What is the difference between a tiny house and a small house

What is the difference between a tiny house and a small house

What is the difference between a tiny house and a small house

Tiny House vs. Small House: In-depth Guide to Choose the Best Home Design

The buzz about tiny and small homes has been soaring over the past few decades. Today people are quite enthusiastic about smart homes, sustainability, and minimalist living. The concept of small homes has emerged as a trend highly propagated through several popular TV shows, design articles, and so much more.
When it comes to choosing minimalist home designs, there are two options- tiny homes and small houses.

But, what is the difference between a tiny house and a small house?

Choosing between a tiny home and a small house is vital to match the lifestyle and needs of the inmates. The wrong decision when making choices can cost much in the aftermath.
This article offers a comprehensive guide for those who want to build a new home or switch to small home living.

Tiny House vs. Small House- Comparison

Before getting into the details, here is a quick overview of the attributes of these homes.

Tiny HouseSmall House
PermitNot requiredRequired
House PlanNot requiredRequired
SpaceCompact SpaceUseable Space
EnergyLow consumptionHigh consumption

*Excluding the price of the land/plot.

Tiny House

Tiny houses are based on a small space ranging from 100-400sqft. However, there are tiny homes occupying as little as 80sqft.

According to the International Residential Code, Appendix Q Tiny Houses, 2018, a tiny home is a housing unit having a maximum floor area of 400sqft (37sqmt) excluding the attics.

Initially considered to be an unrewarding investment, the tiny home trend has been gaining enormous popularity since 2007.
There are two types of tiny homes:

Mobile: Mobility is one of the main reasons to opt for a tiny home plan. Also called the tiny house on wheels, modular home, and manufactured home, a mobile home is built on a road trailer with wheels. Some mobile houses are constructed without the wheels at the base. The contemporary design bestows the ease of placing the entire structure on a pre-casted foundation. The homes on trailer wheels are mainly used as containers for commercial merchandize transportation needs.
Permanent: Tiny homes movement is all about sustainability and minimalistic living. While mobility is a modern concept offering an added advantage, this type of home plan is also easy to build as a permanent structure on a dedicated plot.

Benefits of Living in a Tiny Home
Build a House on a Budget

What is the difference between a tiny house and a small house

The prime reason, a tiny house is on the mind when building a home is the budget. There is enormous scope for implementing DIY skills to do a part/whole work. The cost of building such homes can range anywhere from $20,000-$50,000 depending on the design, materials, and labor charges.

Innumerable Designs

There are so many adorable tiny home designs to build a dream home. With a professional touch, you can achieve the ultimate aesthetic look for your home that is compact and easy to maintain.

Go on Wheels

Building a portable tiny house has much to offer the inmates. It’s easy to hook a wheeled home to a vehicle on drive. No need to book an expensive hotel room. Tiny homes with solar panels and rainwater collection systems can be parked anywhere. Mobile homes that require water and energy supply can be parked at the RV home parking spaces.

Relocate the Home Anytime Anywhere

Moving to a different city or state due to job change or other reasons can be overwhelming. The convenience of carrying the house to a new place makes the process seamless. No need to pack the luggage, search for another home in a new location, or book a vehicle. Travel all the way while enjoying the stay-at-home experience.

Eco-friendly Living

Contemporary tiny homes offer the scope of sustainability not often possible in big houses. There is an endless array of options you can explore:

  • Biological or waterless sewage treatment system
  • Solar power
  • Rainwater storage and filtration system

Adopting environment-friendly systems is a decisive step towards healthy living.

Energy Efficiency

How much electricity does a tiny house use
How much electricity does a tiny house use

The average power consumption in tiny spaces is much lower than that in big homes. The cooling/heating appliances in smaller rooms require less electricity. It is possible to save 50% or even more on monthly energy bills in tiny spaces compared to traditional homes.

Save on Maintenance/ Renovation Costs

Tiny homes have a maximum of 400sqft area. Even if the homeowner needs to do a remodelling project or some vital maintenance work in the future, it is not necessary to spend a fortune on that.

Easy to Clean

Household cleaning is a hard chore for many people considering the hectic work schedules. With closed cabinets and smart designs, it takes a few minutes for the cleaning job- dusting, sweeping the floors, etc.
With closed cabinets all around, it is easy to store and organize the essentials.

