Tiny House on Wheels VS on Foundation: Pros & Cons

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 house on wheels_tiny house on 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.

Applegate Straw Bale Cottage, Approximate Cost: DIY: $30,000 OR Pro Turn-Key: $90,000+ (doesn’t include land or 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.

Design Flexibility

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.

10′ Wide Minim Tiny House on Wheels

Utility Hookups

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.

Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village – Inspected & Permitted to Residential Code

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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7 Responses to Tiny House on Wheels VS on Foundation: Pros & Cons

  1. mick January 30, 2020 at 8:04 pm #

    THOW will always have problems finding a legal place to park and will most always have monthly rental expense. If one needs to be mobile, much more easy to just remodel an rv.; As times go by, more and more local governments will look more favorable on smaller and smaller minimum sq footage homes on foundation. Investing in real estate is more expensive, but also a more secure investment with potential for increased value. Bottom line….if one wants mobility, go with an RV. if one wants a permanent tiny house, invest in real estate first.

  2. KissAnime February 29, 2020 at 11:43 pm #

    For many Americans, the versatility and convenience of tiny home living are an irresistible allure. Once you’ve decided to make the transition to living in a tiny house, it’s essential to research your plumbing solutions ahead of time so you can make the adventure a blissful one with a reliable water system.

  3. khuyến mãi casino trực tuyến March 11, 2020 at 6:35 am #

    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

  4. Tiffany April 27, 2020 at 3:41 pm #

    What determines whether land is “properly zoned” four a tiny house on a foundation?

  5. Jesse Ford June 19, 2020 at 1:46 pm #

    I like how you mentioned that there is a vast selection of designs to choose from if you want to build a tiny house because they don’t sit on a foundation. My wife and I are thinking of looking at tiny homes on wheels because we’re considering downsizing our living arrangement to live in a smaller house but on more land. It seems like a good idea for us to get a small prebuilt house from a reputable builder for us to live in so we can customize it the way we want and not have to wait a long time for it to be built.

  6. Franklin White June 19, 2020 at 1:47 pm #

    I like how you brought up that you don’t have to worry about local building codes if you keep your tiny house on its wheels. I would love to have a tiny house on wheels for my wife and me to travel the country with it. I’ll look into getting one when I retire.

  7. mortgage rates September 18, 2020 at 7:58 am #

    Tiny house on wheels is definitely very entertaining but I prefer houses on the foundation.

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