Tiny House Movement Growing

Down-Sizing America

As a result of the bursting of the housing bubble, subprime mortgage crisis, world recession and growing concern about our national and personal debts, America is downsizing its houses, cars and lifestyles.

The article linked below in this morning's Detroit Free Press documents that the market for tiny houses is thriving amidst the current real estate market shambles.

"It's very un-American in the sense that living small means consuming less," said Jay Shafer, 46, cofounder of the Small House Society, sitting on the porch of his wooden cabin in Graton, Calif. "Living in a small house like this really entails knowing what you need to be happy and getting rid of everything else."

A tiny houses on a nice lot may have greater appeal to many than manufactured house trailers or double wides located in trailer parks.

While they're at it, Americans need to downsize themselves. I read recently that the U.S.A. ranks number one in obesity, ahead of Mexico and Argentina. Tiny houses can help if the owners use the extra space in their yards to grow their own healthful food.

Read more: Tiny-houses: Movement grows as market struggles | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101205/BUSINESS04/12050382/Tiny-houses-Movement-grows-as-market-struggles#ixzz17G1Hr7am

Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Reclaimed Redwood Siding Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Reclaimed Redwood Siding Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Photo by Lenny Gonzalez
Megamansions Springing Up in Los Angeles
Megamansions Springing Up in Los Angeles | Source
Renzo Piano's Dream House
Renzo Piano's Dream House | Source
Determined to have a house without wasted space, a Raleigh, N.C., family traded their 3,200-square-foot place for a 1,200-square-foot ranch house.  More Photos »
Determined to have a house without wasted space, a Raleigh, N.C., family traded their 3,200-square-foot place for a 1,200-square-foot ranch house. More Photos » | Source
A 100 sq. ft. room in the new Pod 39 Hotel on East 39th Street in Murray Hill. Similar accommodations are around $200 a night.
A 100 sq. ft. room in the new Pod 39 Hotel on East 39th Street in Murray Hill. Similar accommodations are around $200 a night. | Source

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Comments 33 comments

Jeff May profile image

Jeff May 6 years ago from St. Louis

Love the idea of tiny houses and cars. Might be tough with my two teenagers right now, but who knows for later. Maybe a tiny cabin in the woods somewhere.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

I'm thinking along the same lines. The only time we use our entire house is when we have a family reunion on holidays. The rest of the time the space is wasted and we continue to pay high real estate taxes.

LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

This is my desire, to have a small place, dependent upon the Earth and natural resources. Soon...

Debbie Cook profile image

Debbie Cook 6 years ago from USA

I would love to build one of the modern style tiny homes. Maybe around 500 square feet from energy saving construction and materials. However, normal utilities would be important to me.

Tankless hot water heaters for example take up little space and after the initial purchase price they cost very little.

I recently heard of insulation that not only insulates but is insect and pest retardent as well.

Just like a mobile home - tie-downs would be important in case of high winds.

Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

"The bigger, the better" - this is the American way according to Bush and I am almost sure I remember him saying that about the SUV a few years ago ignoring the auto-industry crises and the prices of gas (since for the enviroment he never had any concern to bigin with).

America may be forced to readjust its "size' and its thinking - and what a "tragedy" that will be for the ones who will have to give up the 5-th TV in a household of 4

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

Thanks, all, for your comments. We're on the same wave length.

Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I love this concept and the builder was so impressive in his ability to see and explain the advantages of living small. For me and my pup, it would work. Of course, you have to have the bucks to afford the land. America has become the land of excess. Those who have continued to live well but conservatively will weather this economic storm better than many who continue to live extravagantly, paycheck to paycheck and then face a rude awakening if status quo changes.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I've been in favor of tiny houses for a long time now, Ralph Deeds. I learned about them several years ago, and I wish I could have built one. I've always thought that people with large houses that have lots of rooms probably never see most of the rooms unless they have a very large family. The same goes for cars (Personally, I'd drive a golf cart if they'd let me take it on the road.) I particularly like the architecture of many of the little houses, especially those that look like little castles.

Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 6 years ago from SE MA

Well meaning zoning laws (and sometimes not well meaning) can prohibit small homes.

HSchneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

It's about time we stopped being so greedy and started being economical. We've been living beyond our means for too long. We also need to live more eco-friendly. This world and this country has only a limited amount of natural resources. It's time to think of the world and not just ourselves.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

Local zoning laws are certainly a negative factor for all kinds of home building innovations.Thanks for your comments.

coolbreeze profile image

coolbreeze 6 years ago from Hawaii

Last year I was living with my family in a 15 by 20 shack that I built from scraps.

No we are not boozers or drug addicts as some will quickly assume.

Although we lost our home and in the process I was struck by lightning and also lost my job I did not feel destitute.

We just up sized thank you to our incomes on hubpages. We live in a sort of conventional house now with power my daughter is attending college.

After living here for 6 months with running water electricity and all the normally things that we have always had most of our lives.

The whole family wants to move back to the shack I built.

So hell yes Ralph I am ready to down size!!! Ha ha

Love your Hub!

C.J. Wright 6 years ago

Love em. I also like the spin you didn't put on the article. So many times these types of homes are attached to extreme left and/or right thinking. When in reality it's just what you mentioned earlier. It's about having a house that matches the way you live. If you have a 3000 sf house that you realy never use or even need. Your wasting your money.

Longhunter 6 years ago

Good article, Mr. Deeds. One of these would be great for a art or writer's studio in the backyard as well.

My parents once had a house that was, believe it or not, 11,000 square feet. There was a lot of wasted space.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

Tiny House in Berkeley

On Saturday, Mayor Tom Bates will cut the ribbon on a new home on Delaware Street in Berkeley. It’s not every day a city leader takes the time to welcome a new dwelling into his fold, and this home is not big, nor particularly special; in fact it’s positively diminutive at just 420 sq ft, and can rightfully be described as a backyard cottage. So one might wonder why it warrants an “opening party” with dignitaries in attendance, sponsors — even a salsa band.

The reason is that small secondary units like this one — also known as in-law units, studios, or accessory buildings — represent a solution to a key challenge facing many cities: how to house a swelling population affordably without resorting to creating unsustainable suburban sprawl. “Smart growth”, in other words.

And Berkeley has decided to focus on these little houses. “We favor increasing the number of secondary units. It’s the only goal we have added to the housing element part of our general plan this year,” says Debra Sanderson, Planning Manager at the City of Berkeley.

The Delaware St cottage includes distinct areas for living, cooking, eating, working, bathing and sleeping. Photo: New Avenue.

These types of buildings often appeal to homeowners looking for more space without the need to relocate, or seeking rental income, and for home buyers looking for small, inexpensive urban homes on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.

The cute, zero-energy cottage at 934 Delaware Street was built by Berkeley start-up New Avenue, a company conceived at UC Berkeley which is where the cottage’s owner, Karen Chapple, also works.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

Small Wonder

On a quaint, tree-lined street in Berkeley, California, architect Sarah Deeds of Deeds Design and carpenter John McBride placed a 120-square-foot office/art studio near their main house, a renovated 1906 Victorian, on a 3,100-square-foot lot. “Since it was a design/build project, I had the luxury of changing the project as needed during construction,” says Deeds, who was able to easily accommodate unanticipated developments for the studio, which she planned as an irregular pentagon shape to maximize interior space. Deeds used salvaged and FSC-certified wood for the construction, formaldehyde-free fiberglass and denim insulation, a door left over from a previous project, and no-VOC paint, stains and finishes. Adding to what she calls the clubhouse feel, Deeds put in a large south-facing high window overlooking an existing deciduous California buckeye tree that provides shade in the summer, and painted a bright “burgee” detail atop the exterior, milled from a fallen tree. “It’s like a little fort,” says Deeds.

Read more: http://www.dwell.com/articles/small-Wonder.html#ix...

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author


A HOUSE tour is the highlight of a visit with a proud homeowner, but when one drops in to see Derek Diedricksen, who makes playful micro-shelters out of junk, it is less so. Possibly because the temperature up here on a cold winter day is less so, possibly because his square footage is less so.

