16 Key Things To Look For When Choosing Your Tiny Home Builder

by | Oct 5, 2023

Buying a tiny home is a big decision, and choosing the right builder is essential. There are many factors to consider when making your choice, such as the builder’s experience, reputation, and warranty. Here are 16 key things to look for when choosing your tiny home builder:

1. Are they a member of the ATHA?

Knowing if your builder is a member of the ATHA is great place to start. All members of the association have agreed to be bound by the ATHA Code of Conduct. This ensures full compliance with all applicable rules, regulations, codes and standards. This can often be found on the builder website.

2. Can you visit a finished design or display home?

Seeing pictures of a design is informative, however, there’s nothing quite like experiencing it firsthand. Prior to making the commitment to purchase a tiny home, it’s highly advised to step inside one and personally assess if it harmonizes with your lifestyle.

Inspecting the designs crafted by your chosen builder offers a tangible glimpse into their craftmanship and quality of the work you can expect. In our opinion, if there’s no display home or previous design that you can tour, this should be viewed as a significant red flag, warranting careful consideration of your decision.

Unplgd.TinyHomes_Deluxe Bellbird with verandah

3. What Customisations Options Are Available?

If you are looking at choosing a custom built Tiny Home it is important to understand the term “Custom Designed” prior to signing a contract with your builder. Keep in mind the term “custom tiny home” can be used loosely and often only referring to minor changes such as the colour of the walls and benchtops etc.

Technically, these minor alterations should be classified as “personalisation’s”. If you are wanting a unique floorplan/layout including rearranging interior walls, to create your dream Tiny Home, it is crucial to check with your builder that these changes are possible. 

4. What is their lead time?

A professional builder should provide you with a well-defined timeframe for the completion of your Tiny Home construction. Not only does this indicate that they’re organised, it also shows that they respect your time. Having a clear construction schedule is crucial for your planning, as you’ll need to ensure you have the necessary land, a fully prepared site, and all your belongings sorted out. A transparent timeline for your project will enable you to coordinate all these elements efficiently and ensure that everything comes together on schedule, without any unnecessary haste.

5. Do they offer finance options or payment plans?

Obtaining financing for a tiny home presents a unique set of considerations compared to a traditional house. Recognising this, numerous tiny home manufactures extend financing options that enable you to gradually settle the cost of your home.

It is imperative to delve into the specifics of these financing arrangements: be sure to find out how you’re expected to pay, what the timeline is, and any fees or interest associated with signing up through them versus a different lender.

6. What kind of warranty do they provide?

Many tiny house builders extend warranties ranging from 1 to 2 years, with select providers offering even more extensive coverage on structural elements spanning 5 to an impressive 15 years!  To gain a comprehensive understanding of the protection afforded by your chosen builder, it is crucial to engage them in a conversation about the warranty they offer, ensuring you are well-informed regarding the extent of coverage.

Unplgd. Tiny Homes_15 Year Warranty

7. Are they a registered or certified builder?

Asking your builder if they are a registered or certified builder is an important question to ask your tiny house builder, as it will ensure that they are registered with the necessary governing body.

8. Do they keep you informed throughout the building process?

This is an important question when engaging with your chosen tiny house builder, as staying informed about the construction progress of your home is paramount. It’s essential to query them about their communication practices: how frequently can you expect updates, and through what channels will they relay this information? While some builders lean towards email as their primary mode of communication, others may prefer calls or texts.

 

Make sure you are clear on how often you will be updated on the progress of your home being built. Also, consider inquiring about the possibility of visiting their workspace to personally review the building progress, ensuring you’re in sync with the construction journey. This proactive approach ensures that you are well-connected and informed throughout the entire process.

9. What is the company’s reputation?

Many people choose venues such as restaurants and cafes carefully, looking at the company’s reviews beforehand to help them make an informed decision. So, you certainly don’t want to choose your tiny home builder without checking what others have to say. A quick Google search should give you some idea of their reputation, consider asking in Facebook groups and online platforms so you can speak directly with previous customers. Asking your builder to provide you with a reference from a satisfied customer is also a great way to gage the company’s reputation. 

