Tiny Houses

Four and a half years ago I blogged about the ever-increasing size of American homes, and what that suggested about our society (HERE).

As I noted in the post:

The average size of a new home in the U.S.:

1950:  983 sq. ft.
1970: 1500 sq. ft.
1990:  2080 sq. ft
2010:  2438 sq. ft.

This has occurred despite the fact that the size of the families living in those houses has decreased during that time.

But these days there seems to be an encouraging move away from “McMansions.” Instead, nowadays there is a “tiny house” movement and it seems to be growing. Perhaps the truth that bigger isn’t always better is starting to carry the day.

When we built our house in 2004, it seemed modest by comparison to the homes our peers were buying and building. But now we realize that it’s way too big. If we were starting this life today we’d probably build a “tiny house.” Cherie still wants to live in a travel trailer, so maybe someday we’ll not only have a tiny house, but it will be on wheels.

Whatever our life may bring, it is good to see culture starting to recognize what is important in life. And what isn’t.

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21 comments on “Tiny Houses

  1. Joanna says:

    And I thought 120m2 (1291sqft) was big. We now have a 71m2 (764sqft) with basement, but we have been managing in a caravan (travel trailer) for quite a bit of the summer and that is 12m2 (129sqft). Must admit the caravan could do with some modifications to make it a little more habitable, but it works

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    • Bill says:

      I’m not surprised that you’d think that Joanna. In 2010 the average size of a new home in the U.K was 818 square feet, making 1291 quite large by comparison. Whereas new homes in the U.K. continued to be about the same size as American new homes in the 1950’s, here they just kept growing larger (as did our mortgages).

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  2. smcasson says:

    Bill, somehow this post and your St Francis post didn’t show up in my Reader, either my phone app or on the computer WP site. Oh well. My problem, not yours…
    We have a mansion now. No, seriously. It’s darn near 200 years old and 4600 original square feet. We are moving soon, onto a larger piece of property and I will build a house. We are planning on 1200 sqft. But in the meantime, we will live in a $3500, 29′ long travel trailer. I think it’ll be freeing, living with just a few possessions to use day-to-day. Sortof like I pine occasionally for my dorm days, where all ten possessions of mine had a place. Organization and simplicity.
    There’s an engineering firm that supports my local NPR station. They design “green” small commercial and residential buildings, and one of their tag lines is “… who believe that part of building green is building not-so-big.” Sounds good to me.

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    • BeeHappee says:

      Scott, same here, it did not show in my reader either… My WP is generally messed up, I am not getting half of the comments in, half of the posts, and all kinds of weird issues. I thought it was just me. Did you get the trailer already? 4600 sq feet!!! Good Lord, good luck cleaning it out.

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    • Bill says:

      Hmm… Maybe that helps explain why things have been quieter around here lately. I’ve been having trouble with WP too. Lately I’m not getting notifications of all the comments, so I have to manually search for them, and I’m probably missing some.

      So you’re downsizing–big time. Good for you! Since we’re here to stay, this is our house for better or worse. It’s a pity to have to maintain so much unnecessary space, but until we go to the travel trailer (the one Cherie wants is 16′ long) this is home.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. BeeHappee says:

    Funny you posted this Bill, I was just talking to a couple of friends about Tiny Homes. Friend recommended me a book Tiny House Style: Ideas to Design and Decorate Your Tiny House by Steve Weissmann. Of course there is a slew of them now, the books and films on tiny homes, from cob, treee houses, stone, prefab, adobe, modular homes, yurts, bus conversions, yurts, straw bale, and tiny homes on wheels, and vardos-artistic… I talked to a man from Groovy Yurts in Canada, they market now upscale these $8,000 gers both as primary housing and as secondary housing, and teach kids how to put them together.
    I am seriously considering some very small and mobile home for a while, any info, experiences, and recommendations welcome.

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    • Bill says:

      Cherie’s current favorite is a 16 foot Casita model. She’s been researching it and I know next to nothing about them. We’re tentatively planning to take a year off a few years from now and travel the country, living in the trailer. As “tiny” living increases in popularity, so do the housing options.

      Liked by 1 person

      • BeeHappee says:

        Thank you! I will look it up and get in touch with Cherie when things gets serious for me.

