A Home On Skids? Why This Option Is A Great Tiny House Solution.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of advantages, and we’ll get to that in a bit.

First, let’s define the meaning of what a tiny house is? To officially be considered tiny, the house has to be 400 square feet or less (excluding lofts), according to the International Code Council.

There are various ways a tiny house can be designed, and each has its pros and cons.

Trailer Foundation

The picturesque tiny houses that many of us see are placed on a bumper pull trailer, and are popular for many reasons. Some are even found on 5th wheel, commercial flatbed, and custom built trailers to adapt to the owners specific needs. The trailer is a popular option because it is flexible and can accommodate most tiny dwellers needs. The greatest advantage to this, is being able to move around. Wheels allow you to pick up and go easily and move when you feel like it’s time for a change of scenery. Conventional electrical and plumbing systems can easily be integrated within the design of your home on a trailer foundation as well.

Now, some of the disadvantages in building on a trailer are the weight and height restrictions, which you should be especially concerned with if you plan on traveling frequently. For most tiny homes on a trailer, they should be built within the DOT guidelines of 13.5′ max height and 8.5′ width. Anything outside these dimensions would need a special towing permit. Trailer foundations can also get rather pricey, especially those that are custom built. One last thing to be aware of are local building codes. Since these homes are on wheels, they are considered to be a temporary dwelling and many places do not allow people to dwell in them permanently. It is becoming more accepted, but you should be aware of this obstacle and research what options you have that can avoid this specific issue.

Regular Foundation

This is the traditional or fixed foundations that most homes are built on. However, this could include solid slabs, and concrete or wood footings and pilings. There are several advantages in a fixed foundation and can include better insulation underneath your structure, as well as a more solid structure that can withstand harsh elements. The tiny home built on a fixed structure would also require less framing than is seen on mobile platforms, due to less forces and strain imposed on the building. With a fixed foundation, more square footage can even be added at any time by implementing a basement or a root cellar.

Unlike the other foundations, this one is fixed and cannot move! This may be the biggest drawback and go against the “tiny house lifestyle”, but it is the most practical option for many. Being fixed, you must have some land to place it on, obviously, but this will also mean that you will have to be conscious of local building codes and permits. These foundations can also get more costly in labor and materials, especially if building adding a basement. Everything considered, it is a decent option if you don’t plan on traveling or if you are building in an area that is prone to extreme weather. Check out our custom home options here.

Skid Foundation

This next tiny house foundation, skids, is a less known option but can be a good one for many. For those who are not familiar with what skids are, they are large rails underneath your building, almost like a sled. As you can imagine, being able to slide your house into different positions is one of the benefits. It can be hauled on a trailer for long distance transporting and placed just about anywhere. Building on skids would classify it as a temporary structure, which may mean avoiding building permits and certain codes. Skids are also a cost effective foundation since you do not have to lay down concrete or purchase a trailer.

So in particular, let’s discuss some of the pro’s and some con’s of a tiny house on skids:

It may get you around standard building size requirements

It’s portable

Obviously the main benefit of having a tiny house on skids is that you’ll be able to move it, should you ever want to. You won’t be moving your tiny house on skids often because that would get quite costly and be a lot of effort, but you won’t be tied to a particular area. A tiny house on skids may therefore be a more sensible option for anyone who’s young and who wants to own their own home but who doesn’t want to commit to living in a particular area. 

It doesn’t look as temporary

Where a tiny house on wheels is clearly mobile, a tiny house on skids looks more like a permanent house. It may therefore attract less attention.

Potentially warmer

When you have a tiny house on wheels, you have to insulate the floor well, because the air flowing underneath it tends to cool down your house. If you’re able to put your tiny house on something, perhaps gravel or decking, it may help to insulate your house and cut down on cold drafts.

Some Things To Consider With a Home On Skids:

Is the ground suitable?

If you choose to move a tiny home on skids around, you should make sure your site is flat and prepared to handle the weight resting on it.

How will you get heat, water, etc.?

While you might have access to hookups in your tiny house’s first location, you can’t guarantee that any future parking spaces will be connected to the grid. You might therefore want to ensure your tiny house on skids can go off grid, by including a water tank, for example.

How will you move it?

It’s worth researching ahead of time how much it will cost to move a structure like this. You’ll probably need to pay someone to move it for you using a special truck or trailer.

You’ll also want to keep transportation in mind when deciding how big your tiny house should be. If it’s too wide, for example, you might require a special permit to move it.

It’s probably best to get in touch with companies who offer this kind of service before you start building. Know what your options are, how much they’re likely to cost you, how easy they are to arrange, and what the requirements are.

How will you insulate it?

The chances are that there will be space between your tiny house and the ground, where cold air will be able to get into your tiny house and make the floor cold. You’ll want to be sure to insulate your floor well to prevent drafts.

Some Cons To Be Aware Of With A House On Skids

Structures built on skids, especially if moved a lot, can become out of plumb and cause issues of door and window jamming. Lastly, just as with trailer foundations, you should carefully plan the size of your home for weight and height restrictions, as well as plan to anchor it down once rested.

General Pros And Cons To Owning A Tiny Home

Pro: Tiny homes cost less to build

If you’re building your tiny house yourself, you can expect to shell out somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000-25,000.

That’s right! For 20-percent of a typical down payment on a normal home, you could probably build a cozy little home of your own.

Con: It can be almost impossible to get a mortgage for a tiny home

Properties valued at less than $100,000 aren’t generally going to sit well with traditional lenders.

On top of that, if your tiny house is on wheels, you’ll probably be rejected outright, as homes that aren’t anchored to a foundation aren’t considered real estate.

There’re alternate routes of financing to explore, like taking out a personal loan or saving up all the money to build the tiny home yourself, but those can prove more than a little tricky.

If you are successful in obtaining a personal loan, be aware that the interest rates associated with that loan can be pretty steep, some as high as 10% to 11% or more. Another option: you might just qualify for an RV loan, if your tiny home is on wheels.

If you’re in this situation, it might be worth your while to explore financing through new lenders like LightStream, a division of SunTrust Bank that offers loans with relatively low interest rates for tiny properties.

Pro: You’ll have a sizable savings account

Imagine how much more money you are pouring down the drain, ensuring your sprawling, 1,000+ square foot home is air-conditioned during the summer. Now imagine cutting that electric bill in half, right down the middle, when you transition to a tiny home.

These kinds of savings accumulate over time and can lead to a very fat bank account if you’re savvy enough with your money.

Con: Buying Land can be just as pricey as buying a home

Tiny homes have to be placed somewhere, and usually, that place requires a deed and a title in order for you to legally be there.

Land can be pricey, especially if you’re purchasing multiple acres of property. Plus, if you’re not zoned to build a tiny house, or there isn’t a well and septic system in place—or any number of other hidden restrictions and guidelines—you could face some difficulty in getting your tiny house built.

If you are a veteran, you may be able to use your VA loan benefits to buy land for your tiny home. 

Pro: Less clutter, and more quality moments with family

Clutter can pervade every aspect of our lives if we let it.

But living in such close quarters with your partner and family, or with Fido, will hopefully inspire a greater degree of cleanliness and organization among you and your cohabitants.

Another lasting benefit of tiny homes: there are more opportunities for meaningful moments between you and the members of your household.

You may sacrifice a bit of your privacy and personal space in the process, but those serious about making memories will recognize it’s a small price to pay for the lasting bond this kind of home will forge between you and your loved ones.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it’s always wise to do research and know what the advantages and disadvantages are to each option you are considering. Our team at North Country Storage Barns can help answer many of the questions you may have and provide you with options to choose from. Check us out today!

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