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Tiny Houses, Complex Issues

Tiny Houses







With a desire to simplify, save money, achieve greater independence and to reduce their impact on the environment, thousands of Americans are joining the tiny house movement. Corporations should determine now rather than later, how they will structure and tailor relocation benefits for the owners of these unique houses.

There’s no official definition, but a tiny house is generally considered to be a residential structure between 150 and 1,000 square feet, built on wheels or on a foundation and weighing around 13,000 pounds. They are often custom built and can cost from $40,000 to $75,000, depending on the materials and amenities the buyer chooses. The average build time is eight to ten weeks.

Two of the key attractions of owning a tiny house are their mobility and the siting flexibility they afford. Homeowners can move the home relatively easily—it can be towed with a pickup truck or hauled on a flatbed. If it’s constructed foundation-ready, a tiny house can be transported by a commercial freight company. In these cases, the structure cannot be longer than 32 feet and must be no taller than 8’ 6”, including the trailer’s height.

What are the implications of tiny houses for relocation programs?

  • Should the relocation program cover the transportation of a tiny house?
  • Is moving the house considered a household goods shipment?
  • Will truck rentals and permit costs be covered?
  • How will the house’s contents be packed? Do the same household goods policies apply?
  • What are the local restrictions for a tiny house site?
  • Are traditional mortgages or construction loans available?

Key Takeaways

  • While relocation benefits should be flexible to account for lifestyle choices of the employee, companies should determine how far to take this when it comes to tiny houses
  • Industry best practices are still evolving in this area, so companies should closely monitor trends and developments
  • Companies should consider the fact that tiny houses are favored by millennials—a generation of employees especially critical for companies at this time