There is a lot more to think about than just building a tiny house on wheels

escape traveler xl tiny house
They make it look so easy…


So many people are into tiny houses. It is indeed a movement. Why is this the case? I think it boils down to fact that we want simplicity. We want to live a life with some meaning and tiny houses appear to give us this opportunity.

We are craving the chance to slow the hell down and enjoy life now. A life with less stuff and less debt. More money, more connecting with nature and more time. Sounds great doesn’t it?

And we feel that tiny houses are the gateway to this simple life.

Tiny homes are obviously smaller, more compact and in theory they are cheaper than the typical home. So we are led to believe that it is possible to be debt free. And all of this may be true.

We are drawn to the stories of people building their own tiny house on wheels for 5000$ out of salvaged materials and living off the grid virtually for free. Sounds so appealing doesn’t it. Sign me up!

The truth of the matter is it just isn’t as easy as we hope it to be. Hell, is anything?

Yes you CAN Build A Tiny House For Very Little Money

DIY off grid Micro Cabin

Lots of people have built a DIY tiny house or micro cabin with recycled and salvaged materials for very little money. But here is the the thing we fail to realize: They have skills and time and help. And a lot of the time they have the land on which to put their tiny dwelling. There is nothing wrong with that. So if you are in this situation or you want to learn a new skill set, then go for it.

I too could build a tiny house on wheels for probably under 20000$ if I wanted to. But that is just building the tiny house. Over the past few days I really started thinking about some of the other systems and issues that are involved with living in a tiny home.

Are you going to live in it full time? Or is it going to be a part time residence? There are rules and regulations in regards to this. Even if I were to build it in my yard it would not be long before a building inspector were to show up and start asking questions. Just this past summer my landlord was nice enough to build an awesome new set of stairs going up to my back deck. It had to have a permit and be built to code.

And when I was out asking questions this morning about some of this stuff the local building inspectors told me of a guy who bought an older mobile home(on a trailer) and was going to redo it and live on his own land etc. . Not so fast. They actually shut him down with a stop work order.

Anyway I digress. Here are just a couple of the main issues you need to think about when it comes to actually living in a tiny house. At least the ones I am thinking about the most right now

How am I going to dispose of my poop? This is actually the number one issue that you have to think about. You see, when you grow up in a conventional house or apartment with a flushing toilet we don’t have to worry about this. But all of a sudden in a tiny house this is a real issue.

What about the grey water from showering or from washing clothes? Here in Nova Scotia, Canada all water is considered “black water”. It cannot be separated and used to water plants etc. This is very backwards thinking in my opinion.

As of right now in Nova Scotia you can have a “private privy”. Basically an outhouse type of set up. A hole is dug and away you go. Get this though. That still has to be approved by the Department of the Environment. Site surveys have to be done, permits have to be obtained. So this will still cost you money.

You could have composting or incinerating toilets but this does not deal with your grey water issue.

So you either have to have an approved septic system which has to be designed and signed off on by many different officials or you have to have holding tanks like an RV has. A septic system is going to be about 20000$ and up. Holding tanks means you are going to have to somehow have them emptied. So much for simple living.

Again this is just for the province of Nova Scotia. Your jurisdiction may be a bit more forward thinking and allow, french drains or permaculture types of set ups to deal with these issues. But even those systems will have to be designed properly and maybe by an engineer depending on where you live.

I actually wanted some answers so I went and spoke with some local municipal building inspectors about it just today.

I left with more questions than when I went in the building.

So as you can see, actually getting everything done and set up and situated is going to be a long journey with lots of permits and inspections by many different people.

A tiny house on wheels still has to meet a minimum set of building codes based on the standards set by your country, province or state, and municipality. You cannot just slap something together and take off down the road with it. I don’t want to be following behind you towing your tiny house on wheels and have it fall apart in front of me.

So even if you were to shell out the big money and have a custom tiny house builder do it all for you, is it legal for the road? If yes, who says it is legal? Is it certified by a governing body such as Canadian Standards Association like an approved RV(probably not), although there are tiny homes being built that do meet the RVIA Standards? You had better get some straight answers to this question as there is a serious liability issue here.

Where are you going to get your water?

Again lots to consider here. Are going to dig a well? Many thousands of dollars. You could carry water in and out of your tiny house like people would have done in the “good old days”. I don’t think too many people are going to sign up for that option.

You could choose to simply hook your tiny house up to a regular water supply. This option just involves installing plumbing so that your tiny house can accept water through an RV hose. If you go this route, your tiny house water system will function like that of any other RV.

You can have holding tanks like an RV and then you need pumps and then this leads to power systems to make all of this stuff work. See where this is going? Like any other house there is a lot to think about. Much more than most people realize.

All of these questions lead to where are you going to actually put your tiny house?

Chances are you are not going to be in an urban location so having ready access to water is going to be more of an issue.

Maybe you have land or you want to buy land and park your tiny house there. Based on my discussions this morning, different government departments are going to have a few questions for you and want to inspect what you are doing to make sure that things are being done up to code and within current regulations.

We haven’t even discussed power for your tiny house yet! Good grief.

I will be adding more information as it comes to me. I am actually going out and speaking with different officials, businesses and groups to try and get some answers as to what is and is not allowed at least here in the province of Nova Scotia when it comes to tiny houses.

I realize that a lot of us who love tiny houses and the idea of living a more simple life may want to try and build a tiny house in the most simple way possible. I am realizing that there are many serious, and maybe costly, issues to consider.

All of a sudden you can see how the total price for living in a tiny house is going to be much more than you initially thought.


Keep looking at and loving tiny houses. But if you are serious about building one just make sure you go into the process with your eyes wide open.

Please share your thoughts on this post and please share it on social media. And please ask any questions you may have and I will try to get an answer for you.


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“Live Simply”


4 thoughts on “The Main Stuff About Tiny House Living That No One Tells You. The Myth of the 5000$ Tiny House

  1. Some people (usually singles or retirees) buy campers with all the perks incl full bathrooms, and park them in rv/trailer parks and pay monthly rent or they buy land out of town on smaller lot. Campers have lots of storage space and furnishings, little is needed to move in. I live in S.E. USA where this is common.

  2. Great post Mark! There is a challenge to building and staying in a tiny house full-time, at least with Canada’s regulations. Unless we are lucky enough to find a spare backyard, the lifestyle, although quite fulfilling, can be challenging to maintain.

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