What Is A Tiny House?

You’ve probably heard the term “tiny house” – maybe “micro home” or “tiny home.” They are all referring to the same thing. A living space that is small.

“There is currently no set definition of what constitutes as a tiny house, however a residential structure under 500 square feet (46 m2) is generally accepted to be a tiny home.” source: Wikipedia

Are tiny houses new?

They aren’t as new as most people think. Lester Walker wrote a book called The Tiny Book of Tiny Houses in ….get this… 1993. In his book he showcased 17 small living spaces that had already been built and lived in for years. They might not be the popular style we see today with a house built on a trailer, but they are tiny houses.

If you start researching the tiny house movement, sooner or later you will come across the name Jay Shafer. He built his first tiny house around 1992. One of his tiny house designs was awarded “Most Innovative Design” in Natural Home Magazine’s 1999 House of the Year Contest [Did you catch that? 1999!]  and Jay decided to start his own company building tiny houses. He has influenced many people to live small and as efficient as possible with his company, plans, books, videos, and more.

The tiny house movement started growing even faster around 2007-2008 due to financial crisis and people not being able to afford large homes. It’s picked up speed and grown in popularity due to YouTube videos, conferences, and mainstream TV shows. Now, in 2016, most people have at least heard something about tiny houses.

It’s not just an American movement. People all around the world are interested in tiny house living.

Are tiny houses just a fad? If the tiny house revolution is a fad it sure has lasted for a long time already! They might fade back out of the limelight of main stream news, but I think it will continue to be a way of life for a lot of people for many years to come.

Are tiny houses a fad?

If the tiny house revolution is a fad it sure has lasted for a long time already! They might fade back out of the limelight of main stream news, but I think it will continue to be a way of life for a lot of people for many years to come.

Obviously there are situations where a house on wheels is not a good fit for people, but there are many other types of micro homes for those that want to embrace a simplified lifestyle.

There are many, many styles of tiny houses. The houses built on trailers have been popularized through mainstream news outlets; but there are many other tiny house designs.

  • Yurt /teepee
  • Tree house
  • Hobbit hole
  • Beach house
  • Cabins / Cottage
  • City houses
  • Buses / Vans / Trucks
  • Houseboats
  • Garage
  • Shipping container
  • Modular / Prefab
  • Cob house / Earthship
  • Capsule / Pod

Tiny House vs. RV

You might be thinking, “Why not just get an RV?” If you are going to be traveling down the road a lot an RV is a better option. After all, tiny houses are not aerodynamic and not designed to be constantly on the move – although some have done it.

Often the thinking behind the tiny house lifestyle is to save money and energy. Many tiny house owners don’t intend to move their tiny house – or not very often if they do. They just want a more cost efficient way to live.

When you boil it down camping trailers are better for those who need more mobility and are content with giving up comfortable year-round living and some aesthetics. Tiny houses are better for those who intend to mostly stay put, need the year-round comfort from the weather, and want a custom home. Read the rest of the article with a great comparison of tiny houses vs. camping trailers.

Tiny houses are built to last for years because they are made from materials similar to ones used to build regular houses. They are better insulated and can be lived in through northern winters. Tiny houses have a different feel because of the design and vertical height that RVs do not have. Last, but not least, many tiny house owners design the structure to be off grid with propane appliances, composting toilets, and sometimes, solar panels.

Finances are a big factor with many of the people that move into tiny houses. They want to get out of debt, save money, lower their all around expenses, or just have an affordable place of their own.

That doesn’t mean that tiny houses are naturally inexpensive. They can be. A lot of people use as many recycled and found items as they can to reduce the overall cost. There is a man in California that uses found items to build small structures for the homeless that cost less than $100. On the other hand, there are luxurious tiny houses that cost up to $75,000 or more to finish. It all depends on what the owner wants.

Part of the beauty of the tiny house movement is that the house can be whatever you want it to be. There is not one purpose for having a tiny house. You don’t even have to be a minimalist. You can customize your home to your needs. Want to build one yourself? Go for it. Buy some plans or create your own design. Choose new materials or recycled/reclaimed materials. Want to hire someone else to build one? There are lots of contractors with different price points that will work with you. There are even some people moving out of their tiny house and looking to sell. The possibilities are endless; and that only adds to the intrigue.

Hopefully, this article gave you a little bit more information about what a tiny house is, or could be. If you have a question about tiny houses or information you think should be included please leave a comment!

 

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