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What Qualifies As A Tiny House – 16 Easy Tell Signs Guide 2024

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As of 2024 there have been incredible developments that will help you better understand the different tiny house options available.

Tiny living has taken the world by storm and more people, more than before have opted for a minimalist living style.

Survey shows that tiny living has become very popular during the coronavirus pandemic.

A recent survey by IPX1031 on 2,006 Americans to measure the public interest in tiny housing reveals that more than half of that number claimed they consider living in tiny houses.

86% of the Americans that are not yet homeowners claim that they will purchase tiny homes soonest.

Furthermore, 72% of those surveyed said that they consider tiny houses as an investment property.

Just like most Americans, we all want to live with less and spend less.

We all want to make life more about experiences rather than physical STUFF.

With that information, we need to define what a tiny house is, the characteristics of a tiny house and compare a tiny house to a small house.

This is mainly because most of us choose to build ”Small” and not tiny houses.

how to qualify a tiny house

What is a tiny house?

A tiny house is a well-established home project that occupies less space than small and large homes.

This is a well-established concept in the US and many other countries of the world.

However, you should know that the word ‘’Tiny’’ In this case means a lot of things to different people.

What this means is that there are a couple of interpretations for the same.

It all depends on the amount of space available, different needs, environmentally friendly living, and fewer expenses.

However, all houses less than 400 square feet on the ground are categorized as tiny houses.

Differences between tiny, small, and micro homes

You will hear many people referring to tiny houses as micro houses or small houses.

But are there any differences between these three terms?

Yes, a micro home is a relatively smaller house, especially when compared to Tiny Houses.

Tiny homes are usually mobile dwelling units on wheels that you can move around with.

A tiny house on the other house can be a one-bedroom tiny house plan on wheels that can be moved.

In most instances, the tiny house is not built to travel with.

Lastly, a small house is bigger than a tiny house and is built on a foundation.

This is the case of 3 bedroom tiny house plans and 2 bedroom tiny house plans.

Tiny Houses History

The Tiny house movement originated from the US as an answer to a couple of events that shocked the real estate market.

Previously, the average housing size for a normal family was 1, 780 sq ft on average.

This doubled in 2007 when most people started building homes as big as 2,662 sq ft on average.

Immediately after that, many families choose to downsize their homes for economic, environmental, and other factors.

The Tiny house movement was started in the 70s but got momentum in the 80s.

On average, a tiny house should be 400 sq ft.

However, some tiny houses can average 80 sq ft.

Tiny houses were there since the pioneer age but they have only become popular over the last few decades.

Tiny homes have emerged from the huts, grass huts, wigwams, tents, and igloos.

The original origins of the tiny house were Sioux, Samoans, and Inuits.

How did the tiny house movement get started?

The tiny house movement was started in the USA for the need to simplify life and make the country more environmentally friendly.

The main agenda was to limit the impact of large homes both environmentally and wallet-wise.

It helps cut the costs and create less waste which eventually leaves smaller energy imprints.

The tiny house movement is not a new concept especially in the USA because it has existed for decades now.

The most recent kick start from the movement began in 1997 with Jay Shafer.

This is the man that built a tiny house on wheels for his own use.

A few years later, he introduced Tumbleweed Tiny House Company that provided tiny house plans and detailed guides on how to build tiny houses with your own two hands.

The tiny house movement is similar to the RVers lifestyle because people choose to sell and give away most of their unnecessary possessions.

They choose to move their lives into a motor home or a travel trailer eventually cutting the unwanted expenses from their normal lives.

What qualifies to be a tiny house?

Tiny homes appeal to all the people, but not all small homes qualify to be tiny homes.

This means that tiny homes have their unique characteristics that we’re going to discuss in this case.

These are the features that set tiny homes from the rest of small and micro homes.

A House 8 by 20 ft

The typical size of a tiny house should be 8X20 Ft this is very different from a 500 Sq ft small house.

The available space for a tiny house should be 120 sq ft or even less.

Depending on the specific needs and preferences of the owner, the size might vary.

Other reasons why the size varies is the building limits and specific regulations in some states.

All Buildings with less than 400 square feet on the floor are tiny houses.

qualify a tiny house easy guide

Naturally lit

In most instances, the tiny house is restricted to 8.5-foot width and about 13.5-foot height.

Because of this limited space, there is more natural light to illuminate the area naturally.

The small size would mean that the place has a lot of darkness and when lit using the typical electrical, there’s a lot of heat emitted.

A bed on the main level

Even though there are some tiny houses with a lofted bed for space-saving reasons, it’s always a custom to have somewhere to sleep on the main level.

This is equally the reason if you cannot make it to the upstairs because of medical reasons.

Creative Storage solutions

If you are considering purchasing a tiny house plan from the website, you must pay attention to how creative the designers were when designing the storage area.

In simple terms, most of the things in the house will be given away or recycled.

There are some simple solutions such as hanging up your pots and pans in the kitchen and installing some drawers creatively to save space.

Multipurpose areas

In a tiny area where you have less than 400 sq ft to manage, you are very likely to consider multipurpose solutions.

