Don’t let the size fool you: tiny homes often pack a lot of punch in a small package. Even in such confined spaces, a homeowner (or household) has all creature comforts, and then some more.
Compared to regular-sized homes, tiny houses can feel like they’re one strong wind away from getting knocked over. This begs the question: how long does a tiny house last? Are tiny houses actually durable?
A tiny house built with the right materials can last several years, even decades with regular maintenance.
Just like any home, a tiny house requires attention to detail and good knowledge, so you and your family can enjoy it for several years.
Wear and Tear of a Tiny House
Any property experiences normal wear and tear. Gleaming fixtures, beautiful carpets, and shiny wood panelings start to degrade with use and time. But is it true that tiny homes degrade faster than regular homes?
There are likely two reasons why:
- Of all things, a tiny house is defined by its small spaces. While all functionalities remain in a tiny house, the limited space accounts for increased rates of wear and tear.
In traditional housing, people don’t have to worry about overusing the kitchen sink or the countertop even with everyday use. But in a tiny home, appliances and facilities are used more often, and can break down much faster than in a traditional home.
- In bigger homes, members of the family are scattered throughout the house as daily activities unfold. But in a tiny home, members of the household are often consolidated in just one area of the home.
Sure, some tiny houses have space for separate beds for the children and the parents, but communal areas like the kitchen, bathroom, and living room are often shared.
It’s inevitable for furniture to break down much faster in a tiny home than in a regular house. Because of limited space, every corner is used to its potential. Foot traffic is heavier, items are used more frequently, and spaces are occupied for longer amounts of time.
Any property - tiny or not - will experience the same rate of wear and tear with this much usage. Just take a look at the most popular hotels in the world and how frequently they refurbish loved suites.
Tiny House on Wheels VS Tiny House on Land
One of the factors deciding how long a tiny house will last is its mobility. Are you planning to move your tiny house or are you planning to stay planted in one location for several years, maybe even permanently?
Tiny house on wheels (THOW) vs a tiny house built on a firm foundation have different rates and causes of wear and tear.
Here’s what you want to watch out for in the two different types of tiny houses:
Tiny House on Land
Permanent structures don’t require as much work and maintenance as mobile homes. As a tiny house owner, all you have to worry about are the things inside your home, including:
- Carpet flooring. Carpet flooring might seem like a good idea but majority of tiny house owners instantly regret their choice of flooring after realizing how hard it is to maintain. Especially if you have pets, carpet flooring is harder to clean and will go past its prime in just a couple of years.
Instead of wool and cotton floors, we suggest investing in sturdy wooden floors that can take a lot more abuse than beautiful wool rugs. Cleaning up doesn’t have to be as time-consuming, and wooden floors can easily be re-polished to make it new again.
- Fixtures, handles, and screws. One of the small but common complaints of tiny house owners are loose fixtures in sinks, cabinets, even door handles. With constant use, these inevitably go loose and can prove bothersome when left alone.
Instead of following interior design trends, prioritize material durability and functionality. That brass faucet might look good brand new, but being turned several times during a cooking session won’t do it any favors. Instead, invest in a good steel kitchen faucet with an adjustable head so you can cook and clean freely.
- Furniture. Furniture pieces in a tiny house often serve two or more purposes. Surfaces like couches and beds often hold storage units underneath, also serving as stools for floating storage above these furniture. As a result, the constant sitting, standing, and moving of these items lead to increased wear and tear.
Instead of choosing furniture based on functionality alone, we also suggest looking into material durability. A grey polyester couch with removable dowels may seem like the perfect choice, but the springs, fabric, and cushions will deteriorate much faster than one built with sturdier material.
Tiny House on Wheels
In addition to regular upkeep and maintenance of the inside, homeowners of mobile tiny homes also have to think about the outside of the house.
- Moving damage. Mobility is one of the best things about owning a tiny home. But unless your home is built to withstand the stress of moving from one state to another, you might want to rethink about hauling your home across the country.
At most, tiny homes should be moved no more than every 3 to 6 months. The process of relocation is stressful to your home, caused by the vibrations and sudden jolts caused by driving an entire house along a highway. Plumbing and even insulation systems (specifically Batt) can come loose during a move.
