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DIY Tiny Homes vs Hiring A Builder

Can you see yourself enjoying more time relaxing, traveling, or time with your loved ones instead of commuting to a job to work long hours to pay for a mortgage? The tiny house movement rapid growth of over 900% during the last decade is proof that you aren’t the only one with that dream and that many are making it their reality by downsizing their real estate and upgrading their lifestyles.

Because of the smaller overall size of the home, more homeowners seem to have a desire to attempt a DIY build versus the traditionally built house. However, because you are planning to live in a downsized home, doesn’t mean the quality of the build should be minimized. There are ways to save money where you can, complete a fully customized build, and end up with a perfectly safe and reliable house that will last for years.

Here are five reasons that may make you think twice about the DIY and, instead, consider hiring a licensed contractor, who specializes in tiny home builds.

Foundation

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Much like the increased number of DIY attempts in tiny home building, same are the rise in numbers of people willing to build on a reused or recycled foundation. The trailer for your THOW (Tiny House On Wheels) is the foundation of your home and should be treated as such. A chassis is not the place for buying used and certified tiny house builders already have trusted and established trailer companies with whom they have a lasting relationship to start your home build.

People have attempted to move their poorly built THOWs and ended up with foundational cracks, trailer damage, or worse. Licensed contractors for tiny homes should be well-versed in quality trailers built to pull this kind of weight. Most THOWS average 8,000-18,000 pounds, depending on length and building materials used. This is not something to take lightly when starting the foundation of your build. Hiring a professional will ensure your build starts off right.

Timeline

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Whether you are considering a pre-fab kit, a custom DIY, or hiring a builder, timelines can be tricky on a large project like building a house. Hiring a professional builder brings you the comfort that they understand the business, can predict most logistial snags, and are able to work with multiple suppliers when necessary to meet deadlines.

When a professional runs into a delay in shipping materials or a string of bad weather, they can adjust accordingly. When you are unfamiliar, you are more likely to panic and stop progress on the build to wait for a late shipment or end up having to hire out certain parts of your build only after investing time and money into it to realize that you didn’t have the appropriate knowledge or skills to complete it safely. A threat of bad weather can pose even bigger problems in a DIY if you don’t have an indoor space to build. Water damage to subfloor, insulation, or other stages of the build could be total losses if not properly protected.

DIY Dangers

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The square footage of a home doesn’t determine how dangerous it can be to try to install your own electrical or plumbing. Beyond basic dangers from power tools in general, without proper skills/training in electrical and plumbing work, you can be facing fears of house fire, burst pipes, insulation and wood flooring damage, or even house flooding.

Electrical DIYs could result in electrocution, code violations, expensive after-build repairs, or improperly wired breaker boxes. Plumbing concerns can include the use of improper materials for piping, connections remaining without proper sealant, and the ruining of furniture and flooring. Emergency repairs for these mistakes are very costly and can even result in a complete rebuild.

For these reasons it is a safer choice to hire a licensed contractor, even if you opt for a partial DIY and leave these stages of your build to the professionals.

Logistics

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Unless you’ve previously lived tiny or are an experienced tiny home builder, you are unlikely to foresee some of the logistics that can accompany a tiny house build. Your list might include everything from building around rounded wheel wells, which type of toilet to install, weight distribution, bump outs, types of insulation and R-values for multiseason travel, and much more.

Research is never underestimated and tiny home buyers remain one of the highest acclaimed researchers in the home buying industry, however, some things are nearly impossible to predict unless you are inundated in the tiny house industry.

Small Price Tags

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Unlike a traditional home build, there is much to consider in the way of insulations and window installation. Much like an RV, buyers must consider things like how often the house will be moved, what seasons it will travel through, and how severe of temperature changes the THOW will be exposed to.

It is more costly to install a double paned tempered window in any home, but if you plan to move your house often, a tempered window can save you thousands in window replacement in the long run when rocks  on the highway bounce up and break your glass.

Insulation can be comprised of everything from denim to sheep’s wool, spray foam to traditional fiberglass infused pink rolls. The cost varies greatly but these changes are benefits of a fully customized build where everything from environmental impact and R-rating can be considered.

Like with any large purchase, be sure to do your research before you commit. Check out certified and trusted builders who are professionals within the small house industry and get your build certified by NOAH. They are your best bet for tiny living.

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