Remember the Mother Goose bedtime story about the old woman and her ten children who lived in a shoe? How did the children all fit in that shoe? Even the old woman didn’t know what to do.
Similarly, the Weasley Burrow in the Harry Potter series appears rather cramped for the family, but it’s magical and adjusts to their needs — not to mention Mrs. Weasley is always prepared with a sound solution.
In a tiny home, you must be innovative and creative, but living in such a home requires the sacrifice of creature comforts that many would find difficult to live without. The idea of minimalism, or living a simple and sustainable lifestyle, is what attracts most people to building and residing in a tiny home.
Because of the interest in living sustainable, there are multiple tiny home blogs, tours and conventions. Is this movement sustainable in the long term?
Unique, Eco-Friendly, but Not up to Code
Every tiny home is unique, creatively retrofitted to meet multiple needs. A bed folds up into a wall. Booth style seating on a converted school bus hides storage areas. Some homes are even built into the earth to regulate temperature in a more natural way. Multipurpose and eco-friendly, what’s not to like?
Just as there is no one shoe size that fits all, tiny homes aren’t for everyone. There are still multiple challenges that tiny homebuilders face when it comes to getting approval for building and overcoming land restrictions — many tiny homes are built on wheels for this reason, as a loophole to the law.
Tiny homes are illegal in many places, and owners may eventually be forced to tear down residences because they’re technically temporary spaces for living, but small towns and big cities across the United States are shifting building codes to make tiny houses possible.
Walsenburg, Colorado approved amendments to waive requirements for minimum room size, and the single family detached dwelling must be placed on a foundation or footer permanently. San Jose was the first city in California to waive building codes to create dwellings for the homeless, to build “unconventional” housing.
Will Tiny Homes Help the Housing Crisis?
Tiny homes restrict urban sprawling and conserve resources, space and money saved from spending on high-interest mortgages. Where housing prices are sky high in many big cities and some families in developing countries live in unsafe and unhealthy conditions, are raising prices and building bigger homes the answer?
Tiny homes may be a viable solution to solving the housing crisis across the world, from rampant homelessness in big cities to providing homes for people struggling in third world countries. The Murch Tech Corporation designed a 100-square foot “nest” called The Hummingbird, which is tornado and earthquake ready, complete with toilet, sink, baseboard heater, water heater and options for a porch and more lofts, roughly costing $15,000.
Seattle, which has declared a housing emergency, placed $1.24 million behind a proposal that found a loophole in restrictive planning rules and building codes where a building under 120 square feet wasn’t recognized as a permanent dwelling. As of the end of 2017, over 310 people, including children, are projected to have housing and perhaps a better peace of mind.
While this provides a temporary sanctuary, it’s not a permanent solution. Residents with smaller children feel the pinch as those children grow. People who build a tiny home may end up selling it, but they don’t go out and buy a large condo — they will likely opt to remodel an older home. Some build another level to their tiny house.
Alternatively, many others are pleased to be a part of the sense of community that a tiny home brings. In areas where zoning laws are friendlier to tiny homes, some people buy land together as friends while other efforts redefine what home is, creating comfortable living spaces for the disabled and seniors.
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Combining Technology and Resources
Tiny homes may be built out of anything, from repurposed school buses and storage trailers to an outfitted RV. More renovation practices incorporate green building materials, such as reclaimed wood, and the combination of technology and resources could make the tiny home movement a sustainable option for the future.
Communities in impoverished areas of the world and people looking for a simpler lifestyle create small homes with innovative materials and waste products around them, such as creating small homes with plastic bottles, recycling and upcycling all at once.
The San Francisco company Apis Cor recently 3-D printed a 400-square foot home in 24 hours using concrete in Russia. The home was constructed in a circular shape with a strong roof to handle tough Russian winters, and it was outfitted with a shiny kitchen and home appliances. Technology has been developed that recycles plastic into a 3-D printing material.
Imagine combining the speed and strength of Apis Cor with the magic of recycling plastics. Companies can affordably and quickly produce homes that are eco-friendly.
The tiny home movement isn’t going away because there’s an appeal to returning to a simpler lifestyle. There is no model for what a tiny home should be made of or be like. Every tiny home is unique to its resident, constructed from multiple eco-friendly and recyclable materials.
The key for the tiny home movement to stay sustainable is adaptability, which will be crucial as more cities adapt their building codes and laws with eco-friendly practices. The beauty of the tiny house is that it’s literally what you make it – and that’s essential to its sustainability.