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.

$2500 Dollar House

Cob House built for 150 pounds or $300 dollars!

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Comments 21 comments

Availiasvision profile image

Availiasvision 2 years ago from California

You bring up some excellent points about the costs of purchasing or building a tiny home. I am a minimalist and a tiny house lover and am trying to decided how to move forward with living smaller.

A few problems I see with building and living in a tiny house (100 ft2 w/ a loft: It's too small for a family, although perfect for a single person or a couple; the loft isn't practical when you're too old to safely climb a ladder, the commercially produced tiny houses can run you $60,000 and not include land, most cities are against tiny homes; sewage/electricity/water are difficult to hook up.

I live in California, where building codes are extremely harsh. You can spend years and your whole salary fighting the city over the placement of a light switch. I know that tiny homes on trailers are considered RV's, but most of the cities around here don't want full time residents parked in other people's back yards. I looked into an RV park, but the cheapest one I could find was in a bad area and $800/ a month. At that point, an apartment or purchasing a condo is cheaper. It's hard to find a quarter acre for less than $50,000 in California, so I'm looking at around $80,000 to $100,000 to build a tiny house in the hills.

As a young single, I have to keep in mind that I will most likely have little ones around in the next few years and a lofted house won't work.

I absolutely love the movement and would like to see developers create more 300-800 ft2, moderately priced homes.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

I couldn't agree more "Availiasvision". When I look at the videos I just love them but I am 52 and I know that going up and down a ladder and even stairs later in life would not work for me. Luckily, there are alternatives..did you see the videos at the end? They are quite inspiring. Thanks for commenting and good luck to you.

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 2 years ago

Despite any drawbacks, I have to say that they are just so darn cute!!! Voted up interesting, useful and awesome.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

They are..I agree "Breakfastpop".

tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

Loved the idea of tiny houses until I saw the shower dementions. My daughter in Paris had an apartment with a shower so small you couldn't turn around without shutting off the water and getting out. We stay in an A frame cabin when we ski. It takes up little room. It can hold a queen bed up stairs. A queen downstairs, a small bath and kitchen. With work it could be a home. One of your videos had no room for the 14 yr old daughter. She had her own house. That is not cost efficient. Love living simple but there is a big difference between doing it to be frugal and doing it because its the fad.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

I agree "Tirelesstraveler", one needs the comforts of home even if it is in a small area.

grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

Very useful hub on the pros and cons of small houses. I guess when one chooses a small house he should really know why and for what purpose, and have no delusions of resale. Also, hidden costs should be known of from the start. Very helpful.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thank you "Grand Old Lady"

OldRoses profile image

OldRoses 2 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

Great hub! Every time I see a tiny house, I think about how difficult it must be to clean. I'm tall (5' 7") and getting into the tiny nooks and crannies to clean would be nearly impossible for me.

Most of the tiny houses I have read about are built by young people. They seem to have no plans to have children or they haven't thought about what changes they would have to make if they had children. They seem to be living in the moment with no regard for the future.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks "OldRoses", yes I've noticed that too. The few that do have children had to move out of their "tiny home".

Goodlady 2 years ago

Adorable topic. I always think I'll solve my problems somhow, somewhere with a tiny home (whenI fear for a future I might not be able to afford). I think again, but your adorable and informative article has helped me get real with the thought. Thanks! Like everyone else, I love those tiny homes.

GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 2 years ago from Rome, Italy

Thanks for your informative article. It's so easy to dream of living in a tiny house, but you pointed out some very valuable considerations here. Nice piece!

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks for your kind comments "GoodLady".

DREAM ON profile image

DREAM ON 2 years ago

I agree with your views the small houses are cute but families grow and before you know it you need more space. I love the log cabins they are cheaper and have a rustic look with character. I could see the small houses being popular near a college campus where you basically just study, work, sleep and eat. Rents near the colleges for apartments are 1,000 and up.I love your variety of topics.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thank you, I have a variety of keeps me going :)

Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 2 years ago from Oklahoma

Very interesting hub! I think the little houses are cute, and I am amazed by some of the designs. However, we bought a four bedroom, two bath house on two acres for less than what most of those homes go for. Its an older home that needs TLC, but it isn't a shack. So, in our case, it would be counterproductive to downsize to a costlier home with less space!

Great points made here!

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Yea..I wish the prices were cuter! Thanks for stopping by Sharke11.

ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

The cob house is so cute and the video is wonderful. This is a great article. I imagine it would be easy for one of these little houses to get cluttered.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Well then you just need to read my other article!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 21 months ago from Hudson Valley, New York

You certainly brought up some notable points Brie. I've actually attended a Tumbleweeds Tiny House workshop just recently and am considering writing an hub about it. One thing that I'd add is the problem of not being able to entertain. What do you do when friends and relatives what to visit? I come from a large family chock full of nieces, nephews, and a mess of other relatives through marriage. Where do you put these people should they want to visit? Thanks for sharing ;)

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 21 months ago from Manhattan Author

Well, hopefully you have a large outside area and live in nice weather..otherwise you are out of luck ;)

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