Tiny Housing Advantages

Guest Post by Krista Peterson

Rising costs for utilities, high mortgages, and economic problems have brought on some popularity growth for tiny houses. The benefits of cutting costs are popular, but what are some other advantages to living in a tiny house versus a regular home? For those people who simply do not need the extra indulgences, possessions, extra expenditures involved with a normal house style, a tiny home may be perfect.

For one, an overall cut in cost and increased sustainability are some of the largest factors in the tiny housing boom. Living in less overall space triggers to less spending and consuming in general. Lower utilities and energy costs will definitely be an upgrade over larger houses and their need for more water, gas, and electric. The smaller houses should also take less time to pay off.

The less space will also mean less wasted time. With a smaller area to consume the time, simple chores such as vacuuming and cleaning take much less time off your hands. The size of the home is often directly connected with the amount of free time on your hands. If you have a smaller home, you will have more free time than with a larger space.

Some of the other common advantages involve the ability to move your tiny homes. Many times they can be bought or readily made and building permits aren’t required. In many cases moving costs are usually less, because often times, you can essentially move your own home with you.

Some of the major advantages involve the common problems that may come with an older (regular size) home and the building malfunctions that may come with them. Many houses are continuing to have problems like radon and asbestos, which can lead to possible health problems such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Radon is becoming more and more common as it’s a natural gas that often seeps into basements and ends in prolonged exposure. Radon is the largest non-smoking contributor to cases of lung cancer in the world. Asbestos exposure is common in many traditional homes’ insulation and an extended exposure can form cancer within the lining of the lungs and abdomen area.

The quality upgrade is probably the biggest reason to switch to a tiny home. With many of these construction flaws and risks that may come with older, traditional homes, the choice on quality goes to the tiny spaces. Cutting down on space could lead to better quality products within the home, as smaller items mean less money spent.

While jumping into a tiny home may be scary, it’s definitely something to think about in the future. The benefits and advantages are excellent and versatile. From less expenditure to more free time or the advantage over some of the common construction flaws of older homes, there are plenty of benefits to be had when living in a tiny dwelling.

Photo Credits Jay Shafer

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Kristina - May 17, 2011 Reply

I’d love to know where the blue saltbox house and the row of white/red tiny houses are. Thanks!

    Kent Griswold - May 17, 2011 Reply

    The blue house is in Mendocino, California and the red and white tiny houses are in San Francisco’s Bungalow Court.

Heather - May 17, 2011 Reply

I am totally going to go find them they are near me. Too cute!!

William DeRuyter - May 17, 2011 Reply

Really like the white picket fence around the blue house . I Would really like to see interior photos of the houses . Great California Locations ,Thanks .

Timaree - May 17, 2011 Reply

If you had a tiny home near where the floodgates are sending the Mississippi water you could move it out to safety and bring it back when the flood waters recede. With a family, mom and dad could drive a couple of tiny homes out of harms way so the kids wouldn’t lose their home – tiny as it might be it’s better than no home or a flood damaged, moldy home.

Or escape a California wildfire or leave during a hurricane evacuation…. tiny houses on wheels are looking better than ever to me.

    Shelle - May 18, 2011 Reply

    I live in Louisiana just a few miles from the Morganza Spillway and I can see the levee from my house. I know some creative people who do live in areas that flood (on the other side of the levee). They have camps there that they have ingeniously set on huge styrofoam type blocks and the houses simply float up when the water comes up. I wouldnt have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself. I can probably get pics if you want to see them for yourselves.

      Rosa - May 23, 2011 Reply

      I would *love* photos of the floating camps.

      Our main issue is tornados – a chunk of North Minneapolis was destroyed this weekend – so I am NOT giving up my basement. But different places have different issues.

Hazel - May 17, 2011 Reply

With flooding in Manitoba and Louisiana and wildfires in Alberta, I was going to post the same advantage: being able to move your home out of harm’s way!

alice - May 17, 2011 Reply

Just thinking, maybe there could be an underground or earth banked parking shelter for tiny houses in tornado areas. Something that could have other uses in between but be easily readied for disasters. Once things get back to ‘normal’ you can come back out again and set things back up.

    Rosa - May 23, 2011 Reply

    My folks are fulltime RVers, and what we’ve learned as they travel around the midwest is that even in places where parks are mandated to have tornado shelters, hardly anyone uses them (last night with the sirens going, my folks were all alone in the shelter at their current park) and the for-profit parks often padlock them because homeless people and partiers go in them. So they’re not accessible in emergencies.

Steve Jones - May 17, 2011 Reply

I love the inverse relationship between free time and free space. The whole idea that more space results in less free time is such a great concept that a lot of people fail to think about when they look at tiny homes. All people see is what they think a tiny home doesn’t give you, and fail to see what the tiny home does give you.

Nick - May 17, 2011 Reply

Social interaction is greatly improved in small spaces which tends to lead to fewer arguments and greater bonding within relationships.

deborah - May 17, 2011 Reply

That adorable, little, blue, cottage was going for close to a million bucks! I don’t call that a big help to a more stress-free, cheaper, lifestyle!!!

    alice - May 17, 2011 Reply

    But how much was land ‘value’ and how much for the actual building?

