Why do Small Homes Cost so Much and Where We Go From Here

I read this post from Forbes today –

12 Tricked-Out Tiny Houses, And Why They Cost So Much
This 510SF tiny is worth nearly 1.2 million!
I don’t agree with some things in this article, but most of it is dead on.

1) “Fueled by backlash from the financial and housing crisis, these homes–typically sized 500 square feet or smaller–are having a moment.”
– Totes agree with this one. Living small has a lot to do with economy. Even if you make good money (whatever that means), you can make that good money become great money by not paying for a bunch of square feet and even more square-air space that you most likely won’t use. Spend your good money on good food and booze instead, or better yet donate some money and/or time to a food bank!
2) “Tiny houses typically cost between $200 to $400 per square foot. On a square foot basis, that’s far pricier than the average American home”
– Totes agree again – think about it – how much does it cost to add a an extra 3′ onto a bathroom? Not much because it only takes a little more framing and a few more feet of wire if you have electricity. It’s the fixtures that cost money, and you already have them. You don’t need to add an extra John or hand crafted copper sink. That’s why the cost “per square foot” is more. The copper sink costs the same in a 50SF bath as it does in a 200SF bath! Sue interjects~unless you get it at an auction or flea market for a great price–then I say go ahead and use it!  But in the end, the smaller footprint costs less overall and costs less to maintain and heat/cool. Water usage can still be crazy in a Tiny if you have an in-line water heater with endless hot water. This takes some self discipline to keep your water bills down, too!  Sue interjects~We will talk about our in-line water heater in another post.  I’m sure others who have these have a lot to talk about, as we do!

3) “Tiny house pioneer Dee Williams, has spent the last decade in an 84-square-foot home in a friend’s backyard”

– I think I love Dee and hope to meet her someday at a tiny home gathering – you gotta respect her spirit, but I have to say – (remember our blog is about 500-900SF homes) I would not want to live in a home that I need to climb a ladder, carry my dog up/down it, and can’t stand up in my bedroom. We have stayed in cabins like this and they are charming for a week, but are too monastic a lifestyle for us on a daily basis. Dee also uses her friend’s backyard, uses either an outdoor shower or a gym to bath, and has her Humanure Toilet in her Kitchen/Working/Living room. We have used a custom built, composting Humanure toilet for 15 years. I am still amazed how there is no smell, and it makes compost to die for, BUT I still don’t want it in my eating/working area!  So the 84SF is a little misleading as far as a completely self contained Tiny goes, but to each his/her own and I say GO DEE!!!  Sue interjects~It would be nice to talk to Dee to get her response to these topics  ~: )

American Girl Head Bonker in Shiny Tiny Chalet
American Girl Head-Bonker in Shiny Tiny Chalet

How small you want to live is your choice and all the preaching in the world won’t win everyone over. I know that many folks live with ladders and head-bonking bedroom ceilings (ours, bang -OUCH!), but it is time to take this movement beyond only those with a deep zen-like force or the spirited, idealistic younger set on wheels! If we are to open eyes, we need the extremes of Dee in 84SF and all the little Camper Home Tinies, but if we go just a little more mainstream, and still small but, a little more functional for the “normal” (Sue added “”–what is normal?)set, we can move beyond dreams and into real change.

Sue interjects~I LOVE this woman and want to be her when I grow up! If this picture doesn’t make you smile, you need to take smile lessons! ~ : )

Many older folks ready to retire can’t climb ladders to bed or empty 40 pound composting toilets, but they like the idea of small homes. Many Mother-in-Laws would be more welcome if they had their own Mudder-in-Law home out in the backyard to stay in when they visit. Many fresh out of school would love to own their own home instead of renting, but simply can’t afford the down payment. Realistic, semi-mainstream, 500-900SF homes can solve these issues as well as just plain make the world a little better by spreading home ownership out a little more evenly to the 99% of the rest of us. Now that’s a game changer!


2 thoughts on “Why do Small Homes Cost so Much and Where We Go From Here

  1. As I read more and more about Tiny homes, I’m thinking this may be a good solution for those of us with adult children who just can’t seem to leave the nest. 🙂

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