By Ellen Samsell Salas
Is bigger really better, or does smaller sing to your psyche? Could you find happiness in 500 square feet of inventively designed and aesthetically inviting space? Could you forego square footage to enjoy fewer financial worries, less maintenance, and more free time?
Whether a tiny house begins as a cargo container or a kit, a cottage built from the foundation up, or a manufactured model, tiny homes are psychologically and ecologically friendly. At 10,000 and counting, they are the choice of retirees wanting to downsize, first-time homeowners seeking smaller mortgages, and parents choosing a simpler lifestyle for their families. Tiny homes can be permanent or mobile, the perfect getaway for that lot in the mountains, unique rental spaces, or one’s very own castle.
Where To Call Home?
Deciding whether one wants a tiny house on a permanent site or a “tiny home on wheels” (THOWs) is the first step to living tiny. Some potential owners have their dream location already chosen; others want to be mobile. The choice impacts not only the owner’s happiness but also how the house is built and its cost.
Do-It-Yourself or Ready-Made?
Having a vision is the next step. Those who want to design and build their own house can tap into their imagination and know-how. Tiny homes can be customized to look like cottages, tree houses, log cabins, or the essence of contemporary design.
More often, buyers turn to tiny home manufacturers who offer several models while also helping with financing, zoning requirements, and tailoring their models to fit each client’s desires. While some models adhere to RV standards, design, craftsmanship, and greener materials distinguish tiny homes from typical RVs.
Tiny living does present some hurdles. Party animals need to downsize their entertaining options, and pack rats need to curb their penchant for collecting things.
Whether the home is to be built on a foundation or is a THOW, zoning laws as well as water and power sources need to be checked. Those who opt for a THOW must consider the sizes allowed on U.S. highways, and they must own a truck capable of towing the home or be willing to engage a professional tractor trailer service.
THOW owners also need to plan ahead, know where they will park, the length of allowable stays, and whether power hook-ups are offered. Those who want to spend time with the grandkids need to realize that not all people welcome a “granny flat” moving into the neighborhood.
Easier on the Wallet
Once these hurdles are overcome, living small is definitely easier on the wallet. With an average cost of $52,000 (RubyHome.com/blog/tiny-home-stats), tiny homes do not approach the $336,000 median cost of a traditional home in Georgia (RedFin.com/state/Georgia/housing-market). Nationwide, 68% of tiny home owners are mortgage-free. Factor in the lower cost of utilities and maintenance, and savings really add up.
Easier on the Environment
Tiny houses are eco-friendlier than the standard single-family home. Many are built with recycled materials, use solar power, compost waste, and collect rainwater. Tiny homes can also be designed with RV plug-in capability or stubbed out like a traditional home. No matter which options they rely on, tiny homes use only a fraction of the energy larger homes require.
Nourishment for the Soul
At the heart of tiny home appeal are stunning, sometimes whimsical exterior and interior design, and ingenious layouts. These tiny havens can include a kitchen, living and dining areas, bedrooms, office space, a bathroom, and laundry space.
Many tiny homes are designed so that high ceilings give a sense of space, and windows with minimal or no window treatments flood the home with light and bring the outdoors inside. Owners often choose to use light neutral colors on walls, accented by occasional splashes of bright hues; others add charm and character to their homes by mixing contemporary style with vintage wallpapers, area rugs, and furniture.
Clever use of space is key to a tiny home’s comfort. Lofts that serve as bedrooms or offices take advantage of what would be ceiling area; sliding doors and retractable panels take up minimal space while also ensuring some privacy. Drawers are built into stairs, and space under flooring can be used for storage. Also, furniture can be practical as well as attractive. Daybeds act as couches; folding chairs and wall-mounted desks open up space.
Tiny Homes Are Today's Dream Homes
Tiny homeownership has grown steadily since 2011. More dealers are available, and tiny home communities that offer power hookups, gardening plots, and neighbors who have also embraced the smaller-is-better lifestyle are taking hold in permitted areas.
Are you in the 56% of American adults who would consider making a tiny house their dream home? A labor of love that helps the environment while feeding the soul?
Amig.com, Exploratoryglory.com, OperationTinyHome.org, Redfin.com/state/Georgia/housing-market, RubyHome.com, TinyHouseBlog.com; Valdenebro, Macarena Abascal. Tiny Homes Maximum Style. Berkeley: Gingko Press, Inc., 2020; Ed., Caroline McKenzie. CountryLiving. Tiny Homes: Living Big in Small Spaces. HEARST books