- Wheels and axles. Some people would think that a mobile home is comparable to a car, but the fact is that wheels and other parts on tiny homes degrade faster than in a car. Tiny homes are lived in 24/7, and constant human presence can amount to sustained wear and tear.
Unlike cars, tiny houses can’t be parked inside a garage. During a hail storm or a windy thunderstorm, cars can be moved and protected inside a garage; tiny houses can’t.
- Paneling. The paneling on mobile tiny homes are usually constructed using timber framing. Contractors use more lightweight timber to allow easy transportation and relocation, which isn’t possible by using cement, glass, or masonry.
As a trade-off, a tiny house on wheels made out of wood is less durable than a home made out of concrete cement. With exposure to storms and other harsh environmental factors, the exterior of a tiny home can degrade faster than normal.
Choice of Trailer: New VS Used VS Custom Made
Just like tiny homes, there are different trailer options available. Choosing a used trailer might be more affordable but will be more susceptible to wear and tear in the long-run.
Knowing the pros and cons can help you make your tiny house last longer.
|Used Trailer||A lot more affordable||Reinforce existing structures through welding|
|Improvements, attachments can be paid for on a as-needed basis||Usually requires tire and axle replacement|
|Shop for local options||Needs repainting and sanding|
|Rails might need to be replaced|
|Custom-Made Trailer||Can be delivered to your home||More costly than ready-made trailers|
|No wear and tear; completely brand new||Usually requires extra permits to build|
|Size-optimized for your tiny house||Local, nearby options may not provide custom-made options for trailers alone|
|Flexibility over materials used||Can prove difficult to resell|
|Ability to add additional features such as additional axles, emergency brakes, specialized tires|
|Brand-New Trailer||No wear and tear; completely brand new||Available options may not be suited for your tiny house|
|Flexibility in choosing tiny house trailer type||General manufacturers may not be equipped with builds specific to tiny homes|
|Accurately choosing gross vehicle rating|
Tiny House Maintenance: Making Your Tiny House Last Longer
Regular maintenance is key to making your tiny house last for decades. By making routine checks and regular maintenance, you can keep your tiny house in tip-top shape for years to come.
- Check tire pressure before hitting the road. Never underinflate your tires since this is the main cause of tire failure. Always inflate your tiny house tires to the suggested maximum inflation.
- Apply oil to the hitch. Exposure to constant rain and humidity could rust your hitch, making it harder to turn and park when you’re on-the-go. Grease your hitch every 3 trips to keep the ball and hitch moving smoothly.
- Double check your lights and brakes. Make sure that your trailer’s automatic brakes are functional. Ensure that all lights are operating before going on the road.
- Use compost accelerators to keep your compost toilet working. Compost mixes are available on the market. Add this once every two days to maintain nitrogen and carbon balance for bacteria to degrade waste into compost.
- Regularly check fixtures, screws, and levers. Keep a tool box in hand to tighten any loose bolts and nuts whenever applicable.
- Instead of using the exterior of your home to support swings, fold-out tables, and other additional features, considering using the environment (a free tree, for example) as support.
Getting Tiny House Insurance
Tiny house insurance isn’t required by law. However, financing your tiny home through a mortgage often requires insurance coverage, at which point you’ll have to look into insurance plans.
Coverage for tiny house is not as straightforward as regular insurance and can differ depending on a number of factors.
Even if you aren’t required to acquire insurance for your tiny house, getting a plan is still a good way to ensure your house is prepared for any structural damage it might sustain in the future.
Tiny House on Land
Coverage for stationary tiny houses will usually be in the form of mobile home or manufactured home insurance. Coverage for structural damages inside and outside the home are typically covered.
However, coverage is usually waived if damage occurs while your house is attached to a trailer, since some providers qualify that as a mobile home.
Tiny House On Wheels
Lucky for owners of wheeled homes, RV or mobile home insurances are available and pretty comprehensive. Your property will be insured whether it’s parked or in-transit.
On the other hand, limitations apply if you built your tiny house yourself.
Tiny House You Built Yourself
Some providers draw the line for self-built homes. Check in with local tiny house building companies to see which ones offer specialized coverage.
National providers might also give you a special coverage, but additional paperwork and higher fees usually apply.
Make Your Tiny House Last a Lifetime
Your tiny house is as dependent on you as you are of it. With proper cleaning, maintenance, and minor repairs, there’s no reason why your spunky home can’t last a lifetime.
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.