We watched a marathon of tiny house themed shows on HGTV yesterday and it got me thinking, they need to follow up with these people and see how long they actually live in these tiny homes. These are homes that range from less than one hundred square feet to less than two hundred square feet. Often these are actually built on a trailer chassis, including wheels and a hitch so you can tow the home to vacant land that you either rent or own. It’s a huge trend throughout North America. People choose tiny houses for various reasons: downsizing, de-cluttering, budget, mobility. And most of the world likely lives in spaces not much larger than what would be considered a tiny house.
But, of course, I have a few problems with tiny homes based on what I’m seeing in these shows. These houses are probably ok if you’re single and don’t have any pets. The people though I’m seeing more on these shows are couples, sometimes with kids and / or large dogs of all things. I want to see how many of them live in that small of space after say a weekend. I don’t know if the industry publishes any research into it, but I’d put money down that there is a huge percentage of buyer’s remorse. One hundred square feet is not enough space for two people and a large dog to live sanely. How these people don’t know this going into the process I don’t know.
These “houses” do pack in a ton of style and organization into a small package, that is certain. There are issues with the fundamentals though. Let’s take a look at my pros and cons…many of which are on both sides of the ledger.
Downsizing: Making more out of less is a great concept that tiny homes take to the utter extreme. These homes force you to get rid of EVERYTHING, whether you think you need it or not. If you have a cat, you’re lucky if space for a litter box in one of these homes. You eat, sleep and entertain in the same space. This is a great tenet of contemporary living.
Style: These homes are seemingly always custom made so you can outfit it to match your style, with little to no added cost. From contemporary chic to rustic cabin charm, there is a tiny home to suit your style.
Cost: Owning a tiny home could free up money so you can pay off debt, travel, or just have more freedom to do what you want. With no space to store anything it also cuts down on your ability to by stuff because you’ll have no where to put it. Note: A tiny house in San Francisco costs $550,000, so no they are not inexpensive, but they are less expensive overall relative to a traditional house. Lower or no utility costs as well in many instances.
Mobility: Being able to move your tiny home in and of itself is actually great. The problem is, how often are you planning on moving it? Is it worth having to live in a tiny trailer on wheels that gets moved once every few years? And if you’re moving it that often, why not just buy a mobile home, or travel trailer which will do a better job with space and amenities?
Design: tiny homes are build like regular homes basically but on a smaller scale, and something is lost in translation. I feel like motor homes, boats and travel trailers do a better job with shared space, sleeping quarters, bathrooms and even entertainment.
Size: In their effort to be small I think they go too far, unless you’re single, in which case they’re probably okay. There is no “away” space unless you go outside which can be prohibitive in the winter. The bathrooms are extremely small, and sleeping quarters are no better. I just get a real clausterphobic vibe whenever I see these tiny homes. A vibe that would likely go away with just fifty or a hundred more square feet to spare
So this got me thinking, what would I do different? Observing this tiny house craze has made me circle back and appreciate the ‘Not So Big House’ philosophy of home living. I really think that with just a little more space, maybe sacrifice the ability to move the house, you can have all the pluses of a tiny house along with the sanity of not living in a compromised box on wheels. A not so big house can be a cleverly remodeled existing home. It can be a small new home that preserves the property it is on. And it can even be mobile in the form of a nicely appointed trailer or motor home. I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t done hardcore research into tiny homes; where they’ve been and where they are going, but do know a thing or two about home construction, home ownership, as well as design, and even motor homes and trailers. With that being said, let’s start hashing out what a better tiny home might look like…stay tuned, I’ll share my miscellaneous ramblings as I create them and we’ll see if we can come up with anything better.
The goal is not to be small for the sake of small, but rather how much space to we need to live, work and play in, and how can we maximize the pros and minimize the cons
I started jotting down some notes – what spaces are critical, and what qualities do they have. Also blocking out some shared function spaces to get in the mood.