The small house or ‘tiny’ house movement is not just an ideology. Many people, all over the world are literally moving into small homes by choice. Some are in high-price city centre areas, some are in communities and are some are totally off-grid. This unexpected movement flies in the face of western cultures which have traditionally viewed bigger as better. Average house sizes in the USA have increased dramatically in the last two decades, which has partly led to the jibe about ‘McMansions’; cheaply, hastily constructed large detached homes with lots of space but little individuality. So ask yourself, would you live in a tiny house?
The smallest recorded home in the Guinness Book of Records was the cube at 2m2 and while you probably wouldn’t want to live there, many tiny homes are functional, comfortable and desirable. Would you move into a tiny house? Read on and you might be surprised at what a good idea it might be.
To qualify as a small house your property is probably less than 80m2 although there are no hard and fast rules. There are many good reasons to choose this lifestyle, but these were the most common ones we encountered in our research.
Downsizing to Tiny – Top 10 Reasons
- Home cost – a small house costs less to build, maintain and run
- Eco values – less square footage per person is better for the planet
- Homes for green living – many small houses are energy and waste self-sufficient
- Prime location – a smaller property in a better area
- Quality over quantity – focus on less, with better design and materials
- The property crash – many sold up larger properties to pay off debts
- Confidence in future property market – people more wary of debt
- Anti-consumerism – many people now want less ‘stuff’ and clutter
- Rural or Isolated Locations – Sometimes tiny is the only option for regulated land or locations off-grid
- Community Living – Tiny homes surrounding shared facilities
At one end of the spectrum you will find tiny homes created by DIY enthusiasts with low cost materials and rustic finishes. 16 year-old Austin Hay spent his summer pocket money and free time to build his own home.
Obviously the attraction here is the low cost involved and also because it’s fun. The other end of the scale sees small home owners with meticulous attention to detail who want to use every possible inch of space and make it beautiful and comfortable. Many discerning small house owners use a specialist consultant and are looking for the kind of bespoke craftsmanship that we only usually see on a luxury yacht. Clever space saving ideas can transform a space from a bed-in-a-shed to an ergonomically designed, elegant, unique living space.
Space Saving Ideas
Clever use of space is obviously critical when designing a small home. With more people living alone than ever before there has been a huge amount of innovation in products for small homes. Nifty gadgets and multi-functional furniture can make all the difference. If you are interested in space saving ideas why not look at our post Space saving ideas for small homes.
Small Home Stories
Dee Williams from Portland USA paid $10,000 to build her tiny home on a trailer after an eye opening trip to Guatemala. Her tiny house is completely self-sufficient and was built from mainly recycled materials.
Derek Diedricksen of Www.Relaxshacks.com creates homes and spaces from shipping containers such as this Surf Shack built and designed by Hartman Kable. Located south of Seattle, this container home is ultra-modern and employs some very clever transforming and space saving techniques. This is not technically a home, but certainly could be.
Mark Burton from Tiny House UK began his business building high quality garden sheds. He later branched out into small houses eventually exhibiting his award winning designs at Grand Designs Live. Most tiny house enthusiasts live in the USA but the movement has spread across many other parts of the world.
Small houses and small house communities are not a new idea. Craven Street in Toronto, Canada was established for over 100 years ago and retains a kind of cult status because of its tiny houses. The gentrification of the area is now transforming the street houses from wooden shacks to more sophisticated brick and stone dwellings as the area becomes increasingly popular. The houses of Craven Street were originally small because of the narrow plots and road, but eco and cost-conscious tiny home owners have since discovered many more reasons why small is beautiful.