Downsides To Tiny Homes

David Trammel's picture

Megan Carras posted this article on the downsides she has found in looking at Tiny Homes

Tiny houses look marvelous but have a dark side: three things they don’t tell you on marketing blurb

Her three downsides were:

1) Tiny homes are not conventional housing. People who get one usually do so planning to size up, that is save with owning a tiny house then buying something larger later. Doing that can be difficult.

2) Tiny homes are on wheels, therefore many people living on them feel "groundless". And local regulations can be unfriendly

3) Living in a tiny home requires you adopt tiny consumption, something that not everyone can do easily.

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OK, not to savagely tear her arguments apart like a "fierce wolverine", as someone who is planning to build a tiny home to live in once I retire, I would say to each of her downsides, "Yes, yes, and yes...BUT".

It has only been in the last hundred years that the expectation of the amount of personal space they each needs, has sky rocketed. For thousands of year, each of us had a tiny amount of space to call our own. Corporate interests have pushed the idea we each need a mansion. And the idea of "starter homes" has been around for years too. My sister's home is small, and yet served its previous owners and her well.

As for their depreciation in value, every car driven off the lot loses value immediately. Its not about the value, its about the use you intend for it. Just because you spent $20 thousand to build a tiny house, doesn't mean that over the course of your use, it doesn't go down in value. Using something causes wear and tear. No one values something that has been used as much as something new. That mentality, that your home should be worth more, is a false assumption fueled by the housing bubble of the last decade. Many factors have collided to artificially inflate housing value that have nothing to do with the actual value of the home, but everything to do with banks and investors. We've gone from buying a home for its value as a shelter to buying one as a way to make money.

And I also guess that some of that "depreciation" comes from the many new companies jumping into tiny home building and the poor quality that has been a result. My sister's home has value even after 50 years because it was built to last. A tiny home built with a expected lifespan of 10 years, will not.

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Groundless?

I have to chuckle here. Yes of course your tiny home will sway a bit when you walk around inside of it. Tiny homes are built tall, that is they have a small foot print, but make up with it by having upper layers. Sometimes bed lofts and such. They are also thin, that is they are built on trailer frames and can't be much more than a typical auto's width so they can fit on the road. Both of these factors contribute to the way tiny homes can rock a bit.

This can easily be alleviated by building them on the ground. And yet as Ms Carras points out, local government regulations have lagged behind the desire of citizens for change. That's happened for centuries. Bureaucrats are notoriously slow to change. That can be solved if people start making their voices hear by their representatives.

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As one dweller in her late 30s, who lives in a state-of-the-art home in a caravan park in rural New Hampshire, said, “I have a TK Maxx addiction. I still go out every couple months and buy a bunch of stuff then come home and decide which things to get rid of.”

Can I just face palm myself? The simple reply is a shout of "Stop buying stuff!!!"

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Like many trendy fads, owning and living in a tiny house, has attracted people that shouldn't do it. Unfortunately too many journalist use this as an excuse to trash the product, not the people.

Blueberry's picture

People forget that a family moving to the middle of no where 200 hundred years ago would have to build a cabin with no extra helping hands. So 12X16 or 16X16 plus a sleeping loft. The 2 and 3 year would see a front and back porch. To get a idea of the hardship of building a cabin, take a trip to a home center. Grab a 6X6 post 16 feet long and walk around the store with the dam thing. Building a cabin you would first have to cut down a tree then cut to length and carry the log back to the building site. So for each 8 foot high wall you would need 16 logs my back hurts just thinking about this project.

David Trammel's picture

I totally agree, even 4x4's are heavy, depending on the wood. I suspect that's why so many pictures of homes built by Settlers and Farmers of that period we dug partially into the ground, or up against a hillside.

lathechuck's picture

4x4 timbers? Where would they even find wood like that out on the prairie? They'd be lucky to find one tree with lumber that could hold up the roof; walls would be sod or adobe. In some regions, wood wasn't just heavy, it was scarce! Also, a home dug into the ground would be warmer in winter, and cooler in summer, with less exposure to the wind, and the thermal mass of the soil. (Unfortunately, it was probably damp, year-around, too.)