The Tiny House Phenomenon

The concept of living in a tiny house (100-400 sq ft) keeps persistently emerging on social media sites…..Facebook is where I see it come up regularly.  A one time, a living space this size would be considered the sole preserve of the poor, destitute and desperate.  Today, tiny homes are increasingly looking like the “dream home” for many people.  What is so appealing about this idea?

First, a quick background into this sort of home.  These homes are designed with a small footprint, but usually employ many brilliant space saving ideas which make 300 sq ft quite livable.  Ideas such as multi-use space where you pull a Murphy bed down out of the wall, and your living room becomes your bedroom, or the bed folds up into a diningroom table.  Spaces can be small, but still very attractive and useful.  Here are some interior pictures of the house in the lead picture of this blog.

Some of these homes are on wheels, making them even less costly.  At this time, you don’t need a building permit to move a home like this onto a building lot.  Obviously though, if this phenomenon takes off, many restrictive regulations will follow.

Minim House - 09Minim House - 16Minim House - 12

Looks pretty livable to me, for one or two people anyway.

Here is how the costs can break down:


Add to that, these homes are so small that it is easy to place them “off grid” to generate their own power, compost their own waste and simply not require a building lot that costs $60,000 just to install services these days, plus the cost of the land.

So what’s with all the interest in this sort of living?  Here are a few things that people like about this idea from what I can see:

1. Freedom from the financial burden of a big, expensive home.

Society is moving toward an experience-based living rather than material-based living.  So people are beginning to create their happiness in terms of their experiences rather than how much stuff they own. Without the financial burden of a big house, it opens up lots of possibilities that people can afford to do rather than just barely paying the mortgage payments, utility costs and maintenance cost and work of a big house.

2.Clutter freedom.  

You would have to get rid of your stuff (junk?) by the boatload if you moved into a tiny house.  You would keep only the items that you really need for a comfortable life, no more and no less.

3.Tiny environmental footprint.  

This is probably where this phenomenon started.  Small homes like this use up small amounts of land and belch out far less toxins into the environment.  I think most people buy into this idea, although most are not likely make a move like this for this reason only.  However, in combination with the huge cost savings, environmentalism looks quite doable.

Here is a pictorial of what’s going on in this sector:


This sector is growing fast but it remains to be seen if it will ever become mainstream or will die out as a passing “fad”.  Personally, I think what will happen is that this trend will also influence a new trend in conventional housing for smaller, more space efficient homes.  The last decade has featured new homes averaging around 2200 sq ft or more and particularly with an aging society, something much smaller and space-efficient will become more popular.

Thanks to this article for all the great pictures.   There are more pictures and commentary in that article as well as links to more articles on this subject.

The saying that age “50 is the new 40” may soon be mirrored in housing where we will say “small is the new big”!


5 thoughts on “The Tiny House Phenomenon

  1. We’re downsizing to a 700 square foot bungalow by renovating the space to make it highly functional. So, we’re somewhat inspired by the tiny house movement, although I’d call it a small house. Once the renovation is complete, I’ll blog on the results.

  2. Urban planners need to come to grips with this issue. There is a lot of property in older neighbourhoods that would accommodate a second home. Probably a lot of the resistance to such housing would disappear if there were standards of design and quality adopted to ensure the neighbourhood’s integrity were preserved. I think the greatest resistance would come from people worried that ‘tar paper shacks’ might be erected to be rented to low income people.

    When we reach a certain stage of life we end up shedding stuff to fit into a room in a lodge. How much better to shed the stuff and remain more independent. Say you bequest your big home to your adult children with 4 children and relocate on the same property in a ‘tiny’ house.

    The biggest hurdle would be in my opinion the NIMBY reaction.

  3. I have really enjoyed looking at many of the tiny house plans. Even though i am more interested in building a small cottage of approx. 700-800 sq. ft. one bedroom up with a developed basement that has large windows.
    It is good to see all the tiny plans and photo’s for new ideas, new ways of thinking.

    Keep up the good work!

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