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Tiny homes are huge

Small homes are a big topic in communities across the country. They are in the news and the subject of reality TV shows. There are numerous social media groups devoted to the topic. National conventions of loyal supporters meet online and in person to share information. Allow us to provide a petite overview.

Why Embrace Less Space

Tiny homes are attractive for a wide range of reasons, with the primary ones being simplifying life, saving money and protecting the environment.

  • Life simplified – If you want to purge the majority of stuff in your life, moving into what amounts to an oversized walk-in closet is a great motivator. Advocates say it's not about their dwelling space so much as it is about the life that is made possible by living there. They have eliminated all nonessential possessions and therefore have more freedom to live.
  • Money saved – One in three households spends more than 30% of income on housing. For renters, nearly 50 percent of their paycheck goes toward housing (CNN Money, December 2014). A tiny home costs less to build and to maintain over time. Financial freedom in this manner is appealing to Millennials and Baby Boomers alike.
  • Environment protected – Tiny home dwellers consume less energy. Some may install sustainable water systems and use solar power. They are committed to doing their part on behalf of the environment
Tiny home image

What qualifies as tiny?

There are basically two ways to downsize in this manner. A "tiny home" averages between 100 and 400 square feet and is usually built on wheels. Common dimensions are 8 feet by 20 feet, depending on if the home has a porch. Tiny homes can cost between $15,000 and $50,000 or more, depending on whether you build it yourself or pay someone.

An alternative option is the "small home," which is typically about 1,000 square feet and built on a foundation. Small homes can end up costing about the same to build as a larger home since materials cost money, no matter the size of the project.

In contrast, the average size of a new home built in 2014 was 2,453 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Just 8% of new homes had fewer than 1,400 square feet.

Sizeable considerations

There are some obstacles to consider before drawing up plans on your tiny home, starting with where will you put it? Municipalities enforce minimum dwelling size requirements that may prohibit you from parking it permanently, even if you own the land. RV parks may limit how long a tiny home can stay there.

In terms of financing, tiny houses don't qualify for home loans, and some lenders don't view them as a recreational vehicle either.

Considering that the phrase "tiny home" was not in our vocabulary even 10 years ago, it may be too early to tell if they are here to stay or merely a fad. But if you are intrigued by the topic, you can easily find plenty of people who share your interest.