Working through some philosophy and the big picture on small living before I get into the meat and bones of building . . .
How big is big enough? If you’re homeless I would say a 500 SF house would be a mansion – If you are in the top 1%, 500SF would be your guest bathroom! I bring this up because there’s a big difference between what each one of us feels is adequate for our own comfortable home.
Not surprisingly, here in the US, that’s pretty BIG! “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average single-family house completed in 2013 was 2,598 square feet.” WOW! I get that. Really I do. When you have kids, you need more room, but again, WOW! Do little Billie and Lillie really need their own private areas when they already have a basement and the outdoors? Build character folks, not entitlement! For me, I would rather spend that money on a smaller house of higher quality. Then if I still had some left over, I could support causes important to Sue and me. Let’s see, add a guest bedroom for my twice-a-year overnight guests or keep 1000 families from going hungry. . .Hmmm? If it’s all about you, that’s gotta make you feel better than that 5th bedroom. Altruism causes joy!
I will be the first to admit that a 500SF house is small, tiny, or even micro by US standards. I made the mistake of titling a You Tube video of our cottage – “520 SF Micro House”. That was back in 2011, and since then it’s been viewed over 325,000 times! I have dealt with countless folks telling me “This is not a micro house” and “I live in a cardboard box” or “I live in a 150SF Tiny Piney Trailer* with a dog, and in fact, your 520SF cottage is a veritable mansion!” This is where the name for our blog and website comes from. I always (usually nicely) asked these cyber-scolders, “Who made the rules and guidelines for proper small sized house descriptions?” My favorite answer was, “Curiously enough, in 1947 Katharine Hepburn defined the size of a “Micro House” as anything under 385 square feet. And, in 1963, comedian Buddy Hackett agreed. So there!” Sarcasm and wit when backed into a corner. I love it!!!
This infographic really puts the differences of the size of houses in a worldwide perspective –
And these are 2009 stats for new homes being built during the worldwide economic Downturd (sic)! USA has moved back up to almost 2600SF by 2013. As I said, size is relative and also based on economics.
As we think about smaller homes, let’s not argue about what size is comfortable for each of us. That’s personal. I can’t tell you what fits you and your family. For our conversations here though, I want to talk about long term, sustainable homes from about 500SF-999SF. Honestly, even Sue and I often discuss adding a small kitchen. Sue cooks a lot and could use a nice small kitchen without the kitchen tango every morning and evening. I’ll still figure out a reason to smooch her though! So we may add another 100-150SF on sometime and make our home a ridiculously HUGE 670SF McTiny McMansion, LOL!
*Side note – IMO if it’s on wheels, it’s a camper or trailer. I call them Tiny Piney’s because they are almost always pine sided and void of color. They can be a great home, but are not a house. *
So the lessons we learned today –
1) The Downturd economy made us build smaller and fewer homes.
2) The Downturd is allegedly over, so now we are building bigger homes than ever ~ YAY!
3) Feed the hungry instead of your 5th bedroom.
4) Folks feel they need to share their prejudice about house sizes, and sometimes they are really funny.
5) Sue wants a kitchen instead of 50SF kitchen/pantry/foyer. ~ “Proofreader Sue” says, YAY–And says in her best Jewish Momma Voice~”So, It took a blog to finally convince you?” ; )
6) Ron feels it necessary to share his opinion about putting a Tiny Piney box on wheels and calling it a house. “It’s a camper damn it! You can live in it 365 and call it your home, but it is not a small house!”
7) Ron can be Dick sometimes ;>) ~”Proofreader Sue” agrees. : ) (How Dare Sue!)
Until next Friday,
Cheers fellow Tinies~
PS. Don’t forget to share and spread the word all over the place!!!