by Laura Moreland

Recently there was a beautiful stone house featured on Tiny House Swoon and another for sale at Tiny House Listings, both of them were very special in that they were clearly built by skilled crafts persons and were therefore more costly to build than many tiny houses, including my own. The thing is, that these absolutely beautiful tiny houses are both under a great deal of criticism by some readers. Many refer to tiny houses like this as being overpriced and one reader called the stone house “the antithesis of the tiny house movement”. I don’t agree; here is why.

If the tiny house movement was only about living tiny and cheaply, and had nothing to do with comfort, we could pop together a square with 6 pieces of plywood and live there. Or we could more realistically buy and live in something like a Little Guy trailer. At under $9,000 (Canadian currency) new, these would fit the bill for tiny and cheap. Really! It is a place to put a few personal items. They come with walls, and a roof, they have a bed and a door with a window to look out of. They also have heating and cooling and as well as a sink and stove; albeit these are on the outside of the house. Just buy a bucket for a port-a potty and there is your castle. As far as I can see any tiny trailer on the market will meet all the basic needs for two people. Inhabitants would really only need to concern themselves with finding a place to get washed – which is something that I still have to do at Tiny House Ontario.

I am not knocking those who choose (or are forced to) live in a tiny trailer. For some people this is an ideal home and that is perfectly fine. As a matter of fact, I would love to have one of them for camping trips or to visit tiny house conferences. Clearly, one of these is a huge improvement over homelessness too. If we are totally honest, the idea of living in a situation like this is for most of us not really something that we are willing to do. When I mentioned this to my readers, David J. Widmann quite succinctly responded “If they want something cheaply made in an overseas factory that’ll off-gas formaldehyde for years, they’re more than welcome to it.” I agree whole-heartedly with Widmann. Really folks, if tiny and cheap is the only important factor for how you choose to live, please, by all means, pull out your checkbook and build a plywood box, or move into a tiny trailer. You might even want to start a tiny uncomfortable movement.

It is very difficult for me to grasp why many people who follow the tiny house movement miss noticing the absolute diversity in our homes and also that the time that we invest into these homes adjusts the value of them.

Le Petite Chateau is a tiny house with an interior almost completely hand-crafted.

Most people recognize that higher quality and finely crafted items cost more than mass-produced items. At least this has been the case in the parts of the world where I have lived and visited. Paintings cost more than prints and hand crafted furnishings cost more than IKEA and so on and so on. It does not matter what you want to buy, if it is individually hand crafted, the time of the crafts person must be considered. Seriously, artists have to eat too folks. Besides, you know, even chopped up fruit in the supermarket costs more than whole fruit, and home prepared food is cheaper than eating in a restaurant. No one works for free, not craftspersons, not artists, not waiters, not even fruit choppers; no one works for free.

A stone cabin built to replica Thoreau’s cabin.

Please remember we are not all about tiny and cheap. Tiny houses certainly are tiny and many of them are very cost efficient, but it is that our homes allow us other choices besides being stuck in a situation where we are forever tied to a mortgage, rent, huge and ever growing utilities and compliance to a consumerist lifestyle. Our homes are often times a huge reflection of the way that we choose to live. Many tiny housers value beauty over utility, some choose the opposite; most are somewhere in the spectrum in between.

So much more than tiny and cheap; tiny houses allow us to live truly bountiful lives with time to spare for travel, creativity, family, friends and community; while at the same time our tiny homes help us our footprint and our affect on the planet. In other words we use little resources and are often times paid off in spades in terms of our quality of life.

Tiny houses offer us a choice that is in the modest middle, somewhere between a mansion and a trailer and the only rule as far as I know, is that to qualify as a tiny house, it must be under 400 square feet.

So to those who spend extra time, money or both to make your tiny house a work of art, we are glad to have you among us! Cheers to beautiful tiny things! Like the adage says, good things come in small packages.

Laura Moreland is a contributing writer for Tiny House Listings.  She lives in a tiny woodland cottage near Kingston Ontario with a pack of dwarf dogs.  Her woodsman ensures that she never accept apples from old ladies.  You can learn more about Laura through her website “Tiny House Ontario” here.

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