I’m such a total proponent of small housing that it would be simpler for me to discuss the things that turn me off about tiny houses. Nevertheless, here is my “Benefits of Tiny Housing” blitz.
In a society built so heavily on self-aggrandizement and the display of material status symbols, (a condition that leaves me in a state of virtually perpetual disgust), the tiny house is a modest house. And it’s nice to imagine that modesty still has admirers in America.
Affordability – The tiny house is an affordable house. While the price of prefab tiny houses ranges considerably, the vast majority of tiny house options run a fraction of the price of a conventional house. In fact, the tiny house averages in the new car price range.
Accessibility – I am not a man of means. I live in one of the most expensive regions in the world on a rather pitiful income. The likelihood of home ownership, (something I’ve dreamt about from a very young age), has, for my whole life, seemed on the same order as space travel. But then, I was imagining a conventional house. The comparative affordability of the tiny house renders it far more psychologically accessible than the conventional house to a chronically destitute individual like myself.
The tiny house, in every incarnation I have come across, is highly customized to the needs and desires of the people who call it home. Customization is essential to turning a dwelling into a home, and the tiny house lends itself uniquely to customization.
Tiny houses, even the ones that don’t come with integrated wheels, are vastly more mobile than their conventional counterparts.
The tiny house, because of the simplicity of its engineering and construction, invites owner design and building, (or at the very least, much greater participation in these activities). Participation in the design and construction of one’s own home is not only deeply fulfilling, but also an unsurpassed opportunity for practical education and confidence building.
Minimalism – The tiny house demands the discipline of minimalism, which can promote increased focus on the individual activities and material objects that make up our lives.
Ease of Maintenance – The tiny house requires less work in cleaning and maintenance. The less there is, the less there is to care for.
Conscience – The tiny house, whose construction and operation consume far fewer resources than a conventional house, should assuage the conscience of the individual who considers consumption a vice and conservation a virtue.
Less Energy to Heat and Cool – With obvious financial and conservation benefits.
Historically and Globally Appropriate
Housing for virtually all people throughout human history, and today for most people throughout the world, is and has always been tiny. The conventional house is a disruptive anomaly.
The tiny house enjoys character compression. Tiny houses have easily as much personality as conventional houses, but distilled into a much smaller frame. This distillation produces a more potent product.
Embraces the Outdoors – The tiny house encourages forays out of doors. This is good.
Higher Quality Product – Because construction of a tiny house requires a fraction of the materials of a conventional house, it encourages an investment in higher quality materials.
The cozy factor of the tiny house is off the charts.
The Small House Community
Tiny housers are fun, interesting, and unique! (At least that’s my general evaluation). Becoming involved in the small house community is a great perk of tiny housing. And we haven’t even witnessed the arrival of the prophesied Intentional Tiny House Community yet! Think how cool that would hypothetically be if it ever, you know, happened!
The Salvage Factor
Tiny Texas Houses owner Brad Kittel has demonstrated that the tiny house can be built out of approximately 95% reclaimed materials. Once again, the financial and conservation benefits should be self-evident.
Lower Visual Profile
The tiny house takes up less space visually! That means it’s not messing up your neighbor’s view. And if your neighbor is a tiny houser, her house isn’t messing yours up either.
Decreased Impact on Immediate Surroundings
The tiny house has a tiny footprint, and the negligible engineering requirements mean that the site preparation work is insignificant compared to that required for a conventional house. This means less impact on the immediate natural surroundings, which is good for all the other things that happen to be living there.
Site Specific Design
The tiny house’s reduced impact on the immediate surroundings, coupled with the customization and owner participation to which it lends itself, encourages a degree of site specific design that the conventional house simply cannot offer.
Decreases Consumption by Necessity – Life in the tiny house enforces a consumption pattern radically diminished from the lifestyle encouraged by the conventional house; you are simply forced to consume less.
Relieves Wage Slavery – The lessened financial burden of life in a tiny house should presumably empower the owner with greater financial independence.
Strength – Consider the ant. Proportionate to it’s size the ant is mighty! This is a general physical phenomenon – relative strength is inversely proportionate to size – i.e., small stuff is inherently stronger, big stuff is inherently weaker. That’s why, given a fixed set of materials, engineering small stuff is easier and engineering big stuff is harder. (This explains why there are loads of tiny flying creatures and not many giant ones).
What does this mean for the tiny house? My house endured being dragged 600+ feet up a 30+ degree slope with a winch hooked to the framing, and suffered only minor cosmetic damage. Imagine trying this with a conventional house.
And last, but certainly not least, the tiny house is the house that has allowed me to build my home in my favorite place in the world.
Thank you, tiny house.
*Special photography credits to Amanda Abel