Unplgd. Tiny Homes_Tiny Home Expo

10. Are their Tiny Homes engineered, does your home come with an engineering certificate?

While tiny houses may weigh considerably less and have less structural complexity compared to traditional homes, they do possess some notable distinctions. Tiny homes must have the capability to be transported on the road, at least on occasion. Due to this unique requirement, the trailer serving as the foundation for the tiny house must be purposefully designed and engineered to support these structures. It forms the very backbone of your home and must exhibit impeccable structural integrity.

Likewise, the framing of your tiny house must be resilient enough to withstand the rigors of travel. When engaging with your chosen builder, it’s crucial to inquire about the specific standards they adhere to for both trailers and framing to ensure that your tiny house is not only compact and efficient but also reliably robust for its on-road journeys. All Tiny Home manufacturers should be able to provide you with an engineering certificate upon the completion of the build.  

11. Do they provide gas, electrical & plumbing certificates?

While tiny houses may not fall under the Australian Building Code, they must adhere to the established electrical and gas regulations applicable to caravans. This compliance is not only mandated by law but also serves as a vital prerequisite for obtaining insurance coverage, offering you the assurance that your tiny house construction is conducted with your safety in mind.

Prior to proceeding, it’s advisable to check with your builder regarding the certification of the gas and electricity systems, ensuring that a licensed professional has overseen these critical aspects of your tiny house.

12. What materials does your tiny house builder use?

Regardless of whether your intention is to make it your primary residence, a secondary dwelling, or a holiday rental, the essence of a tiny house is to appear like a traditional house, only smaller. There should be no compromise on strength or longevity. For this reason, the materials used for constructing a Tiny House should mirror the quality you would expect in a standard home. 

While certain materials may understandably vary to facilitate weight reduction, any components that appear conspicuously inexpensive or lack quality, it might be smart to explore alternative manufacturers that prioritise a quality build.

Being such an eco-conscious society, is also wise to check with your builder that they are using sustainable materials

13. Does your builder have in-house designers?

Although the majority of reputable tiny house manufacturers do not typically engage in custom builds, the presence of an in-house design team is paramount. This ensures the ability to tailor the design to your preferences without jeopardizing the structural integrity. Having an in-house design team also serves as a testament to the professionalism of the builder, demonstrating their commitment to crafting models that are thoughtfully optimized for space, natural light, ventilation, and functionality.

14. Is the list of possible inclusions and upgrades clear?

Every reputable builder should have a readily accessible and transparent list of what’s included in their offerings, as well as the available upgrade options. This commitment to transparency not only highlights their professionalism and trustworthiness but also safeguards against unwelcome surprises as the construction progresses.

 

Consider delving into the specifics: What are the precise specifications for the windows and cabinetry? How many power points are allocated to each room? What’s included in the standard package, and what are the associated costs for extras like dishwashers or solar panels? It is imperative that all these details are thoroughly understood and documented within the contract to pre-empt any potential disputes that may arise once your tiny house is complete.

15. Is their contract clear and fair?

A contract serves as a window into the ethos of the business presenting it. If a contract appears even remotely unsettling or unreasonable, there’s a strong likelihood that the actual construction process may follow suit. As you read it, consider if it’s clear and fair, what the penalties are for both parties and if it’s a bidding document in a court of law. It should be well-written and apparent that they’ve consulted with a lawyer to consider all possible outcomes. If it is, you can rest assured that you’re in the capable hands of a professional and dependable builder. Keep in mind a good builder will be negotiable to ensure it is fair for all parties.

16. Do their Tiny Homes meet Australian road restrictions?

It is crucial you ask your builder if their Tiny Homes are built in Australia and on a trailer base that is designed for the Tiny House parameters in accordance with the Vehicle Standards Bulletin for under 4.5 tonnes and engineer designed over 4.5 tonnes.

By keeping these things in mind, you can choose a tiny home builder who you can trust to build you a high-quality tiny home that meets your specific needs and budget.