The Downside of "Tiny Homes"
Tiny homes are all the rage these days and I must say I think that they are very cute and quite appealing. But, there are some very real downsides to tiny homes. I will explore these so that you can make an informed decision should you choose to make your home a tiny home.
First of all I would like to say that I think tiny homes are very cute. I was immediately drawn to them when they first came out and have seen several films on them. So, it can be said that my first reaction to tiny homes was one of “I want one of those”!
However, upon further investigation I am not as enamored as I first was. Yes, I still think that they are very cute and there is something very appealing about living a “downsized” simple life. However, the primary reason I have soured on most tiny homes is that they are kind of expensive. I mean the very reason you might choose a tiny home is because they are supposed to be cheaper than a regular home, right? Why else would you sell most of your possessions and stuff yourself into a tiny home if it's not cheaper than buying a regular home? The cheapest tiny home I am aware of was one that was built by a young man in a video I saw on netflix. It took him a year to build it and it cost him $26,000. Now I know that $26,000 is not a lot of money but it is more than a lot of homes across the United States that are already built. Sure, those homes might not be in the best shape and they might be in a crappy area but you can still get a home for $26,000 in quite a few places across this country. In additon, the cost of that tiny home was $26,000 NOT INCLUDING the cost of the land! So, with the cost of land you will have to add another $2,000 to $5,000 dollars conservatively. Also, that doesn't include the money spent for such things like solar panels to provide electricity. And, let's not forget that this young man built the home himself. Should you need to hire someone to build the home for you the additional cost of labor would need to be added. Furthermore, that was the rock bottom cheapest I've ever seen. I've seen quite a few more that were anywhere from $36,000 to northward of $50,000.
Another reason that tiny homes are not as desirable as regular homes is that their resale value is most likely less than a “normal” home. Just as mobile homes and modular homes do not retain their value I don't think that a tiny home would either. It is, after-all, a niche market. One must consider that very few people are willing and/or able to live in such a small space and that alone will make their resale value less than a normal home. Also, most tiny homes can only really fit one or two people at the most so your market population would be limited.
Furthermore, a tiny home is, well by definition...tiny, which makes them difficult in you have a large family or any family at all. Moreover, any change in your family situation would necessitate a change in venue which may prohibit the use of your home. Whereas in a regular home one might have the option of adding on to it or converting an attic or basement area as needs grow, in a Tiny home this would not be possible. Also, since most have loft bedrooms they are not very convenient for older adults as most older adults avoid stairs let alone ladders!
Moreover, getting water into a tiny home is not easy or convenient. In a normal home one can still reduce your water bill by tapping into a well or using water harvesting methods. In a tiny home space is valuable and water is heavy and it takes up a lot of room. While in theory you could hook up a tiny home to a well or a water catchment system, I have never seen this done. Also, there may be issues regarding permits because tiny homes are so small and most are mobile having been build on a flatbed trailers they are considered vehicles. This is the way most people get around the permit situation. So, hooking up to a well might jeapardize that status, although this is just conjecture on my part. Nevertheless, most people bring water into their tiny homes and that is how they manage their water needs. I can only imagine that that must be cumbersome and at the very least not very convenient.
Finally, while tiny homes are cute there are alternatives out there for people who are trying to house themselves, cut out utility costs and not sign their lives away using a 30 year mortgage.
The first alternative to building a tiny home is building a cob house. Cob homes are made out of straw, sand and mud and they have been around for literally thousands of years. Cob homes are extremely economical and they are also very cute which is important to me. The cute little homes sporting thatched roofs dotting the British Isles are cob homes. After-all who wants to live in a boring, character-free box of a home? Cob homes are unique, full of character and cheap. Strawbale homes are similar to cob homes and they are also very economical. You can make either a cob or a strawbale home look anyway you'd like. You can build it to be very small like a tiny home or you can build them as large as your funds allow. A small or tiny cob home might cost about $10,000 give or take which is less than half of the cost of the cheapest tiny home. Another alternative is a log home. Many people have built log homes for very little money.
Therefore, considering the cost, the resale value, the inability to expand and the inconvenience in getting water to the home I don't think tiny homes are the most economical way to go. Having said that I think that there are a lot of very nice tiny homes out there and if that's your hearts desire..I say go for it.
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