Tiny house, but big family. A lot of people are now facing this question – they want to try out the tiny house lifestyle, but they don’t know if their family of 3, 4, 5, 6, or more will fit. After all, you and your partner may love your new tiny house, but how can you be sure your kids will feel the same way?
So does it work, and if so, how can you make a tiny house for a family work?
In this article, we discuss some of the tiny house considerations you have to make as a family, and floor plans and design ideas for family-sized tiny houses.
Pre-Planning Tiny House Considerations
Planning and Designing Your Family Tiny House
When planning and designing the tiny house for your family, there isn’t much difference from a normal tiny house for two people. There are two major things you have to think about that individual or partner tiny houses don’t: extra living space and extra storage.
It’s generally recommended that each member of a family should increase the living space of a home by 150-200 square feet. But in a tiny house, adding even just 100 square feet to your home for each additional kid in your family can be difficult (if not impossible).
Focus on maximizing your space, and always think about storage. This avoids clutter, which can be the biggest enemy for tiny houses.
Some of your storage and space needs include:
- Laundry and clothing storage
- Extra bathroom necessities (such as diapers or washing non-disposable diaper area)
- Extra blankets, beddings, and pillows
- Outdoor storage – outdoor toys, bikes, sports gear, instruments
- Storage for winter clothing
- Study space – for reading, doing homework, quiet time
- More cooking workstation space since you will be making meals for the whole family
- Greater food storage area
- Toy storage area
- Playing area and sleeping area for kids
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Tiny House?
Price is always a factor, and in some cases, the defining factor for whether a plan can go through. With tiny houses, you hear prices ranging from a few thousand dollars to upwards of six digits, but what’s the midway price?
What’s the average cost of building a complete tiny house?
When comparing the prices of tiny house contractors in the US, the average price for a complete unfurnished tiny house – including the trailer, a working kitchen and bathroom, and a dining and sleeping area – sits at around $59,800.
While you could potentially save a few ten thousand dollars building a tiny house yourself, it will require a lot of your own time and personal skill if you don’t work directly with a contractor. There are families who report building a complete tiny house for a family of four or more for just $20,000 to $25,000.
There’s also the consideration of building a tiny house on wheels or a tiny house on a foundation, which will depend on the lifestyle your family wishes to choose.
Should You Rent or Buy a Tiny House for Your Family?
Many people who venture into tiny house living do so out of financial necessity – with housing prices going up, a tiny house makes the most financial sense for many families. However, renting is also fairly affordable in most parts of the US. So which is better for your family?
Here are some quick points to consider:
- Less Expensive: The average price for rent in the US for a two-bedroom apartment falls anywhere from $800 to $2200, according to the latest 2019 figures from the National Apartment List Rent Report. This totals to $9600 to $26,400 per year. If you buy or build a tiny house for the average price of $59,800, renting would cost you more money in 6 years (at the cheapest rent prices).
- Privacy and Ownership: Having your own tiny house guarantees you a level of privacy you will never have with a rented home. Renting an apartment means the landlord can check in on you and your family whenever they want, and you don’t have full ownership to make significant changes to your long-term home.
- Travel Option: While flexible locations are possible with both rented apartments and tiny houses, you would have better travel scenery with a tiny house, as rented apartments would generally restrict you to city-living, while tiny houses allow you to live in the city, in an RV park, or elsewhere.
What is the Biggest a Tiny House Can Be?
For a family of 4, 5, 6, or more, with pets running around and toys all over the floor, you are probably thinking of supersizing the tiny house experience. But how “supersized” can you actually get?
Most tiny house owners and contractors will tell you that the legal-size limit for a tiny house on wheels is 40’ long and 8’6” wide, but this actually isn’t true. Those standards are only set by the standard road limits – as long as your tiny house doesn’t pass those dimensions, you do not require any kind of permit to tow it on the road.
However, there is a lot of growing interest in building bigger tiny houses on wheels, with some tiny house enthusiasts building 10-ft and even 12-ft wide tiny houses, and simply acquiring a temporary oversize load permit whenever they intend to tow the tiny house (which can cost $65 per state permit).
At 30-40 feet in length and 10-12 feet in width, tiny houses on wheels can be mini-mansions when built for size.
What Is In a Tiny House?
The size and design of your home typically depends on two things: the number of people in your family who will be living in the house, and all the stuff you will put in the house. So aside from your clothes, gadgets, toys, and other personal accessories, what items would you need in a tiny house?
