Can A Tiny Home Have a Basement?

Can A Tiny Home Have a Basement?

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A tiny house built over a permanent foundation

A tiny home can be adorable and fun, but the lack of storage makes it daunting and rather a challenging place to live. When it comes to storage, we tend to rely on the basement. But a question arises: can a tiny home have a basement?  

Of course. Any house – big or small – can have a basement. For tiny houses, there are some caveats. 

Not all tiny houses have a basement. Why, you ask? There are plenty of factors that need to be considered when building a tiny house with a basement. These include cost, building codes, lack of mobility, and more. 

Your Tiny House Can Have a Basement If…

If it is built over a permanent foundation. 

There are two types of tiny houses. One has wheels and can be transported from point A to B. The other is the type that’s built on a foundation, meaning there’s no mobility. 

Most tiny house lovers prefer having their home on wheels as it’s easier for them to transport their house to any place under the sun (yeah, just like an RV). 

Practically, those who have tiny houses on wheels can camp anywhere. This is a big deal, especially for the intrepid and adventurous people. However, tiny houses on wheels have a significant drawback: you can’t build a basement in it. 

The owners of trailer houses need to find other ways of adding storage, probably anything they can think of but not a basement!

On the other hand, tiny houses built over a permanent foundation will let you create a basement, albeit the immobility. 

We will talk more about the pros and cons of living in a tiny house with a basement later. For now, let’s discuss why your tiny house needs a basement.

Why Your Tiny House Needs a Basement

Maybe it has always been your dream to live in a minimalistic tiny house. And you probably have anticipated the challenges, like squeezing everything you need in a small space. 

As a tiny house dweller, you understand that every corner, nook, and cranny has its purpose. You’ve managed to use items that can double as something else. And you’ve installed bespoke furniture that can be easily stowed away. 

Now you truly understand that space is a valuable commodity in your tiny house. 

Normally, when we need bigger storage at home, we turn to our basement. 

The Pros and Cons of Having a Tiny House with Basement

Tiny house with a basement

A tiny house with a basement has its merits and demerits. For one, as discussed already, a tiny house with a basement cannot be transported, which is a downside for the nomads who love to camp. 

Let’s compare the pros and cons of both living in a tiny house with a basement (with established address) and in a tiny house on wheels. 

Tiny House with a Basement Pros and Cons

  • MOBILITY 

Pros: Your tiny house is built over a foundation, so creating a basement is possible. 

Cons: You will lose mobility, meaning you can’t transport your tiny house anywhere. 

  • RESIDENCY

Pros: You can establish a permanent address, which is important when opening a bank account, buying a car, filing a tax return, or getting a driver’s license. 

Cons: You will have to adhere to the building codes and ordinances of the place/community your trailer house is in. 

  • CONSTRUCTION AND RENOVATION

Pros: You have more freedom in designing and making improvements to your tiny house since it is not in a trailer. Adding a deck or veranda is possible. 

Cons: You will have to abide by the safety standards set for building or renovating a permanent house. 

  • PROPERTY

Pros: Tiny houses built over a foundation have more chances of residential approval.

Cons: You need to purchase the land/property where you will build your tiny house.

Tiny House on Wheels Pros and Cons

A tiny house on wheels
  • MOBILITY

Pros: Your tiny house on wheels has mobility such as that of an RV. 

Cons: You cannot build a basement. 

  • RESIDENCY

Pros: You can camp anywhere you want. 

Cons: Your stay is always temporary. Finding parking spots is also a challenge with fees and local ordinances to follow. 

  • CONSTRUCTION AND RENOVATION

Pros: Tiny houses are easy to design, require less material, and are much affordable compared to standard residential houses. There are plenty of tiny house design ideas available, too. 

Cons: You are limited in both space and design. 

  • PROPERTY

Pros: Moving is easy because of the portability of the tiny house on wheels. 

Cons: A tiny movable house is more likely to get wear and tear compared to permanent houses. 

The Cost of Building a Basement in a Tiny House

Tiny houses are more affordable compared to big, residential houses. They also tend to use fewer resources, saving you a lot of money from bills. Off-grid tiny houses can even save much, much more. 

While you can use inexpensive materials for your tiny home, a basement is still a basement. Building it may require the same expenses to get it done properly (and beautifully). 

The average cost of building a basement in a tiny house can go anywhere from $5,000 to $23,000. The cost includes permit fees, excavation, concrete, finishings of wall and flooring, sealing, and required inspections. 

Utility installations and other potential services may also add up to the cost. 

What About the Building Codes for Tiny Home with Levels?

Since your tiny house will be built over a foundation, it will be considered as a permanent home, not an RV. 

With that said, you will have to adhere to the building codes set by the local government, which you could’ve avoided if your tiny house is on wheels. 

You see, building codes can be a headache. That’s the reason why many tiny house dwellers stay away from permanent foundations, albeit the lack of basement. 

When you build a basement in your tiny house, it should meet the requirements set in the codes and regulations. 

The codes and regulations vary depending on your locality. But here are some general standards that need to be followed:

  • Windows

 Basement windows need to have a minimum opening of 22 inches. There must also be an emergency escape window from inside the basement. 

  • Stairs

The standard stairs down to the basement will take up about 30 square feet from your tiny house (approx. 3 ft x 10 ft). 

  • Room size

The basement must not be shorter than 7 feet and no smaller than 70 square feet. All electrical systems and structural beams must have at least a 6.6-inch clearance. 

  • Wall construction

Interior finish materials must not have a flame spread rating exceeding 200 units.  

If you want to learn more about the regulations in building a basement, then have a good read of this post.

I Don’t Want a Basement, But I Need Extra Storage. What Can I Do?

Great question!

I’ve had friends asking me that exact question. First, what settlement do you have in mind? 

Do you want to build a tiny house in a permanent foundation but just don’t like having a basement?

Or do you fancy living in a wheeled tiny house but need extra storage?

If you’ve already decided to live in a permanent foundation but don’t like the idea of building a basement, you can add a small annexed garage or studio instead. 

Or if you’ve chosen the latter option, then a cellar or a detachable extra trailer tiny house is a great way to add a room or storage space. 

Related Questions

What is the purpose of a basement?

A basement can be used for several purposes. It can serve for storage, laundry room, maintenance room, or as a living space. 

How much does it cost to dig out a basement?

The cost can go anywhere from $500 to $10,000. But a lot of factors come into play, including your location, depth, and width of the excavation.

All About Tiny Houses is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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