I may be late to the party, but I discovered the Tiny House Blog the other day. The author features all kinds of tiny houses, including homes made from storage sheds, campers, freight cars, and other unconventional materials. At first glance, you probably think, as I did, “How can anyone live in a space that small?” But after looking at this site and others like it, I found that it’s not as uncommon as you might think.
Many people get into unconventional housing because they want to lessen their impact on the earth. These small houses use fewer resources, both to make and maintain, than do conventional houses. Many of these are even made from recycled/reclaimed materials. Some people have simply downsized their material possessions to the point that they no longer require a large house. Others value the portability. Many of these houses can be loaded onto trailers or easily dismantled if you want to move them elsewhere. Small houses can also make affordable vacation homes.
There are, of course, some people who try this housing in order to save money. A small house costs far less to operate than a regular house. Heating and cooling, electricity, and maintenance all cost less. Some houses can be powered with nothing more than a portable generator or a small set of solar panels. Most of these houses are so inexpensive to build that you might not even need a mortgage unless you are buying land, too. In some places, you may not have to pay taxes on an unconventional house because it’s not classified as a dwelling. If you do have to pay taxes, you can bet that they will be smaller than a regular homes’ tax bill because the value isn’t as high. If you don’t need the space of a regular home or apartment, a tiny home can be a great money saver.
Here are some examples of structures that people have turned into tiny homes or that you can buy and make your own. You’re only limited by your imagination and what your zoning commission will allow.
- Storage sheds
- Shipping containers
- Campers/trailers/utility trailers
- Playhouses (not the plastic kind, but the wooden kind that you build from a kit)
- Job site trailers
- Prefab tiny house kits
- Anything you can design yourself and build or have built
If you want to try living in a tiny home, I suggest you be proficient DIY’er. You’ll save a lot of money if you build/retrofit your own tiny home. Many of the plumbing and electrical systems used in these structures are small enough and simple enough that you can maintain them yourself with basic skills. You’ll also need to construct much of your own furniture since traditional furnishings won’t fit.
You also need to be good with organization and keep your stuff pared down to the minimum. A tiny house is not suitable for the pack rat or disorganized person. Every square foot counts in a tiny house so you need to keep your stuff to a minimum and keep everything in it’s place. There are lots of creative storage solutions for tiny homes, but these will only go so far.
Tiny homes are probably best for singles and couples. Large families would probably find such homes overly crowded. However, if you want to save money or resources, this type of housing might be worth looking into. You can definitely get creative with a tiny house and make it your own and you aren’t locked into an expensive, high maintenance traditional home.