15 Questions to Ask Your Tiny Home Builder Before You Buy

Recently ordered my own tiny home and when you're researching tiny living it's easy to find yourself lying awake at night pondering random thoughts like what type of tiny home Elon Musk lives in, or should I have a loft in my tiny home or not?

Eventually a basic list of questions to ask my tiny home builder formulated and I thought I might make some notes. Writing the notes down makes sense. Otherwise you can easily forget!

For example it seems obvious now but I forgot to ask the builder if the mezzanine (loft) was included in my tiny house design and this was quite important to me for storage and bits and bobs.

Anyways, here's those questions you can use to make your tiny house dream a reality!

Note: You can download a builder questions checklist here to print out.

The Tiny House Design Process

The single bedroom floor plan for the amazing Nestron Cube Two X.

Depending where you are in the world, what climate you're in, and whether you're planning off-grid or mains power and so forth, are some of the many factors that shape your own tiny house needs.

Everyone has their own unique set of requirements. There are quite a few tiny house builders out there, so run your questions by each if it's practical.

You need to care about this stuff because it's going to be the (small) home you live (and possibly work) in... and you want it to be a comfortable, enjoyable and healthy space.

My list looked something like this:

1. Power, Hot Water, Gas, Electricity

Is your tiny home mains powered (240 volt) or will it be off-grid? Can you get your new house wired for future solar panels with a battery set up? Is using gas (propane) an option? (I went with mains power, wired for solar, and no gas).

Note: if you're going off-grid then I've heard using bottled gas (LPG - propane) could be more efficient for cooking (using a gas burner) than using solar power?

2. Sustainability And Insulation

What is the climate and weather where you live? Do you need double glazed (insulated) windows because it gets really cold in winter? (Apparently they add quite a lot of extra weight).

Will you need insulated walls, floor and ceiling? What sort of insulation does the builder use? If it's a warmer climate, are the double glazed windows really essential?

3. What Size Tiny House Do You Need?

My own house is 7.2 metres length, 2.5 metres wide and 3.4 metres in height. I wanted to go to 8.2 metres length but that was an extra $8000. Suddenly I didn't need an extra metre.

This question might be better phrased as who is living in your tiny home? Is it just you or 2 or 3 other people? In that case you want to think about lofts, extra bedroom, etc.

4. What Does Your Tiny Home Purchase Actually Include?

What is included in the contract? This needs to be listed out. You should receive a quote that will specify ALL the things that you get. Make sure the actual tiny home is listed in there! Ask the builder questions if you're not sure. For example, what type of heating or cooling is used?

The quote might state a Mitsubishi Air Conditioning Split System 2.5KW, which means you know exactly what you're getting. What sort of tap ware or bathroom fittings? Storage? Is the trailer registered with a VIN number? Does it come with appliances like a fridge or dishwasher? What sort of lights? Are there USB sockets? The details are important.

5. How Long Does It Take To Build The Tiny Home?

Is your future tiny house pre-built? Do they need to build it? (If so, how long does that take?) Do they have tiny models available in the yard for immediate purchase? Knowing the build time is important.

That way you can plan out your payments and finance, and prepare the site. It might also be good to communicate closely with the builder as you go.

Tiny Home Dreams (Continued)

Tiny living with a wood and corrugated iron exterior setup.

6. Can I See The Plan? Can You Email It To Me?

Look carefully over the tiny home plan and don't be afraid to ask other builders what they think. Take note of the architects or designers plan drawings. Floor plans and whatnot are not always easy to decipher. Check heights, length, width, weight etc.

How many axles and wheels? Is it a gable roof? What does the interior layout look like? Is it open plan or have a loft or built in furniture? A bathroom and a laundry? Is the bathroom near the bedroom or at the other end of the house? The builder should email you a PDF of the tiny house plans.

7. What Customisations Options Are Available?

It's always good to see what customisations you can explore. Who else doesn't want to make their tiny house their own unique home? For example I added in an extra window. The tiny house builder needs to factor in this new window as it adds weight, and they need to construct it from a plan.

