January 4, 2010

The Tiny House Movement - Really, Really Tiny Homes For Serious Simple Living

They look like children's playhouses to many folk, but these small little structures are growing in popularity among those who are serious about simplifying their lives.  They're commonly called "tiny houses" - sometimes you'll hear "small houses" - and many are ingenious and very, very cute.  In fact, they're the foundation of a growing movement in this country, the "Tiny House Movement."

What are "Tiny Houses"?

One man is repeatedly referenced throughout the web as being the founder of the "tiny house movement," Professor Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.  He's also one of the co-founders of the Small House Society, although the Small House Society isn't that narrow to focus solely on tiny houses, they're encouraging the downscaling into smaller square footage per person in a variety of forms. 

The Tiny Life involves living in a very small space that is cleverly organized and used.  How small?  Think walk-in closet for some people. 

The houses sold by Tumbleweed as well as Tiny Texas Houses are very, very small.  Tiny Texas Houses range in size from 160 to 336 square feet, although custom work is done and the company will work with you if you want to put two of their Texas Tiny Houses together to create one dwelling.  Tumbleweed will build a tiny house as small as 65 square feet and as large as 837 square feet.  Tiny Texas Houses are each unique to their owner, built as one of a kind homes using modern technology combined with high quality salvaged material -- antique doors and the like.

The tiny houses have bathrooms and kitchens (well, kitchenettes might be a better description) and many have a sleeping loft to maximize use of the floor space.  They are designed with front porches and quaint facades, and they can be towed behind a car.  Small houses are distinquished from tiny houses because they are a bit bigger, and cannot be considered travel trailers under the law. 

Bottom line, these tiny houses (and small houses) are adorable.  Check out a lot of different tiny houses at the Tiny Texas photo gallery as well as both tiny houses and small houses at  Tumbleweed's website

Why Live in Such a Small House?

Cost of Home Purchase.  For one thing, they are inexpensive compared to buying another home - and they move with you.  You can build the Tarleton (from Tumbleweed) for an estimated $21,250, or have them build it for you at a cost of $49,997.  The Tarleton is a tiny house (it's on wheels) and it offers the biggest kitchen of all the tiny houses in the Tumbleweed line.  It is eight feet wide and nineteen feet long; offers a ceiling height of 6'3" and has a dry weight (before you furnish it with your stuff) of 5400 lbs. 

Of course, there may be the hidden cost of transport.  At that weight, you'll need a pretty big SUV or pick up truck to tow your little house around; towing capacities for sedans are less than half that dry weight. 
However, you won't have property taxes on your tiny home, because the law considers them to be recreational vehicles.  Buy a used truck, and you'll offset the truck with the absence of property tax in a year or two, right?

Cost of Living.

Obviously, living in such a small space means that you don't need much in the way of material possessions.  While you're able to spend as much as you want on your customized home, bottom line, the size alone caps the expense.  And this applies not just to furnishings, but also to the amount of clothing you own, the food that you store, the linens and tableware you collect.  In fact, collecting itself probably isn't the hobby for a tiny house dweller -- unless it's digital photos of all the beautiful scenery you've viewed in your travels with your tiny home.


Those concerned about the environment welcome the tiny house movement because of the small footprint a tiny house life literally leaves on the planet.  Salvaging the materials to build the homes, as Tiny Texas Houses takes pride in doing, is an added benefit.

Is this lifestyle for everyone?  No.  Is it a viable lifestyle for you?  Maybe.  It's definitely something for you to consider.  They are, after all, extremely cute and amazing in their logistical design.

For more information on the Tiny House Movement, check out:

Tumbleweed Houses Blog
Texas Tiny Houses
Rowdy Kitten (used tiny houses for sale)
Little House on the Trailer

Tiny House Living
Small Living Journal
Small House Society
Tiny House Blog
Tiny House Village
Tiny House Design

Tiny House Blog's Top 10 House Blog Posts of 2009
AccessAHut (renovation of 365 sq ft carriage house in progress) (added to post 01/07/10)

Image:  Tiny Texas Houses 10 x 17 Victorian Tiny House


Anonymous said...

We are renovating a 350 sf carraige house as an accessible home for two of us.

This can be done!


Unknown said...

Hi AccessAHut,

Thanks for writing! I've added your blog to my linklist. Wondering if you have any photos showing your progress?

Best wishes on your endeavor,

Anonymous said...

Thanks! We just tonight added photos on our pages--so if you click on the right hand side you can see general photos and what we did to the bathroom, back wall, and ceiling.

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