10 Questions to Ask When Buying a Previously-Owned Tiny House
At Tiny House Listings Canada we’re dedicated to helping you find the perfect Tiny House. Whether it’s purchasing a custom-built, building your own or buying gently used, we want to make sure you know what you’re getting and you get exactly what you want. A Tiny House is an investment and just like buying a car, you’ll want to do some research beforehand.
We’ve put together this nifty list of questions to consider before purchasing a previously-owned Tiny House:
1- Why are the current owners selling it?
The answer to this question will offer a lot of insight and may even answer some additional questions. Perhaps the owners have simply grown out of their Tiny House which is important to note if you have a similar sized family or plan to grow yourself, or maybe they have been forced out due to bylaw restrictions. Either way, you’ll want to start with this question.
2- Where was it built?
Was the tiny house built by a manufacturer, a carpenter, or a friend? You’ll want to know if the tiny house was built by a professional or an amateur to give you a better idea of the quality of the build.
3- What’s wrong with it?
You may want to ask a lot of detailed questions about the tiny house to ensure it is safe to occupy, especially if it was constructed by an amateur. Make sure you ask if there is anything wrong with it. Feel free to prompt the owner with questions about taps leaking or breezy windows. Remember, it’s perfectly okay to request an inspection by a professional.
4- How much does it weigh?
You’ll want to ask how much the tiny house weighs as well as how much the trailer weighs. This is important for a number of reasons. The tiny house you purchase, plus all of your belongings, must weigh less than the maximum allowable weight of the trailer. You’ll also need to know the total weight to make sure you are able to tow it. You can find tips on towing weights and trailer hitches in the resources section of our website.
5- What type of trailer was it built on?
The trailer is the foundation of the tiny house so you’ll want to make sure it’s strong enough and safe enough to hold your home. Older trailers often need a lot of work done to bring them to a condition that is solid enough to build a tiny house on. Ask for proof of purchase if you’re unsure.
6- How do you connect the utilities?
You may already have a space for your tiny house and know whether you have access to water hookups and sewage but regardless you’ll want to ask about utilities.
There are a number of different ways utilities can be set up in a tiny house, including with water tanks, propane, electricity, solar power; and don’t forget the many types of toilets and their systems. Make sure the utilities hookups that come with the tiny house meet you needs. For example, if you want to live off-grid you will want to make sure you have water tanks and a backup power system and find out how long you can go without filling the tanks and refuelling.
7- What type of insulation does it have?
Will you be living in a harsh climate with cold winters? Ask for the R-value of the insulation used to make sure it’s good enough for your climate.
8- What type of electricity does it use?
Does the tiny house use AC or DC or a combination of both; and do the appliances match the type of electricity the tiny house is wired for? If the tiny house is currently wired to connect to the power grid can it be modified for solar power should you wish to go off grid?
9- What’s included?
If you have ever purchased a home you’ll be familiar with this question. Do the appliances come with the tiny house? Does it come fully furnished? Will they include a trailer hitch? These are all important questions to ask so that you know exactly what you’re getting for the price you’re paying and so you can plan for things you may or may not need.
10- How will you transport it?
Some sellers include transport in their selling price. First check to see if that is an option. If it’s not, you’ll have to consider how to get it where you want it. Do you own a large enough truck with the proper hitch to tow your tiny house? Or will you need to arrange to rent a truck or hire someone to two the tiny house? Also check to make sure the tiny house can legally be driven on the highway. We provide a link to road rules for tiny houses on our website.
These questions are just some of the tools you’ll need to make a smart and informed decision when purchasing a used tiny house. For more, please visit our resources page.
Happy tiny house hunting!