THIS IS SOMETHING I’VE WANTED TO TALK ABOUT AT LENGTH FOR A WHILE NOW

I’ve only recently discovered tiny houses, sort of in the last two, three years, but I’ve found myself obsessed with them. It seems like the perfect solution to so many of my, and the worlds problems. This article discusses that and hopefully will inspire a love of tiny houses in you.

SO… YOU WANT TO LIVE IN A SHED?

What is a tiny house?

If you google tiny home and go to images, you’re going to see a series of really sleek looking wooden ‘buildings‘ and you’re likely going to think one of 2 things.

Oh wow, those look snazzy, I could see myself spending some time in that.

Or the more common response:

That’s pretty fancy, for a shed, how much does it cost? Why does it have wheels?

If your response was either A or B, let me ask you what your response would be knowing that people live in these, instead of the house you likely live in. As in, instead of getting a mortgage and getting a house made of brick, they do this. Strange, right?

If you were response A, you might be surprised that people might live 30 years in a shed, you were likely thinking you’d have it as a weekend cabin to ‘get away from it all’. If you were response B, you’ll probably saying the same thing, but now with a puzzled and incredulous expression on your face. The wheels kind of make sense, but still, no matter how fancy you make it, a shed is still a shed, right?

In response to the price, we’ll get into that over the course of the article, but as with anything you can make it cost much more than something cheaper which looks just as nice and has the same functionality. Functionality being the key word, because tiny homes are all about the functionality. The clue is also in the name, ‘Tiny home‘ which explains why people will live in them instead of a  real home.

WHAT IS A TINY HOME, CONT…

A tiny home, or the tiny home movement simply put, is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet.

A tiny dwelling can be absolutely anything, but typically it’s as you see in google images, the shed type of dwelling. However, there is no tiny home club, so anything can be a tiny home, whether it’s a school bus, horse truck, caravan, cave, treehouse etc. The only governing factor on whether it’s a tiny home is the space, as mentioned above, less than 400 sq feet, and the fact that you can live in it and call it a home.

I personally don’t consider something a tiny home if you do not have a way to wash yourself (wet wipes don’t count), a place to sleep, cooking facilities and a toilet. Others will also throw living space into the mix, but living space is subjective which makes it hard to judge. I’ve seen plenty of youtube videos on tiny houses which are just converted camper vans and while these can be amazing spaces to live, if you can’t cook or shower/bathe, it’s not really a home, it’s a temporary living space (even if you spend a few years in it).

Lots of tiny homes are often on a trailer, but that doesn’t mean you have to have it on a trailer. Personally, for me, I’d make a tiny home out of a school bus or 7.5 tonne horse box so I don’t have the issue of jackknifing the trailer but that’s just me. Either way I’d want a tiny house that can move so I get the freedom to travel, but having a tiny house on a foundation works just as well.

WHY WOULD YOU WANT ONE?

If you told someone that you wanted to live in a garden shed, you’d get a puzzled look, but as you’ll see through this article, it’s not a shed. If you told someone you were going to live in a space which has everything you need to be happy, saves you a ton of money AND gives you the freedom to travel whenever you want, they might be jealous.

  • Saves you a mortgage – The price of a tiny house differs tremendously depending on your supplies, whether you build it yourself, how fancy you want to make it etc, but you can expect to pay in the US $20-35,000 for a fully completed and functional build. That’s a house you can live in, permanently, that isn’t out of the price range of most people. Some tiny houses have been done for less, some being built for less than $10,000 dollars.

  • Freedom of Movement – For those of you who have a job where you can work from anywhere, this is a huge advantage and you can travel in your home. For those who don’t, you can still do it, but cover much less distance. If you build a tiny home on a trailer, or as mentioned else where in the article, a 7.5 tonne horsebox, you can go wherever you like in your home.

  • Less Stress – This one is going to be biased towards what I like, but others may feel the same. I have very few possessions, so I have no need for a huge house. The things I have bring me happiness and they all serve a purpose, which is important in a tiny house. You can’t just be cluttering up your house with things you don’t need because it’s a tiny space, so it forces you to have things you truly need. It saves you money, because you aren’t just buying stuff. Also, a cluttered environment only stresses me out, so yeah, less stress.

  • Time Saved – This kind of relates to the money issue. Think how long it might take you to pay off a mortgage, 10 years? 15 years? Imagine if the time you put into work to save and pay off your mortgage could be used in a better way. You could use the money you saved on the mortgage to fund things you want to do and spend your time in a way you support. After all, time is the only resource you have that you can’t get more of. Why waste your time paying for a roof over your head, when you could use it in a way that would bring extra value and enrichment to your life.

