6 Big Problems With Building Tiny Houses

iStock.com/TexasPixelPro
iStock.com/TexasPixelPro

Minimalism is in. A growing number of people are adopting a lifestyle that’s scaled down both physically and financially, taking on only the bare minimum of material possessions and living space in order to function. Mental Floss’s own Shaunacy Ferro reported on her experience in a tiny house plan, an elfin piece of real estate that’s often less than 500 square feet.

Tiny house advocates celebrate the ease of relocation, a smaller carbon footprint, and no looming mortgage to worry about. Unfortunately, there are also some hazards to tiny house plans that don’t get quite the same amount of attention. Take a look at a few perils of downsizing.

1. In a tiny house build, you’re going to be thinking a lot about poop.

With no fixed septic system in place for tiny or portable houses, less-is-more enthusiasts have to make some difficult decisions on how best to get rid of their waste. Some toilets divert solids to be used as compost, while other, “dry” toilets essentially act as a giant diaper, wrapping and storing your deposits for future disposal. Either way, tiny living quarters can sometimes have odor issues. To combat this, newer toilet models actually incinerate poop, reducing it to a pile of ash for removal. If setting your eliminations on fire seems extreme, then so might the entire idea of minimal habitation.

2. Zoning laws are no little problem for tiny houses.

It can feel exhilarating to build a tiny house and have the freedom to pull up stakes and go wherever you like. Except you really can’t. City and town zoning laws often dictate what minimally constitutes a house—like square footage or number of rooms—and it might not include the specs of your Keebler-sized tiny house build. Minnesota, for example, mandates that homes of any type have minimum ceiling clearances, ventilation, and heating standards [PDF]. Other areas insist that new single-family homes measure 1000 square feet or larger.

3. Tiny house builds are not cheap.

You may assume giving up your dreams of a finished basement and half-bath may result in substantial cost savings. Depending on what part of the country you live in, that may not be so. Nationwide, tiny homes can cost twice as much per square foot as houses built at a more common scale. One company, Tiny Home Builders, offers models at $61,000. Why so much? Downsizing can often mean premium features, like a tankless water heater.

You can find some ultra-modest options for $25,000, but a house with top-end amenities can creep into the six figures. That doesn’t include the price of buying or leasing land to put it on. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, the cost of materials can start at $10,000. Some homeowners opt to buy a “shell,” or prefab exterior, for a reduced price, but it can cost thousands to fill the empty interior.

4. Obtaining insurance for tiny houses can be difficult.

Insurance companies deal in precedents and manage their expectations accordingly. They know if you’re in a flood zone, if you’ve recently driven through your garage door, or if you have a waterbed. What they have more trouble accounting for is a house without a foundation, that may or may not be up to building codes, or the fact you’re towing it across the country. As a result, securing insurance for tiny homes can be problematic, and you may find yourself paying a premium for the coverage.

5. Tiny house occupants need storage space.

The dream of discarding worldly possessions is often easier said than done. Many people have mementos, belongings, collections, and other ephemera that they don’t have room for but don’t necessarily want to part with. That’s why some tiny house occupants end up renting storage units for things they no longer have the space for. While rarely a budget-busting consequence, it is an added expense that downsized dwellers should be aware of.

6. Someone might steal your tiny house.

Homeowners often worry about the potential for burglaries, but tiny house residents need to worry about something else entirely—having their entire abode stolen. In 2018, a woman in St. Louis discovered the wheel-mounted house she had left parked in a commercial lot turned up missing. It was recovered 30 miles away.

[h/t The Conversation]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

These 15 DIY Model and STEM Kits Will Be Your New Favorite Hobby

Time for Machine
Time for Machine

Put those fidgeting hands to good use with one of these beautiful DIY kits for adults and children. The kits range from standard car and plane models to STEM-based robotic and gaming projects. When you’re done building the intricate models, you can enjoy your creation as a desktop decoration or toy.

1. Heavenly Hercules Metal DIY Model Kit; $120 

Time for Machine

This DIY replica of a real-life visionary plane includes eight motors you can watch work. When you’re done building, plop it on your desk for the perfect conversation starter.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

2. Dazzling Steamliner Metal DIY Model Kit; $160

Time for Machine

Get your dieselpunk and steampunk kicks with this sleek steamliner model powered by a spring mechanism.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

3. Mysterious Timer Metal DIY Model Kit; $55

Time for Machine

This DIY clockwork timer will measure up to an hour of time, sound an alarm, and make a timeless decoration after you assemble it.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

4. Sunfounder Nano DIY Robot Kit; $47 (21 Percent Off)

Sunfounder

Give a younger pal an introduction to robotics programming with these robots you can build and train to walk, dance, and kick.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

5. DIY Bionic Robot Lizard; $55 (16 Percent Off)

Sunfounder

Trade the time it takes to care for a real reptile pet for some STEM education. This kit teaches kids to build their own bionic lizard using engineering, robotics, and programming skills.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

6. Sunfounder Picar-V Kit V2.0 Raspberry Pi 4; $105 (8 Percent Off)

Sunfounder

This STEM kit for beginners is the perfect way to learn Raspberry Pi, robotics, and electronics with easy coding tutorials.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

7. Glorious Cabrio Metal Diy Model Kit; $60 

Time for Machine

Under the hood of this stainless-steel model car is a spring-powered mechanism that allows it to travel across floors in style. There's even a functional steering wheel, trunk, and hood for added authenticity.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

8. Hot Tractor Metal DIY Model Kit; $25

Time for Machine

Build a real-life prototype of the heavy K700 tractor, complete with opening cabin doors and a working hood.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

9. DIY Robot Curiosity Kit For Ages 8 to 10; $70 (41 Percent Off)

Twin Science

Make playtime educational with this introductory STEM learning kit that teaches kids to build modules that are LEGO-compatible for even more exciting play.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

10. Bondic Pro Kit With Extra Refills; $22 (45 Percent Off)

Bondic

Toss that Scotch tape and glue, because this liquid plastic uses a UV LED light to harden and connect model pieces together.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

11. Makerbuino Educational DIY Game Console (Standard Kit and Tools); $80

CircuitMess

Get kids away from their screens for a bit with this kit that teaches them to actually build their own handheld gaming device.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

12. Royal Voyager Metal DIY Model Kit; $80

Time for Machine

Let nostalgia take the wheel while you build this retro, disco-era sedan with a wind-up handle that starts the engine.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

13. DIY Robotic Art Kit For Ages 6 To 9; $30 (56 PERCENT OFF)

Twin Science

Give craft-loving kids a lesson in STEM with this kit that explores art, science, and robotics while designing tons of projects.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

14. Silver Bullet Metal DIY Model Kit; $55

Time for Machine

This unique model design was inspired by international sports cars and includes intricate engine gears to tinker with beneath the hood.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

15. Marvel Tank Metal DIY Model Kit; $70

Time for Machine

This steampunk-style self-propelling tank can overcome obstacles or sit pretty on your desk.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

Prices subject to change.

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.