A Beginner’s Guide to Living in a Tiny House

About this Guide on Tiny Houses

The tiny home movement is well underway in the US, Australia and Canada. Yet in Britain, we’re only just catching on. We know people are intrigued by tiny houses – we only need to watch an episode or two of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces TV show.

We’re a nation that has learned to love glamping – and actively seek a different style of living with more emphasis on materials, affordability, eco-friendliness, and materials used – without compromising on comfort. But the tiny house movement isn’t just about holidays.

The housing crisis in the UK is dire. Shelter reports that the cost of an average home is seven times the average annual salary. However, even if people could afford suitable housing, there simply isn’t enough of it to meet population demands. The Economic Affairs Committee ‘Building More Homes’ report stated that we as a nation need to be building 300,000 new homes per year.

In the 2016/17 financial year, 217,350 new homes were built. This seems like good news because unlike previous years it has beaten the government’s target, but according to the Building More Homes report, it’s still woefully short of what is actually needed.

We need a radical shift in thinking. We need the tiny home movement.

Tiny homes are ideal for a range of housing solutions including:

  • Additional living space
  • Greener living (and living ‘off grid’ if you choose)
  • Student accommodation
  • Debt reduction
  • Affordable living
  • First-time buyers
  • Holiday homes

We’ll explore these reasons in more depth now.

Why Tiny Houses?

a tiny home in the UK

As you can see above, there is a broad range of reasons as to why a tiny home is a solution you should consider.

  • Additional affordable living space: It’s not unusual to need additional living space beyond that which your property can offer, yet not have the funds, or ability to make this possible. Whether you need a spare room, an office, a space for growing teenagers, a tiny home can provide the extra space you need without excessive building costs. The average estimated cost for a single storey extension is between £1,200 and £1,500 per square metre outside of London. That same living space as an extension would cost you £9,960 without fittings and furnishings, or as much as £13,280 if you’re in London – and yet you’d struggle actually to get a builder for such a small extension.
  • Greener living (and living ‘off grid’ if you choose): 40% of UK carbon emissions come from households – notably our homes. We’re getting better at insulating our houses, using more efficient boilers, and reducing the carbon footprint of our homes. However, the impact on the environment is still significant. Yet, we’re far more environmentally aware and responsible than previous generations. Many don’t feel comfortable taking the traditional route to accommodation knowing that it will contribute to environmental damage in an unsustainable way. Tiny homes offer a solution and enable greener living without compromising on creature comforts. Tiny ECO Homes UK create homes that can be completely ‘off grid’ if you like. All of our tiny houses use sustainable wood which has been heat treated to last a lifetime. Our insulation ensures no heat is lost Plus, a smaller space to heat and light inevitably is kinder to the environment.
  • Student accommodation: According to the National Union of Students (NUS) the average student rent outside of London is £4,834 per academic year. They also go on to explain that the average student will have a shortfall each year of £7,819 between their income from loans and funding, and their student costs. Add to this picture that the average student debt in England is now a staggering £32,220. Furthermore, these students are graduating to face first-time buyer prices that are higher than ever before, with an amount not dissimilar to that debt needed for a deposit. It makes sense that we do everything we can to take a different approach to student accommodation to keep costs as low as possible, as well as portable. Tiny homes are ideal for students and young people.
  • Debt reduction: The average adult in the UK has a debt of £8,000 excluding their mortgage. Compounding that worry is that 6 million Britons don’t believe they will ever be debt-free. Furthermore, a quarter of us are struggling to ‘make ends meet’. At the moment, and with austerity measures worsening this, this indicates a real need to reduce our outgoings. One of the easiest ways to do this is to lower your accommodation costs. Tiny homes enable this.
  • Affordable living: Even without debts, our housing costs are astronomical compared to our salaries. In England last year the median monthly rent was £650, and the average outstanding mortgage debt for 11.1m households was £119,937 in 2017. Accommodation is our largest cost. If we want to free up our finances and live within our means, another solution is needed – tiny houses offer exceptionally affordable living.
  • First-time buyers: It would take someone on an average salary a whopping 33 years saving at the average amount to afford an average first-time buyer deposit. Those figures are beyond worrying. The Office of National Statistics put the average house price for a first-time buyer as £184,973 in 2016. Contrastingly, a fully fitted 4-bedroom tiny house starts from just £30,000. You get more bang for your buck – in an affordable range.
  • Holiday homes: As a nation, we’re loving glamping. Whether it’s a decadently luxurious yurt or a cabin with character, we’re embracing simple yet luxury living as an ideal way to relax and unwind. Tiny homes are a natural part of this holiday trend. As well as being ideal for long-term living, they can also be used in the holiday market. As they are road-worthy and mounted on a mobile chassis, they can be the ultimate stylish replacement for a caravan.

