There are many alternatives to the standard ways of building houses. One solution that has become increasingly common are tiny houses.
There is no strict definition of a tiny house but it is usually a house that is intended to circumvent the local by-laws of what constitutes a house. This means that a tiny house is treated more like a mobile home and therefore doesn’t have the same building restrictions as a normal permanent house. For this reason most tiny houses are on wheels and they are limited by the height restrictions on a road-worthy vehicle.
Tiny houses are sustainable
The movement towards tiny houses has happened for a variety of reasons.
Some people choose it primarily as an eco-friendly option with a small ecological footprint. The size of a dwelling is a major determinant on how sustainable it is. The smaller the dwelling the less material resources and embodied energy it uses. Also, less energy and resources are required to heat, cool and maintain it over the long term.
It is a way for people to live simply and downsize their material needs and therefore live more authentically and not be yoked to a huge mortgage and payments.
Tiny houses are affordable
The cost of building a tiny house can be considerably less than a standard house because they are so small. For many who choose a tiny house, it is a way to get onto the property-ownership ladder at a lower cost and reduce rent while they save for a larger home.
Tiny houses suit certain people
Tiny houses are very small so they are not for everyone. It is good to remember there was a time when nearly all habitations were tiny. People can thrive in quite small spaces. Most tiny houses that are road-worthy have a footprint of around 11 m2 (or 120 ft2). With the use of lofts for a bedroom and storage you can increase the usable space by 20-30%.
“Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it.”
– Leonardo Da Vinci
A tiny house is probably best suited for a single person (I would certainly live in one if I was single!). Tiny houses also suit couples who don’t mind getting under each other’s feet on a regular basis and who don’t both work from home. My partner and I both work from home and a tiny house wouldn’t be big enough for that.
People have said that tiny homes don’t offer the sense of solidness that a house does – both in a physical sense but also in an emotional sense. Since they are on wheels, albeit with stabilising blocks on each corner, there can always be a little movement. On the emotional side, tiny houses lack solidity because unless you own the piece of land you are on there is the uncertainty of renting or borrowing land to live on. Then again they are mobile so you can move relatively easily.
I don’t think that size should be a marker of solidity though. It must be remembered that for many people in the world a tiny house is a normal-sized house. Whatever stigma and other downsides there might be with a tiny house there is more upside, at least for certain people. For many people it is not necessarily a permanent solution but rather an attractive temporary step on the path to greater well-being.
Living big in a tiny house
Fellow kiwi, Bryce Langston, started a YouTube channel called ‘Living Big in a Tiny House’ in 2013 to showcase the new trend of tiny house building that was emerging. Since then Bryce has filmed hundreds of case studies from around the world and his channel has over 4 million subscribers, and growing. Check out Bryce interviewing a couple who have completed an inspiring tiny house build below.