Tiny homes are on the rise after years of enormous square footage being the norm. And when I say tiny, I don’t just mean small. A tiny home is usually 500 square feet or under. You won’t be surprised to know that those who subscribe to this new real estate initiative agree that they are part of the Small Modern Home Movement.
Most of these homes are “green,” in their design and functionality, using environmentally friendly materials and recyclables in their construction. And to their credit, some of these Lilliputian homes look great.
Some of the benefits are obvious, including small monthly bills for energy (many are sustainably designed with solar, wind and geothermal capabilities), and less square footage means less money to fix things.
Sustainability has embraced the notion that size does indeed matter.
But the grassroots movement is not about cramming into a space and living with discomfort. It is more about designing your home so that everything you actually need will fit. It is a solution to our hoarding and cluttering problems where one rethinks the decision to recycle a glass jar, or worse, rents yet another storage container to hold years of useless junk.
The desire to live more simply and in a way that is self-sufficient might stem from fears that our stuff could actually harm us up the road. In addition, a more straightforward lifestyle frees up time and many resources.
The Small Modern Home Movement has its own web-based magazine called Small House Style (http://www.smallhousestyle.com) complete with plans, available builders, prefab components, kits and vendors who cater to the small modern house person. Some of the companies that will help with your tiny house are:
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company offers two day workshops to teach those dreaming of the ultimate downsize along with all the components you need to get the job done.
Tortoise Shell Homes offers tiny homes that you bring along wherever you go, and still leave nary a footprint. They call the smallest one “cozy,” at 130 square feet, and all ride on a trailer.
Cabin Fever offers prefabricated tiny dwellings that are delivered in even smaller pieces to your new doorstep.
Bungalow in a Box was founded by Raoul and Vicki Hennin in 2001 and is located close to the South Shore of Boston in Woolwich, Maine. It was after building their own timber frame house, and several for their envious neighbors, that their business took off. Raoul constructs customized, prefabricated bungalows and no doubt uses his Harvard physics degree to engineer the designs for maximum use and comfort. On their website, Raoul says that the inspiration for small homes is Thoreau, who lived in a 10 by 15 foot cabin.
Tiny Texas Houses uses the tagline “The Rubble to Riches Renaissance,” and says they are building the future with the past. Brad Kittel has a slightly different slant in that he uses 100% American, “re-harvested” materials using what he calls Pure Salvage Building. 99% of his building materials are saved from tear downs and re-used, making his carbon footprint next to nothing.
There are many books on the topic on Amazon, mostly using terms like “cozy,” “compact,” “nano house,” “shipping container homes,” “micro home,” and the somewhat concerning, “off-grid house.” The selection is ironically quite large.
Here in Massachusetts the tiny house movement has not yet taken hold. Although WCVB’s Chronicle covered the topic this year and there is a Boston Meet-up with over 700 “Tiny House Pilgrims,” perhaps our New England sensibility forces the recognition of the millions of traditional homes already standing.