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Tiny House living: 23 square meters of coziness

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A year ago Sandro and Conny Huber swapped their detached home for something much smaller: a "Tiny House". This courageous decision opened new doors.

It was quite a change, from the 400 square meters they used to have to just 23. "We wanted to declutter", Sandro Huber says. Moving into their miniature home changed a great deal for them, personally as well as materially. "I used to work until I dropped. I made lots of money and surrounded myself with possessions. Now we live in a small space, but our relationship is much more intense – and I consciously enjoy my leisure time, which I never did before."

Taking your house to the vehicle registration office

The Hubers came across the Tiny House concept when surfing the net in 2017. "It didn't take us long to realize it was right up our street", Sandro – now aged 60 – remembers. They found what they wanted in Allgäu in Germany. They had their new home constructed on a trailer, took it through customs, and fitted out the interior themselves. The officials at the vehicle registration office were pretty surprised when the Hubers showed them their little home. Washing machine, shower, separation toilet, mini-kitchen, bedroom: everything you need for living, all under one roof – just in a very small space. It never gets untidy. "We simply have no room for mess", Huber jokes. He had to give up four cars, three motorcycles and two hundred bonsai trees when they moved, he says. "But I don't miss them at all. On the contrary: for the first time in my life I feel properly at home." 

Sandro Huber looks down from his bed under the roof. A ladder leads up to it.

Sleeping under the roof: a ladder leads to the bedroom, to save space. The bed doubles as Sandro Huber's hide-away in the Tiny House.

View of the bathroom past the kitchen and the coat rack.

Coat rack, kitchen and bathroom in a very small space – everything has its place in the Tiny House. There's no mess.

There's nothing I miss. On the contrary: for the first time in my life I feel properly at home.

Sandro Huber, Tiny House owner

Individual, sustainable, affordable

Tiny House prices vary, Sandro Huber says. Trained as a farmer and gardener, Huber is now the Swiss distribution partner for Tiny House Allgäu. Shells start at around 30,000 Swiss francs, while standard models cost from about 70,000. Interior design features can push the cost up. The Hubers spent around 120,000 francs on their house. For that they got a complete kitchen with gas hob, electric oven and hood fan, attractive furniture in the shabby chic style, and special oak parquet flooring. The water-saving shower head and separation toilet are environmentally friendly. The Hubers' solar equipment and gas heating mean the entire house could be self-sufficient. "We don't have a mortgage, we don't pay rent, and that makes our fixed costs really low", says Huber. "We don't have to work as much, and we spend more time together. For me that's real luxury."

Sandro and Conny Huber sitting on the sofa in their Tiny House.

Happy together: Sandro and Conny Huber enjoying each other's company in their little home.

Sandro and Conny Huber in front of their Tiny House in Affeltrangen (Thurgau), surrounded by their plants.

You have to have some greenery: There’s no overlooking Sandro Huber's passion for plants. Behind the little annex is a patio.

We don't have a mortgage, we don't pay rent, and that makes our fixed costs really low.

Sandro Huber, Tiny House owner

Tiny House: What insurance policies should be considered?

Before a Tiny House can be insured, it first has to be classified. Does it stand on solid ground or on a trailer, does it stay in one place or do the owners often move it? Contents insurance is the same for all types: It's a simple matter to insure all furnishings and movable items like laptops, cycles and clothing under a household contents policy. It may be worth seeking personal advice about other things. There are three basic options:

1. Tiny House on solid ground: Tiny House with foundations (permanently attached to the ground)

A Tiny House that's permanently attached to the ground needs building property insurance, just like a normal house. Depending on its location, this can be arranged through the canton or with a private insurance company. If they decline to cover it, it will be classed as a "movable item" – which qualifies it for mobile-home shell insurance, a household contents insurance add-on.  Building-shell insurance covers damage to the house, and to auxiliary equipment and accessory components that are permanently attached to it. It insures the Tiny House against risks such as fire, water damage, theft, and window-pane and skylight breakages.

2. Mobile Tiny House with a registered trailer

A mobile Tiny House that's permanently attached to a trailer can be registered with the vehicle registration office. If it is officially recognized as a caravan, its owners can also cover it with motor insurance. Besides the Tiny House, this also covers permanently attached auxiliary equipment and accessory components. The Tiny House is thus insured against theft, hail, fire and malicious damage, for example. Damage during transportation is covered as long as the old and new locations are both in Switzerland or Liechtenstein. Owners who often take their Tiny Houses on the road can arrange comprehensive insurance, which also provides cover for road traffic accidents.

3. Tiny House with trailer, but not registered

If a Tiny House is permanently attached to a trailer that is not registered, it can be covered by mobile-home shell insurance – a household contents insurance add-on. This covers damage to the house, and to auxiliary equipment and accessory components that are permanently attached to it, caused by fire, water damage and theft. Window-pane and skylight breakages are also covered. This type of Tiny House is normally permanently installed, rather than being moved from place to place. But if it is moved, damage during transportation will be covered as long as the old and new locations are both in Switzerland or the Principality of Liechtenstein. 

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