For some, the tiny house movement has become a way of life, adjusting to a smaller space and fewer possessions, with a goal of saving money and focusing on relationships and experiences.
“It’s just a tool to do what you want to do and get done in life,” says Ryan Mitchell, who lives in a 150-square-foot home he built himself in Charlotte, N.C. He decided to go tiny as a way to cut back on expenses and have more control over his life after being laid off from his first human resources job more than five years ago.
“I realized at that moment that hard work, a master’s degree and working hard and meeting my goals were not going to give me job security,” he says. “I didn’t want to be that vulnerable again.” He is now self-employed, has published several e-books on tiny houses and runs the website The Tiny Life and a co-working space in Charlotte.
Like others, he has found that the greatest challenge of tiny house living is finding a place where tiny houses are allowed. Building codes in most municipalities set a minimum size for dwellings. Some tiny houses on wheels function as RVs, but most areas also ban full-time RV living outside of an RV park.
The average size of a new home built in 2014 was 2,453 square feet, up from 1,660 square feet in 1973, the earliest year for which U.S. Census data is available. Only 8% of homes completed in 2014 had fewer than 1,400 square feet, according to census data.
Despite the trend toward building larger homes, interest in tiny homes is still growing, says Elaine Walker, one of the founders of the American Tiny Home Association and publisher of the Tiny House Communitywebsite, which includes links and information about how and where to build a tiny house.
Financial freedom is one reason for the growing popularity of tiny homes, and a significantly lower price tag is a big part of that appeal. Walker paid about $45,000 to have her tiny house built, and Mitchell spent about $25,000 to build his own home.
“People aren’t going to foreclose on it because you’ve paid for it,” says Walker, who owns a 117-square-foot house that was built in New Hampshire, traveled to California and is now in an Orlando RV community of tiny houses. “As we see the aging of the population continue, it’s going to become more of a necessity.”
Location is the biggest obstacle for most people. You might be able to build a cottage as an accessory unit on a lot with a larger home or in a rural area with a liberal zoning code. Or, you might need to build it on wheels and keep it in an RV park. “People should really know where they’re going to keep it before they build it,” Walker says.
Design is another key consideration. A traditional home will have to conform to the building codes for stick-built homes. A mobile home should meet the standards of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association if you want to tow it or put it in an RV park.
For the full story, click here.