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Published on March 16th, 2013 | by Brook Taylor

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Tiny homes: For And Against

I first came across tiny homes about 4 years ago and they captivated me immediately.  Tiny homes are exactly that; very small homes – often built on flatbed trailers then placed on a site or pad like a mobile home. And tiny they are. In many cases these homes are as small as 80 square feet (or 7.4 square meters).

They have a massive cult following from folks want to live debt free or just live smaller, simpler lives. And because tiny homes crash head-on with so many of our established ideals, conventions and beliefs it’s not uncommon to find hostile comments on the web from people who seem quite offended (or threatened) by the very idea of tiny homes.

130 Square foot Fencl from Tumbleweed Tiny Homes

My first exposure to tiny homes came about discovering a banner ad for Tumbleweed Tiny Home Company.  Small and tiny homes have been around for since the dawn of man yet Tumbleweed, founded by Jay Shafer, are the first to break through into mainstream consciousness.  Maybe the folks at Tumbeweed are great at marketing or maybe with skyrocketing debt levels and environmental awareness the idea of tiny homes is simply an idea who’s time has come. Jay and his tiny homes have been featured on prime time television from many major news networks to talk shows like Oprah; exposure on a scale most businesses only dream about.  He got there because he’s worked hard, loves what he does and the subject of house and home is something all of us can relate to (and have an opinion about!)

Tiny house kitchen

That’s not to say Tumbleweed is the only fish in the pond. Pre-made tiny homes and tiny home blueprints are offered by many others such as PAD Tiny House Company and Tiny House Talk. A quick Google search reveals a thriving tiny house community of blogs and businesses around the world.

Here’s my take on the pro’s and cons of living in approximately 100 square feet.

Advantages of Tiny Homes

Low cost

If you care about dollars and your bottom line, tiny homes are hard to beat. You can build one yourself for around fifteen to twenty thousand dollars – or – have one built for you for about double that.  People who live in tiny homes have significantly lower fixed expenses and can afford to cool things (like saving more, traveling more and eating out more.)  Some extra frugal folks further  reduce their building costs (often by thousands of dollars) by planning in advance and salvaging discarded construction materials before they start construction.

Low impact

If you’ve got an eco lean about you, the tiny home will make you feel good about living in a shelter that uses minimal materials to keep you safe and sound. Not only are far less materials used in the construction phase but much less of those materials end up in the landfill as construction waste too.

Low maintenance

Goes without saying, the maintenance on a small place is less than on a bigger place in both time and money.  Spend less time keeping your home clean and more time doing what’s important to you.  And when the time comes, spend less money for repairs and maintenance.

Low bills

This one is about money as well.  It costs less to heat and light a small space than a big space. If you compare the energy costs for a tiny home to a regular place you save a small fortune in utility bills

Portability

Not all, but many tiny homes are specifically designed to be built on flatbed trailers – you know the one’s you often see with vehicles on them getting towed behind pickup trucks. The dimensions on most tiny homes take into account legal heights and widths that are legally towable without special licenses  and therefore the typical tiny house is as mobile as a typical trailer.  You’ll need a pad to site it on (much like a regular trailer) and hookups of course but the ability to move your home around if you want is pretty sweet. If you ever get sick of your neighbors or the view, moving house isn’t a huge deal because you take it with you

Less stuff

As Tyler Durden once said “…the stuff you own, ends up owning you.”  There is liberation in having less things in our lives.  Most of us probably buy too much stuff we don’t need, hardly use and most of it doesn’t really improve our quality of life.  Living in a tiny home forces you to be a far more conscious consumer because you simply don’t have the space to store all the junk stuff you accumulate living in a regular size home.

Better finishing

My wife and I have spent our fair share of time house hunting and if you’ve done the same, you’ll probably agree that aside from higher end homes aimed at higher income bracket folks, most new house builds are finished on the cheap.  They use materials such as laminate flooring with rich “wood prints”, linoleum with beautiful printed “tile patterns”, and then clad these homes with “wood textured” vinyl-siding – essentially clever plastics in various disguises.  Our modern homes try to give the impression of being higher end than they actually are because we humans love these textures and colors.  It’s not always the case, however, in a tiny home the finishing often exhibits a higher quality of materials and workmanship. Craftsmanship that larger homes try to fake.

Disadvantages of Tiny Homes

Small

They don’t call them tiny homes for nothing.  I’m not sure if there is an actual size limit for a house to qualify as “tiny” however most of the floor plans I’ve seen top out at about 170 square feet maximum for the towable versions.  Great if you’re living on your own or as a couple, however raising a family in one of these would be hellish.

Stigma?

I don’t know about this one (I’m really digging deep here) but maybe in some circles there is some kind of stigma for living in a such a small place.  I think they’re cool yet I’m sure somewhere someone looks down on such bizarre quarters.

Can you think of any other pros and cons I should add to this list?  (I was really struggling for cons)

Images by Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

Tiny homes: For And Against
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