The Antithesis of the Tiny House Movement

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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33 Comments → “The Antithesis of the Tiny House Movement”


  1. Nancy Bryant

    Feb 28, 2014

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. We are the ones who decide what our small space is whether it is luxurious or spartan.

    Reply

  2. Erin

    Feb 28, 2014

    Thank you for this! I hadn’t known that such vitriol was spreading so noticeably, but I am not surprised. Another case of ‘my exact way’ is the Right Way and another way is just for poseurs.

    I’ve been madly sketching plans lately and my budget keeps growing as I want to make my home comfortable and energy efficient in as many ways and places as possible, since at 30 years old, I expect to have my comfortable personalized tiny house for 50 years whether or not I live in it full-time for that long or not. And I will still spend less money over that period of time than more conventional living might.

    If I want a tiny $1000 soaking tub and a Kimberly stove in my tiny house, well then that’s what I’m going to get.

    Reply

  3. Scott Harris

    Feb 28, 2014

    Well put, Ms. Moreland. I’m a skilled arborist (and tiny house builder). A homeowner can buy a cheap saw, screw up his or her courage to climb their trees and do certain obvious corrections for a lot less money than I would charge. But I have studied and practiced for decades to be able to do the right thing safely, effectively and in an aesthetically pleasing way. Value and cost are most frequently differrent.

    Reply

  4. Lis

    Feb 28, 2014

    Well said. People deserve proper compensation for the special skills which add value to these homes. Chosing to spend money wisely and not have “junk” is very much part of the tiny house movement. It’s not just about “cheap.”

    Reply

  5. Bradford Glass

    Feb 28, 2014

    Thank you, Laura. Nicely said. I love the tiny house idea, but I love quality, too. To me, tiny does not have to mean slipshod, and I’m kind of annoyed by those who think tiny means cheap … which, as you point out, means reduced quality. Keep on posting.

    Reply

  6. john

    Feb 28, 2014

    That stone cottage is beyond my wildest dreams beautiful…if i had the money i’d build one much like it.
    Too many think there is only one reason to build and live in a tiny house, financial…and they are wrong. That is one reason, but by far the least of them. So many people are on the hunt for housing that can alleviate their being poor, their fears of becoming homeless, those people are part of a very large group of americans in dire need of some kind of financial relief and security that has so far been unattainable for them.
    Many of the poor and desperate see the tiny house movement as a means to escape the ‘trailer park poor’ status they don’t want to be labelled with. A tiny house is a movement with more of an eclectic/artsy feel to it and not the stigma of ‘trailer park poor’…
    Tiny homes are not cheap to buy or to build…well, they are but only when compared to building a more standard sized home…to rent an apartment or house the ‘start up costs’ of renting is cheaper…

    The criticisms more expensive tiny homes get is unfair, if you want cheap go to walmart and buy a plastic or metal shed to live in.
    The people who do build tiny homes have, for the most part, skills building, skilled friends, are healthy, have either at least 15k to spend or the good credit to pay for it, and a desire to live in a small space for reasons that are personal.
    Tiny homes aren’t for the poor because the poor can’t afford them…older people with health issues would be poorly served in their declining years in a tiny home, disabled people don’t have the money or the credit to buy or build one and they don’t have the ability to do the physical work.
    Of the people who do end up living in a tiny home, not all can hack it, they sell them after finding out it just doesn’t work for them or they have too much trouble keeping one in a city or town who forbids them. So many of them are for sale…the failure rate has to be high, it is a remarkable change in lifestyle that many dream of but few can live with.

    I owned a little cabin it was isolated on private land an hour drive from anything but trees, it was 10×16. I went there to hunt and fish during vacations and would typically spend ten or more days there at a time.
    My friends used to beg me to take them out to the cabin and i did…at first. Not many can handle the isolation, sure it sounds great, but actually living it is quite different, there are bugs, there is no running water, no bathrooms, no showers…of the twenty or so people i took out there only 2 of them didn’t beg me to take them home early…big burly men whined like children!
    I stopped inviting people out there for two reasons, first they ruined my enjoyment, my vacation time with a three hour drive each way to take them home early. Second, i discovered that 99% of people, even my dearest friends, are all talk and dreams…dreams never compare well to reality, and most often will disappoint the dreamers. I want no part of ruining anyones dreams with reality.

    I don’t really want to live in 200 sq. ft. or less…i’m absolutely willing and ready to live in 400 sq. ft….that’s tiny enough for me, and i know myself, i know exactly what kind of space i need to feel happy and comfortable in.
    Most people have no idea what they need, no clue what space is, or where they fall psychologically in space requirements to keep from going crazy. I see tiny houses for sale and i see a failure, someone who didn’t know what they were getting into, either spacewise or legally.

    Size and cost…unrelated completely. Apples and oranges.
    Expensive furniture and appliances, expensive stone and carpentry, cheap plywood and junkyard fixtures, curbside donations, thrift stores, or park avenue designers…what you put into every phase, what you put inside, how you choose the finishes…there is no way to say something is too costly or too cheap when pricing a home you did not design, build, and turn into reality.
    I read those criticisms and think they are dreamers with walmart budgets.
    Perhaps it’s human nature to complain and belittle the things we can’t have, it makes us feel better.

