For some it is a conscious choice, for others it is a pragmatic alternative to conventional and increasingly expensive forms of living: life in a tiny house. The trendy mini houses often advertise with a lot of possibilities in a small space, contain both living area and kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area, consume less energy, look modern. That's the theory.
In practice, the mini-houses are offered in a wide variety of sizes, designs and made of a wide variety of materials. So far, there is no uniform definition of Tiny House. "There are all variants, from a full-fledged house to a garden shed on wheels," says Theresa Mai, founder and boss of Wohnwagon. The Austrian company has been specializing in the construction of mini residential units since 2012. Other manufacturers and suppliers are SchwörerHaus, Huf Haus, Coodo, Tiny Home Factory, Tiny House Rheinau or carpenters like Tiny House Wiedemann.
The costs are correspondingly different: while small houses and basic variants are already available for around 5000 euros, higher-quality models manage more than 150,000 euros. The average price per square meter for a turnkey project without special extras is usually between 1800 and 2500 euros. In addition to the costs for the Tiny Hose itself and its equipment, interested parties must also factor in the one-time development costs (water, sewage, gas and electricity). These are usually between 750 and 2000 euros. In addition, there are any parking space lease fees, which increase the monthly fixed costs accordingly.
If you decide to live in a tiny house, you have to consider a few basic things. It starts with the choice of location: If you want to live in a permanent place in a tiny house, you almost always need a building permit - even if the tiny house is in your own garden. Then the miniature house is classified as a conventional building and is therefore subject to federal, state and local building codes. If owners do not obtain a building permit, they face high fines.
The building permit plays a decisive role in mini houses for another reason: "There are also demolition notices and permits refused because the construction cannot be legally completed properly," Mai knows from personal experience. On the other hand, if everything goes according to plan, it usually happens pretty quickly: building a tiny house only takes two to three months, depending on the size and the desired equipment.
If you want to live in a tiny house all year round, you not only have to comply with building regulations and building standards with regard to fire protection, insulation and room height. Owners should also attach greater importance to the use of high-quality materials. "If you build cheap, you build expensive," warns Mai. "Especially in small buildings, the quality of every connection is important, because moisture and mold problems can easily occur if thermal bridges are not handled properly." Good insulation is also important, otherwise the heating costs will increase noticeably, even in mini houses. When it comes to the heating itself, a wide variety of systems are possible in the Tiny Hose. The range extends from gas boilers and electric underfloor heating to space-saving infrared heaters, which can also be installed as panels on the ceiling, to heat pumps.
If buyers really want to use their tiny house for the long term, it is advisable to plan ahead. For example, building a wheelchair ramp can make sense to promote accessibility. Proper care also pays off, because if handled carefully, Tiny Houses can last for several decades. "As long as the house is used and cared for, it will last," says Mai. All components that wear out can be easily repaired in the mini houses and replaced relatively easily.
Tiny houses are a veritable alternative to counteract high construction costs, rising rents and a shortage of living space. If you are unsure whether living in a tiny house is really your thing, you can try it out first. Options for this include SchwörerHaus, Tiny House Rheinau and Wohnwagon. According to Mai, the temporary trial living makes perfect sense: "Basically, I recommend trying out the tiny house and living for a few nights to get a feel for the available space and the type of building," advises the expert. "It's different when you smell and feel the materials than when you just look at the pictures."
This article first appeared on "Capital"