Who is Suited to Tiny Living?

Tiny houses are a valuable solution for many. However, realistically, not everyone is suited to tiny living. The sleeping space is most frequently in a loft space, and entrance to the cabin requires mounting steps. Therefore, they won’t suit the elderly or the infirm. Our smallest 14ft x 8ft one bedroom tiny houses are ideal for singles and couples. Our largest tiny homes are 22ft x 8ft and can accommodate up to four bedrooms, making them ideal for shared accommodation or families, even with the family pet!

If you’re looking for a simpler way of life without compromising on your levels of comfort, then tiny houses are for you. Furthermore, if you’re after a different approach to holidays or extending your traditional living space, then they suit the vast majority of people.

Where to Start with Tiny Home Living?

Eco Living In a Tiny Home
Tiny living is often a radical shift for people. However, to make the transition successful, we don’t recommend embarking on the all or nothing approach – unless of course, you’re certain you’re ready for it! Rather than throwing away everything you own that can’t fit into a tiny house, we recommend some smaller steps first.

You need to know whether tiny living is really for you, even though it feels enticing. Here’s what we recommend doing based on our experience of previous customers:

Identify What You Want: What is it about a tiny home that appeals to you? Is it minimalism? Is it eco-friendliness and sustainable living? Is it costs? Is it portability? Then consider other wants and desires – do you want guests to stay? Do you like to entertain? Do you need something from your accommodation in terms of work? Fitness? Then consider if with a smaller space you can marry these aspirations.

Take Another Look: Once you’ve gone through this process have another look at the lists you’ll have created and then ask yourself – what are needs and what are wants? In short – what are you content to compromise on? What is absolutely essential? Many of these things can be accommodated with tiny living. For example, if luxurious bathing is important to you – this can be accommodated. If you need storage space – what are the ways around this? Tiny homes are intimately planned. Therefore, at the planning stage, you need to identify what are non-negotiables for you.

Consider Your Options: If you’re now at the stage where you’d definitely like to give tiny living a go, it’s time to consider your options. Is it possible to live in a tiny home alongside your traditional accommodation (or that of a friend or relative) while you experiment if this is for you? What can you afford in terms of buying a tiny home? While considering this remember that not all tiny homes are as good as each other. Choose one which has an excellent guarantee (such as our Lifetime Warranty) and finished to a high standard – this way if it turns out that tiny living isn’t for you, then you’ll be able to resell the tiny house without too much loss of value.

Make Plans: Then it’s time to use the information you’ve gathered from the above steps to plan your new tiny home. We really recommend taking time to consider every aspect of the layout from the bed to the breakfast bar to the bath. With an exceptional designer such as Tiny ECO Homes UK, you can consider every aspect of the design on a bespoke basis. What’s more, by choosing a reputable manufacturer you can be sure to benefit from their advice as well.

Start to Downsize: while plans are afoot, it’s time to begin the process of downsizing – so that it’s not such an extreme ‘culture shock’ but more of a natural progression. Go through your current home asking yourself what you really need. This can seem daunting, but conducted gradually you’ll start to see what items you have ‘just because’ without intrinsic value. It’ll be a revealing and cathartic process! You can sell, donate, or gift the belongings you don’t need.

Make the Move: Although at Tiny ECO Houses UK we can have your tiny home ready in just 6 weeks (if you’re ordering a fully-furnished option) you don’t need to make the move immediately. Because it is mobile, you can make the move when it’s right for you – moving in gradually and adjusting to the living space and changing your mindset. You’ll be part of the minimalism and tiny home movements.

