The Basic Features A Tiny House Should Have

If you are contemplating living in a tiny house, then you have probably asked yourself: what are the basics that my tiny house needs to cover? You will need not only utilities such as electricity but also storage space for example.

In this article, we will cover all the basic features that a tiny house should have. In each section, we have enclosed references to articles: this way you do not have to search for them yourself. The articles help you to decide which feature you want to buy or make. We hope that you will soon enjoy your tiny house in both comfort and style.

There are several options: of course, they depend on your location and personal preferences.


Let us start with one of our most basic needs: water. You need water to drink, and to use in your kitchen and bathroom.

If you wish to be self-reliant, you can collect rainwater and filter it, or dig a well. You can also opt for tap water and use that. Or you can use both, in case one fails.

Here you can read how plumbing works in a tiny house, and how you can do it yourself.


Filter drinking water

If you need or wish to filter your drinking water, you can make a water filtering system. There are various ways of doing this, small and big scale. It all depends on your situation. There are readymade systems that you can buy, or you can make one yourself.

Here you can read about the 4 best readymade water filters for off-grid living.


Gray water

If you have a garden or land at your disposal, you could set up a greywater system. This system uses plants, pebbles, and sand to filter the gray water. Gray water is the water that comes from your kitchen and shower water. After filtering, it can be used to irrigate the garden or land. It can also be stored in cisterns.

Here you can read more about irrigating your garden with a gray water system and setting up a permaculture food forest in a tropical climate.


Sewage/septic or off-grid toilet

A traditional toilet, which you flush with water, has to be connected to a sewage system. If this is available and if that is what you prefer, then this is a good option.

Or you can opt for a septic tank: it all depends on the location and setup of your tiny house.

Both sewage and septic tanks can handle your black and gray water. The black water comes from your toilet, and the gray water is the dirty water that leaves the sink in your kitchen and bathroom.

Compost toilet

You can also make or buy a compost toilet. It is easy to make, and easy to use. Just make sure that you have space outside where you can let the waste transform into compost. It takes at least a year for human waste to become compost. You need quite a bit of space to do away with it all. Of course, the waste/compost sinks in, but still, it is something to think about.

And, think about it: do you feel like emptying that bucket full of human waste every week? Sure, there is a lot of straw or sawdust or other organic material in it. But it will smell when you empty those buckets, and not everyone is up for that. You could also dig a big hole and place the compost toilet on that. If you let the waste go into the hole: it will become compost. In many countries, this was and still is, the way to go.

Another way to prevent bad smells is to use enough cover: do not be greedy when it comes to covering your waste. Just cover it well, with sawdust, straw, rice husks, hay, or whatever works for you.

You can also install ventilation and let that run on a tiny solar panel. This way you will not suffer from smells.

Here you can read all about the four best compost toilets.

Off-grid toilet

There are several options when it comes to compost toilets: a whole world will open itself up to you. Here you can read our article about the different options for an off-grid toilet.




For electricity, you can choose to go off-grid by using solar panels. Of course, you can also choose to connect to the power grid. Or you can do both, just in case something happens to one of the systems. Having a generator on the side is always a good idea, just in case SHTF.

Here you can read all about how you can connect your tiny house to the power grid.

And in this article, we explain which solar kits are fit for a tiny house.

And in this article you can read how to install solar panels for your tiny house.



Setting up a biogas system in your tiny house is also an option. This way you will have gas to cook on, a way of disposing of your organic waste, waste from livestock, and waste from your compost toilet.

We have an article for you which covers all the pros and cons of a biogas system.



You will need to take care of waste disposal. If you are not living within the city limits you will have to find a way to get rid of your waste.

Recycling is the best way to get rid of waste. Of course, you can not recycle everything. But when you think about it, you can recycle more than you would previously have thought possible. For example, you can reuse sawdust as a cover for your compost toilet.

Organic material

The organic leftovers from the kitchen you can make into compost, feed to your livestock or use for your biogas installation.


You can use paper to start a fire in your woodstove.


You can use cardboard to mulch your garden. This is common in permaculture, to make a lasagne raised bed.