Galvin - May 17, 2011 Reply

I love these tiny houses and I love looking at the photos!

eli in ct - May 17, 2011 Reply

I live in one of those much maligned older houses. It is small rather than tiny. I think it’s still worth rehabbing and recycling older housing stock. Even though they are not tiny, many homes from the 19th and early 20th century are what I call, ‘right sized’. Small, yet comfortable, and large enough for growing or extended families. In spite of the asbestos and lead abatement needed, the ‘bones’, finish woodwork and solid basic construction beats the flimsy McMansions many builders are still pushing. A lot of what I have learned on THB is going into fixing up our new little house.

Mike - May 17, 2011 Reply

I love the idea of tiny houses, and I am a big fan of this blog…however, I don’t see how a tiny house is any less susceptible to radon than a large house. If you build on top of ledge, or any area where radon is present in the ground, I don’t see how a small house makes you any safer. That being said, it is good practice for any homeowner, (large or small home) to test for the presence of radon gas. If radon is present, systems are available to safely vent the gas. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep from the ground anywhere, and does not relate to the type of materials you build with or the size of your home. However, the quality of construction (which I think Kent might be getting at here) may restrict the gas from seeping in. Typically radon seeps in through cracks in a basement’s cement floor, but can also be present in well water, and released into the air in the shower. If in doubt, talk to a local professional for advice.

laura - May 18, 2011 Reply

Those bungalow courts well known in little areas of California if you lived there like I did are all being torn down or mostly are all gone sadly… They were all so cute. I wonder if anyone ever captured these in a book? The styles were so varied.
And in California there are lots of little houses because land is so expensive the whole things is horrendously expensive. Tiny doesn’t mean cheap there!
There are places like where i live in Madison WI where the taxes are outrages 150 K house is like 5 k a year in taxes! So research where your tiny house will be! And research the well water here in Wisconsin the well are all contaminated badly and they keep trying to cover it up.

laura - May 18, 2011 Reply

Those bungalow courts well known in little areas of California if you lived there like I did are all being torn down or mostly are all gone sadly… They were all so cute. I wonder if anyone ever captured these in a book? The styles were so varied.
And in California there are lots of little houses because land is so expensive the whole things is horrendously expensive. Tiny doesn’t mean cheap there!
There are places like where i live in Madison WI where the taxes are outrages 150 K house is like 5 k a year in taxes! So research where your tiny house will be! And research the well water here in Wisconsin the wells are all contaminated badly and they keep trying to cover it up.

Meg Brookman - May 18, 2011 Reply

FURTHER READING that might be of interest to Laura and others like me who have always been drawn to bungalow courts

Laura Chase. “Eden in the Orange Groves: Bungalows and Courtyard Houses of Los Angeles.” Landscape, 25 (1981), 29-36.

Dolores Hayden. Redesigning the American Dream: The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life. New York: W.W. Norton, 1984.

Anthony King. Bungalows. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984. Clay Lancaster. The American Bungalow, 1880s-1920s. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985.

Henry Saylor. Bungalows: Their Design, Construction, and Furnishing. New York: Robert M. McBride, 1917.

Robert Winter. The California Bungalow. Los Angeles: Hennessey and Ingalls, 1980.

Gwendolyn Wright. Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in America. New York: Pantheon, 1981.

Found at: http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/88spring/bungalow.htm

Virgil - May 23, 2011 Reply

@ eli in ct
Agreed, there are millions of the typical American four-square houses in cities, all in the 1300-1500 sqft range, and they’re the perfect size for a family. The biggest thing stopping me (us) from down-sizing out of ours and into a “tiny house” is the fact there are four of us (2 young kids), and there’s just no way we could fit 3 bedrooms (one for us and one each for the kids) into a tiny house on wheels. Sure, as a temporary fix it would be possible to get by with 2, but when they become teenagers, they need their own rooms.

James - May 24, 2011 Reply

I can see all the advantages of a tiny house but I do have a concern. If you build on a trailer, how do you secure it so that someone can’t steal your home when your are away? Anyone can just back up their truck and haul away your house and all your possessions in a matter of minutes.

Platypus - May 24, 2011 Reply

There are some pretty good locks you can put on the trailer hook-up ball that would prevent someone from hooking up.

Or if you want approach the problem from the other angle, you can build a hidden GPS tracker inside your house and when someone happens to steals your house, you simply call the police and go visit the thieves ten minutes later.

MelD - May 31, 2011 Reply

I find it hard to get my head around the fact that anybody lives in such an inhospitable country as much of the USA – amazing to a European!!! So the concept of moving your house “out of harm’s way” is still a pretty amazing one to me 😉
(I know natural disasters happen here sometimes, too, but not on a regular or expected level like so many US localities. More and more houses are being built in unsuitable places in Europe as well – older ones are rarely affected by natural calamities, guess people used to understand about where to build sensibly!)

William Wurthmann - June 23, 2012 Reply

I love the small Saltbox.

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