The kitchen can extend to a dining area or even as a working office or even a closet at any time of the day.

Because you will have to make every room multipurpose, you should have the furniture that reflects the specific purpose.

Use of Multipurpose appliances

I bet you are already familiar with the stackable washers and dryers.

In the market today, you are very likely to find Tiny House appliances made to be multipurpose.

There are many manufacturers considering this point.

As a matter of fact, GE and several other manufacturers are making smaller appliances for a kitchen, a mother-in-law suite, studios and homes.

The open living area on the first floor

If the tiny house has a second floor, in most instances it will feature an open living area on the first floor that includes a kitchen and a bathroom.

The upstairs could easily serve as a sleeping area.

There are some tiny houses with multiple bathrooms and bedrooms.

But still, some of them don’t come with a kitchen facility and a bathroom.

Space-saving interior features

The purposeful design layouts have a lot of space-saving interior décor.

Many Tiny house plans out there will come with built-in cabinetry and shelving for more storage spaces.

The appliances also tend to take a smaller space in all the rooms.

Some of the 2 bedroom tiny house plans leave space for foldable tables and chairs.

how to tell what is a tiny house

Set of wheels

This is another feature that is very common with tiny houses.

Some of them have a set of wheels.

This is the case with rolling or portable tiny homes.

However, they are usually moved slowly much like a snail taking its home wherever it goes.

The cost of construction, maintenance, and legal fees are lower

Lastly, the price of paying the legal fees, building and maintaining the tiny houses is lower.

The Tiny house plans can range from $350 to $995 depending on the features, the manufacturer, and the unit.

If you choose the DIY tiny house plans, you have greater freedom with the materials and customization.

Click here to read more about the costs of a tiny house.

Tiny Vs. Small Houses

On average, most tiny houses are less than 400 square feet.

The majority of them are sitting in the 100-250 square feet range.

Normal houses will definitely have 1000 square feet on the main door and about 140 square feet on the loft.

Recent claims by the US census bureau, the average size of houses constructed in 2015 was 2,467 square feet.

At this age and era, what do you do with that much space?

Would you consider going small or tiny?

Regardless of which way you want to go, we want to make sure you make the best choice.

Why small but not tiny houses?

Most Americans especially the retiring baby boomers and upcoming families are willing to go small but not tiny.

There are countless reasons for this as revealed in this section.

As a matter of fact, most young families expect that their families will grow exponentially in the near future.

This is why many Americans are building small but not very tiny houses.

As a matter of fact, we can see tiny houses with more than two-story and more than two bedrooms.

Small means flexibility

If you have a young family and expect that your family will grow with time, then there are chances that you want a relatively bigger house that can accommodate the growing population in your house.

It’s the same thing with single people that are looking to settle in marriage soonest.

This idea makes sure that the house can adapt easily to the family without sacrificing comfort and space.

Small is better in case of emergencies

Accidents happen and circumstances might change with time without our ability to control them.

Have you ever asked yourself what would happen when one of the family members is confined in a wheelchair or develops mobility issues?

In this case, small is better.

Small means more space

With small but not very tiny houses, we can live simply and frugally and at the same time pursue our particular passions.

What if you, the children, and the spouse have different passions?

What if one of you is a Freelancer and the other one a musician?

In this instance, you both need enough space for more than two working stations.

Balance of space and energy efficiency

If your house is off the grid and you have solar power and a cistern for the water, you need a small but not very tiny house that will be enough for the daily needs.

The fact is that you are going to use more energy and water than a tiny house but it’s a great balance for space and energy efficiency.

What Qualifies As A Tiny HouseMove Anywhere

RV’s and Van life have one thing in common, and that’s moving anywhere you wish to live.

Despite some drawbacks with moving costs it always pays in spades when it comes to purchasing or renting land.

Most states around the USA make it a breeze to come and settle without hassle with a few exceptions to be mindful of the laws in different states.

Finding land is much easier and cheaper to settle for long periods of time which enables tiny house owners to move north, south, east or west at ease so much so you can have perfectly warm weather all year round without breaking the bank on vacations.

What qualifies as a tiny house?

Any living structure that occupies less than 400 square feet is a tiny house.

It is smaller than a typical home but still provides the space and the comfort of large homes.

The bedroom can take a queen-size mattress and the kitchen and living room are large enough and functional.

Why are tiny houses illegal?

Tiny houses are not illegal in many states of the US.

However, you should check with your state to see whether they recognize a small/tiny house as a legitimate structure.

What is the maximum size of a tiny house?

The maximum size of a tiny house in many states of the US is 13.5-feet tall, 40-feet long, and 8.5 feet tall.

You can choose the length of up to 65-feet maximum including the towing vehicle.

There are certain regulations that limit some aspects of a tiny house.


A structure or a house smaller than 400 square feet in size qualifies as a tiny house.

In most instances, Tiny houses can take smaller space.

Depending on the needs and preferences, the tiny houses can take more than two bedrooms and can be customized to include everything needed.