The Tiny Homes Movement and Alternative Living Solutions
What Is It?
The tiny homes movement, or small house movement as it is also known, is a shift in social thinking away from the complications of large home ownership and towards living simply in smaller spaces.
In the United States, the average size of a new single-family home is now 2,479 square feet, 700 feet larger than the new home average in 1978. The increase in home size is generally attributed to the increase in personal wealth and a desire for prestige that larger homes tend to give home owners.
Swimming against this cultural and architectural trend is the tiny home movement, and its origins can be found in the United States, and in particular are rooted in a book written by Sarah Susanka in 1997 called “The Not So Big House.”
As with many movements, this one was based in some part on necessity. Hurricane Katrina destroyed so many homes that it became necessary to find alternative housing solutions for the survivors. FEMA offered trailers for many, but an alternative was offered by Marianne Cusato who developed “Katrina Cottages” in 2005, all of which started at 308 square feet.
The movement gained more steam during the financial crisis of 2007-2010. Still, the small house movement only accounts for 1% of the real estate market to date.
Advantages of Tiny Homes
The advantages should be obvious, but let me name a few:
· Cost of building: the average cost of building a tiny home is $25,000, certainly an attractive alternative to normal home-building costs.
· Cost of heating: it takes little imagination to realize that heating a 500 square foot home is not as costly as heating a 2,500 square foot home.
· Taxes: property taxes are obviously lower for a smaller home.
· Maintenance costs: again, the cost to maintain such a small home is minimal.
· Mobility: many small homes can be built on trailers and thus can be moved easily.
· A change in lifestyle: moving to a small home means ridding oneself of clutter and possessions, thus alleviating much of the stress that material ownership causes.
· Minimize footprint on Earth: less natural resources are needed to build and maintain a small home.
More on this subject from KathyH
- Tiny Houses... Could You Live In One?
Could "tiny houses" really be an answer to the current housing crisis? Some people are downsizing and moving into extremely small homes, some under 100 square feet.
What do you think? Are the tiny houses for you?
Disadvantages of Tiny Homes
Tiny homes are not for everyone. Let’s face it: this idea flies in the face of the American Dream, and is directly opposed to the concept of materialism that so dominates modern culture, especially in the United States. Possible disadvantages are:
· Lack of space: well, yes, of course! This writer has lived in a 400 square foot home and it was quite comfortable; it would have been comfortable for two as well, but it would take some getting used to for many people.
· Building codes: there are quite a few communities in the United States which will not allow a home that is less than a pre-determined number of square feet. The reason being that neighbors are concerned about property values plummeting.
· Changing lifestyles is difficult: make no mistake about it; there are many people who could not do this.
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
Jay Shafer is his name, and since 1997 he has been living in a home with 89 square feet of living space. He originally decided to leave conventional living because he was concerned about the environmental impact that a larger home would have, and also because of a need he had to simplify his life.
Since 2002 he has been the owner of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, located in Sebastopol, California. His company designs and builds small houses between 50 and 750 square feet. He is co-founder of the “Small House Society” in Iowa City, Iowa, and in 2009 he published “The Small House Book.”
Most of Mr. Shafer’s sales come from the plans that he designs. He emphasizes light, warmth, energy efficiency, and proportion in his seventeen different designs, and he says that the “simple, slower lifestyle my homes have afforded is a luxury for which I am continually grateful.”
Workshops are held year round across the country. At these workshops people learn everything they need to know about tiny houses and how to build them. Some of the upcoming 2013 workshops are:
· Seattle January 12-13
· Orlando January 26-27
· Boston February 9-10
· Santa Fe February 23-24
· Berkeley March 2-3
· Ahseville March 16-17
· Austin March 23-24
· Chicago April 6-7.
You can find a full schedule of workshops here.
A tour by a satisfied customer
The owner gives a tour
No, They Are Not for Everyone
Does it seem impossible to you? If so, it most likely will be! To join this tiny house movement is to toss aside conventional thinking. It is to say no to consumerism and possession-driven thinking. It is, in fact, a total embrace of the Living Simple lifestyle.
Imagine for a moment no mortgage. Imagine utilities costing no more than $30 per month during any season. Imagine property taxes so low as to seem insignificant. Imagine being able to hitch your home to a pickup truck and moving all of your possessions to another site.
Imagine being free of clutter and possessions and financial worry and stress.
If you can imagine those things, then check out Tumbleweed’s website here!
To borrow from Mr. Spock…..”Live small and prosper!”
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)