5 Things to Watch Out For When Buying Used

From cars to houses, making a large purchase comes with big commitment. No matter what two people you ask, you will likely get different responses on the how to’s of making this financial decision.

Buying or building tiny does come with its own caveats that differ from the traditional home buying or building process. While they share some similarities, everything from price to the build itself can vary. So here are five things to watch out for if you plan to buy used and why we recommend building instead.

Trailer

When building a THOW (Tiny House On Wheels) you aren’t just building a trailer to haul wood or even farm animals. You are building a home that will carry for family and that must have the ability to be safely moved from one location to the next.

The quality of the trailer should be taken into consideration every bit as much as the house itself. Buyers should beware of rust, pre-used trailers, the length, the axles, the number of tires, as well as how the home is affixed to the trailer. This shouldn’t be taken lightly and should be thoroughly inspected by a professional.

Appliances

This is maybe the biggest area where THOW builders can cut corners to fit a house into a buyer’s budget. This doesn’t mean they outfit a home unsafely, it just means a buyer may choose to downgrade the brand name or the size of something in order to fit for space or financial restrictions on the build.

For instance, a popular THOW might come standard with an apartment refrigerator and an electric cooktop. An upgrade would be a residential fridge, a propane or electric full-sized stove, or the addition of a dishwasher or washer/dryer. These are easy things to cut out when wedding the list of wants into needs for a budget-friendly build.

Plumbing & Electrical

For these to be installed safely, just as in a traditional house, they must be done correctly and [usually] by a professional. Cutting corners and DIY-ing this step could be disastrous. If you are buying used, you can never be sure of what is behind the walls. While we love to be trusting of our beloved tiny community, there are still dishonest people out there. Please have anything used professionally inspected before buying.

Insulation

Another area of great debate in the tiny house community is how to keep their house warm. Buyers can choose everything from recycled denim to organic wool, spray foam or the traditional pink panther rolls of your average Joe construction supply store. The cost on some of these materials can skyrocket the overall price tag on a new or used tiny. Be sure you are getting what you want and researching the longevity and R-value of your product.

Materials

Consider everything from siding to windows, counter tops to storage. All of these variables will weigh in on the overall hauling rate (weight) of your THOW, the safety when traveling, and the overall durability. If you plan to move a lot with your home, you might consider tempered windows to withstand whatever the highway might throw at them. If you will be in below freezing temps, you need to upgrade to double paned. cedar vs vinyl siding is also a consideration.

Do your research or employ a professional inspector who is familiar with THOWs if you plan on buying used.

So Why Do We Recommend Building New?

Like anything else, you can’t know if you are getting a lemon until you’re stuck with it. You can’t simply return a house because you found things you didn’t like. As any home buyer knows, a month into the purchase, you will still be discovering things you were blind to when you were just excited to make the purchase.

This is a house. For many, this is forever. Building tiny homes can range from $10,000 (DIY, kit build, and basics) to upwards of $140,000 (for top-of-the-line and customized all inclusives). However, if you compare this to just single family, entry level stick-built homes, you are still saving tens of thousands of dollars. So do this the right way so you won’t end up regretting your purchase. Find a reliable builder, and plan for your dream home.

5 Things Tiny Life Is Teaching Me

Things I’ve learned while on our tiny adventure

Traveling back to our old house for our final clean out after going tiny, my perspective changed…again. The first few minutes back in the old house were surreal. Did we really live here? Was this place always so ginormous!? Oh, and the memories; my heart broke.

Just as I was settling into the discomfort of our twin-sized air mattress, the thoughts began to flood in of all that we had left to do. To the onlooker, the new home buyer, our house looked like a home. In my anxiety-ridden mind, I was writing the never-ending to-do list of unpacking, organizing, making trash, donation, and storage piles, cleaning things out and scrubbing clean—ceiling to floors—the life we were leaving behind. Sleepless nights and endless hours of cleaning—I don’t miss them.

It brought to life five things that tiny life is teaching me.