        We lived in a small Soviet apartment for the most of my life, by American standards it would really be called studio apartment, for a family of 4. Sometimes there would be more people in those tiny apartments. We were pretty comfortable, although as a kid, I dreamed once in a while of having a separate room. But since most of the time was spent outdoors in the garden or grandma’s farm, the room issue was not really an issue. There is always the fun of waiting in line for the bathroom. That’s assuming you even have a bathroom. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I’m not sure what the square footage of my house is but it’s a standard split level 1960s vintage house so I’m guessing around 1500. Right after I retired I was seriously planning to sell this house and buying a much smaller house to renovate. It took too long to get my current house in market condition and the youngest daughter came back home and then her son came back to live with us from his Dad and, yeah, so much for renovation and moving. Now the mortgage payment is nearly the same as a one bedroom apartment. Interest rates are so incredibly low right now that it tough to justify moving smaller for me. I suspect that now I’m probably going to live in this old house for as long as I’m able. Perhaps another 20 to 30 years if health stays with me. My grandson is pushing for fixing up the basement for an activity area for him. It would indeed clear the living room and kitchen from art supplies and Legos. He is a crafty kind of kid and YouTube has inspired many projects that take space to build. I always thought it interesting that city folks would put so much priority on a house in a proper location that would require both parents to work and not be able to enjoy the ownership of the house.

    Have a great day thinking about tiny houses.

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    • Bill says:

      The size of the house isn’t the only thing to take into consideration of course. It makes sense for you to stay put and since our house is connected to our farm, we can’t change it either. I’m just pleased that it seems that people are more interested in simple living now, and turning away from the “bigger is better” way of thinking.

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  5. Zambian Lady says:

    Zambia is heading in the opposite direction – we are now building huge houses. It does not help that we have a housing boom as we are seeing more and more of such monstrosities. I do not see this changing in the next few years because people are having more money and want to have what they did not have when they were growing up viz. big homes.

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    • Bill says:

      That’s interesting, but it makes sense that people who grew up dreaming of a big house would want to live out that dream. It’s probably a natural cycle and I suppose living in a tiny house wouldn’t be as desirable it that was forced on a person by their finances. Some have made the case that a society begins to take into account concerns about sustainability only after it has achieved prosperity. Maybe in another decade or so Zambians will favor downsizing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ours is 1500 s.f. including the basement bedrooms that we don’t use, so we live pretty awesomely in the 800 s.f. on the main floor – for a 1925 home this is pretty cool 🙂

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    • Bill says:

      Very nice. That would have been considered a very comfortably sized home in the 1920’s. Our culture seems to be coming back around to that way of thinking.

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  7. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Isn’t that one of the oldest jokes ever… The need for owning something bigger making up for inadequacy elsewhere? Oops, sorry! Did I say that out loud?
    I recall asking myself in Sociology class (don’t recall if I had the nerve to actually say it out loud, or not; ) as to exactly who it was that set the “norms” which were constantly being referred to in the class…
    Thankfully, Social Norms are on a sliding scale; so, as much as they can go either to the right or to the left, they can also be brought back to the centre. Having just enough – neither too much nor too little – is just right (and it seems that conspicuous consumption is finally becoming less socially acceptable, thank goodness; )

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    • Bill says:

      I think these sorts of tastes (like many other things) do swing to an extreme before returning like a pendulum to a sensible middle. I’m encouraged that as a society we seem to be putting our overconsumptive excesses behind us.

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  8. Selka says:

    We live in a tiny house! 192sq’, but we have a tiny shop the same size to go with it, bc the stuff needs to go somewhere. Even almost-farming requires some stuff! <$4000 to build. It feels like a roomy upgrade from the 60sq' tiny camper.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Good for you Selka! That’s impressive economy. 🙂
      We humans (in this culture at least) tend to occupy much more space that we really need. In a more sustainable future I think living the way you do will be much more common, perhaps even the norm.

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  9. Laura says:

    Our house is bigger than we’d like, especially with our daughter out of the house. Being in Texas, it’s too hot for root cellars though, so we’re utilizing a good chunk of space for food storage. We’ve got 3 chest freezers, and her old room will be converted to an indoor root cellar. Couldn’t do that in a tiny house!

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    • Bill says:

      I know what you mean. We converted our basement into farm use. We have 2 chest freezers, plus a refrigerator/freezer down there, and we store our root crops there as well as a lot of farm stuff. We do all our market/vegetable prep down there. It’s like having another out building. We have way too much room upstairs now (our kids are grown and gone too now), but I wouldn’t want to have to give up the basement!

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