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OFF-GRID & PET-FRIENDLY FAQ

We are most known for our off-grid and pet-friendly options here at Backcountry Tiny Homes. We wanted to break down these (2) very important topics into the information below. Choose your adventure!

PET-FRIENDLY FAQ

Q: Is it REALLY possible to live tiny with dogs and/or cats?

A: The short answer is: Yes. The long answer? See below for an answer written from the point of view from one of our Owners, Tina, as she and her husband, Luke, lived tiny for (3) years with multiple dogs!


Put a dog in a 2,000-sf house and they will be at your feet and/or under your feet anyways. A 200-sf tiny home isn't going to change their desire to be close to you but it does mean you should ensure they do have their own space to retreat to when you both need it.


Exercise. Having a dog in a tiny home will not change their need for proper exercise. A well exercised pup, both mentally and physically, is a happy pup even for those high-energy dogs out there! Give them this and small living quarters will not be an issue. Skip this and having a smaller house may become troubling as they won't have a lot of interior space to burn off that excess energy; possibly becoming destructive.


Plan for their space! Does your dog live inside? Has a bed or crate? Design a space into your layout just for them. It gives them a place to retreat to when they're stressed, tired, or both. Do they sleep in your bed? Ensure that they can easily access the bed via stairs with easy-to-navigate rise/run or a 1st floor bedroom. Do you have an outdoor dog? Consider turning your entrance stairs into a stair/dog house combo! It will provide a lot of shade during the summer and more heat during the winter.


Plan for their future. Dogs won't stay young and able-bodied forever. Like us, our pals will grow old and may succumb to illnesses that prevent them from being as spunky as they used to be. So, if you need them to access stairs for their bed, consider a back-up plan for the future where stairs are not involved. We provided a future pull-out dog bed area downstairs for when our husky gets older as we can see her hips starting to have issues. Have a breed that is prone to other health problems? Consider an easy-to-access shower/tub for them for bathing.


Large dogs, make way! Have a large or giant breed? Avoid narrow alley-ways in your tiny home. Large and giant breeds will need space to turn around so think about providing wider "turning spots" at the ends of your home so that dog traffic isn't an issue.


Behavioral problems, oh my! Have a dog that barks at people outside because they can see them? Consider windows that are not head height to help mitigate nuisance barking. Have a counter surfer and training isn't quite there? Provide hide-away doggie gates that prevent access to the kitchen during meal times. Have a resource guarder (dog who guards toys/food from people or other dogs)? Provide a safe space, like a large pen, gated area, or large crate, for them to eat and happily chew toys in away from people or other dogs while you work on training.


Use crates or dog beds? Think about storing crates/beds under stairs or under counter tops so that they take up "negative" space. Your dog will still have their space but it won't detract from your already limited floor space!


Have cats that aren't dog fans? Provide high places for your cat to retreat to that are not dog-accessible. You can use shelving that leads to your loft if you have one or just high sils that provide sanctuary from the resident canine. Your smaller space will thank you.


Litter box and dogs. Have a dog that eats "treats" from the liter box? Try storing the liter box in your stairs and provide a circular cutout that is large enough for feline entrance but not large enough for a canine head to poke in. Bonus points if you use a low voltage fan for ventilation!


Outdoor access. Have a dog that needs outdoor access while you're gone? Consider a doggie door that exits in your main entrance area or out near the trailer tongue! We have designed a "pull out" fence located in the walls of a home to create a fenced-off perimeter during travel in the past. It collapsed back when not in use and was great for safe off-leash exercise on the go!


Mud, mud, mud! We live on a farm with LOTS of mud and LOTS of dogs. Keeping our tiny clean from their paw prints is close to impossible. So, consider building in a "mud room" that the dogs have to enter first before gaining access to the house. This can be a small door that goes into the bathroom first or a gated entryway. You can also consider using an outdoor shower to hose down muddy paws! I usually recommend luxury vinyl click and lock flooring for anyone with pets becuase it's water-proof and it's highly scratch resistant.


Multiple dogs, same tiny house. We have this in spades! With (4) dogs of our own and multiple fosters at any given time, we're master dog tetris players. Same rules apply. Make sure each dog has it's space. If they have special needs, address them the best ways you can. More dogs in the same space isn't different than one BUT, should you not ensure space and exercise needs are met, you won't have one problem... you'll have multiple fuzzy problems.


