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  • Writer's pictureCris Edwards

What is a Tiny Home? Understanding Granny Flats vs. Tiny Homes on Wheels

When it comes to tiny homes, it's important to distinguish between permanent structures and those on wheels, which are often classified as caravans or relocatable homes. Here's a breakdown of the key differences:

A Tiny Home on wheels by water and a Granny Flat Modular design in outback

Permanent Structures (e.g., Granny Flats)

A permanent structure like a granny flat is typically designed to be permanently attached to a foundation or existing dwelling. These dwellings are subject to local council regulations for secondary or accessory dwellings. Granny flats can be used for long-term occupancy or short-term vacation stays like Airbnb, but they require planning and building approvals.


Permanent structures are built on foundations, such as screw piles or pier footings. They are not designed for mobility. But they can be disconnected at a later date and craned back out should you decide to sell the granny flat

Building Approvals

Constructing a permanent structure involves obtaining building approvals and complying with relevant building codes, including structural, electrical, plumbing, and fire safety regulations.


Zoning regulations determine where granny flats can be built and under what conditions. Requirements may vary depending on the location and specific council rules. Queensland has new secondary dwelling rules that make it very favourable to build granny flats…council has to allow it if meets basic criteria.

Delivery and installation

Modular homes are built off-site in a factory saving you the trouble of a builder being on site for months. They are then delivered on a truck and craned into place. On-site works usually take only a couple of weeks to install and connect services.


Permanent structures are typically connected to utilities such as water, sewerage, and electricity. They often share these services with the main dwelling or have separate connections.

Tiny Homes on Wheels (e.g., Caravans or Relocatable Homes)

Tiny homes on wheels are designed to be portable and are often classified as caravans or relocatable homes. They offer flexibility and mobility, allowing homeowners to change locations as desired. However, it's essential to adhere to specific regulations and classifications to ensure compliance.


Tiny homes on wheels are built on trailers or chassis, making them easily transportable behind a tow truck or large ute. They can be moved from one location to another. Most people would only move a tiny once or twice in their lifetime. They are not meant to be on the road like proper caravans!


Depending on the specific regulations in your area, tiny homes on wheels may be classified as caravans, relocatable homes, or similar designations. Compliance with road rules and transport regulations for oversized loads is necessary when relocating a tiny home.

Building Codes

While tiny homes on wheels may follow certain building codes for safety and habitability, they may have different requirements compared to permanent structures. This could include considerations for weight distribution, towing capabilities, and roadworthiness. We build all our tiny homes to Australian building standards.

Council regulations

Zoning regulations vary wildly from council to council. Some are “tiny home friendly” while others may limit how many days anyone can stay in the home. Places like Brisbane allow people to live in their “caravan” on private property. Other councils strictly forbid it and see it as illegal camping! The intended use will make a difference… is it for a family member, a permanent rental registered with the RTA or are you putting it on Airbnb? All three could make a difference to the council (or your neighbours)


Tiny homes on wheels offer remarkable flexibility when it comes to utilities. Homeowners can choose their preferred level of reliance on grid-based services or embrace a self-sufficient off-grid lifestyle.

  1. On-Grid Connections: Tiny homes on wheels can connect to standard grid-based utilities, including electricity through a 15 am power cord, water through a garden hose, and sewerage hooked up to mains.

  2. Off-Grid Independence: Some owners opt for self-sufficiency by utilising alternative energy sources like solar panels, and waste managed through composting toilets or grey-water recycling systems.

  3. Combination Approach: Many homeowners choose a hybrid approach. They may connect to grid-based electricity and water while incorporating solar power or composting toilets.

It's important to research and understand the specific regulations governing both permanent structures like granny flats and tiny homes on wheels in your local area. Consulting with local council authorities, planning departments, or professionals experienced in tiny house regulations will provide you with valuable guidance and ensure compliance with the applicable rules for your chosen dwelling type.

That sounds daunting, right? When you purchase a Tiny Home or Modular Granny Flat with Big Life Tiny Home, we will research local council regulations, flag any concerns and advise you of your options! Less hassle and more time for the fun stuff, like designing your custom floor plan, crafting the perfect mood boards and getting you into your dream home sooner! Let's get chatting! Contact Cris & Bryh today.

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