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What Is The Biggest Mistake In Building Your Tiny House?

Mistakes happen. In fact, mistakes happen more often than not. But if you are aware of the mistakes others make it is easier to avoid making your own. Some mistakes are just self-taught lessons in disguise while others are just lack of knowledge altogether. What is the biggest mistake though when building your tiny house? Is there a biggest? Here are a few that are most common and perhaps one is the biggest. You be the judge! 


Windows are key to the overall appearance of a room. And when it comes to a small space they are so important. By letting natural light in you are giving your space a more warm and homey feeling. The lack of windows can cause a lack of natural air flow, a sense of sterility, and a poor floorplan flow. Don't go overboard and build in window upon window but do be sure to open up space to the light of the outdoors! 


Window and doors put a definite gap in your support structure. By adding a window or a door you are essentially taking a perfectly good wall and putting a hole in it. The weight has to be distributed around it. That is where headers come in. They distribute that weight and reestablish the integrity of the structure. 


It's true. A large part of the modern tiny house movement is the idea that it is economically efficient and built upon salvaging, dollar scrimping, and using discount materials. There are some things in building the house that just shouldn't be spared the expense. One of the biggest mistakes still made in the DIY tiny house world is using a travel trailer as the foundation rather than a manufactured, tiny house specific, trailer. They simply aren't meant to handle the weight of a tiny house and that can become a major structural and safety problem during the build.


Legal road limits are 102" wide. Your tiny house on wheels cannot exceed 102" at any point. Easy enough, right? Just create a box on some graph paper that is 102" wide from inside wall to inside wall. WRONG! That would actually give you a house that is about 112" wide. ILLEGAL! You have to account for sheathing (1/2”), outside siding (1/2”), window and door trim (1/2”), drip edge (1/2”) and your roof overhang (at least 3”). That 5" multiplied by 2 means you need a living box that is at least 10" less than 102". So plan on your living space to be just 92" (or less) wide!


There is a reason that walls are built 16"OC. 16 inches on center means the center of each 2x4 wall stud is 16" apart from the next one. This standard is necessary because building materials are designed to fit that space. For example, insulation and medicine cabinets will only fit into a 16 inch layout. This uniform distance also makes it easier to locate wall studs when hanging mirrors or cabinets.


What tiny house building mistakes have you come up against while building? How did you work around them? Let us know in the comments below or visit our Facebook page to continue the discussion. 


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Filed under:Tiny House 101