Why the Tiny Home Movement?
Tiny homes have become a huge deal in the last 20 or so years. This has happened for many reasons and has appealed to all age groups.
For some it is the ecological sustainability, for others it’s the price point; there are retirement tiny homes, starter tiny homes, luxury tiny homes, you name it.
The tiny home movement started in the early 2000’s, with a spike in interest occurring during the financial crisis of 2007-08.
Tiny homes became a more attainable option during that time.
The difference between a tiny house and an RV is that tiny homes use traditional building techniques and materials and are built to last as long as traditional homes.
Tiny homes can be built on a mobile trailer, or on a foundation on real property.
In the beginning, it was the tiny homeowners themselves who built the dwellings, putting their sweat, time, energy and love into these projects.
Now, years later, while the craftsman continue to produce unique homes, those of us who are aren’t as building savvy have the ability to purchase a number of different options for pre-fabricated tiny homes on sites like Amazon.
These can range in size, insulation level, and layout, and can cost anywhere from $4,500 to $65,000 and up.
A few years ago, a 20 something year old friend of mine decided to build his own tiny home and has been living in it every since.
I asked him a few short questions about his experience to get an idea for his thought process behind the project:
Q: Why did you decide to build your tiny home?
A: I would say I built the tiny home because I was trying to live a more simple life.
Q: How long did it take you and how much did it end up costing?
A: I gave myself 1 year to build it and I would say around $7,000 more or less.
Q: Did you have money saved to do it or did you have to borrow from a family member/take out a personal loan?
A: So my parents were going to help me get into a place and I just asked if we could build the tiny home on my grandparents old camper trailer, showed a couple pictures of tiny homes and they were all for it!!
Q: Were you able to do it alone or did you need to hire people?
A: Built and designed probably 90% of it. Why I gave myself the year to do it.
Q: Did you have any experience with building before you took on the project or was it more of a figure-it-out-as-you-go thing?
A: It was a little of both. I knew the basics of construction and just took a little information from the Internet to get her figured out.
Q: What benefits have you experienced from having a tiny home?
A: I feel like my free time is growing and that would be the best part.
Q: Where do you park it?
A: Right now I’m parked on my parent’s property. Being a few hundred yards away it’s like they are my neighbors really!
So, are these becoming a viable option for millennials in this housing shortage we are experiencing in Utah? While this is fun to fantasize about, there are a few things you should know before you jump on the bandwagon.
Things you should know:
You need to have legal land (owned by you or owned by somebody who is aware and agrees to it) to park your tiny home on
There are certain codes and permits for different municipalities that, if not followed, could result in condemning your tiny home or incur a fine
You cannot get a home mortgage on a tiny home, mainly for the reason that they don’t have good resale value. So in order to finance a home like this you would either need to save up and purchase it outright or borrow money from a family member/friend.
While it appeals to millennials, tiny homes are not just for this group.
Some programs have developed in the past few years to help with the homeless issue in bigger cities; this has become another great way the tiny home industry is being utilized.
Across the nation there are at least 10 tiny home villages that offer shelter for the homeless.
With the first few of these villages originating in Portland and Eugene, OR, there are now locations in New York, Michigan, Tennessee, California, Washington, Wisconsin, and Texas.
These projects that were originally transitional homes have now become more of a sustainable community for their tenants, with the men and women who live there taking responsibility for the space with things such as a community garden and communal bathrooms/showers maintained by the residents.
On a more international level, and one that is directly tied to my own work, there is a non-profit called New Story that currently works in Mexico, Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia.
This group works to supply families who are living on the streets in these countries with legitimate homes.
They are doing so by 3D printing tiny homes for about $6,500 USD and they put every penny of donation money towards hiring local workers and helping with the building process.
I am lucky enough to work for an amazing company, Sotheby’s International Realty, who has committed to donate enough funds to construct over 150 of these homes in New Story’s upcoming project in New Mexico.
This is just one of the many causes that we as realtors donate to throughout the year and it truly makes our work that much more meaningful to us.