1. Deciding is Difficult: When you downsize you have to make decisions…a lot! We had to take 12 years of life’s “stuff” and decide which things were important enough to take with us. That is harder than you think.

I am not the materialistic type, but I am the sentimental things type—or as my husband affectionally calls me, “hoardie”. So reducing my clothes and shoes was a freedom I enjoyed. I didn’t wear most of it anyway. However, I have amassed a collection half a file cabinet drawer deep of old birthday cards, notes from former students, campers, and friends, pictures from life before marriage and kids. It all seemed so important to me at one time.

I’m learning that, while deciding is difficult, it isn’t impossible. I kept a few things from family members that have passed on or pictures that our kids drew so I have tiny reminders, but the memories of what I left behind are still there. I don’t have to keep it squirreled away somewhere for me to maybe never actually look at again until we move or I need to empty a cabinet. Deciding is difficult, but rewarding.

2. Presence Over Presents:  While we teach our kids to serve and give back, it just seemed like we were continually giving away things.

We realized this had to be our kids’ decision and not ours. I was surprised by the freedom with which he cut things loose.

What we are experiencing is freedom from things we thought we needed. I thought I needed to hold on to mementos from my past and our kids thought they needed every little trinket and toy. My husband and I thought we needed time to unwind after work with a mindless TV show, but now we rarely even turn on the TV, and we don’t have satellite or cable.

We are, however, making our own memories. Every evening and weekend we are experiencing our community, visiting new places, being active together every chance we get. We are getting dirty, building things, learning things, and enjoying building our tiny lives together in a big way. It is pretty incredible and costs next to nothing.

3. Intentionally Be Intentional: Since going tiny, we have freed ourselves from the mundane but necessary parts of everyday life. We no longer have a yard to mow, fence to fix, barn to clean, house to sanitize from a week of baby goo, mountains of laundry to wash, forget about, rewash, smell to make sure we didn’t leave it too long, and then forget about in baskets for the upcoming week.

All of that is gone. What we are left with is ourselves and each other.

Our job now—our primary goal—is to be together and enjoy life. Now we can let ourselves have time to feel things, discuss things, and experience things we just couldn’t or didn’t make a priority before.

We are intentional about what we choose to eat, where we choose to visit, what we teach our kids; every decision is intentional because we have freed ourselves up to have the time to make those choices on purpose. It is eye-opening to look at your budget and see how many times you opted for drive-thru and take out over homecooked meals because you didn’t have time.

I still don’t do it perfectly, but now we read bedtime stories and kiss boo-boos and remind our son who struggles with his emotions that we do too and that’s okay. It is a change I may never have experienced otherwise.

4. Simplicity is Bliss: Full transparency, I wear my jeans at least three times before washing them. And honestly, if you are the type of person who washes every item of clothing or bath towel each time you use them, I don’t understand your life.

Now that we live tiny, we own about 50 pieces of clothing. Yes, that includes undergarments.  So from work clothes to comfy, shoes and accessories, I have about 50 things. Do you know how much easier it is to get dressed in the mornings!?

So now, not only with clothes but with everything, we choose to keep things we sincerely love and get joy out of having. Each dish, each decoration, every picture, and blanket were chosen on purpose, and that simplicity is a gift.

5. In Everything Be Thankful: I am coming to learn that having the mental space to breathe and to be thankful when our daughter does something new, our son learns a lesson he is excited about, or we just have a campfire on a weeknight to unwind is something I never knew I was missing until I did.

 

Moving on is never easy, but it isn’t the place we miss. We miss the relationships—the people. There are so many memories of warmth, laughter, cookouts, birthday parties, and late nights up rocking our babies. The thing is, no one can take the memories from us. We are choosing our new lifestyle. We are trading in the feelings of being overwhelmed with debt and never-ending to-do lists for a life of freedom to enjoy the things we love and to have the time to be intentional—to be able to afford to make the memories we have always wanted for ourselves and our children.

A transition is never easy, but the liberation that is being born from this type of simplicity is indescribably beautiful.