A Look Inside the ‘Tiny Houses’ Trend
The trend of ‘tiny houses’ has well and truly swept the globe. A quick search online will show you an enormous array of tiny houses from Canada to Scotland to Indonesia in as many styles and layouts as you could imagine, there are even TV shows about tiny houses. These compact homes can offer a great range of benefits but despite this they will not suit everyone. Tiny houses are usually under 40sqm and are designed to be as compact as possible, with each space within the house performing multiple purposes, often with a mezzanine or loft level for the sleeping area.
One of the most attractive advantages to living in a tiny home compared with a typical home is that the home is cheaper to build as significantly less materials, labour, and time, are required to build a tiny house. Imagine being able to pay off your mortgage even a decade earlier than typically expected – it’s appealing right? With the reduced cost of a smaller footprint home, higher quality materials that are more expensive can be chosen as they are only being used on relatively small areas. Additionally, not only are tiny houses cheaper to build, but they are also more economical to run. Smaller spaces require less lighting and less heating and cooling, reducing your overall energy needs. This contributes to an overall more sustainable home. These needs can easily be met by solar PV installed on the roof of the tiny home. As the building and construction sector’s energy usage is over 35% of global energy usage and the sector contributes heavily to landfill, tiny homes that use less material, labour, and have less wastage, can reduce the negative impact of the construction sector.
Another benefit of a tiny home is that a lot less upkeep is required. Smaller spaces mean less time spent cleaning and maintaining your home, though as the space in a tiny home is condensed you will get more concentrated wear as spaces are multipurpose they have to ‘work harder’ than in a typical sized home where the wear is more dispersed among larger areas.
Many people who live in a tiny home have used the move to inspire a different mindset towards their lifestyle. To live in a tiny home requires the re-evaluation of the necessity of all your possessions, it encourages the inhabitants to change their mindset towards consumerism and materialism, and to declutter not only their house but their lives. Moving in to a tiny home requires some serious “Marie Kondo-ing”, with this, many see a streamlining of their overall lives, they live with less distractions and can focus on what is important to them.
Tiny homes can be designed to be built or installed in place without the intention to move it in the future, or they can be designed to be fully transportable, built on a trailer and classified as a registered caravan. The latter gives you the benefit of flexibility to move your home to wherever you want to go, however there are very strict regulations guiding the design of these and also the rules on where they can be parked and how long they can be lived in. Therefore most people who live in a tiny home, unless they intend to live a consistently nomadic lifestyle, choose to build a fixed home.
Another interesting side to tiny homes is that there have been a few projects that have proposed this more affordable form of housing as one solution to providing homes for the homeless, and social housing for those at risk of homelessness. There is also the possibility for tiny houses to increase the density that we are struggling to achieve in our inner suburbs if local governments and planning bodies acknowledged the potential of this housing model. It could help provide the missing middle for those who do not want to live in an apartment or unit, but also do not require a large 4 bedroom family home.
However, as with every unique style of house, tiny houses will not suit everyone. Tiny homes force a unique lifestyle upon their inhabitants. Often those who live in tiny homes enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors away from their home, so if you are a homebody consider whether spending extended periods of time in a condensed space would bother you. Tiny homes often are also not suitable for those with mobility impairments as circulation space is limited making it difficult to navigate with mobility aids, storage is often in unusual places that are hard to access and often tiny homes have multiple levels to take advantage of vertical space which requires steps or ladders. Those who live in tiny homes often find they have to be organised and tidy, and err on the side of a minimalist lifestyle, otherwise the limited space available easily becomes cluttered and chaotic. If you do enjoy entertaining with large groups of people, this too becomes more difficult. While we have seen more permanent tiny homes have fantastic decks and outdoor areas, these are not as suitable for entertaining in poor weather so having guests over in winter may provide difficult.
So while you are indulging in browsing all the beautiful tiny homes that are scattered across Instagram and Pinterest, and consider whether living in a tiny home is something you would genuinely be interested in, remember the above. There can be huge advantages to your life if you go down this route and it has certainly changed peoples lives, but only if this suits the person you are and the lifestyle that you want to live. However if you are interested in living in a smaller home but not sure if you can quite commit to a tiny home, there are many tiny home design principles that can be applied to a more traditional house. We can work with you to incorporate innovative space saving measures that will see your overall build cost reduced, your running costs reduced, that will have you cleaning less and cluttering less, but tailored to your unique space needs. Get in touch with us and see how we can help you achieve the right balance between your home aspirations and your lifestyle realities.