Photo by Kindel Media
A home inspection is an essential step in the purchasing and selling of a house, and it’s even more important when it’s a tiny home. These compact houses differ in numerous ways, from their construction to their wiring and water supply and whether they’re newly built or have been lived in. Foregoing an inspection could end up costing you a lot of money and trouble later on.
Find out more about the importance of a home inspection and why buyers, sellers, and real estate agents benefit from the information they provide.
During a home inspection, inspectors will assess the condition of the home and look for potential problems in areas like the floors, ceilings, walls, windows, doors, and electrical and water supply. In a tiny house, there’s far less space to assess, but the inspection must be as thorough.
Although each home inspector will have their own process, these will all be very similar. According to the executive director of the National Association of Home Inspectors, there are 1,600 items that home inspectors should assess. These are just a few of the things you should expect to be examined in a tiny house:
Well-designed tiny homes should be structurally sound, built to adhere to the regulations that govern their construction and be able to withstand some degree of natural disaster. With tiny homes, these checks will differ depending on whether the home is a shed house, a DIY build, a barndominium, an A-frame, or on a trailer.
Although it’s easier to keep heat inside a tiny house, it’s important that there are no major leaks, cracks, or gaps that reduce insulation. An inspector will check for insulation irregularities and ensure any and all insulation is in an acceptable, functional condition.
One element that a tiny home inspector will insist on is that your house has access to running water and power. Most tiny homes use a combination of electricity, propane gas, and solar energy, and these energy sources must all be safe and meet accepted standards.
The running water inspection, however, will be different. Not only is a source of hot water needed, but one for running water too, and this will depend on where the house is and whether it has access to well water or water in a tank.
Probably the most important point an inspector will check in a tiny home is weakness as far as safety is concerned. The first thing they’ll do is conduct a full inspection of the foundation of the house unless it’s built to move. There’s a different checking process for tiny homes fitted with wheels and those hooked to a vehicle with a trailer.
If a tiny home is set up in a more permanent fashion, its structural integrity will need to be up to code. The details here depend on where the home is in the USA and what the laws are for the specific state. A tiny home will need to pass this inspection before it can be certified as safe to live in.
In a general sense, a tiny house inspection will help ensure the safety of the home and those who live in it. More specifically, it will:
The legality of tiny homes varies not just from state to state but sometimes even from city to city or county to county. So, when you’re buying a tiny house or having it built, err on the safety side and have it certified by proper inspection bodies. This means you’ll be able to park it safely and legally.
When you’re towing or driving a home, skipping the inspection process is dangerous. Every aspect of a tiny home, from the chassis to the roof, needs to be certified for road safety, inspected, and even measured.
Many local governments have building codes based on accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or the International Residential Code (IRC). But regulatory details can be very different from place to place. Specific considerations are taken for the height of lofts, properly installed plumbing and electrical work, types of toilets, and designated fuel and water tanks.
It’s vital that a home is structurally sound enough to be towed, driven, and lived in. Keep the safety points of inspection in mind, along with the necessity of separate bedroom spaces and enough windows.
The size of a tiny house must be no bigger than the state law allows, but it will also have to be a minimum of 70 sq ft on the first floor and a maximum of 400 sq ft total. If the house is built on a trailer, it will need to be registered with the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and it must be unable to move on its own power. The house will also need to include basic functional areas, including those that support the normal daily routines of cooking, sanitation, and sleeping.
At the end of the day, tiny homes are different, and they require inspections that take these variations into account. While buyers and sellers must be aware of these differences, it’s even more essential that real estate agents understand what makes tiny homes unique.
Real estate agents who specialize in tiny homes will ensure that a proper inspection is done, and they can use their knowledge to find real estate leads to make the buying and selling process even smoother. Once an inspection is complete and a tiny home has been given the stamp of approval, a buyer in the market for a tiny home can be found quickly and easily, as there’s no concern about the home’s condition or safety.
If you’re considering buying a tiny home, make a property inspection a no-negotiable. It’s the best way to safeguard you from potential issues and to purchase a home that’s safe to live in, no matter where you go.
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