What “Tiny House Nation” Doesn’t Show You About Living in a Tiny Home

published May 23, 2019
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Audiences loved “Tiny House Nation”, the reality show that premiered in 2014 and, for the past five seasons, has invited viewers to get a bird’s eye view of micro-living by showing audiences what it’s really like to live in a space no larger than 500 square feet. So, is the show giving viewers an accurate portrayal of what it’s really like to live small? Our two experts share five ways the show doesn’t have it exactly right:

1. It doesn’t go into just how long construction takes

“Construction takes way longer than just one week,” says Elena Mikhaylova, who owns a tiny house and hosts tiny house tours on Airbnb. “In fact, even if you order a house from a professional builder, it still takes between four and six months on average and it usually takes between one and three years depending on expertise, availability, and finances.”

2. It doesn’t depict zoning regulations

“Zoning is a big issue because there currently aren’t building codes that regulate tiny houses,” says Abby Hobson, CEO of Tiny Estates, a tiny house community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “The show didn’t really tell us about those issues or what happened to each home after the show aired.”

3. It doesn’t give the most realistic depiction of costs

“I don’t believe in the budgets they mentioned based on the materials they used,” says Mikhaylova. “For most people, the cost is between $40,000 and $100,000+.”

4. It doesn’t show the reality of moving

“You can’t move a tiny house on a 14,000-pound trailer, especially if you’ve got a bunch of heavy materials and appliances,” says Mikhaylova. “They make it look as easy to move your tiny house as it would be to move an RV but, in reality, because tiny houses are built with much heavier residential-grade materials, it’s much more complicated and expensive.”

5. It doesn’t explain piping and plumbing

“On the show, they said any plumber can do the piping and plumbing of a tiny house or you could even DIY it—but there are very specific issues related to a tiny house,” Hobson says. “Since tiny houses aren’t on an actual foundation, it’s way more complicated to set up systems and, for example, winterize the house.”

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