May 19, 2020

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Finding Land to Park Your Home

There are so many great benefits to building a tiny house but let’s chat a sec about finding a spot to park your home. To be honest, we started building our tiny house WAY before we ever had land figured out. Even with my easy-going, everything will work out personality I wouldn’t recommend not having this piece figured out before your build begins.
Luckily for us, our landlord was only ONE ask away. My husband’s father was in a bible study with the man we currently rent from. It wasn’t a hard sell because we wanted to pay our landlord cash($400 a month) to basically allow us to show up and stay awhile. He owns 5 acres of agricultural land which he was previously allowing his neighbor’s cattle to graze on in exchange for water(because when we first moved in 3 years ago there was no county water on our street.) This is the type of home/landowner you’d like to reach out to if you’re looking for land to park your tiny home on.
Truly, it’s a little more complicated than just showing up and parking. Obviously, the risk for both parties is high in this situation because from the landowner’s perspective they are allowing a stranger on their property to live in this “so-called Legal structure”. From the tiny homeowner’s perspective you’ll want to feel confident about the land you can stay awhile on because moving isn’t as easy as you may think, not to mention super inconvenient.
I highly recommend having the answer to these questions below before reaching out. You want to put your best foot forward and educating yourself so you can respond when these questions come up will only benefit you in your search for land.

Important Questions You’ll Want to Have Answers to

(I’m not asking you to hand them a piece a paper with the answers to all these questions but be prepared to have an answer if these do come up. You’ll want to build an honest connection from the get-go.)
1. Are Tiny Homes legal in Hawaii?
The easy answer is Yes. The potential messy area is the fact that Hawaii’s laws around tiny homes(i.e. Does lot size matter or does there need to be a permanent dwelling…) are grey and still being reviewed (Head here and scroll down to read articles I’ve linked regarding regulation on Maui). Keep in mind that many individuals are not educated on the subject and if you ever call the county office they will want you to get a permit for anything and everything(permitting is their job.) As long as your home is parked on private land, completely off-grid and your trailer is registered with the DMV you shouldn’t face problems.
2. How will you have electricity and water?
According to the “rules” Tiny Homes are supposed to be completely off-grid which means you cannot tie into any electric utilities, sewer or water. You’ll want to be self-sufficient. This way makes it WAY easier to park your home on pasture land. If you’re like, ” yes, yes, yes” then your electricity will come from the sun(PV panels & battery storage) and your water will be onsite via rain/water catchment.
3. If you have a composting toilet, where will the waste go?
We have a Separret waterless composting toilet. The waterless part is because the urine and poop never mix. Which means the urine needs to go somewhere as well as the poop. Our urine is tied into our greywater and our poop has it’s very own composting pile we add poop to every 2-3 weeks. What will be your set up?
4. Where does all your greywater?
Greywater is categorized by any water used in your home. Think Shower, washer dryer, and bath vanity. Unfortunately In Hawaii, the water from your kitchen sink or dishwasher(and of course your normal flushing toilet) is considered black water. Technically it deemed unsafe to reuse because of the decomposing food particles. Honestly, don’t let that part freak you out. The Water-wise Home is an amazing book that we used and frequently refer back to when setting up our greywater system. As long as you properly maintain your greywater(even black water from your kitchen sink) there is no health risk to you, your family or even the land you’ll be parked on.
5. Do you have insurance?
This one you’ll want to say, “Heck Yes to” because insurance protects the landowner and homeowner which is very important! We have renters/liability & Personal possession insurance from USAA. We recently found a company that will ensure our home(in Hawaii) through My Strategic Insurance. The only downside is that it’s a one-time payment kind of insurance if you don’t want to pay interest all year long. I think it’s worth it for the fire and hurricane coverage.
6. How will you get it to my property?
If you live on Maui call Rojac Trucking. They move tiny homes often and I’ve heard that they take the most care during delivery. If you give them a call they will want to come out and look at your current home, where it’s parked and assess the easiest way to exit current property. They might want to see the new home location to asses entrance, possible obstructions and access. You can expect to pay around $160 a hour for the move. That comes with a truck driver and an escort vehicle.
If you don’t know the answers to these questions don’t feel defeated! This is a great place to start, let the research begin. If your local to Maui, ask me questions because I had to figure this all out on my own.
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