Realizing your own Tiny dream home is a project of scale; a whole adventure where you have to make many decisions along the way. I imagine you might be a little worried about that, or even dread it. The way you look at such a project makes a big difference in how you experience it and there are techniques to make it all a bit “manageable”.
How often does it happen that you can actively shape such an important part of your life, your home and living environment? The choice to live in a Tiny House is one that is going to have an impact on your entire life. It is not just a choice for a different home, but also for a different lifestyle. A choice that you make consciously because it suits you. In other words: a choice for yourself, for a life that suits you and that makes you happy. Otherwise, you wouldn’t do it at all, would you now? How cool is it that you can decide for yourself what your house will look like! It is an adventure, and there is an answer to every question. If you look at your project in this way, as a fantastic opportunity and a wonderful adventure from which you will learn a lot, it immediately feels different than if you just think about what you don’t know yet.
‘sometimes you just have to give the bears on your path a big hug’
Break it down into small steps
You put a dot on the horizon: your Tiny House in a nice location. That’s where you want to be. That can seem miles away when you are at the start of your project. By breaking down your project into smaller steps you make it manageable. You start by making a list of what you think you need to realize your dream. Big and small goals and tasks. Then you put them in a logical order.
For my own Tiny House project I thought about what I needed to realize my dream, and came up with three main goals:
- Arrange financing for my Tiny House
- Finding a designer and builder
- Finding a residential location
You can then formulate smaller goals and/or tasks for each main goal. For instance:
Financing my Tiny House
- Research (online) what options are available
- Make an appointment with a bank to discuss loans
- Inform my network that I am looking for financing
- ask my network if they are open to give me a personal loan
- come up with measures to limit my expenses so that I can save more for my Tiny House
You do this for every main goal.
A logical sequence
Once you have drawn up a whole list of goals and tasks, you can arrange them in the most logical order possible. Often you can only achieve a goal if you have reached another goal first. During your project, the order will likely change as you gain knowledge that affects your goals. For example: if you know that you cannot get a mortgage for a Tiny House at a temporary location, then you also know that you will have to invest more time in finding an alternative. For example, taking out loans from your network. Or, you come to the conclusion that you only want a permanent location. This has consequences for your to-do list when it comes to finding a residential location.
It is therefore very important that you know what you do and do not want. It is not without reason that the online course starts with thinking exercises to help you determine how you want to live, what is important to you. You have to be clear about what your “must-haves” and “deal breakers” are, which will save you time and disappointment. Keep in mind: the duration of your project from start to realization largely depends on your flexibility. The more demands you have, the more patience you will have to show. In all cases, a proactive attitude is a requirement if you want to live in a Tiny House. In other words: if you sit on the couch and wait for it to come to you, you will be waiting a long time. ;)
Which comes first: the Tiny House or the location?
Many people wait for a location before they get started with the realization of their Tiny House. If you only want to live in a permanent location, then that makes sense. However, in my experience the people who go all out and start designing and building even before they have found a residential location are the first to find a lot.
Why is that? There is a huge demand for Tiny House residential locations and when a lot becomes available in an existing residential project, the people who already have a Tiny House and can move quickly, or people who are already building or ready to start, have a head start. It is often in the interest of the housing project that the spot is filled quickly, especially for temporary projects. The goodwill factor sometimes also plays a role. People who are already building without having a place apparently are so passionate and determined about the Tiny House lifestyle, that they take the risk for granted that there may be no location when the house is ready. Now that’s brave!
Photo: Lena van der Wal
Another factor is that when you actually get started with design and especially construction, you give yourself a big motivation to actually start working on that residential location. Otherwise, you run the risk of just keeping on dreaming. Finally, if you join an initiative group or get in contact with the municipality in your search for a residential location, you will come across as being a lot more serious if you are already building your Tiny House or ready to start.
But it is, of course, a risk, to just start building and look for a place in the meantime. It may be that your house is ready but the location has not yet been found. Only you can decide if you want to take that risk. In any case, it is a good idea to have one or more temporary backup places available, where your Tiny House is allowed but you are not yet allowed to live in it according to the rules. For example, at a campsite.
You have all your goals on paper and divided them into main goals, smaller (sub) goals and tasks. You’ve put them in a logical order, as far as you can. Now it is useful to attach a bit of a time schedule to it. If you don’t, you run the risk of your project becoming a “prayer without end.” When do you want to live in your Tiny House? That is your ultimate goal, the dot on the horizon.
When should construction start, how long will it take? There you will have your next date. No need to be pinpoint the exact date, you can adjust it along the way. When does the first payment to the builder have to be made? That will give you an instant idea of when to set the deadline for your funding goals. And so on.
When planning your project, it’s not about being perfect. It is a living document that is intended to help you and will be adjusted along the way. You learn and adjust your schedule accordingly.
The purpose of your project planning is that it gives you some direction. You will know roughly what to do, when to do it and you can get started. And that is most important of all: start! Take the first step and keep going, then you will really reach your goal. That goal may look different from what you had in mind beforehand, but the point is that you get moving. You get to know people who can help you further, you discover new possibilities, and you grow as a person. In a year or two you will look back and see how far you have come, and you will be proud of yourself. Nice huh? To work!
This blog was written as a handout for one of the course meetings of the online course “Your Tiny House – From Dream to Reality”. I really wanted to share it with my wider audience. If you want to know more about the online course (in Dutch only), please visit this page.