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Tiny Homes. The Anti-McMansion.

Updated on January 12, 2012
Isn't she sweet!
Isn't she sweet! | Source

Example of a tiny house build.

The Simplest Of Living.

I believe that the days of the McMansion are pretty much over. With the economy and the housing bubble being what it is, more and more people are taking a step back to re-evaluate their situation in life and for many; the option to downsize into a smaller home is enticing if not mandatory.

Hundreds of thousands of folks have been foreclosed upon after losing their jobs and the prospect of living on the streets is frightening but I don’t think it has to be that way.

If push came to shove and one had to downsize both lifestyle and standard of living, a tiny house (one that’s about 100sq.ft.) can certainly be an option for some. Sure, those with large families may not want to live in such a home but for a small family or an empty nester looking to keep a roof over their heads, these types of homes may just fit the bill

With many manufactures offering fully pre-built models, pre-fabricated unassembled kits or even just blueprints, the variety and options available have grown tremendously in the last few years and for good reason.

The need for affordable housing options is on an upward growth trend. With the recession and the inescapable fact that millions of baby boomers are starting to hit retirement age I think the requirement for small, simple and energy efficient homes will be in demand for a long time to come.

With many Americans looking to simplify their lives, a tiny home may be the way to go. For those do it yourselfers, the simple design and affordable materials can mean saving thousands of dollars not having to pay a contractor to come in and build one. Conversely, since the home is so small, outsourcing and paying a builder to do all the work won’t break the bank either.

In many parts of the country the combined cost of the land and the home will be substantially less than purchasing an existing home even in a high foreclosure saturated market. And you gain the added benefit of knowing exactly what you’re getting. With a foreclosure, you may be walking straight into a money pit with multiple areas in the home requiring renovation or repair.

So what are some of the features in a tiny house?

  • Affordability. With construction costs as well as footprint, your getting much more return on a smaller investment.
  • Portability. Many of these homes have been built in such a way that they can be transported as easily as a camper trailer.
  • Energy Efficiency. Since your heating and cooling a much smaller amount of square footage, and if using the latest in energy efficient heating.cooling technologies, your utility bills would be minuscule compared to a traditional home.
  • You don't need to own land to own one. In many instances the home is designed to be portable and can be towed to almost any location whether it be an RV park, Mobile Home park or even a friend or families back yard.
  • They can help the environment. By using scrap lumber and recycled building materials you can not only save on the construction of the home but also help to keep these materials out of the landfill.

So many folks today are looking for alternatives to the big house and 30 year mortgage. Keeping up with the Jones' is no longer a smart living strategy and the quest to live simple, clutter free lives is enticing to more people than ever before. If your one of them, take action now to learn how to own a tiny home.

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    • MichelleRobert profile image

      Michelle Robert 5 years ago from Down by the River

      I live the tiny lifestyle and love it. I once had a professional job, big house, all the fixings. Now I live in the country, own a tiny house (my personal "playhouse") and live in a small house with my fiance. Oh my gosh, the freedom I have!! I only work when I want, freelancing on things I enjoy doing. We live on well less than $1000 a month and we live very well. I wish more people could live like this.

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Kept private 5 years ago from Northeast United States

      Good article. Have seen homes like these on tv. thought they were sheds at first. Perfect for someone who is a minimialist and single. Low taxes,utility bills and you don't have to worry about all the upkeep. Thank you for the article, enjoyed it!!

    • John J Gulley profile image
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      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Jason, understood. To have all that space and not put into use does seem to be a waste. Your plan on downsizing to a smaller home in none other than beautiful Montana is a great plan in my view. Go for it!

    • profile image

      Jason Garber 5 years ago

      In 1985 I bought my McMansion. Well to me it was a McMansion. I previously lived in a 600 sq ft apartment and moved into my 1200 sq ft home which I enlarged to 1400 sq ft by enclosing the patio. 1400 sq ft seems huge to me. I have been inside a 4000 sq ft home that one person lived in and it seemed like such a waste of resources. Now I am seriously thinking about a tiny home for a summer home in Montana. I've looked at several and love the idea.

    • John J Gulley profile image
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      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Robin, thanks for the feedback. You right about how downsizing can improve ones life. With the quest to acquire more and more stuff thinking it will make your life better, people sometimes find that their stuff becomes dead weight that drags you down and makes you feel overburdened with more and more responsibilities in order to keep what you have. It's a vicious cycle that can be broken. It just takes effort and time and a good plan.

    • profile image

      Robin Kemp 5 years ago

      Quality of life can sometimes be improved with downsizing. There are a vast array of new options for housing solutions. I appreciate your hub in showing off some of the new alternatives. Thanks.

    • sen.sush23 profile image

      Sushmita 5 years ago from Kolkata, India

      John, one issue with low cost housing in India is the extremes of climate that are there in different parts of the country. It applies to most South-Asian countries to some extent. The monsoon and the hurricanes are devastating- and so the question is easy re-construction, ability to withstand ravages of nature, insulation against too much heat or cold and yet be low cost. That is too much to ask, isn't it? :)

      Alternative housing solutions are being experimented, but often they cost a little more initially, even if the maintenance may be less.