Do I Need Planning Permission for a Tiny Home?

A tiny home on wheels (a trailer) comes under the umbrella of being a mobile home. Mobile homes up to 65 x 22 ft in size can be placed on your property without planning permission as long as members of the household use them as additional living space. For many people, this is all they need to know regarding whether they can legally put their tiny house on their property without planning permission.

However, some situations require a little more knowledge. A mobile structure that isn’t changing or developing the land it is sited on won’t generally need planning permission. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. Specifically, you’ll need to consider how long it’s going to be there, and what it’s going to be used for. You will not need planning permission based on the following criteria:

  • Location: as long as the tiny home on wheels is within the ‘curtilage’ of a house – this means the driveway or garden, for example.
  • Type: the tiny house must conform to the legal definition of a ‘caravan’ under the Caravans Sites and Control of Development Acts 1960 and other associated regulations. Three tests are applied to the home: 1) construction test, 2) mobility test, and 3) size test.

At Tiny ECO Homes UK we work with customers to meet any planning requirements and to understand what they may construct.

Additionally, we take care to focus on the ‘mobile’ aspect of our tiny houses. By constructing our tiny homes on standard twin axle trailer chassis within road-worthy size restrictions, your tiny home will be truly mobile and able to be moved by road.

Budgets and Cost of a Tiny House

What is absolutely crucial when considering your budget and the cost of a tiny home is value for money. This is where it is vital that you select a reputable tiny home builder or supplier, such as Tiny ECO Homes UK.

The average size of one of our road-legal tiny homes is 18ft x 8ft. To have this tiny home fully kitted out with the exceptional build quality and luxurious furnishings you’re looking at around £24,000. This includes:

  • Galvanised twin-axle trailer chassis.
  • Legal approval documents.
  • Exterior cladding: thermally treated rot-proof 25mm, with lifetime warranty
  • Roofing guaranteed for 30 years: tile effect galvanised roofing sheets of fibreglass grey.
  • Internal cladding.
  • Waterproof membrane.
  • 3 x CE approved PVC double-glazed windows constructed with toughened safety glass.
  • Oak door with double glazing.
  • Fitted high-standard kitchen including appliances.
  • Fitted bathroom with plumbing or eco-friendly options.
  • High-density foam wall and roof insulation.
  • Pine cladded
  • Electrics and lighting.
  • Plumbing and Heating.
  • High-level safety features such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Flooring
  • 2 seater sofa bed.
  • Fold-out table and stools.
  • Storage shelving.
  • White panel bathroom door.
  • Wooden loft ladder.
  • Full decoration.

The same home as a shell only is available for £12,695. However, you’re only limited by your imagination and road-worthy trailer sizes. We can work with you to design a 14ft home or a flat pack kit if you wish to build the home yourself.

Can I Build My Own Tiny House?

Absolutely! And many people choose to do this to keep costs down or to enjoy the project, as well as the sense of satisfaction to be gained. However, if you haven’t built a tiny home before we strongly recommend you use a self-built kit to begin with.

At Tiny ECO Homes UK we offer our tiny houses on a scaled basis. Therefore if you just want the trailer chassis we can make this for you, or a fully-fitted tiny home. Our self-build kits are particularly popular. These come with

  • Fitted trailer and floor
  • Thermally treated 25mm exterior cladding
  • Roofing
  • Timber
  • Internal cladding
  • Floorboards for the loft
  • Hardwood ply
  • Flashing
  • Secret screws
  • Waterproof membrane
  • 3 CE approved PVC double glazed windows
  • Oak door with double-glazed windows

We also offer a bespoke and customised service to ensure you get exactly what you need from your tiny home – whether that’s fully-furnished or supplied in kit form.

Is a Tiny Home For You?


tiny home in the UK
This guide has taken you through why tiny homes are a growing trend in the UK and worldwide and explained why tiny houses are ideal for a wide range of people. They are increasing in popularity and with good reason. However, they aren’t for everyone.

Hopefully, we’ve answered many of your questions to determine if a tiny house on wheels is for you. If you would like any further information or to discuss your thoughts and requirements you can call us on 01434 673 798 or 07833 045 540 or email us at tinyecohomes@gmail.com.