Drawbacks of a Tiny House

Tiny homes have a cool compact appeal but there are some disadvantages to consider before making a choice:
1.Hard to Accommodate Pets
Pets are part of the family. They feel uncomfortable in compact spaces. After storing the daily essentials, bed, table, chairs, and others, there is hardly any free room for them to roam around.
2.Less Space to Welcome Guests
There is very limited space in tiny homes to make the guests comfortable. If too many people come home for a get-together party, it can be a matter of struggle to host a dinner indoors.
3.Compost Potty Training is Not Easy
While everyone in the home love the idea of composting toilet, the guests may feel uncomfortable learning how to use it.
4.Difficult to Manage when the Family Grows
A tiny house may be just the thing for two people, bachelors, etc. But couples planning to have children in the future must have a smart home plan. Kids need a lot of free space, ventilated rooms, and cleaner surroundings for proper growth and development.
Cluttered spaces filled with smoke from the kitchen can be unhealthy for infants.

Small House

Small homes are much more spacious than the tiny counterparts. The small house plan requires an area of 400-1000sqft. These homes offer the convenience of enjoying all basic amenities- roomy kitchen, extended living rooms, large bathrooms, etc. With a smart plan, it is possible to construct up to 3 small bedrooms in these homes.

Cost of Building a Small House

The expenses on a small home project are much higher than those in tiny homes. The prices largely depend on the location or state where you are looking to build your new residence. On average the cost of a small house can range from $125-$200 per square foot.

Benefits of Building a Small House

There is much more space in a small home than what is available in a tiny home. A 1000sqft home can have two bedrooms, a large kitchen, and up to 2 bathrooms. No need to keep the bed in the loft or pull out a couch to prepare a bed at night.


One of the biggest benefits people go high on investing in small homes. For those who have free outdoor space, it is possible to expand the construction with passing time. Depending on the availability of land, there is the scope of creating almost anything- patio, swimming pool, garage, garden shed, extra rooms, and so much more.

Low Power Consumption
There is no denying the fact that the electricity bills can go higher in small homes than in tiny counterparts. However, a small house has much smaller environmental footprints than a traditional home.

Save on Mortgage and Insurance Costs

What is the difference between a tiny house and a small house

Building a small house is much more expensive compared to tiny homes. But as far as mortgages and insurance costs are concerned, it is still a cost-effective option to build a 500-1000sqft home than a large one.

Low Maintenance Costs.

A large homes is too difficult to maintain. There are so many installations, pipes, taps, lights, etc. Keeping everything in the right order is a matter of higher expenses on maintenance every month. The minimalist life in small homes ensures there are only some basic essential fixtures that are easy to repair and maintain.

Breathe Easy
Tiny homes have compact structures. A vital concern before choosing a tiny house is that a smell in the home does not seem to fade away soon. The fumes from the kitchen spread very easily into the entire house.
For this reason, the visitors may often experience the smell of rotten veggies, burnt food, etc. Small homes are a breeze. A lot of space and modern ventilation systems keep these problems at a bay.

Favorable Living Environment for Kids
Living with children in a tiny house can be a daunting experience. They can’t thrive well in a clumsy environment. An infant may have disturbed sleep with people around all day long. A small house is the best for homeowners with kids or planning to have one very soon.

Easy to Design for Future Needs
Small home projects bestow the flexibility to design wider doors and passages for accessibility during an emergency. A smart design for accessibility is good for elderly people, patients in a wheelchair, under post-operative care, or recovering from injuries.

Downsides of Living in a Small Home

What is the difference between a tiny house and a small house
Source Treehugger

Requires Bulk Investment

The cost of building a permanent small house is much higher than buying a tiny home on a trailer. It is mandatory to purchase the land much before the construction work starts.

Permit and Design Approval

Building a permanent small house is a matter of time. Before starting the construction process, the homeowner must purchase land, acquire a permit based on the house plan, etc. There are so many formalities to complete. Tiny homes are readily available on sale and do not require any approval.

Not Travel-Friendly

The small house is a permanent structure so lacks the convenience of mobility. If the homeowner has a plan to relocate soon, a mobile home is the best fit to carry the entire house to the new location.

Tiny Home or Small House: Which is the Best Option

Swayed away by the tiny house movement?

The cute tiny home designs are sure to wow aspiring buyers. However, there are so many considerations before choosing the dream home plan.
The tiny home space is not for everyone. The decision-making depends on several aspects:

  • How many members will live in the home?
  • Why are you building a new home?
  • Are you looking for transportation?
  • Is there enough space for the kids and pets in the tiny home?

While the above are some of the basic questions in the mind when building a home, it is also necessary to consider the budget, mortgage, long-term home building plans, etc.
Both tiny and small houses offer the convenience of the minimalist lifestyle. But with a small home plan, it is possible to explore several options with long-term future goals in mind.

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