    • John J Gulley profile image
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      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      @sen.sush23 Thanks for the comment! Another low cost housing alternative I've seen on the internet is the conversion of shipping containers into houses. Although not nearly as portable as a micro home on wheels, they nevertheless offer low cost and sturdy housing to developing parts of the world.

    • sen.sush23 profile image

      Sushmita 5 years ago from Kolkata, India

      Great Hub and very relevant to the current world economic situation. Voted up. Interesting and Useful Hub. In developing countries too alternative low cost housing is being hugely researched and applied; a house on wheels additionally resolves the problem of land constraint.

    • John J Gulley profile image
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      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Yes, that video grabbed me by the heart as well. In the de-clutter and minimalism area on the web Leo Babauta has an awesome blog called Zen Habits where he delves into this quite a bit. Lots of great content over there that you can use right away to get started in these areas of life.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image

      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I love the "Simplest of Living" video! Toward the end of last year, I started reading books such as "Simplify" and "Miss Minimalist: Inspiration to Downsize, Declutter, and Simplify." I really want to learn to live on less and do it in such a way as to decrease my carbon footprint and dependency upon electricity and technology within my home. I am lucky to already live in a small home and have never been into the McMansion trend, but this rising trend you share is great! I don't know that I would yet have the discipline to live in such a tiny space, but I love the idea that keeping up with the Jones may be a thing of the past and more people may start considering how we treat Mother Earth.

    • John J Gulley profile image
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      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      I'm with you. My wife and kids would go crazy if they had to live in a home this small. I am considering a set up like this as a getway shack/hunting cabin. I just have to find some prime land to put it on.

    • TandJ profile image

      TandJ 5 years ago

      I think I could live this way, but i'm more than positive my wife wont go for the idea. Great Article!

    • John J Gulley profile image
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      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      @jeyaramd, your welcome. I too am enamored with the teenie house with the wee fireplace. They remind me of the camp cabins people use as a temporary shelter when hiking in the back country. They provide just the basics needed to get out of the elements and are for me at least quite romantic

    • John J Gulley profile image
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      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      @ripplemaker, Thanks for the kind words. I believe if one were to downsize into a micro home as you've stated, choosing which items to put into it would be a challenge, forcing the new owner to either sell what they had in their old home or rent a storage unit to keep items that wouldn't fit.

    • jeyaramd profile image

      jeyaramd 5 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      Thank you for sharing. I have always loved a beautiful small home with a little fireplace. I love having an intimate and close arrangement at home. I like being able to reach out to those at home. A small home is perfect to build on those wonderful relationships. I am all for smaller is really bigger in terms of satisfaction. Great hub.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Looking at the tiny homes and how they organize stuff inside amazes me. This is certainly an alternative. Thanks for sharing!

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. This way, this way please to read and vote: http://redelf.hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub/The-Adv...

    • funnyfarm profile image

      funnyfarm 5 years ago from Arkansas

      Great piece. Food for thought. So many people bought into the McMansions and are now in deep trouble. This really makes sense. Especially for retirees.

    • John J Gulley profile image
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      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      @wordscribe43, I am in the same boat. I have a family with 2 girls and these micro houses wouldn't fit with out lifestyle but if we were ever up against the decision of either foreclosure or eviction, I think I would reconsider this type of home as a viable alternative. Thanks for the kind words!

    • wordscribe43 profile image

      Elsie Nelson 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      There's something compelling about this lifestyle to me. No WAY could I do it now with my three kids, but who knows about the future? I sometimes get sick of the whole "bigger is better" phenomenon in America, the whole keeping up with the Jones' mantra. Anyway, very cool hub and great videos. Congrats on the Hubnugget nomination!

    • John J Gulley profile image
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      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Robie2, Your a sweetheart! Thanks for the link and I'll be sure to see that it works.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

      This is just great. I did a hub on the same subject a couple of years ago and I'm adding a link to this hub to it as soon as I publish this comment. Hope that's OK with you. The hub is called " Tiny Houses Have a Big Impact" if you want to check it out and see that I linked properly.

      Kudos and I am, of course, totally on the same page with you about McMansions:-) Voting up and awesome

    • John J Gulley profile image
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      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      @alocsin, Imagine if a large family to opt to live in one of those. I remember watching a youtube video a while back that profiled one family's journey living in a micro home. They seemed happy but I felt a certain level of tension underneath the surface.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Interesting hub! I prefer to live "smaller" but don't think I could live "tiny" unless I lived alone.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      These homes are very attractive to me, just because it's a challenge to live in such a small space. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • John J Gulley profile image
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      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Hey Dan, thanks. Your right. With the way the housing market has tanked and with millions of homes foreclosed upon, more and more of these types of home are going to crop up. Maybe not the ultra portable micro house but something a little bigger for larger families.

    • Outbound Dan profile image

      Dan Human 5 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      Great hub! I think that the tiny-home movement is one of the coolest housing revolution going on right now. You chose great videos too. Thanks!