Maybe you’ve been watching popular YouTube channels like Living Big in a Tiny Home or Exploring Alternatives and want to build or buy a tiny home. Is this a good idea?
Tiny homes have a lot of pros (and cons) and certainly aren’t for everyone. Whether you’re looking to wholeheartedly downsize and live the tiny home dream, or are considering an accessory dwelling unit in addition to your full-size house, here are some of the biggest benefits to tiny homes (and the downsides!).
1. Tiny homes can be great starter homes
Tiny homes are an increasingly popular way to get onto the property ladder, especially in areas where conventional homes are wildly out of reach financially. Sure, some tiny homes are super expensive because they’re arguably overengineered and intended for the choicest of occupants, but if you’re looking for something fairly simple, cozy, and are willing and able to put in some of the work yourself, a tiny home can get your foot in the door.
2. Tiny homes can be fast and efficient to build
This isn’t always the case, but many tiny homes are built to standardized specifications that make for faster construction and quicker delivery to site. Because the builders aren’t hampered by weather and know well in advance all the materials they’ll need to finish the project, a tiny home build is way more efficient than an on-site build where just one delay due to inclement weather can snowball into months of setbacks as scheduled services have to rearrange site visits.
3. Tiny homes can be less wasteful in construction
It seems pretty obvious that a tiny home would use less materials than a large conventionally built house, but even accounting for size differences, tiny home builds can be less wasteful because they often follow a standard design. Engineers will have mapped out every piece of the (tiny home) puzzle before they make the first cut, meaning they can use materials in the most efficient way to minimize waste.
Many companies are also highly adept at knowing the exact offcuts from larger modular pieces and using these in other areas of the design, such as for window frames, door sills, and so on.
4. Tiny homes can provide needed affordable housing
Though tiny home living isn’t for everyone, those who struggle to find conventional housing could benefit from a surge in tiny home building as accessory dwelling units or on newly developed community sites. Cheaper and faster to build than conventional apartment buildings, and more appealing to current homeowners looking for a mortgage helper, a laneway tiny home or entire tiny home village can help house some of the most vulnerable in society who struggle to find and keep affordable housing.
5. Tiny homes are portable
A tiny home can (in most cases) be picked up and relocated with relative ease, meaning that you can keep the home you love, even if you have to move to neighborhoods, cities, or even countries in some cases. This saves you and the environment the trouble of building a new house or renovating an older building.
6. Tiny homes may have lower permit fees and faster processing
Because they’re considered mobile and are often built to standard specifications, tiny homes can have the advantage of lower development permit fees and faster processing through local government planning committees. This isn’t always the case, but chances are if you go with a local, trustworthy, tiny home provider, they’ll already be experts at navigating this whole process and can make things far faster and cheaper for you as a result.
7. Tiny homes can be efficient by design
Many tiny homes are designed to be energy efficient and eco-friendly. This makes sense, given that a lot of tiny homes are intended for off-grid living and are reliant on wind, solar, and microhydro power for electricity. Smart design can incorporate eco-friendly passive heating, cooling, or power elements, and the smaller space is in itself easier, faster, and cheaper to heat and cool.
Look for smart elements like mini-appliances, or infrared mirrors that heat a space in addition to adding light and a handy way to check your appearance before your Dwell photoshoot.
8. Vacuuming is a breeze
Okay, so this one is a bit silly, but it has to be said that a tiny home of less than 500 square feet is much easier to clean and maintain than a sprawling 2500 square foot rancher with a huge roofline and a lot of flooring and windows. Cleaning gutters need no longer mean calling in the professionals for a full day’s work. Instead, you can probably get it done in an hour or two and then tidy, vacuum, mop, dust, and put your feet up all before the day is done.
9. Tiny homes have a tiny footprint
Because tiny homes are, well, tiny, they don’t usually require a large area of land to be clear-cut. They also have much greater flexibility for positioning on site, meaning you can take advantage of any passive heating and cooling potential and find the best way to hook into existing services, live off-grid, pay back into the grid, or use renewable energy sources more easily.
See also: How big of a solar array do I need?
10. Tiny homes help you stay on top of clutter!
Living in a very small space where every inch of storage is precious encourages you to avoid buying things you don’t need and instead borrow and trade tools, sports equipment, and even kitchen gadgets and larger items for hobbies. This can help you hook into a sharing economy and find community close by!
11. Tiny homes can help shorten your commute
If you live in a big city and can’t see a way to afford a conventional home without moving more than an hour’s commute from work, a tiny home could be the answer. This might mean looking at building a tiny home as an accessory dwelling unit in your parents’ backyard or pooling resources with friends to buy a plot of land and build two or three tiny homes as a mini-village.
The key thing is that the smaller footprint allows you to think outside the box and keep your commute short! Tiny homes also help add density without adding sprawl, which helps protect greenspace and provided much-needed housing in areas where high-rises aren’t an option.
Our tiny home and prefab home reviews
After having read about the pros, and hopefully also the cons, are you ready to take the plunge into tiny home or downsized living? Some providers of eco-homes are better, and more reputable, than others. For further reading, we have reviewed a number of tiny home and prefab home brands including:
- Bert’s Boxes
- Unity Homes
- Nomad Micro Homes
- Living Homes
- Honomobo Homes
- FabCab Homes
- Clever Homes
- Bamboo Living Homes
Final thoughts on the benefits of tiny homes
A tiny home, especially if prefabricated, will likely cost you less than an average family home. However, on a cost per square foot basis, building a tiny home can cost twice as much as building a conventional home. Some tiny home designs are also arguably all form and no function, making them less eco-friendly than an equivalent living space built in a conventional manner. So, before you get carried away with the benefits, take a look at the potential pitfalls of tiny homes and prefabricated homes of all sizes.