Maybe you want off-grid options or solar installed... Stairs or ladders to the loft? Keyless entry door lock, custom blinds or a skylight? Composting toilet? What about the water tank, deck and awning? There's a list for the base price and the optional extras are the extra bits and bobs you need to pay more for.

8. How To Get Finance Or Loans For Tiny Houses? How Does The Payment Work?

Tiny home builders need to be paid too. Do they offer finance? I've seen HandyPay around the place for tiny home buyers but they didn't seem to like me. How does the actual payment work? Is it a deposit and then instalments? Tiny home builders have different ways of doing it.

Can you rent to own? For the Nestron Cube Two X you can use a configurator to design your pod, then preorder online, just like a Tesla. Delivered to you in a ready-to-live-in formula!

9. How Long Have You Been Building Tiny Homes?

This may (or may not) be an important question to ask your builder. Usually they'll have a website where you can see their history of manufacturing small homes, customer reviews and testimonials, etc.

It's always good to read over what other people are saying about your builder! (You can use a simple Google search to do this). If they're kind of new to the game you may want to check the quality of their tiny homes, exterior and interior.

10. How Much Does My Tiny Home Cost To Deliver?

Here in Australia you can pay something like $7000+ for delivery of a tiny house for a 1500+ KM distance. That can add a quite few bucks to your overall tiny home budget. Can you get a tiny house built in your local area, or state? That $7000 saved could be used for purchasing a solar panel and battery system!

Having said that, like mentioned above, the Nestron looks like it can be delivered (shipped) world-wide, and is conveniently manufactured in Singapore, Malaysia, USA and China, so that covers a few bases. They'll provide an estimated shipping cost along with an estimated shipment date.

Live Large and Live Tiny

A Rinnai gas electric hot water system on a tiny home in Castlemaine, Australia.

11. How Does The Water System Work?

Sometimes we forget that we need water to drink, and for all the other things we do. Most tiny homes use a similar water attachment as a caravan. They either attach the water hose from the mains water supply, or use a water tank. Either way, make sure to use a food grade water hose. Your average 'everyday' garden hose is not the healthiest thing to drink through!

Question: Do you need a small water pump built into your tiny home if you plan to use water from a rainwater tank? Also: how does your shower water heat up? In my tiny house quote it mentions electric hot water so hopefully that'll do the trick! This is why it's important to know the details.

12. Loft Or Open Plan? How Much Gear Do You Have? (Storage Space)

It's really important to think about what gear you have. I've been wondering for a while now where exactly my bicycle will live! Would you be prepared to reduce your belongings? This is why getting your small home interior design sorted in the first place is so essential.

Having a loft or extra bedroom can be really handy. Can you charge an electric bicycle from your tiny house? I guess tiny living can make you reduce and reuse a lot more!

13. Local Laws And Zoning Rules For Where You Plan To Live

Council requirements differ. You may want to see if the company can offer advice on this. They probably have a lot of people asking the same question!

Who do you need to ask about whether tiny homes are legal in my area? Do you need a permit? How does it work? Local councils and state governments usually have all these details on their websites or call into the local office and ask.

14. Preparing The Tiny Home Site. How Much Work Do You Need To Do?

Hopefully not much! But the wheels need to sit on something reasonably solid, and the stabilisers (and scissor jacks) at each end of the tiny house need solid foundations too.

Is crushed gravel enough? Which way should I face my home? How do I make sure it's level? Can you help me with the onsite set-up like site levelling (if needed), plumbing or electrical? How do I set up the decking or stairs?

15. Wired For Solar? Can I Get Solar And Batteries?

My tiny home quote states 240 Volt - Solar Ready Wired. I made sure to ask for that in the quotation for the day when I purchase solar panels (and an electric car!) Probably a good idea to do something similar! I'm not 100% sure what solar ready wired really means though.

Anyhoo, you might want to keep in mind that solar and battery setup could be an option. You can also get solar trailers. But how do these things plug in? Can you run your monitor, laptop and boil the kettle at the same time? Does the electric hotplate use much power?


As you can see there's heaps to think about! Hopefully the questions on this page will prompt you to get started with your own tiny home. Let me know how you go!

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