So you’ve decided to adopt the sustainable life and go tiny? Now it’s time to decide if you want to build your tiny house yourself or to outsource the task. Depending on your building experience, there are a few major tasks you should consider outsourcing to professionals.
Still want to get your hands dirty? There’ll be plenty to do. Keep reading to learn what you should do yourself and what should be outsourced.
Building the Tiny House
Like many tiny home enthusiasts, you might be gearing up to purchase a “build it yourself” kit. Success stories will make you think anybody can do it — but should you?
You could build your tiny house yourself. People with little to absolutely no experience have done it before. This route could help you save money, as long as everything goes off without a hitch. But an immense project like this is bound to put stress on your personal life and possibly your relationships.
Alternatively, hiring someone to build your tiny house, or purchasing a ready-made home, will cost more up front. But outsourcing your build will save you a lot of time and frustration. Not only will your house likely be ready to move in far sooner than it would if you built it yourself, there will be fewer mistakes, and you will eliminate the risk of a personal injury.
Here are a few tips for finding the best tiny house builder for your home:
Gather a list of local builders
- Conduct interviews with potential builders
- Conduct background checks
- Shorten your list based on interviews and background checks, then collect estimates (ask for detailed price lists)
- Compare bids and negotiate
- Call their references or ask for referrals
- Hash out payment plans
- Go over the contract details carefully
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions
Solar panels are one of the major pieces of your sustainable tiny house that should be installed by a professional. The process is actually quite technical and can be dangerous to try to install yourself. Here are a few things you should know about solar panel installation before hiring an installation company.
You’ll need an inverter to convert the solar energy into usable household power. An installer will help assure that it’s correctly matched to the panels’ output voltage.
- Grid tie-in systems will ensure you still have access to power from your utility company, but you might want to add a backup battery system in case the utility line goes out.
- Solar power systems require several power disconnects: one in the combiner box, one at the battery connection, and one in the household fuse box.
- Depending on where you live, you might not get enough sun to power your entire home. (Yes, even a tiny home.) Installation professionals can assess this and place your panels in a spot with optimum exposure.
- The amount of power you use, and the roof space your home offers will determine how many panels you need. A professional will be able to help you carefully calculate this so you don’t end up purchasing too many or too few.
Installing solar panels safely and ensuring everything is up to code is a full-time job. Assuming you have a job aside from building your new home, this task is worth outsourcing. Make sure your solar provider is experienced and insured. And don’t forget to ask them about how you can benefit from state and federal tax incentives for using alternative, clean energy.
The DIY Portion
You might be asking — what is there left for me to do? The answer is: the fun stuff! Not only do you get to pick the decor of your tiny house, there are plenty of little DIY projects you can take on to make your home even more sustainable.
Whether you’re going green to save the environment or you’re more interested in the money, you’ll save by living tiny; these tips will accomplish both.
Use LED bulbs
- Purchase Energy Star qualified appliances (washer, dishwasher, furnace, water heater, etc.)
- Use a composting toilet
- Have a compost and recycling system to reduce waste
Building a tiny house and living a more sustainable life is an admirable thing to do. Green buildings, like tiny homes, are fighting climate change by cutting down on emissions in the U.S. by an estimated 34 percent. That’s huge! But moving to a tiny house is a huge endeavor, don’t get yourself in over your head by trying to do everything by yourself. The initial build and major installations will likely require a professional, but there’s still plenty of work for you to do!