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How Long Does a Tiny House Last?

Whenever I look at a tiny house, the word “durability” never comes to mind. These houses, given their small size, seem dainty and frail. However, this is not necessary true.

With regular maintenance, a tiny house can last over 30-50 years. Naturally, this will depend on many factors, such as the materials that it’s built with and how it’s put together. Tiny homes on wheels tend to break down faster than those a foundation. 

Luckily, there are some steps that you can take to ensure that your house lasts longer. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know:

Factors that impact how long a tiny house will last

The factors that determine how long a tiny house will last include:

  • how often it’s used
  • the type of materials used for the house
  • the quality of the build
  • whether it’s on wheels or a foundation
  • how it is used
  • the number and kind of occupants in the house
  • weather impacts
  • how it is moved

Under ideal circumstances, a tiny house has the potential to last for decades, or as long as a traditional home, but the lifespan depends heavily on these factors.

Tiny houses on land vs on wheels

Tiny houses that are placed on a firm and stable foundation are likely to last as long as traditional homes, if they are properly maintained. However, when this type of house is moved to a trailer and made into a house on wheels, the moving process adds to the wear and tear on the basic structure.

Moving creates stress on all of the supports, regardless of how carefully it is transferred. Shifting the load constantly will eventually take its toll. Houses that are put on wheels have a higher rate of wear and tear than those left on a foundation.

How to choose a tiny house that will last

A tiny house’s lifespan is highly dependent on two factors: materials and build quality. It’s important to look for materials that are designed to last. For example, treated wood is generally better than raw wood, as it repels bugs and prevents mold.

Furthermore, homes put together with premium quality screws versus stapling thin materials are more structurally sound, and this applies to tiny houses too.

If you’re buying an already-built tiny home, you can also look at the cabinets to get a general idea of the quality of the house. If they’re made of solid wood vs pressboard or thin cheap materials, avoid it at all costs. But just to be safe, ask the manufactures or owners how it was constructed.

Sometimes manufactures mass produce tiny houses, without paying much attention to quality.

Luckily, if you’re building the house yourself, there’s a lot of great materials to choose from. I recommend spending a little more to ensure that your house holds up longer.

How to make your tiny house last longer

There are two types of tiny houses with similar yet different maintenance needs. Regular maintenance and upkeep are required for both types, but they are more considerations for a tiny house on wheels. Let’s look at both types separately for considerations needed to make each last for decades.

1. Avoid moving your tiny home too often

It’s best to leave a tiny home on wheels, on the wheels. The more you move it the more stress you place on the structure. Screws, nails, and other fasteners can loosen when they’re constantly jostled. Moving causes extreme wear and tear, but the greatest wear factor is how often the house is used.

If you live in it all the time, it’s going to show signs of wear faster.

2. Protect your roof and exterior

Weather and climate affect tiny houses profoundly. If your home sustains wind or hail damage, such as loose roof tiles or holes in the roof, make repairs as soon as possible to prevent the problem from getting worse.

A leaky roof can cause damage in the upper parts of your tiny home such as a crawlspace, or even down the interior walls. You can’t always see water damage from a leaky roof until the issue is advanced.

3. Keep an eye out for plumbing issues

Water damage from leaking pipes is a threat to any home, but more destructive in a tiny home. Regularly inspect the pipes for any signs of leaking or damage.

Also check the faucets, toilet, and shower to make sure there are no leaks. If you do have a problem, make sure that any replacement parts are premium and made for high performance and durability to avoid the risk of water damage and fast-spreading mold.

4. Teach others to be mindful

Tiny houses on land are still subject to the effects of normal wear and tear, but it’s amplified over larger homes. Families have a smaller space to move and if there are kids, the wear and tear factor from normal living goes up.

Kids break things, and this means that when damage does occur it needs to be dealt with quickly to avoid deterioration. This includes interior wall damage, broken windows, broken faucets, and related things.

5. Make repairs as soon as the issue arises

Wear and tear is likely to happen at a faster pace for a tiny home on wheels. Moving down the road creates vibrations that wiggle things loose over time. The best advice for maintaining your tiny house is to repair any small issues immediately instead of letting them go.

If a door or drawer breaks, repair it quickly, following the rule of using strong and durable materials and hardware. Notable areas of concern are sinks, kitchens, and bathrooms. Fix leaking faucets, toilets, dishwashers, sinks, washing machines, or pipes immediately.

When you keep the home in good repair, it will last far longer than if you let the small things go.

6. Maintain your house’s trailer

The trailer your tiny house sits on can make or break your tiny house. It acts as the foundation for the structure so it must be in good repair at all times.

It’s recommended that you regularly check the tire pressure and keep it at recommended levels. Traveling can cause tire wear and move from one temperature to another and affect the tire pressure. Cold weather deflates them and heat inflates.

Inspect them regularly and replace them when they show signs of wear or damage.

Check the lighting on the trailer. Make sure that the electrical systems are all functioning properly. Replace bulbs and fuses as needed and keep a few spares on hand for emergency repairs. Also, check the lug nuts and tighten as needed, check the bearings periodically and keep the hitch greased.

7. Avoid places with violent weather

It’s best to avoid areas where violent and damaging weather is common. This is common for seafront properties. Large hail and wind can cause extensive damage to a tiny house.

Consider parking in an area that is protected from wind and hail if at all possible. Inspect the home for damage after a bad storm, and make any necessary repairs quickly.

8. Choose quality materials

Other factors can affect how long your tiny home lasts. The type of flooring, furniture, fixtures, and hardware are all important considerations.

i. Flooring

Choose durable flooring over carpets. Small living spaces get a lot of foot traffic. The wear and tear are high so choose the flooring that will last the longest. Go for function and durability of trendy stylishness. Also, choose the flooring that is the easiest to keep clean.

Carpeting is likely to be a disaster if more than one person is living in a tiny house. If there are pests involved, it’s a good idea to rule out carpeting. It will need replacement in just a few years.

ii. Furniture

Choose furniture pieces that can serve multiple functions in a tiny house. For example, beds with storage units underneath give you more space for clothing vs a wardrobe or mini closet. Go with a layout that has built-in storage in other functional areas to conserve space.

iii. Fixtures, screws, and handles

It’s best to go with fixtures, including lights, faucets, etc, that are durable and strong vs going for a designer look. For maintenance, it’s wise to check them frequently and tighten screws as needed.

The more durable the materials the better, but keep your eye out for loose fasteners and tighten them up right away.