Tiny Houses Have A Big Impact
It started in 1997 in Iowa City when Jay Shafer built his first tiny house. An artist and designer with an interest in sustainable architecture, he figured he could design a comfortable living space for himself in an area about the size of some people's closets. At just 89 square feet, Jay's house was too small to be allowed on a city lot, so he put it on wheels and named it " Tumbleweed" and figured he could park it on a lot somewhere in town.
But you know how it goes-- The city fathers said the wheels made it a trailer and sorry, no trailers allowed within the city limits. So, at a time when builders were thinking about 4000 square ft. meadow mansions and buyers were slavering over granite counters and great rooms, Jay Shafer bought a house with a big back yard in Iowa City just so he could park his "Tumbleweed" house there and live in it.The main house? well, he rented it out for income and thus Jay found his life's work and the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company was born.
Today, from his headquarters in Sebastapol California, Jay offers a variety of designs for living in spaces between 65 and 875 square feet. He'll sell you the plans or build the house for you-- or he'll custom design something and you can hire a local builder or build it yourself. More and more tiny houses dot the American landscape-these days. There are more being erected in other parts of the world too.They come in a variety of sizes. Some are on wheels and can be moved from place to place. Others are set on a fixed foundation. Some are deep in the woods. Others are part of "pocket neighborhoods" springing up on empty urban lots. Tiny houses are also used as guest houses, offices, studios, and workshops on larger properties. They make great vacation homes. They are perfect too for co-housing groups such as seniors or artists and writers who want to live together but have their independence and their own private spaces. No matter what they are used for, tiny houses are cheaper to buy and maintain than ordinary dwellings and create a much smaller carbon footprint for their owners. No wonder they are growing in popularity.
Virtual Tour of the Original Tiny House
The Tiny House Movement
The tiny house movement is definitely taking off bigtime in the wake of the economic downturn and the upturn in environmental awareness. And make no mistake. It is definitely a movement. In 2002 Jay Shafer and three friends started the Small House Society whose mission is: " to support the research, development, and use of smaller living spaces that foster sustainable living for individuals, families, and communities worldwide." In the seven years of its existence it has garnered an enthusiastic worldwide membership and become an important voice for environmentally responsible small house living across the globe.
The society maintains a website of small house resources, and its active and ever growing membership provides networking and help for those who own tiny houses or want to. The society is on Facebook and maintains a Yahoo group as well. There are even a number of tiny house bloggers who outline the details and various aspects of tiny house living with great style and panache.
Tiny House Blogs and Info
Rowdykittens is written by Tammy, a sprightly advocate of tiny homes and simple living. She writes about both with wit and charm.
The Tiny House Blog is a wonderful compendium of information for anyone considering this lifestyle. It examines all the options, contains tons of wonderful photos and is very well done. Check out their Facebook page too.
Tiny House Design is full of kits, plans, design tips and much more. It is a terrific design resource. The latest post features the details of building a passive solar tiny house. What more could anyone want?
The Small Living Journal is an e-zine that is just starting up. It's being done by writers and bloggers who are also tiny house owners and from the introductory issue it looks like a must read for anyone interested in the subject.
Check out Tiny Homes. The Anti-McMansion -- a Fellow Hubber's excellent assessment of the advantages of tiny houses and what that means for the future
There is much more out there, including meet-ups, presentations, conventions,and the like.There are forums and discussions and much much more. Once you start exploring the web resources on tiny houses and tiny living, the enthusiasm gets to you. It is palpable. I keep thinking that this is just the beginning and I also think it is a very good and healthy idea.
The Future of Tiny Houses
The future looks bright for tiny houses. In the wake of the global financial meltdown and the collapse of the housing market, many people are re-thinking their priorities. As well they should. The American suburban lifestyle with cathedral ceilinged, multi-bathroomed, MacMansions on every cul-de-sac and three SUV's in the garage is unsustainable in today's world. You can practically hear consumer's wallets snapping shut as they search for a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle.Tiny houses are cheap to build, cheap to heat, and a snap to clean and maintain. Why buy a big house with a big mortgage and then work 30 years to pay it off? Why not go for a house you can build yourself in a couple of weeks and pay for with the eqivalent of a car loan?
The movement Jay Shaffer started in 1997 has grown exponentially. More and more builders are offering small and tiny houses as an option for customers. There's even a tiny house company in Texas. After hurricaine Katrina, some enterprising folks from New Orleans got in on the act and now build and sell their own version of tiny houses. Mark my words-- one of these days these mini mansions are going to have great re-sale value. Downsizing never looked so good.