Tiny House Construction

The Top Things to Know Before Building Your Own Tiny House

Building a tiny house on wheels can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it does require careful planning and attention to detail. In this article, we'll explore some of the key considerations for building a tiny house on wheels, including materials, electrical and plumbing systems, insulation, water and waste management, and storage solutions.

One of the first decisions you'll need to make when building a tiny house on wheels is what materials to use. Some common options include wood, steel, and aluminum. Wood is a traditional building material that is relatively easy to work with and provides a warm, natural look. It is also relatively inexpensive, especially if you're able to source it locally. However, wood can be prone to rot and insect damage if it is not treated properly, and it may require more maintenance over time.

Steel and aluminum are more modern materials that are often used in tiny house construction. Steel is strong and durable, and it can be coated with a variety of finishes to protect against rust. However, it is relatively heavy, which can make it more challenging to tow a tiny house built with steel. Aluminum, on the other hand, is lightweight and corrosion-resistant, but it is also more expensive than steel.

Once you've chosen your materials, you'll need to consider the electrical and plumbing systems for your tiny house. In a traditional home, these systems are usually hidden behind walls and floors, but in a tiny house, they need to be carefully planned to make the most of the available space.

Electrical Service

For electrical, you'll need to determine the power needs of your tiny house and install the appropriate wiring and outlets. You'll also need to install a breaker panel and choose a power source, such as a generator or solar panels. 

  • 30 amp electrical service is the more common option, and it is typically sufficient for most tiny houses on wheels. It can power a small range, refrigerator, lights, and outlets, but it may not be enough to run multiple appliances or high-energy consuming items simultaneously.
  • 50 amp electrical service is generally more powerful and is typically reserved for larger tiny houses or those with more sophisticated electrical systems. It can power multiple appliances, air conditioning units, and high-energy consuming items simultaneously.
  • Both 30 amp and 50 amp electrical service require a dedicated circuit and a corresponding outlet, such as a RV outlet. It's important to ensure that your tiny house is equipped with the appropriate electrical service and outlets to meet your power needs.

Plumbing can be a bit more challenging in a tiny house, as there is limited space for pipes and fixtures. One solution is to use a composting toilet, which breaks down waste using microorganisms and reduces the need for plumbing. If you prefer a traditional toilet, you'll need to install a holding tank and a plumbing system to connect to it. You'll also need to decide how you'll heat water and whether you'll use a traditional water heater or a more compact option, such as a tankless water heater.


Insulating a tiny house is also important, as it will help to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are several options for insulating a tiny house, including spray foam, fiberglass batting, and rigid foam board. You'll need to consider the R-value, or thermal resistance, of the insulation to determine how effective it will be at keeping your tiny house warm.

The R-value, or R-factor, is a measure of the thermal resistance of a material. It indicates how well the material can insulate or resist the flow of heat. The higher the R-value, the better the material is at insulating.

  • In the context of insulation, the R-value is an important factor to consider because it determines how effective the insulation will be at keeping a space warm or cool. Different types of insulation have different R-values, so it's important to choose the right insulation for your needs based on the desired R-value.
  • For example, if you live in a cold climate, you may want to use insulation with a higher R-value in order to keep your tiny house warm in the winter. On the other hand, if you live in a hot climate, you may want to use insulation with a lower R-value to keep your tiny house cool in the summer.
  • In addition to the type of insulation, the R-value can also be affected by factors such as the thickness of the insulation, the density of the material, and the type of material. It's important to consider these factors when choosing insulation for your tiny house to ensure that you get the desired level of thermal resistance.
Water and Waste Management

Water and waste management is another important consideration when building a tiny house on wheels. You'll need to decide how you'll get water and where you'll dispose of waste. One option is to use a freshwater tank and a greywater tank, which can be emptied at designated dump stations. Another option is to use a portable water tank and a portable sewage tank, which can be emptied at a local sewage treatment plant.

There are several ways that tiny houses can use water filters to get clean water. Some common options include:

  1. Point-of-use filters: These filters are installed at the point where the water is being used, such as at the kitchen sink or shower. Point-of-use filters can remove contaminants such as chlorine, lead, and sediment from the water.
  2. Whole-house filters: These filters are installed at the main water line entering the house and are designed to filter all of the water coming into the house. Whole-house filters can remove a wide range of contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, and chemicals.
  3. Portable filters: These filters are portable and can be used to filter water from any source, such as a faucet, pond, or stream. Portable filters are useful for tiny houses that are frequently on the move and may not have a consistent water source.
  4. Rainwater harvesting: Some tiny houses use rainwater harvesting systems to collect and filter rainwater for use in the house. These systems can be as simple as a barrel with a filter installed, or as complex as a multi-stage filtration system.

Finally, you'll need to consider storage solutions for your tiny house. With limited space, it's important to make the most of every inch. Some options include built-in storage under the bed or couch, shelves, and hanging baskets. You may also want to consider using the space under the trailer for storage, or adding a shed or other storage structure to the property where you'll be parking your tiny house.

In summary, building a tiny house on wheels requires careful planning and attention to detail. From choosing materials and designing electrical and plumbing systems to insulating and managing water and waste, there are many factors to consider.

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The Top Things to Know Before Building Your Own Tiny House
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