Tiny Home with a porch light.

 

 

    By: Sarah Udelhofen 6 October, 2015. 

 

“In 1950, the average size for new homes was 983 square feet; the average household had 3.37 occupants. In 2010, the average size of new homes was 2,392 square feet with 2.59 occupants” according to David Friedlander of LifeEdited.

The average size of a family has decreased slightly over 60 years, but when did we decide we needed 317% more space? Do I really want to clean this many rooms? How many bathrooms does my family actually need? Why is my energy bill so high?

These are the kinds of questions that motivate the tiny house movement.

Tiny Heirloom on lake

You may have recently flipped the channel to Tiny House Nation or Tiny House Hunters; maybe you’re a fan of Pinterest and have squealed at the adorable, doll-like houses. You might have come across an article about living with less, or even seen a news feature about a bold couple building their own tiny home.

My guess is that you were either: completely enthralled by the concept, utterly disgusted, or just plain bewildered. WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO LIVE IN SUCH A SMALL SPACE?

The tiny home movement is spreading fast, and I’m here to get you up to speed on what in the world is going on.

Basically, back in the 1830s, the United States population grew significantly, resulting in a strain on housing, and the rise of slums. To keep people from living in unhealthy, dangerous, and uncomfortable situations, housing regulations were developed. These included a minimum square footage size for a “habitable dwelling”, which also guarantees that the house generates a certain amount of tax revenue. Generally, the home must be at least 300 to 500 square feet, plus more space for each additional occupant of the house. The regulations also include details about plumbing, heating, electrical systems, number of bathrooms, and more (all of these details vary depending on your town or city’s laws).

Tiny house with grass 


If your structure does not meet these requirements, it could be condemned.

In 1997, after living a minimalistic lifestyle for a number of years, Jay Shafer completed his first tiny home and moved into it full time. He is the true pioneer of this movement, with a number of other known names such as Dee Williams, who moved into her tiny house in 2004.

What is a tiny house?

A tiny house is generally described as a structure Guy in tiny housethat is 200 square feet or less (typically 8.5 feet wide by 12 to 24 feet long), and built on a flatbed trailer. They are designed quite efficiently, to meet the needs of the person who will live in them.

Why are people doing this?

1) Those who are pursuing the tiny life have decided that they do not need those 2,000+ square feet to live a comfortable, fulfilling life. In 2012, UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families published Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors mapped the location of parents and children in the afternoon and evenings for two days. They found that “68% of the family’s time was spent either in the kitchen or in the family room, near the TV and computer”. On average, families used only about 400 square feet of the 1000 square feet of their first floor. Tiny houses are designed very efficiently, so that you’re only living with what you need.

House floorplan use.2) Another significant pull towards tiny homes is the financial freedom they can provide. “The outstanding domestic debt of the household and home mortgage sector in 1950 was $411 billion (adjusted for inflation). Currently, that same figure is $9.7 trillion. While the population has doubled and home ownership has increased, this is still an increase of over 23 times.”(LifeEdited). Homes are expensive. And when it’s paired with the fact that much of the space goes unused, this is especially off putting to potential new buyers. Tiny homes can provide an alternative.

3) Many tiny house enthusiasts become interested in the movement for environmental reasons. You’re building a home with fewer materials (and can thus choose more sustainable options, even if it costs a bit more), resulting in less production, transportation of materials, and disposal (down the road). They use less electricity (and can even be off-grid!), sometimes have composting toilets, and force you to think about where your water will go.

 

Tiny house interior with dog

4) The environmental reasons roll over to lifestyle choices. Those who live in a tiny house will have a defined amount of space to put their stuff; therefore, they must choose wisely what items are important enough to stay in their life. Because of this, they purchase less, spend more time outside their home, support local businesses, and engage in the community more frequently.

Those who decide to take the leap and live tiny can be considered quite extreme, and they often know that. But it is a completely personal decision. They aren’t trying to impose these constraints on the rest of the population. They are simply doing their part to lessen their impact on the earth, and to live what they believe is a happier life.

There are many stages in between living in a 2,392 square foot home and a 100 square foot home. Maybe when you see these articles, shows, and stories, it will encourage you to clean out the storage closet that’s been piled high, or make you second-guess replacing your 10 year old couches in the formal room. Or it could simply remind you to spend more time outside your home.

If this topic sparked your interest, you may want to peruse the following:

– Life Edited: Design your life to include more money, health, and happiness with less stuff, space, and energy www.lifeedited.com

– The Minimalists: living a meaningful life with less stuff www.theminimalists.com

– Tiny House Talk: small space freedom www.tinyhousetalk.com

– Tiny House Giant Journey: Jenna & Guillome are traveling the US, living in their tiny

house www.tinyhousegiantjourney.com

 

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