At about 24 square feet, the Gypsy Junker, made primarily out of shipping pallets, castoff storm windows and a neighbor’s discarded kitchen cabinets, is the largest of Mr. Diedricksen’s backyard structures. The Hickshaw, a sleeper built on a rolling cedar lounge chair (or as Mr. Diedricksen calls it, “a rickshaw for hicks”), is considerably smaller, at 2 1/2 feet wide by 6 1/2 feet deep. The Boxy Lady, two cubes on a long pallet, is the smallest: 4 feet tall at its highest point.

For ingenuity, thrift and charm, Mr. Diedricksen’s tiny structures are hard to beat. Made of scavenged materials, they cost on average less than $200 to build. They often have transparent roofing, which allows a fine view of the treetops, particularly in the smallest ones, where the most comfortable position is supine. They have loads of imaginative and decorative details: a porthole-like window salvaged from a front-loading washing machine, a flip-down metal counter taken from the same deceased washer. Mr. Diedricksen hates to throw anything away.

RunAbstract profile image

RunAbstract 5 years ago from USA

As a tiny house dweller I appreciate the fact that more and more people are choosing this kind of housing. It's cozy, affordable, and a challenge!

Great article with good links! Voted up!

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Thanks. The first seven pictures are of a small architecture studio designed and built by my daughter and fellow hubber, Sarah Deeds of DeedsDesign.com

RunAbstract profile image

RunAbstract 5 years ago from USA

Great design! I will check her out!

RVDaniels profile image

RVDaniels 5 years ago from Athens, GA

This is so cool. I've always wanted to live in a gypsy caravan or something similar. Good hub, friend and I want that little blue car!

d.william profile image

d.william 4 years ago from Somewhere in the south

I loved this hub. I just bookmarked it so i can explore more when i have a little more time. Excellent idea. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

6-6-12NYTimes--Japan's Capsule Hotels Come to New York City

Tiny but Luxurious Hotel Rooms Spring Up in New York - NYTimes.com

Pod Hotel and Yotel bring offshoots of the Japanese “capsule” hotel to New York, while citizenM makes plans to compete.

Wizard Of Whimsy profile image

Wizard Of Whimsy 4 years ago from The Sapphire City

Thought this image might be of interest . . .


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

10-4-12NYTimes--One Shed Fits All: A Modernist Dogtrot

One Shed Fits All - A Modernist Dogtrot Reborn - NYTimes.com

An architect lets go, and an elegant little house gets a second chance.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 3 years ago Author

6-3-13NYTimes--The Return of McMansions

The Return of McMansions - NYTimes.com

Construction of new homes plummeted during the housing bust. But where there has been building of single-family homes in recent years, the homes have been getting bigger.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 3 years ago Author

7-18-13NYTimes "Renzo Piano's Dream of a Tiny House"

Renzo Piano’s Dream of a Tiny House - NYTimes.com

The architect unveils a prototype house for Vitra. "When I was a student I dreamed of making a house 7 ft x 7 ft, as a dream of freedom, of self-moderation."

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 2 years ago Author

Square Feet: 84. Possessions: 305

Log In - The New York Times

"From time to time, Dee Williams does a possession count. The last tally was 305. It included all of her worldly belongings, from her bedroom suite (a mattress and a quilt) to her home entertainment equipment (a laptop) to her jewelry collection..."

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 2 years ago Author

Tiny House Movement

Living Large in 150 Square Feet: Why the Tiny House Movement Is Taking Off Alternet

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 2 years ago Author

Bloomberg News 7-9-14 Tiny Houses Big With Owners Seeking Economic Freedom

Tiny Houses Big With U.S. Owners Seeking Economic Freedom - Bloomberg

Dramatic downsizing is gaining interest among Americans, gauging by increased sales of plans and ready-made homes and growing audiences for websites related to the niche. A+E Networks Corp. will air, beginning today, “Tiny House Nation” a series on FYI that “celebrates the exploding movement.”

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 22 months ago Author

Can Oregon's tiny houses be part of the solution to homelessness?

Since 1950, the American family home has become two and a half times larger, even as fewer people on average are living in them. Is it time to downsize?

ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 14 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

Hi Ralph, I like these tiny houses and it makes a lot of sense in these uncertain economic times. I went from big 3 level house to a 1100 sf. house I love it and I can be free of a mortgage. I use to live in Michigan, it was just too cold. great hub, stella

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 14 months ago Author

Thanks for your comment. (The weather in Michigan is perfect today!)

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