiny house is ready.
Starting a Tiny House Community
Given the myriad of household related problems in today’s world, there are many people who are ready to toss out their current lifestyle and jump head first into the minimalist lifestyle of tiny house community living. Nevertheless, there are an equal number of people who have no idea about how to start a tiny house community. To help people start their own tiny house community, here’s a checklist of the most common items needed to lay the foundation and work towards achieving your minimalist lifestyle dream come true.
Finding a Suitable Location
The first step is to find a suitable location, which must be a large area with access to zoning and facilities such as drinking water supply, municipal waste connections, cellular and data connectivity, roads, and utilities such as power and heating.
Finding out About the Building Guidelines and Laws
Since each state and city has their own zoning laws and regulations, it’s usually a good idea to talk with the local government officials about your idea of a tiny house community and whether or not it clashes with their environmental and architectural laws. This will pave the way for the next step that is forming your project proposal which is just like a business plan.
A properly outlined project proposal should contain a full design of your tiny house community; the number of homes, in addition to a fully detailed layout of the power, heating, and sewage system. All the bylaws for your community should also be clearly addressed as well as why you want to create a tiny house community in the first place. This will help communicate your needs better to the local government.
Project Sponsors and Funding
Starting a tiny house community can be very expensive, so it’s usually a good idea to map the finances clearly before you take the plunge into this costly undertaking. You should have a clear idea about all the building permits, housing and utilities layouts. It’s not a good idea to invest your life savings or encourage your community members to do so. Rather using outside sources of funding such as advertising, crowdfunding, and fundraising is a good way of creating a strong financial base from which to fund your tiny house community dream.
Nowadays, the contemporary trend is sustainable business practices. A great way to attract funding from outside sources is to advertise widely that your tiny house community will be built with entirely recycled and sustainable materials and that your community is made up of people who are actively involved in sustainable living practices.
Benefits of Living in a Tiny House Community
The benefits of life in a tiny house community are numerous. Some are mentioned below.
Time Sharing: You and your neighbors will help each other out by sharing the time to do necessary chores. This way you can collectively save time to spend in other pursuits. The tiny house owners share each other’s time. As a community, you also need to devote a little of your time to make necessary enhancements in your common place.
Skills Sharing: With the availability of diversely skilled neighbors, you will not only have the benefit of quick solutions to your problems but also save time on expensive repair work done by professional service people.
Resource Sharing: A cohesive tiny house community will collectively share its resources for the betterment of its members.
Sharing Support: In a harmonious community, the members support each other through the good times as well as the tough times. It’s that sense of belongingness and camaraderie that people crave which brings them to love this tiny house community lifestyle.
Reduced Cost of Living: When you’ve downsized your living space from, say 1500 square feet to a mere 300 square feet of floor space, you will have significantly reduced all the excesses and retained only that which is absolutely essential for survival. This will not only have led to a better and healthier lifestyle but also reduce your environmental footprint that should lift your mood and spirits, provided you are an ethical and environment conscious person!
Disadvantages of Living in a Tiny House Community
As stated in the beginning of this article, some factors of living in a tiny house community are not so nice. You need to be aware of all the realities of this minimalist lifestyle before making this significant lifestyle move. The most important thing to consider is whether you can cope with the minimalist lifestyle given your current way of life. Let’s discuss some potential pitfalls of building a tiny house community and living in it.
Finding a Location is Tough
Home prices in a tiny house community are generally much lower than other communities of full-sized houses. This means that your tiny house community will drive down the prices of other full-sized housing communities nearby. So, you will face a tough time finding a location that is near any schools, hospitals, religious houses, parks, or developing real-estates. Not only will the residents of full-sized houses challenge you but the city or local government officers will also resist your attempts to build your community anywhere but on the outskirts of any existing communities.
Building Codes and Laws
Since a tiny house is very different from a full-sized one, it’s quite difficult to adhere to the building codes and regulations of the municipality where you have chosen to build your tiny house community. Even so, you have to abide by the building codes and laws and that will no doubt put a constraint on your purse strings.
This is a given for people who are claustrophobic by default. Extroverted or claustrophobic people will have a tough time adjusting to the enclosed, cramped, tiny living spaces of tiny houses. You can seriously injure yourself by having panic attacks or seizures initiated by a claustrophobic episode. So, people with such afflictions should be very careful before deciding to live in a tiny home. Other problems include the detrimental psychological effects of living in such tiny spaces on children. Children who don’t have access to privacy can sometimes grow up with defects like being withdrawn, lacking basic social skills, and even developing problems concentrating and studying.
Now that you know how to start a tiny house community, the decision is upon you. It will never be a twenty-four-hour decision. It takes days or even months to plan, and prepare for the changes that will happen in your lifestyle.