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I’m from Texas, so it may be surprising that I’d like to start out by saying: Bigger is NOT always better. Tiny houses are the growing trend in home building. Recently, I designed several houses for FYI’s “Tiny House Nation” and I’m convinced it can be a great option—perhaps even for you.
Homeowners are taking the plunge to downsize in major ways across this country taking up tiny living, but there are two questions I’m always asked regarding the subject: Why? This is followed shortly by, “How?”
Let’s be real: Going from 2,600 SF to 400 SF can be daunting. Why would a family CHOOSE to make this move? Take a look at some of the pros to tiny homes below and respond honestly for yourself. You might be surprised.
I have to ask, why does one buy a big house in the first place? Our culture perceives that bigger a house means more wealth…and more wealth equals more happiness, right??? (Not necessarily).
Online calculators can help you determine how much house you can afford. In fact, these calculators rarely ask anything beyond your net income, savings, debt and monthly payments. Show me a calculator that asks what your other financial dreams are. Experiences outside of a home that motivate healthy living should also be considered: travel, hobbies, and social events must factor into your budget.
What about the family that would rather spend their disposable income on camping, boating, travel or just good ‘ole adventure together? Making the shift to a ‘tiny living’ lifestyle will give you the freedom to spend more of your income outside the four walls of your home. Less square footage is simply less of a financial burden. If you’d rather spend money on dance lessons, cooking lessons, eating out, entertainment or simply want to make the world your oyster, the tiny living lifestyle might be right for you.
Often, tiny homes are built on gooseneck trailers, so you can literally pull take your home on the road when you get the itch to fly.
Tiny homes are usually between 150 – 600 SF. The impact or footprint of these homes on our planet is significantly less. Savings on materials, heating and cooling costs, and products developed to take the home “off the grid,” tiny homes are less intrusive to our environment. Take for example the solar powered composting toilets seen in many tiny homes–waste evaporates by solar power. Less space means you need to do more with less, which helps reduce your footprint.
As a traveler myself, I’ve realized over the miles that we really don’t need as much ‘stuff’ as we think we do. Clutter in our homes can increase the chaos in our lives. Perhaps the greatest sacrifice of living small is weeding out what you don’t NEED. Storage comes at a premium in these homes. We utilize every inch of space and have little room for anything outside of essentials. Initially this can be the greatest challenge in making the lifestyle shift, but most clients we follow up with truly don’t miss the very things they thought they couldn’t live without.
With smaller square footage comes an increased need to pay attention to all the details. There is a level of flexibility in tiny house designing that allows homeowners to make it their own.
Now maybe you’re considering jumping on the tiny house bandwagon. Let’s move on.
I’ve noticed homeowners taking the tiny house living by storm have done their research. As with any investment, consider your options. Look at products on the market that will enable you to build effectively to your unique needs. Check out refrigerator drawer units, space saving water heaters and solar powered composting toilets.
If you plan to move your home, consider the local highway restrictions for traveling units. In fact, when we design tiny homes, we must consider the weight of certain finishes, so the home doesn’t become too heavy to pull with certain non-commercial trucks and licenses. This isn’t the home where you cover your shower walls in granite.
Building a tiny home is a little different. Try to find a builder or architect that specializes in this genre. Defining space for your specific needs is critical. Staircase risers are perfect storage for books, towels and cookware. Often the dining table folds out from the wall. Consider the daily routines of your family and remember them while planning your tiny home layout. At one point during Tiny Home Nation, I had to fit a staircase, dining room table and washer/dryer into a 90 SF home and we did it! There’s always a way!
This is the key word. Going tiny is a commitment. Some comforts must be sacrificed—you might have not a dishwasher or Jacuzzi tub, but you do have more peace of mind financially and mentally, as you free yourself from excess and clutter.
So why are tiny homes trending? Because many homeowners are getting smarter and more creative with designing within their means. Thoughtful design is in style.
I think back to the childhood story of the three little bears, and the chair that was “too big” and “too small” and finally the one that was “just right!” So, my encouragement…live in a home that just feels just right for you.