One of the first things people ask us when we talk about tiny houses is: are tiny houses safe from earthquakes?
Tiny houses are just like any other home. They are designed with the same sturdy building materials and use similar standards for building in a bigger home. But if your tiny house is built on a trailer, there are additional precautions you have to take to protect your home and your household.
How Safe Are Tiny Homes?
One of the foremost concerns of those new to tiny living is just how resilient these structures are against natural disasters, particularly earthquakes.
Tiny homes may be small but they can surely withstand big damages. Before getting into reinforcement techniques for your tiny house, we want to clarify the “risks” associated with tiny house living and shed some light on these myths.
Tiny Homes Are Prone to Collapsing
Because tiny houses are smaller than traditional homes, it is often assumed that its size speaks for its structural integrity. Horror stories of huts, cabins, and even whole buildings collapsing in the wake of an earthquake can make you think twice about building a tiny home.
In reality, tiny homes are a lot sturdier than you’d expect since they’re built with the same materials as a traditional home. Tiny homes may be small, but they use standard building techniques in bigger housing, just applied on a smaller frame. This means that reinforcements can also be applied to tiny homes to support the structure when disaster strikes.
Tiny Homes Are More Susceptible to Damage
Living in a tiny house doesn’t increase your odds of suffering major structural damages. Again, they are built with the same building codes imposed on bigger houses. The design of a tiny house doesn’t make the structure inherently susceptible to damages.
On the other hand, tiny houses may be a little bit more at risk compared to traditional homes for the simple fact that most homeowners park theirs near forests and general outdoor areas. This is easily fixable by parking your tiny house properly and avoiding wooded areas if your location is prone to natural disasters.
Tiny House Building Techniques For Earthquake Survival
If you thought tiny houses can’t be built to withstand earthquakes, think again. Paul’s 430 square feet THOW is built specifically to deal with earthquakes. Paul and his wife live in Christchurch, New Zealand. In 2016, earthquakes hit Christchurch, which inspired him to build an earthquake-proof tiny home.
“Originally I wanted it to be an earthquake-resistant house. They actually move independently instead of being stuck to the ground, and wheels were the perfect solution to that,” says Paul.
Paul’s home has been subjected to earthquakes in the past. At one point he recalls a time his wife was on the phone, unknowing to the ongoing earthquake at that time. “It was so quiet she didn’t realize how big it was.”
Paul’s home is proof that you can have a tiny house that’s built to stand against natural disasters, as long as you take the proper precautions. Here are some ways to earthquake-proof your tiny house:
1) Double Check the Trailer
A tiny house built on a trailer and a tiny house built on a solid foundation aren’t entirely similar. If your home is built on a trailer, you have to ensure that the tiny house is bolted down the trailer to prevent the entire house from toppling over during an earthquake.
If you’re parked, make sure that your trailer is properly supported. We don’t recommend using jack stands for long-term use since they can snap under pressure.
2) Install a Trailer Suspension
A trailer suspension system is installed to lessen any physical blow received by the trailer. This kind of system is built to absorb shocks when the trailer is traveling. A trailer suspension is also handy during an earthquake since it helps prevent the trailer from swaying too much vertically.
3) Pay Attention to the Build
The most effective way to earthquake-proof your tiny abode is to start with good building techniques, which begins with the framing of the home. This involves connecting the studs at the top and bottom of the house with plates, which will reinforce the entire structure.
4) Secure the Inside
Just like in a regular home, you have to make preparations inside your tiny house to mitigate the effects of the earthquake. For instance, you can secure locks on your kitchen cabinets so they can be locked in place during an earthquake. You can install cords near open shelving units to prevent knickknacks from tumbling over.
For the most part, securing your tiny home from an earthquake just involves careful and diligent preparation. At the end of the day, it’s not so different from the precautions you take in traditional housing.
Read more: Can Tiny Homes Withstand Hurricanes?
Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).
This website is a result of our passion to share all the knowledge, photos, tips and tricks that we were able to learn while studying everything possible about the tiny house movement.