Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go prefab?

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Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go prefab?

Post by dogbane » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:47 am

I'm thinking of having a tiny house or cabin built on our Tennessee property. I have a site with water, septic and electric already.

So I'm trying to figure out whether I should go with one of those prefabs on wheels, for which I think mobile home rules would apply, or have something built from foundation.

Any advice on how to proceed, and any recs for suppliers/builders in the Chattanooga area?

(A cabin kit is also a possibility.)
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by dogbane » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:13 am

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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:28 am

[marked]

I have experience with the tiny house thing- I'll circle back to this when I get a minute. :mrgreen:
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by Anianna » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:54 am

Look into insurance. I have heard, though I cannot confirm, that some people have had trouble insuring one on wheels because some insurers won't cover it as an RV or as a house. Shouldn't be an issue on a permanent foundation.
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:33 pm

The house we have in GA that we are giving the oldest in a couple of years started as one of those large 2 full story 'storage buildings' you used to be able to buy at Home Depot.

We insulated, wired, plumbed. They built it on a cinder block foundation, we enclosed that to create a crawl space. We put a kitchen, bathroom and wood burning stove down stairs. Up stairs was a combined living area and common sleeping room. House is a total of 640 sq. ft. - it was 'cozy' for a family of 5 but I think it would be more than enough room for you and lady friend (or two). I assume that this move would be a down size after the kid goes to college?

The whole thing cost us under 20k, we payed cash for it and the land it is on.

My suggestion would be do something like that.

Ani and you both bring up very valid concerns about the houses on wheels- I would not go with one of those.

I would check building codes- we originally wanted to do this in Fannin Co., GA (Blue Ridge) and were told no. So we built it in Gilmer Co. (Elijay)- the county knows what it is and we followed all the appropriate building codes, but they have it on their tax records as a storage shed.

Hope that helps, I do better when asked specific questions. So if you want to know anything else just ask here so everyone can benefit.
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by w3rdtoyamama » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:40 pm

That is a lot of money for one. If youre handy, you can build one for much cheaper and how youd want it.
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:44 pm

w3rdtoyamama wrote:That is a lot of money for one. If youre handy, you can build one for much cheaper and how youd want it.
That was with the improvements we did, including the well we put on the property.
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by w3rdtoyamama » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:55 pm

Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:
w3rdtoyamama wrote:That is a lot of money for one. If youre handy, you can build one for much cheaper and how youd want it.
That was with the improvements we did, including the well we put on the property.
I was referring to a brand pre fab tiny house. $20k total is a good price.
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:57 pm

w3rdtoyamama wrote:
Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:
w3rdtoyamama wrote:That is a lot of money for one. If youre handy, you can build one for much cheaper and how youd want it.
That was with the improvements we did, including the well we put on the property.
I was referring to a brand pre fab tiny house. $20k total is a good price.
Ah- roger that! I didn't even look at the links/prices. :mrgreen:

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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by The Twizzler » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:30 pm

Can you try one out for a day first?
I picture myself in one kinda like Tommy Boy on a plane.
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by dogbane » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:19 pm

Thanks for replies so far, both in-thread and otherwise.

My reason for tiny/house cheap house is that my brother-in-law lives on the property in an old trailer that needs to be retired to a landfill. We are thinking, long-term, about a B&B/artists' retreat kinda thing, and in the meantime, he needs a solid place to live. The idea is to build the first tiny home/cabin/something where he would live while we work out the longer-term plan. Eventually, I will move there, and build something in the 1000 sq ft range for myself (and my lady), or possibly even a larger lodge cabin if funds permit. We want to have a number of durable, efficient cabins dotted across the property for rentals.
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by aikorob » Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:39 pm

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.

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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by dogbane » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:01 pm

I think that Affordashed might be the ticket. Pretty much what Hiro did on his land he mentions above.
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by DarkAxel » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:00 pm

I'd say build, but I'm a contractor who likes to build things. Here's my two shillings:

Are you read up on the local ordinances? This may be a factor. I know some places have ordinances that forbid trade in used house-trailers past a certain age. Out in the sticks it shouldn't be a problem, but if you are closer to town it might have to be a consideration.

Also, IIRC, the legal definition of a house-trailer here in Kentucky is limited to structures that have an attached trailer frame. For all intents and purposes, they are considered road vehicles. This means that the taxes involved will be a bit different than real estate taxes (some places are more lax, some are more strict). It also means that they will depreciate in value, so don't look to one as an investment. There is one caveat to this, though. If you build a foundation and remove the trailer frame from the home it becomes a permanent structure, and it is subject to permanent structure rules and codes. Going this route is kinda dangerous for the DIY types, though, as it involves removing a key structural component of the home. It is real easy to bork it up if you don't know what you are doing, and that means you can literally pull a Wicked Witch and get crushed by a house. It is much simpler to get the transport company to do that when they set the trailer up for you. Btw, moving a trailer bigger than a small camper requires a transport company in most places, so you should factor those costs in your budget.

As for building a house, look for local sawmills. You can often buy rough-cut lumber from a mill a LOT cheaper than you can from a home-improvement store or 84 Lumber-style places, and you can choose to build with more than engineered lumber or white pine that is popular among lumber retailers. If you can provide the trees all you have to pay for is the labor. Some mills have portable mills and can come to your property to cut lumber for you. Some mills will cut the trees and transport them to the mills for you, too (although this adds to the labor costs). Some mills are listed in the phone book or online, but if East Tennessee is anything like East Kentucky, word-of-mouth and local advertising is the norm. You can often find business cards pinned to cork-boards at lumber yards and mom-and-pop businesses (especially liquor stores and gas stations).

When it comes to building and home improvement, you can also save a lot of money on materials if you aren't excessively picky about dings and color. Just about every time I go to Lowes there's something there that's been discounted because it's a return, display model, or slightly damaged. For an example, I scored a 40% discount on a kitchen counter because one end of it was damaged. A little trimming with a saw fixed it. I got a 60% discount on a bunch of paint because a customer had rejected it after it was mixed and went with something else. Sometimes you can find custom orders that were never paid for, or perfectly fine materials that have cosmetic blemishes. Don't be afraid to haggle, either.
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by KYZHunters » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:17 am

I've recommended this before because it buys some time. How about building a nice steel shop/garage on a slab and living in that while you figure the rest of it out. You are probably going to want one anyway, it will run the same as the prefab shed option and last a lot longer.
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Re: Tiny House in East Tennessee: should we build or go pref

Post by Stercutus » Fri May 12, 2017 10:50 am

Steel shop on a slab, drive/ tow an RV inside and call it done till you get more bread together. I see plenty of those out here in Alabamaland.
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