Plastic is difficult to recycle, so it is best to try to accumulate as little as possible. By buying from farmers and growing your food, you will drastically reduce your use of plastic. Maybe you can bring the plastic to a landfill. Just make sure that you have thought about this before you set up your tiny house. If you do not have much waste, you could put it in bins in town.


You can reuse jars and bottles, for storage of food, fermented foods, and kombucha for example.




There are many ways to have the internet in your tiny house, we all need it. In this article, you can read about the various options.



The best is to buy a compact refrigerator. Here are four excellent options we have found, that you may want to look into:

If you are looking for a fridge in a van, then this article may be of interest to you.


There are various ways to cook: with electricity, propane, induction, on wood, or using a solar oven. Here are some great ideas about how to make the ideal kitchen in your tiny house.

Washing and drying

These days there are off-grid washing machines, compact ones and ones that do not use much water and electricity.

In this article, you can read about five different off-grid washing machines.

It is probably best to forget about a dryer since it will use up a lot of energy.


Heating, dampness, and cooling



If you live in a cold climate, you will need to stay warm in your tiny house. There are various ways to accomplish this: with propane, kerosene, wood, or electricity.

In these articles about dependable heating options for tiny homes and off-grid heating options, you can read about all the options and decide which is best for you.

Your space will be easily heated since the space is small. On the other hand, it all depends on insulation. If your house is not insulated well, then you will lose a lot of heat because it will make its way through walls, the roof, floor, and cracks. So if you live in a cold climate, first make sure that your tiny house is well insulated.

Wood is a good option if you have access to firewood, and have the possibility of splitting it. Of course, you can also buy wood or have it delivered. If you have a wood stove, you might as well use it to cook on as well.

In this article you can find the best options regarding small wood stoves.



If you live in a hot climate, you might want to opt for a small window air conditioning unit. There are many different styles to be found on the internet.

In this article, you can find a lot of useful information about tiny house appliances, such as air conditioning, washing machines, etc.

Of course, you can also make sure that there is plenty of ventilation in your tiny house. This helps to keep your house cool.


If you live in a climate where it rains a lot, dampness/mold/humidity can be an issue. You can prevent these problems; just be aware of them, take the right precautions and you will be fine.

Here is a short article about preventing dampness in a tiny house. Paying attention to a few small things is enough to prevent mold in your tiny house.


Storage obviously is important in a tiny house. Since you have limited space, you need to be creative and practical. Here are a few ideas to help you make the most out of the space of your tiny house.


Place hooks on surfaces that you could not use otherwise. This way they will not take up space you could have used for something else.

Dual function

You can use your cabinets as shelves, placing things on top. You can also use your couch as storage, for example. Or your pull-out couch as a bed.

You can also find inspiration in Japanese interior design: the Japanese are masters of dual function in their homes.


You can put a mirror on the inside of a closed door: this way it will not take up extra space. Or you may hang it on a wall, for your tiny house to look bigger.


A lot of tiny lifers build an extra floor into their tiny house, a mezzanine, to turn it into a bedroom. If your ceiling is high enough, you can use it to create extra space.

Barn, garage, communal spaces

If you have extra space at your disposal, you will have many more options for storage, working in, or maintaining hobbies.

In this article, you can read about the benefits of having a garden or communal space at your disposal.


Final thoughts

We can conclude by saying that these days, there is plenty of information available online, about setting up your custom-made tiny house. There are also so many products on the market that can suit any tiny house.

We hope that by giving you an overview of the necessities, and links with plenty of information, that you will make the most of your tiny life journey. We hope that you will be comfortable and happy.

Please stay tuned for our next article, and follow us on Facebook.

Usha Uppal

Usha Uppal

Usha has a Bachelor degree in History of Art and Master degree in Film and Television (University of Amsterdam). She has long had an interest in alternative ways of living. After renovating a former school building in the North of The Netherlands and transforming it into a homestead with a tiny house Airbnb rental, Usha and her family decided to emigrate to Nicaragua, where they can truly live in harmony with nature and build accordingly.
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