Who Is Behind The ‘Tiny House’ Movement?

In the last few years various news media have glorified the way some people are designing, building, and living in tiny houses. Very small living quarters are not new. Mrs22 and I lived in one shortly after our marriage. We called it a ‘Cabin’, perhaps because we were in Alaska. It was small – 320 square feet and we built it ourselves. We lived in it for several years. It was ‘Cozy’ – especially when two teen-age kids moved in with us. It was all we could afford at the time.

Now they are ‘Tiny Houses’ and people are building them for the same reasons. It, like every thing else, is about the money.

Here is a link to an article about tiny houses titled, “The “Tiny House Movement”. Otherwise known as “Poverty”. The writer has some unpleasant points to make – even if they are true:

Early American Shanty Town

Early American Shanty Town

Hey hipsters. Its not a tiny house. its a TRAILER. Its not a tiny house community. Its a TRAILER PARK. You are not “right sizing”. You are POOR.

Words mean things. Stop your damn lying.”

It must be said that shanty design has come a long way from the image above. But the writer makes a good point. I did an image search for ‘Tiny Homes. Here is an example of what I found:

tiny house

Like many tiny houses this one was built on a chassis and has wheels under it – much like this Park Model trailer house:

Park model

OK. Back to the original question. Who is behind the ‘Tiny House’ movement? Could it be the green community? That might be. There’s no doubt they want everyone to decrease their ‘Footprint’. Short of living in a cave, this would come close. There are even magazines and websites devoted to this phenomenon.

I will say one thing about tiny houses. They will work for a select number of young people who are poor and can’t afford much else or want to minimize their housing expenses so they can save money. That last is what we did.

They will also work for some older people. Sometimes they are called, “Mother-in-law houses”. Imagine a widowed mother coming to live with you. Something like this could preserve her – and your – privacy while allowing you to assist her if she needs it.

Growing families, though, would be cramped. Just ask Mrs22.

One problem with these mini houses -and the reason so many are on wheels – is the cost of the land to put them on, the foundation, and the water, sewage, electrical, and other utility installations. It is possible to own one for a small outlay but those other necessities will add a lot to the expense. That’s why so many are stationed in trailer parks or RV parks.

It seems we have come full circle, changing only the title of the trailer.

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13 Responses to Who Is Behind The ‘Tiny House’ Movement?

  1. reboot says:

    I wonder if they work as good as tornado magnets?

  2. slinger says:

    I gotta admit that I find a lot to like about the tiny house movement. We get into the mindset that we always need more … bigger is better. But we find that our stuff starts controlling us. Less stuff means less complications in life … a simpler life. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I know I could do without the vast majority of junk that accumulates in my house.

    My understanding for why these houses are built on wheels is that most building codes require a minimum of 600 square feet. A 600 square foot home is considerably more expensive to build than a 150 square foot home.

    Instead of buying a large house on a small amount of land, I would much rather buy a large amount of land and build a small house with the remainder.

  3. slinger says:

    I forgot to mention, that most people that build these houses are debt-free for their homes … another reason to build small. People choose to have a small home that is paid off instead of a large mortgage. I find that quite respectable as well.

    The Bible tells us that when we are in debt, we are slaves to that debt.

    • RUDE JUDE says:

      I totally agree. Our investment rep from Edward Jones kept trying to discourage us from paying our house off early and put the extra money into our retirement, etc. I’m so darn glad we ignored him and listened to my Dad. Been mortgage free in a really nice home now since 2009. Life is pretty good once that debt is gone.

  4. R.D. Walker says:

    Here is what I don’t get: How is it different than this?


    • slinger says:

      I wondered the same thing when I watched a documentary about tiny homes. Then I started thinking about cold, snowy weather. I think the travel trailer would be just fine in above freezing non-snow conditions. You need something else for a winter in Colorado (which is where the tiny house was being constructed in the documentary I watched).

    • Jim22 says:

      The concept is not a lot different. Practically, though, there are significant differences. The trailers frequently have 2″ thick walls and 4″ roof framing so they have little insulation. They have single pane aluminum framed windows and the plumbing is exposed to the weather. They are not much good for cold weather.

      The main difference, though, is that it’s a Trailer. The other is a Tiny House. Hip people will live in tiny houses. They will not live in trailers.

      • Susann Grimland Gandolfo says:

        I know this might not be the same as tiny houses and why – but “hip” people do not necessarily live in tiny dwellings – it does not make you “hip” to live in a tiny house – it is an experience, and usually a test to see if one may get used to having practically nothing – I went from 3300 two story 1857 Greek Revival to a Creole Cottage that is I think is 560 — but I don’t feel “hip” I feel relieved getting rid of years of collecting and living in the big house surrounded by my “stuff” –
        and my cat loves it too.

  5. R.D. Walker says:

    “Hip people will live in tiny houses. They will not live in trailers.”

    Bingo. Even in south Florida where pipes don’t freeze, a tiny house is a political statement and a “camper” is conventional, bourgeois and common.

  6. Ray Davies says:

    They’re about the same size as the 8X35 trailer we lived in the first year we were married. I camp in a tent almost that big anymore (4 of us)

  7. notamobster says:

    I have always been fascinated by the tiny houses. I just had a discussion on the hippie forum where I live, about this very topic. Housing on the island is prohibitively expensive. The idea to create a more-inclusive, less-geriatric crowd was tiny houses.

    I told them, as I’m telling you, that tiny houses allow their owners to be debt free. Debt is the currency of slaves. I love being debt free.

    • notamobster says:

      Plus, I love the mechanics of what you can do to maximize space in a small house. The wife and I plan to build one as soon the kids are all kicked out. Looks like it’ll be a while, since we just added 3 more mouths to the passenger list.