PROS OF LIVING TINY

  • Functionality – Everything has a purpose, which saves you time and money

  • Risk of Loss – In the tragic circumstance you lose everything, it’s less to lose and because the time taken to build a tiny house is much less than a house, it won’t take anywhere near as long to put yourself back together.

  • Self Sufficient (More below) – A big part of tiny life can include going off grid, which means you install ways to be self sufficient, meaning no matter where you are, you have access to power and water. In addition, if the infrastructure of wherever you are collapses and water or power are no longer supplied, you don’t have the same worries.

  • Environmentally Friendly – A big part of why people go tiny is environmental concerns. Less is used in the creation of the house and you are generally more conservative with your power, water, fuel needs etc, making your impact on the environment less.

  • Little Commitment – Due to the relative cost of tiny homes, it’s not a huge financial commitment, so you can build one and see if you like living in a tiny home and if you do, move in permanently. If not enough to live in you could do it for weekends away, or if not at all you can rent it out or sell it easily enough (Airbnb is amazing). If you built it well you might even make a profit on it.

These are just a few of the pros of going tiny, but there are many more.

CONS OF LIVING TINY

  • Less Space – This means less space for everything you do, whether it’s cooking, living, entertaining guests etc. You have to compromise on certain things, which for some people is more of an issue than others. Me personally, I have a tiny wardrobe, a ukelele, electronics like cameras, a laptop and cooking equipment so I’d be fine (and I don’t need anything more than this). Others may struggle.

  • Cooking – If you like to buy in bulk and cook in bulk, this may be a problem considering there is less space for storage for both your ingredients and freezer/fridge space. For those who are trash free, it also can mean higher volume of unsustainable packaging if you can’t buy in bulk, or find a loose products store.

  • Doing it well – This is especially important if you do it yourself. If you mess up in the build of your tiny home it can be a disaster. Often the biggest raw material in a tiny home build is wood, so if you mess up the insulation and get rot, it can cause a huge problem. The same for air conditioning and heating, because you’re only in essentially one room (even if you put walls in), if your heating or air conditioning isn’t well thought out, it won’t be a good time for you to live in come summer or winter.

  • Privacy and Freedom from Humans – If you live alone, great. If you live with a partner, or kids, not so much. Often a big problem in relationships is not being given space to cool off if you have arguments and calm down. You don’t get that in tiny homes. There is nowhere to go if you need some space and privacy is lacking. Obviously this depends on the build and how open you make it, but essentially a tiny home is a single room with the potential for thin walls.

This may have gotten lost in translation over the course of the article, but I wanted to make clear. Tiny houses and tiny living are two separate things and both are great. Tiny living is one form of minimalism and includes the space you make your own. Tiny houses are a space which suits a minimalistic lifestyle.

ALL KINDS OF VARIETIES OF TINY HOMES

Not your every day shed

As I’ve already mentioned, tiny homes don’t have to be the shed type, there are all sorts of different kinds. This section will be showing some of them, but remember, a tiny home is only limited by your imagination. You can also steal ideas from other tiny houses and incorporate it into your build.

FIXED FOUNDATION

First is the fixed foundation, with the obvious drawback of you needing land to put it on, it’s the same as a regular house, but tiny. The other drawback would be the loss of one of the best features of a tiny house on wheels, mobility. However in terms of the other qualities, a fixed tiny house retains them and to some degree negates a huge problem with tiny living – Lack of storage.

When you have a fixed tiny home on land, you can add extra places to store your things, but then that defeats the purpose of downsizing your life and having less things. Once you start making exceptions for things that aren’t absolutely vital, it becomes a slippery slope towards just buying more things.

Another drawback of fixed tiny homes is often it’s less environmentally friendly to build. With a tiny home on a trailer you don’t have a foundation, but with a fixed house, you have to have a sturdy foundation, which is usually concrete and terrible for the environment. There are more environmentally friendly options like hempcrete or rammed earth, and actually you can build the walls from both of these options, but that’s another article.

However, that being said, one of the reasons I really like the fixed tiny home is it gives more space for you to do gardening. If you’re like me and cook plenty from scratch plus eat an unprocessed diet, this makes sense. It’s far cheaper, you know where your food is coming from and what’s been sprayed on it (or the lack of) and it’s an undeniable fact that taste and nutrition is king with home grown, unless like me, you suck at gardening.

ON WHEELS

When it comes to the typical image of tiny homes, I think of the shed type (hence why the word shed has been mentioned so many times in this article) on a trailer. It’s your standard build and easily the most popular. It incorporates a lot of the values of the tiny house community and is fairly easy to do without a massive amount of experience needed. In fact, if you look at the people doing builds on YouTube, you’ll find them say how they aren’t carpenters or welders, and have never done it before. They watched YouTube tutorials and went from there, which you can’t really say for a regular home.

