With the implosion of the US housing market, and millions of former home owners now renting, the fantasy of an over sized home has come crashing back to reality. No more is the super sized McMansion part of the picture for most of us. The real estate bubble convinced many that they could afford a huge, over priced home. Sadly, many have been left straddled with under water mortgages and homes they’ll never sell. For those who are no longer straddled with a massive mortgage, and who are seeking alternatives to renting and would love to have a home, the tiny home movement has gained momentum. For those considering a move to a tiny house, there is the obvious sacrifice of square footage. But, this is replaced by a new freedom of mobility and finance. And with that freedom comes choice. Tiny homes are an act of defiance, independence, humility and facing our environmental footprint.
The Basics of Tiny Houses, courtesy of Tiny Home Builders
What is a tiny house?
A tiny house is a small house that is sized such that it can fit on a trailer. In most areas this means that it can’t be bigger than 8 feet 6 inches wide, 13 feet 6 inches tall, and 40 feet long. The houses are built on trailers since they are too small to be allowed as permanent structures according to most local code enforcement agencies.
Why would I live in a tiny house?
For many, the dream of owning their own house is only that, a dream. With home sizes (and prices) growing year after year for the last 6 decades, many have simply been priced out of the market. That coupled with a slowing economy has created a huge problem for some. Tiny houses offer a solution. A tiny house is a much smaller house that offers many of the same amenities (the important ones) of its larger version but with some amazing added benefits. Since a tiny house is so small, many people are choosing to build them themselves, and we’re not just talking about contractors or handy men. Just search the internet and you’ll find countless stories of students, mothers, individuals preparing for retirement, people that work in offices, and others you wouldn’t expect to be building houses, successfully building and living in their own. And they are doing it for less than the cost of most cars! For instance, our most popular 20 foot house cost just $16,000 to build. We were contacted by a young couple that was able to save up enough money for their own tiny house in just 2 years by changing just a few simple habits. They now live in a brand new house mortgage free! That’s a big difference from a 30 year mortgage where it’s not uncommon to pay almost as much in interest as the original loan amount.
Another advantage of tiny houses is gained time. People living in tiny houses says that they just have more time to focus on the important things in their life. The initial reaction to telling someone you are moving into a tiny house is “where are you going to put all your stuff?”, but the fact is we don’t need all that stuff. And not only do we not need it, but it is suffocating us. Maintaining, cleaning, and thinking about all that stuff takes time. There is a lot of truth to the saying “the stuff we own ends up owning us”.
Another advantage is that the houses can be moved. While tiny houses usually aren’t made to be moved frequently (they don’t have the same tanks or generators as an RV), the fact that they can be moved is a nice bonus. If you don’t like your neighbor, you can just take your house somewhere else.
Finally, one last reason to living in a tiny house is conservation. When you have less, you use less, even if it’s not your intention. Living tiny is simply better for the environment.
Why wouldn’t I just buy an RV?
RV’s are great for travel, but not so great to live in. They aren’t built to be used every day like a house. Since they’re expected to be moved frequently, the materials used in the construction are lighter weight and often less durable. RV’s can start to look pretty worn after a much shorter time than you would expect with a house. They also aren’t built to be maintained like a house. When was the last time you heard of someone putting a fresh coat of paint on their RV or putting a new Roof on after 25 years. Tiny houses are built just like a conventional house with all the same, or better, materials.