Knowing everything you might want in your tiny house can make planning and building it that much easier. Remember: the list below is a list of suggested items you might want. Feel free to pick and choose depending on your family’s needs and preferences.
|Mattress or futon
|Toilet (composting toilet)
|Pillows and blankets
|Propane water heater
|Grey and fresh water tank
|Pots and pans
|Toilet paper rack
|Heater water hose
|Small kitchen appliances (food processor, electric kettle, spice grinder, immersion blender)
|Soap dish tray
|Television / projector and screen
|Fresh water hose
|Couch or futon
|Pillows and blankets
|Propane equipment (propane gauge;propane dual lock;propane tank heat blanket)
|Racks and hooks for hanged items
|Solar panel system
|Freezer or refrigerator
|Storage for non-perishable foods
|Propane heater / woodstove
|Soaps, shampoo, and other products
|Ceiling fan / AC
|Mini bar (alcohol, mixing tools)
|Tow kit (trailer lock, trailer jack, tuff pads, levelers, weight distribution system)
|Non-electric kitchen tools (can opener, rolling pin, garlic press, flour sifter, peeler, teapot)
|Outdoor items (hammock, outdoor lights, compact camp stove)
Tiny House for Family Floor Plan Samples
Most tiny houses and their floor plans only feature a single loft, making it difficult to imagine where you might have a bedroom for your kids. We’ve collected a few examples to help you out:
In the floor plan above, you can see a tiny house floor plan built on a trailer sized about 24’11” in length by 7’10” in width. This adds up to a floor area of 196 square feet, making it just about an average-sized tiny house on wheels.
While most tiny houses on wheels have a bigger living room/great room, with a kitchen and bathroom that extend to the end of the home, this design features a bedroom for the kids at the end of the lower level, sitting right below the loft bedroom for the parents. A storage loft has also been built above the lounge opposite the loft bedroom, providing ample room for extra storage needs.
While this ultimately sacrifices some lounge space, it still provides enough space for big meal cooking in the kitchen, a full-size shower, and a bedroom for up to two kids.
If you are thinking about building a tiny house on a foundation, you might have more room for creativity with your floor plan. Here’s a good example of a permanent tiny house for family foundation:
At just 34’ long and 16’ wide, this permanent tiny house isn’t much bigger than most tiny house trailers, but it maximizes its size with an extra porch to nearly double the living room space. As you can see, the kitchen and bathroom are tucked into an adjoining hallway that connects the master bedroom with the second bedroom, perfect for two or even three kids.
Real Tiny House for Big Families Examples
Tiny House on Wheels – 357 square foot, fit for 5
One of our favorite elements of tiny house plans and house designs are gooseneck trailers. One way to get a ton of extra space in your tiny house without actually using a bigger trailer is by upgrading to a gooseneck trailer, which this tiny house by Nomad Tiny Homes does.
The gooseneck trailer is a trailer that extends upward with a frontward tail which connects to the vehicle. This means an extra portion can be built over the gooseneck, giving you anywhere from 7-10 extra feet.
- 357 square foot
- Constructed by Nomad Tiny Homes
- Trailer is a gooseneck trailer, allowing the contractors to build extra space over the gooseneck
- Features a bathroom, two loft bedrooms, a living area, laundry area, complete kitchen, and several various storage areas
Tiny House on Wheels – Vintage XL, fit for 8
Yes, 8 people in a single tiny house. This tiny house built by a team called Escape is known as the Vintage XL, and can cost buyers up to $73,400 (but it’s definitely worth the price). It has a cute, old-fashioned design with high ceilings that give it a grand, luxurious appeal.
With an interior layout that breaks into an open great room for everyone, and several tables, chairs, and sleeping areas (complete with pull-out bed couches), this is a great tiny house for the bigger families out there.
- 355 square foot (25-ft long)
- Houses up to 8 people, family and guest
- Features a full-size kitchen with refrigerator, sink, and more
- Bathroom, bathtub, shower, and vanity
- Large living area
- Storage cabinets and underneath storage beds
- Ladder lofts
Tiny House on Wheels – Temporary Home for Family of 5
In this mobile tiny house by Alpine Tiny Homes, we see a house built for a family of 5 for a temporary 5-month stay while they finished building their permanent home. The home is to be used as an accessory dwelling unit in the backyard of their constructed home, but is perfectly capable of living off-grid with its own solar system and back up batteries with no fuel.
- 32 feet by 10 feet (320 square foot)
- Storage stairs
- Bamboo flooring
- Full-size kitchen and kitchen appliances
- Two bedrooms, one for kids/guest and one master
- Outdoor shower with full bathroom tub
Tiny Houses for Big Families: Does It Work?
Whether a tiny house for your big family will work or not is totally up to the preferences and personalities of you, your partner, and your kids. The biggest challenges you will face is learning to accept the smaller perimeters – this means less privacy, less storage space, and less quiet or “me” time.
Like anything, if you and your family truly want a tiny house, then you will find yourself adapting to the tiny lifestyle in no time. Once you learn to embrace it, you will be bonding with your family in a way you might have never bonded before.
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.