Tiny House on Wheels VS Foundation: What’s the Best Fit for You?
Whenever a “tiny house” is mentioned, many people tend to think of one “on wheels”.
Besides mobility benefits, tiny houses are built on trailers to get around stringent codes and zoning rules. Though now advocates are working towards greater legal acceptance for more placement options. Progress is slow but steady.
However, over the past few years, the popularity of tiny houses has grown in leaps and bounds. This is causing more people to consider building their tiny homes on foundations to avoid legal struggles.
So, is it worth building a tiny house on foundation?
Well, before answering this question, you should understand that building a tiny house on a foundation will require local permitting, as well as, potential placement restrictions.
There are zoning and building codes that dictate the standard size, placement, and construction rules of any form of dwelling. Each state and city has its own regulations.
So, before building your tiny house on a foundation, ensure that you understand what you are allowed to build, where you are allowed to build it, and the licenses that you’ll need.
Sound too involved? Then also consider a tiny home on wheels.
Read on for a comparison of tiny houses on wheels and on a foundation.
Tiny Houses on Wheels VS on Foundation
Do you want to be rooted? Unless you are planning to take your tiny house on the road, for a road trip or future relocation, it could be worth it to build it on a foundation. Weigh the following pros and cons:
Cost Of Ownership
The major expenses that you are likely to incur when you decide to construct your own tiny house on a foundation are materials and buying land—if you don’t own any already. However, depending on the city where you plan to build your tiny home, the costs vary greatly.
Vacant infill lots can be as cheap as a couple of thousand dollars in some areas, or residential lots can be as much a few hundred thousand dollars.
Building your own modest house is the best way to save money, whether on wheels or foundation. Of note, when it’s built on your land, you could enjoy greater long-term savings. For instance, no monthly lot rent is required. Currently, most THOW dwellers pay, $300-800/month.
However, don’t forget with a foundation-based home, you’ll be responsible for more property taxes. Additionally, some cities’ impact and utility hook-up fees can be surprisingly steep, even for small homes, like $10-25k.
It’s important to note that available tiny and small homes on the real estate market tend to be 2-3x the cost of a tiny house on wheels, DIY or professional built.
Detachment from permanent land allows THOWs break-free from the volatile market-rate prices.
Whereas, building a tiny house on a foundation from scratch costs approximately the same as a THOW, minus the cost of land, permitting and any required local fees.
Put simply, a tiny house on a foundation is an investment because the value of land appreciates. If you plan to sell it in the future, it could fetch you a large amount of money because of the property, varying by location, of course.
On the other hand, if you live in a movable tiny house, for two to five years, the money you save in the short-term could help you buy a larger home more easily or start your own business.
Tiny houses on the foundation provide more design flexibility. Essentially, this means that you have a wide variety of designs to choose from. You won’t be restricted by height, length, and width, like in the case of tiny houses on wheels.
Ultimately, you have more control over your floor plan. Also, you can even add a crawlspace.
Though you can achieve more floorplan flexibility with a wide load tiny house. Keep in mind, parking options are more limited when going beyond the standard 8.5′ wide.
Tiny houses on wheels have limited utility options, especially for plumbing and electricity. Depending on where you park, you won’t always be able to connect to the local utility services. As a result, you need to come up with alternatives, especially if you want your house to be mobile-ready.
Consequently, you have to invest in compost toilets, fresh water tanks, and solar power. Otherwise, you will have to rely on others’ available hookups, from RV parks to backyards.
On the other hand, building your tiny house on a foundation gives you the liberty to connect to the city grid so that you can access to electricity, traditional plumbing, and dedicated local WiFi service.
Financing a tiny house on a foundation is basically the same as a traditional stick-built house. If you have a good credit score, you can easily find a lender for the most common types of construction loans, or a standard mortgage.
While much available financing for tiny houses on wheels requires a higher credit score and higher downpayment. In a few cases, you can score owner financing for a pre-owned THOW or from a builder.
If you’ve experienced financial hardship due to a natural disaster or a community hero, you may qualify for a Tiny House Downpayment Assistance Grant through Operation Tiny Home.
One good reason why building your tiny house on a foundation is worth it is safety. Irrespective of the type of foundation that you choose to use—slab, basement or crawlspace. Your home will be firmly rooted in the ground, keeping you and your house occupants relatively safe in case of harsh weather conditions.
Though, many natural disasters can destroy or adversely affect all kinds of homes. If you have a tiny home on wheels, you have the option to relocate in the face of severe weather events, like a hurricane or wildfire.
Pros & Cons Wrap-up
Constructing tiny homes on a foundation is the next big housing trend. It makes a lot of economic sense for individuals, municipalities, and developers. Except to see more small home communities in the coming years.
Of note, in some areas, you can convert a movable tiny house into a foundation based house. To do so, remove the wheels and axles, and set on a foundation. The catch? You will have to comply with all local building codes.
Importantly, over the past year, the adoption of IRC Appendix Q has been widespread. This provides a building standard for tiny houses on foundation, as well as offers a viable pathway for permitted placement in countless communities across the US.
There is one example of the local adoption of Appendix Q being applied to tiny houses on wheels: Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village.
The approved zoning ordinance mandates that THOWs must meet this standard. Further, each must be inspected by a third-party building inspector, be tied down, and skirted. And finally, connected to city utilities.
So far, the first inspections have been completed. This allowed several movable tiny houses to receive a certificate of occupancy and be placed in this groundbreaking, urban pocket neighborhood.
Although tiny houses on wheels offer great flexibility, they are not ideal for everyone, due to a few drawbacks. For more on the benefits of “wheels,” read this.
So, if you don’t want the option to be mobile, a tiny home on a foundation can provide more security in the long run. Namely, more placement options without the fear of an untimely eviction.
Do you want to pursue a foundation-based tiny house?
Get started by looking for properly zoned land, researching designs & material costs, and contacting a professional foundation technician near you to help you figure out the best type of foundation for your dream tiny home.
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