Enjoy it! Living tiny is an amazing experience and when you're able to share that with the dogs and pets your love, that experience becomes an adventure that you never forget.

Q: What kind of pet-friendly add-ons have you done? What pets have you designed for?

A: Dogs, Cats, Pigs, Rats, Snakes, oh my! We've seen a lot of tiny home pets in our years in business and all of them are our favorite! For cats, we've built in vented litter box spaces, catios, catwalks, hammocks, mouse-hole enterances, scratching posts, and toy storage! For the pups, we've built dog doors, hide-away dog dishes, outdoor showers, pull-out 1st floor dog beds, turn around spaces for the big guys, crate space, and toy storage! For all of the other loving pets out there we've built gates on stairs to prevent accidents for slippery-hooved pigs, aquarium space with tie downs for transit, and more. Have an idea? Ask us!

Q: Is it expensive to build pet-friendly options?

A: Not at all! Most of the time we're able to make many of our designs from the waste scrap from our builds. 

Q: How do I ask for pet-friendly options in my design? Is there standard pricing?

A: When you're filling out your Tiny Home Survey, just make sure to ask about adding pet-friendly options! Since design elements can vary greatly there is no standard pricing. Though, we can include it as part of your budgetary quote during your design phase!

OFF-GRID FAQ

Q: What are the "good to know" items about living off-grid with solar?

A: When choosing to go off-grid with solar, consider the following:

- Will your home travel often? If the answer is yes then you will have to make sure that your entire solar panel and battery system fits within your home to make moving easier. 

- Where will you be parked? We recommend using a solar path finder to see what kind of solar efficiency you may see based on your location, what kind of coverage you have at your land, and time of year. Knowing your efficiency rating will better help you, help us, spec out the right sized solar system.

- Will you be using solar every day? Solar batteries need to be exercised, similar to a car. Should you leave your car in your driveway for a year without turning it on we normally expect that car to have a dead battery. The same will happen with your solar batteries if they are not cycled each day. So, if you do not intend to use solar full time you may see issues with your system due to lack of use. We would recommend being solar ready instead of fully solar which mean we run the PV line and installed connections in preparation for your future solar!

- What size system will you need? This completely depends on your energy usage. We look at all the appliances you plan to have in your home and spec a system to meet those needs (also taking into consideration the above factors). Keep in mind that items that use electricity to heat, like a toaster, coffee pot, hair dryer, etc. do not “play well” with solar. Either you will need a larger system to support their energy draw or it’s best to use propane/gas appliances to reduce the required electrical need on your system.

- Do you plan to go on vacation? You will either need an auto-generator for your system to turn on a backup power supply to keep your batteries charging or have someone visit your home while you’re away to turn on a generator during those times. You can shut off your system completely but long period of time are not recommended either due to lack of battery cycling or due to cold temperatures that need a heat source to keep pipes from freezing. 


- Will I see a return on my investment? Maybe. Our homes can switch between off and on grid for ease of use but a tiny home, in general, does not use a large amount of energy to begin with. A solar system is expensive and it may be many years before you see a profit return. Though, when you're unable to run a shore power to your home, solar is invaluable!



Q: What are the "good to know" items about living off-grid with rainwater harvesting?

A: When choosing to go off-grid with rainwater harvesting, consider the following:

- Will your home travel often? If the answer is yes then you will have to make sure that your cistern or tank can be easily disconnected and moved. Traveling with water in a tank isn’t recommended as it moves dynamically and it can add a significant weight to your home if installed within your house. 

- How much rain do you normally see? If you have a higher than average annual rainfall, rainwater harvesting may be for you! For those who have less may require a much larger cistern/tank to get through the drought months.

- How much water do you normally use? Pending your appliances/fixtures, such as shower, sink, water heater, washer, dishwasher, outdoor shower, and others, it’s important to know your daily water use so that we can better spec out the right size water cistern for you!

How does rainwater harvesting work? The rain collected by your roof and shed to your gutters and downspout. From there the downspout feeds into a cistern or holding tank which then enters your home via a pump. That pump forces water through (2) sediment filters and then through a UV filter.


Q: How do I ask for off-grid options in my design? Is there standard pricing?


A: When you're filling out your Tiny Home Survey, just make sure to ask about adding off-grid options! Since design elements can vary greatly based on all the information above, there is no standard pricing. We need to know exactly what goes into your home to spec out the right system for you. Though, we can include it as part of your budgetary quote during your design phase!

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