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Two Tiny House Construction Mistakes You Can Avoid

Some of you are familiar with Louis Burns, who built his own tiny house on a trailer in Austin, Texas not long ago.

This little house was built inexpensively and take note that it was Louis’ first attempt at building a home in general.

So there are plenty of mistakes that he made which he is very open about. I’m sure if he did it a second time, he’d do a heck of a better job.

Some of the errors were major while others were minor but either way you can learn a lot about what not to do from his experiences and we should all still give him a hand for not only starting the project but finishing it.

He even took the time to document his entire experience in an ebook and video format which is great value if you find yourself interested in learning even more from his mistakes and experiences and you’re not able, or cannot afford to attend a workshop yet.

I will point out two of his major errors for you..

Mistake #1: The first and most obvious will be the placement of an outdoor water heater directly inside the bathroom which is not a great idea. You’ll see below..

You can easily create a micro vented shed on any of the exterior walls (I recommend on the tongue of the trailer) to house this, as Dan Louche- of Tiny Home Builders– has done with all his homes so far.

Mistake #2: The other serious mistake that he made was the order in which he installed the siding. You have to keep aerodynamics in mind before you do this otherwise your panels are going to come off because of high force winds when towing the house.

So without further ado, the Austin Tiny House Project..

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Two Tiny House Construction Mistakes You Can Avoid

Photos Courtesy of Louis Burns

Austin Tiny House by Louis Burns Austin Tiny House by Louis Burns

Again, what you see below is NOT recommended. This instant water heater is meant to be installed outside and plumbed into the home. As I mentioned above, you should create a mini shed over the tongue of the trailer to house it.

Austin Tiny House Instant Water Heater Mistake on Installation Interior of Louis Burns Austin Tiny House Tiny House Sleeping Loft Austin Tiny House on a Trailer Tiny House Construction Mistake Tiny House Floor Plan

At just 80 square feet this tiny home ended up weighing less than 5,000 lbs using a 16 foot trailer with double axles rated for 7,000 lbs.

‘Louis Burns & Austin Tiny House’ from jim bruno on Vimeo.

If you want to download his book and videos in one package, here’s the link to his tiny house design build sales page.

Click Here to Learn More and/or Order Louis’ Tiny House Design Build Product

If you buy and you don’t like it or don’t find it helpful, not a big deal because it’s backed by a 60-day money back guarantee. So Louis will refund your money if you don’t feel it was a good value for you. Although if you’re a beginner to construction, I think it’s a pretty good value that will prevent you from making some of those common ‘rookie’ mistakes.


UPDATE: I highly recommend Dan Louche’s Tiny Home Builders construction video series if you’re serious about learning how to build tiny houses on wheels as he’s built more and done it right time and time again.


  1. http://www.austintinyhouse.com/tiny-house-moving-issue/


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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 13 comments… add one }
  • LaMar
    June 25, 2012, 8:21 am

    I have the same Eccotemp OD water heater in my cabin and while they are not rated for indoor use and should be mounted outside they are very good water heaters for small houses. These do not have a standing pilot light and only burn propane when you turn on the water so for a 10 minute shower there would be very little exhaust abut the same as running a propane fridge or stove. An exhaust fan could be used to vent the bathroom and that would prevent any CO2 buildup. They do make small vented OD water heaters for a little more money.

    • June 25, 2012, 9:11 pm

      Thanks LaMar, good to know!

  • Pam
    June 25, 2012, 1:01 pm

    oh thanks LaMar, for explanation re hot water heater placement. til I saw your response, I was wondering why it wasn’t good idea to put it in bathroom…:)

  • jparkes
    June 26, 2012, 10:20 am

    All gas appliances, even modern units, require good ventilation. Natural gas, propane, coal, wood, even candles produce airborne toxins that require constant ventilation…in a 2,000 sq ft. home some of these are not as crucial a concern as in a tiny home, but in a space with so little volume such as a tiny home we have to be even more careful than usual or you could find yourself in serious distress or worse.
    It is insane to live in any home without a carbon monoxide alarm, many of the better smoke alarms also have this function, whole families have died for the lack of a 25 dollar safety device that a fifth grader could install. Also replace those batteries a couple times a year, if the battery is dead….you could be too.

    • June 26, 2012, 1:34 pm

      Thanks Jparkes, excellent points.

  • July 6, 2012, 3:02 pm

    It seems this tiny trend is catching on all across the world. Individuals, couples and small families are choosing to downsize their lives to live in much smaller spaces that are usually much less expensive than conventional houses.

    • Peter Van
      January 7, 2014, 7:12 pm

      I am new to the idea of tiny homes , but I am sold already. I am just starting out on research and these pointers on what’s wrong with the picture will help me and my family (4 of us) to build our tiny house on wheels. Thanks

  • Ricia
    August 22, 2012, 10:24 pm

    I have one of these EcoTemp Water Heaters as well.. They are great for always having hot water on hand and not taking up much space, however, They are rated for outdoor use and if you are using them indoors it is imperative to have adequate ventilation. They are intended for camping outdoors. I have one for my kitchen and one for my shower. The one for my kitchen is on the outside wall with a line coming inside from it. The reason a lot of people prefer to have them indoors is to be able to adjust the temperature. This problem is easily solved by simply running a cold line as well as a hot line and keeping the hot line turned up. I have a family of 7 people and from time to time I have had company visiting for a few weeks at a time. These same units have lasted us over a year and I have only had to change the batteries 1 time in one of the units. Because they use D sized batteries to ignite the fuel each time you turn it on, there is very little actual time the batteries are being drained. If you plan to encase these units outdoors make sure to leave the top open (cover with a screen or have a door that remains open when in use etc..) or you will not have enough ventilation and will find the unit shutting off constantly. I hope this helps.

  • Suzy Andersen
    September 10, 2012, 12:00 am

    This design (and over-all house) is definitely a rousing testament to the KISS acronym. Very efficient too, with wheels on the bottom.

  • Holly
    January 6, 2013, 1:29 pm

    i love the loft.i like that the toilet is above the drainage but i would prefer it to have its own little corner if this was mine house..

  • Lisa
    January 7, 2014, 11:39 pm

    I REALLY like having the storm door with the front door. I’m a security freak and here the storm door opens out while the front door opens in (meaning that the hinges on the front door are on the inside where no one can get at the pins to pull out and take the door down.)

    I’m also on board with the much smaller windows they have here; no human being can crawl through them and get in that way. I’d place them higher up, though; under the eves. This way you get the light streaming in and down and you also get more wall space to put in a bench seat that hides a full bathtub, or a storage staircase instead of a ladder (that Seniors can’t or don’t want to navigate.)

    Somebody here has got their thinking cap on!

  • August 16, 2017, 5:02 pm

    Correction: Modern Gas appliances require two things to be safe and code compliant: 1 they required proper venting, with either a UL listed assembly or a code compliant assembly, 2. They require combustion air to function properly. Both of these requirement will be included in the manufactureres installation guide. They don’t need generaly ventilation for toxic CO, that is already vented with the vent pipe.

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