When it comes to housing affordability, most of us would agree that trends in prices have driven many to large, unmanageable mortgages, and in worst case scenario repossessions. A new generation of house hunters are unashamedly questioning the traditional ‘American Dream’ of the standard 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 100 metre square floor plan which has almost been set as “standard’ to raise the average family.
What is more interesting, is the rise of home builders, going against the grain to develop innovative architecture which not only mean less room to gather junk, but also less building materials, a lighter environmental footprint, and ultimately a significantly less responisiibily to debt.
Tiny houses have begun popping up all over the first world, and it’s not for the lack of opportunity of the populas, but rather the empowerment of the people who have come out the other side of an industrial revolution filled with pushy advertising and disposable products to realise that life is more important than having a big mortgage and lots of stuff.
We questioned Kent Griswold how this revolution came about.
From the info you have collated, how much does the average tiny house cost to build?
Usually between $20,000 and $30,000 if you do all the work yourself. Double that if you pay someone else to do the construction.
Do people find it difficult downscaling to live full time in one of these houses? Or are they use mostly for holiday homes?
There is a fairly large group of people who do this full time and then another group who use them more as vacation homes, offices, or spare bedrooms.
Yes, you must make a real commitment to downsize as there is only so much room in a tiny house. If it gets cluttered you know it right away as there is less space to clutter. A lot of people live by the code, if you purchase something you have to get rid of something.
There are also those who have found that it is just to tiny to live this way and go back to a more standard house as we know it.
What are some advantages of living in a tiny house? Financially? Physically? Emotionally?
Living in a tiny house a person can pay it off much more quickly than a standard mortgage. Many people pay for them up front or as they build them.
Most who choose to downsize try to minimalize their lives so they have less stress, often can work less time and still enjoy the same quality of life.
Physically, you have less area to keep clean so you have time to do other things in life you enjoy.
Emotionally, you do not have the stress of a big house, mortgage, and all the other things that go with trying to keep up with your neighbors.
We have read that there is a massive movement for women building their own tiny houses. Is this true? What is the ratio of men to women? Can women lacking physical strength still build a tiny house? (I ask this because I myself am a 5 foot tall petite woman and can’t imagine I could lift the materials required)
I’m not sure I would say massive but definitely a lot of interest by women and many of them are building their own homes too. My readership at the Tiny House Blog tinyhouseblog.com Over 55% are women. Popular age range for these women are 25-35 and 50-60. With help from friends and families many women are building their own homes and you could too.
We hear there is a new TV show in the works for people looking to turn their brief cases into backpacks, and styling tools into tool belts, people switching to the simple life, can you tell us any more about this? Sounds exciting!
This is new to me, I would enjoy hearing more about it.
What are the craziest objects you have seen up-cycled for tiny houses? Dumpsters and shipping containers are pretty out there…
Just about anything can be made into a home. Someone in New York recently converted a dumpster into an upscale tiny house. Shipping containers are popular as they are low cost to start with and can be easily modified. I have seen old tug boats turned into houses. Cabooses from trains made into a nice home. Old time trailers gutted and modernized into wonderful dwellings.
How do tiny houses on wheels get road worthy approved? Is it a costly and difficult process?
Most states do not require a special test for road worthiness at this time. The majority of these homes are constructed like your typical home and very well made. I have not heard of any accidents or trouble moving them down the highway. Most people only move them short distances as they heavy and not built to be economically moved like a travel trailer.
The other option is to be RV approved and that does require that the home be built to certain specifications. Tumbleweed Tiny Houses have recently been approved for this. That can be somewhat costly and usually only used for a manufactured home.
Why do you believe tiny houses are a way of the future. Do you think the concept will likely catch on in a mainstream sense?
I think downsizing and living within your means is the wave of the future. It may not mean moving into a tiny tiny house but maybe to a smaller one, living more minimalistic life style and not so much consumerism. I believe the downturn of the economy has forced people to think this way.
Yes, I think the concept over time will become more mainstream. Right now it is still new to so many people but it is growing at a rapid speed.
Do you see governments and town planners make the move to support these structures in the near future?
Certain areas of the country are already making some moves in this direction. The Northwest seems willing to work with these new ideas. Also some of our large cities are looking at these options.
Yes, as more of our town planners are educated in this option I think we will see more acceptance and changes to our zoning laws and this will be seen as a new option to home building.
Anything else you would like to add?
Downsizing does not mean living in poverty or having to give up all of your fun things in life. It is a different way of looking at life. To be debt free, to be able to work at a job you enjoy. Living within your means and owning a home that fulfills your needs is what this type of life is like.
Read more from Kent via his tiny house blog at: www.tinyhouseblog.com