Tiny Houses: Future or Fad?

Tiny houses have received a great deal of attention recently, as a growing number of people express an interest in going smaller rather than bigger. Still, the question remains to be answered: are tiny houses the wave of the future, or is the fad nothing but hype?

Exploring the Tiny House Trend

To answer this question, it can be helpful to look back at the history of tiny houses. While the concept has gained a lot of attention lately, the idea of tiny houses is not entirely new. In fact, tiny house manufacturers have been around for decades, though they are often few and far between as they are spread across the country. Nonetheless, the tiny house market has seen a recent explosion, with tiny house companies seeing growth by around 200 percent in the last few years.

What has caused such an increase in interest in tiny houses? While tiny houses were originally seen as mostly a response to the increase in the number of large houses, which tiny house advocates maintain is mostly wasted space, it appears that the trend may go deeper than that. Rather than simply being a lifestyle choice, tiny houses are also a response from some to economic pressures. After all, a tiny house cost much less to build and to maintain than a large or even average-sized home.

Who Buys Tiny Houses?

Yet, while tiny houses may be exploding in response to economic pressures, it is not just those who are struggling financially who are getting in on the trend. In fact, the owner of the San Antonio Spurs recently ordered a tiny house for his property in Hawaii. Customers are also using tiny houses and accessory dwelling units, vacation homes, rooms for family members when they visit, Airbnb rentals and more.

Yet, despite the number of people who are buying tiny houses, most people have only seen or heard about tiny houses on television or on the Internet. Many have not actually seen a tiny house in person. Furthermore, there are a number of barriers that can still get in the way for someone who is interested in buying a tiny house.

Overcoming Tiny House Obstacles

For the most part, tiny houses do not have a fixed or separate legal definition. As a result, they can create problems in terms of zoning and city regulations. Tiny houses can also be difficult to finance, creating barriers for the industry?s growth.

Rather than defining them by what they are, tiny homes are typically defined by what they are not. As such, most define a tiny home as a building that is between 100 and 400 square feet, with many of them being portable. This loose definition combined with the lack of a professional organization to provide oversight also makes it difficult to track and measure manufacturing and sales figures as they related to tiny homes. With the median price of a new home in the United States in May being $345,800, however, there is no doubt that a tiny home is far less expensive. In fact, even the most decked out models typically cap off at around $100,000, though the prices can be as low as around $10,000.

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