For me, I wouldn’t want to do a tiny home on a trailer due to the risk of jackknifing or other trailer related issues, I really hate driving, with the larger vehicle I drive directly increasing my hate for the drive. Throw on a trailer and I’m risking going nuclear.

The reason there’s a difference between tiny houses on trailers and the tiny house being the vehicle is because it’s a completely different build. With a school bus, ambulance, horse box or other type of vehicle being converted, you already have the frame and are limited in that sense to the shape of things. I much prefer this type of build, but everyone has their preferences.

For both types, you have the benefit of ease of mobility, but depending on how big it is will effect what laws apply to you when you want to stop moving for a little while. You may have to find a campsite and if you have a big tiny house on the trailer, you might not be allowed in. Also, depending on where you’re driving, if the roads aren’t wide like in the US and Canada, you might be limited on size. You might even need an escort due to the width of the house being too wide for the roads, which I’d imagine is a HUGE pain in the backside.

CRAZY BUILDS

The amazing thing about tiny homes is you have as much customisation as you have imagination. So long as physics don’t get in the way of your dream, in theory, you can build it.

Not only can you choose the type of material it’s made from, but you can choose the shape, size, or anything you want about it. That’s just the shell, but you can customise the interior in any way you see fit. Of course, to some degree you can just do this with a regular house, so it’s kind of invalid to write it as a point of tiny house vs regular dwelling. The point is that going tiny doesn’t mean you are sacrificing anything in particular. Even going small isn’t a sacrifice, because you’re only sacrificing things you don’t use or don’t need in order to attain greater financial freedom along with (depending on your build) freedom of movement.

I’m going to mention Earth Ships, rammed earth and hempcrete builds again because I think they are so innovative and cool and just about some of the craziest builds I’ve seen. Rammed earth in particular (the foundation of the great wall is rammed earth) which doesn’t have anything glueing or cementing it together. You just smash pebbles (not exactly) together with a heavy object until it becomes solid. You can make giant structures with it, but also tiny homes and earth ships, it’s really environmentally friendly and naturally keeps your build at a suitable temperature so that you don’t need to have a heater or AC unit for when hot or cold.

 

Some Ideas To Steal

In my endless hunt for tiny house videos I’ve came across many different ideas that I want to incorporate in my eventual build. Simple things, no doubt, but in terms of making it a functional and liveable dwelling, a home, I thought these stood out. Here are just 8 of the hundreds of great ideas.

How to live large in a tiny space

Some of the above pictures may not really stand out to you and may not seem to be doing all that much or just common sense. Well that’s kind of the idea, simplicity. The reason you’re able to live large in a tiny space is you’re making use of the space in a common sense way that’s often lost or taken for granted when you have a larger space. When you’ve got 2000 square foot of space, maximising the functionality of every inch of space is less of a concern, however it’s the main thing you think of when designing a tiny home.

Multiple uses – The more uses you can think of for simple things the better, that means having a door as just a door isn’t making use of it well. Attach a rail to the inside to hang cleaning materials or cutlery off of and on the outside put a magnetic sheet to attach a magnetic spice rack, you’ve suddenly made a normal door into something functional and useful.

Using vertical space – 100% the biggest waste of space is not using vertical space. Think how things are measured (length, width, height/depth) and consider how much space you have on your floor. If you don’t have things on the walls, you’re losing out on so much space. Things like wall desks which fold up and down will save you floor space and any appliances you can put on shelves or make as part of shelves is always a good thing.

Hiding Storage – This is a sneaky one for those of you who love a clean and uncluttered environment. This is actually my favourite part of tiny house videos when I see a large portion of storage which is hidden whether it’s under the bed, part of the stairs, under the floor or inside the walls.

Going Back to the cost

I only really touched on cost before, ranging it from as low as $10k, but as high as $30k, which might not be that helpful as to what you could get for $10k. I mean sure, it might have a shower, bed, toilet and kitchen, but it’s not going to be something you’d want to live in for 20 years or more if it’s bare bones. The following articles might help you in terms of putting into perspective what you could get for your investment.

There’s so much more to cover when it comes to tiny homes, so much so that doing it in one post is rather ambition. If you’d like to know more on anything I talked about in this article, let me know. Otherwise, have a look at the following gallery for some beautiful tiny home pictures.

Some Beautiful Tiny Homes

By |2018-02-24T06:19:41+00:00February 23rd, 2018|Categories: Tiny House Article|0 Comments

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Chris

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