HEWI MAG / Knowledge

Is a barrier-free Tiny House possible?

Mini houses offer numerous advantages 

Building plots are scarce and in many places have become unaffordable for many people. The tense situation in the construction industry due to a shortage of skilled workers and resources is further exacerbating the situation. The trend is therefore towards the mini-house. Whether with physical limitations or in old age – accessibility would be a great advantage in a Tiny House as well. But can a Tiny House be barrier-free? 

Mini houses combine many advantages: They not only fulfill the desire for more sustainability as they consume little space. They leave plenty of space for green areas and seal the ground only slightly. Many Tiny Houses are even designed to be stowed by their owners on trailers. This makes it particularly attractive for young people and working nomads.

Photos: photographic workshop, Katharina Jaeger, also header

Where did the idea of the Tiny House come from?

Originally, Tiny Houses originated from the so-called Tiny House Movement or Small House Movement. This is a social movement in the USA. This propagates living in small houses, for example, out of an environmental consciousness. At the same time, mini houses are aimed at people with a low income. Tiny Houses basically include a living space up to 110 m2 and usually have 15 to 45 m2 floor space. The equipment is quite manageable: A Tiny House has a kitchen or a kitchenette, a bathroom as well as a sleeping area. Therefore, even mini-houses need a connection to the supply and disposal, such as electricity, water and sewage. Originally originating in the USA, the Tiny House movement has arrived in Germany. In Germany, the forerunner to this is the extended construction trailer – known to many, no doubt, through Peter Lustig in Löwenzahn.

Tiny Houses: Coveted by old and young

According to a study not only young people are interested in a mini-house. Quite the opposite: The study shows that 58 percent of Tiny House manufacturers' customers are older than 56. This is not surprising, Tiny Houses harbor advantages for this age group. Unlike a property with a large house or apartment, mini houses are much easier to keep clean and maintained. In addition, mini houses are cheaper than family houses. Especially for older people it is difficult to get a loan to fulfill the dream of owning a house. Having your own property is often advantageous. Once paid, people save on the high cost of rent. Tiny Houses can be easily placed on an existing property, for example, to live closer to the family. The seniors remain independent while the children are close enough to support them. Senior citizens often make their former home available to their children and occupy their own property with their new Tiny House. Tiny houses are flexible in their use. At any time they can be placed in another location or sublet as a vacation home, should a move to the nursing home be necessary.

Photo: photographic workshop, Katharina Jaeger

Design Tiny Houses barrier-free – with larger footprint 

It is not only important for age-appropriate living to consider barrier-free aspects in a house. Even at a younger age, it makes sense to think about this. Especially if a long-term use of the Tiny House is intended. To gain additional space, some Tiny Houses have a second level. However, to make the Tiny House barrier-free, this variant is not an option. All rooms are located on only one level – and as much as possible on a large footprint. Very small mini houses of 15 to 20 square meters fall off the grid for barrier-free design.


Is an barrier-free Tiny House feasible? 

As for the accessibility of a Tiny House, it depends on several aspects. If residents wish to be mobile, the footprint of the Tiny House should be planned to be very compact to allow for mobility on a trailer. However, if it is intended to plan the Tiny House on a plot of land, barrier-free aspects can be taken into account. Accessibility in apartments is regulated by DIN 18040-2. This applies to houses and apartments. If you only consider individual aspects of the DIN standard when planning a Tiny House, it is referred to as an age-appropriate or low barrier Tiny House. DIN 18040 imposes a number of additional requirements on a barrier-free house. Thus, rooms must be accessible without thresholds. In addition, wheelchair users need sufficiently large movement areas to turn or rotate. Also very important is the Accessibility at the door. Barrier-free doors are at least 90 cm wide and 205 cm high. They must also have a reveal of 26 cm. If thresholds cannot be avoided, they must not be higher than 2 cm. The gripping height is also important: Door handles should be placed at a height of 85 cm above the top edge of the floor.

Feel good in the bathroom – even with little space 

Certainly one of the most important areas – in terms of accessibility in the Tiny House – is the bathroom. Even if it seems difficult to implement the most age-appropriate bathroom in a small area: There are some tips and tricks for planning. It is important that the Tiny House residents feel comfortable in it. With a few tricks, this is possible even in a small bathroom. Thus, large-shaped tiles allow you to achieve a uniform grout pattern, making the bathroom look calmer and larger. Transparent glass partitions or mirrors provide brightness and spaciousness.

What to look for when planning an accessible bathroom

A bathroom needs different products so that its users feel comfortable. Bathroom accessories not only visually enhance the bathroom, but also assist in cleaning. Among them, for example, toilet brushes, which must be placed on the wall. This makes the room appear larger and also increases the movement area.

System 900 from HEWI, for example, offers a great many design options for equipping a Tiny House to meet the needs of the disabled. The shower must be planned with a flat surface of at least 120 x 120 cm. Elements such as shower seats, grab bars, or folding support bars should be considered during the planning stage, even if they are not yet needed. This allows Tiny House residents to upgrade them as needed. You can also find further advice on designing a barrier-free shower in our Planning tips.

Tiny House barrier free: A new trend in living? 

Planning a Tiny House completely barrier-free is often difficult. Because this requires large movement areas, which a Tiny House does not always have. However, it is definitely possible to implement a Tiny House barrier-free. In many cases, this is also quite sufficient, for example, to live comfortably in old age. On the other hand, if you want to implement a mini-house for wheelchair users, it should be installed on a permanent site. Then it is possible to plan appropriate movement areas. Whether it's a larger Tiny House or a very compact one: HEWI offers the right solutions with its comprehensive product range in the sanitary sector.

Stay up to date

Would you like to be regularly informed about trends and developments in the architecture and construction industry? Feel free to register for our free newsletter. There we inform you about exciting topics around architecture, planning, design & co.