    Reply

    • Niki Ho

      Mar 01, 2014

      a tiny house is nothing to view with money, a big house could be far more expensive … it seems to me who living in the arse hole of nowhere since years and totally alone during months/year , my first neighbor at 2 km, the first village at 7 km, the first town at 40 km, and for France it’s quite a lot, then it’s rather a mater as you noticed too Sir John, a matter of what is wandering in your head … a tiny house will not be built downtown a big town, even a village, a tiny house has to view with loneliness and a true one … without to speak of no electricity or no tape water, but the most important thing, where would you build your home sweet tiny home … and it has almost always to be in a sort of little desert, far from the crowds, and what even your dearest friends have been confronted, surely not your tiny home but the loneliness, no TV, no radio, no internet, no phone for some … the square meters are of nothing compared to aloneliness … how I know it, so many friends of me, coming from Paris, London, from an urban life, they can’t cope they are alone just face to themselves and you, their friend … and in a corner which is a true little paradise, with water and electricity but recurrent power cuts, no TV no radio, so many are totally disturbed … and during night, every tiny noise afraid them, what it is, is there any danger and so on … a Thoreau’s home which is a true marvel but who is ready really ready to live there … not so much, and it’s a good thing because those who are ready will not find again the crowd … dear Sir John, don’t you think ??? and loneliness is not solitude ! and whatever the money problem, a tiny house will be less expensive than a big one – here in France the average cost depends of the square meters – of course, big or little house, water, electricity and drainage for dirty water it’s the same struggle , anyway between a 30 m2 or a 300 m2, the cost difference is huge … please pardon me my strange clumsy English, may it’s understandable anyway … Niki H

      Reply

    • Carol O.

      Mar 01, 2014

      Better be careful John in painting people with broad brush strokes. Saying that seeing a tiny house for sale is seeing a failure, is overreaching and SOOO unfair. There are people who build tiny house and decide they should have gone tinier. There are folks whose situations have changed from when they began the house. There are tiny houses for sale by builders and craftsman or by families who received responsibility to sell the house through parent’s estates. There are as many reasons for selling a tiny house as there are people to do the selling, and rating folks as failures is not appropriate.

      I really appreciated all your other points, besides that one. I agree with you that people should plan ahead better and probably don’t know what they are getting in to. I understand your issues with people taking up your time and resources with their complaining and imposition on your time. All those things are excellent observations of human nature.

      But referring to your comment about people who are selling being failures??? Please give people the benefit of the doubt. Unless you know all the ins and outs of each situation, you can not judge them.

      Best wishes,
      Carol

      Reply

    • Robin

      Mar 03, 2014

      Fabulous posting, John!!!! I especially liked “Expensive furniture and appliances, expensive stone and carpentry, cheap plywood and junkyard fixtures, curbside donations, thrift stores, or park avenue designers…what you put into every phase, what you put inside, how you choose the finishes…there is no way to say something is too costly or too cheap when pricing a home you did not design, build, and turn into reality.
      I read those criticisms and think they are dreamers with walmart budgets.
      Perhaps it’s human nature to complain and belittle the things we can’t have, it makes us feel better.”

      I feel that a lot of the criticism towards the custom homes is a case of Sour Grapes: everyone wants to WIN the Lottery, but very few do. Both my husband and I were born into Dirt Poor families: every penny we made was through hard work and investments. Our home is furnished with extremely expensive antiques….that cost pennies when our ancestors actually bought them! So, looking at photos of our home, you’d think we were millionaires; hardly. We just had relatives that took extraordiinary care of the belongings they had and like gold, they have appreciated in value. A Hoosier cabinet that was my Gran’s wedding gift from my Granpa cost the whopping price of $250 in 1920. That same cabinet is now valued at over $5,000!

      If we were blessed enough to have relatives on both sides of the family who had a good eye for furniture and art, and were lucky enough to inherit their items, WE are the lucky ones and love continuing the family tradition to our own children. When I read blog postings about how EVERYONE should be like Noah, in regards to our belongings: TWO pairs of shoes/TWO cups/TWO bowls….I shudder. I’m happy for the person who wants to count their belongings and limit them to 300, only, but I’m also happy for the person who’s lived a long life and has strong memories and ties to their art/furniture/belongings. We have three grown children and six grandchildren: the wills have been drawn and everyone knows WHAT they get. Their grandparent’s and great grandparents and great-great grandparent’s legacy will be passed on, forming strong roots that tie us together.

      From so many of the negative comments I’ve read about custom tiny homes, it appears that for a portion of the tiny house community, a necessary requirement is POVERTY. You MUST be poor, you MUST have substantial debt and you MUST be a Minimalist!

      Well, that sure limits the interest that newbie’s to the Tiny House community will develop! The woman who used the term “Unibomber” was correct: to the untutored people who know NOTHING about downsizing or tiny homes…when they read postings about yurts, cob homes, no running water/electric/gas….WHAT ARE THEY TO THINK BUT THE WORST!? Now, I know differently but to the Average Jane/Joe, coming from central heat & air/running water and gas stove, this is pretty radical.

      So, if the true spirit of the Tiny House Movement is to simply “simplify”, by whatever means, then ALL “Variations on a Theme” should apply. If you want a 6′ x 6′ plywood home with a cot and a bucket, MORE power to you! If you want an 800 sq.ft. home that cost $500,000 but you downsized from a 3,000 sq.ft. home that cost $3M, MORE power to you! It’s just like cars: A Smart Car wouldn’t work for a cattle rancher and a F150 truck wouldn’t work for a single person living in Manhattan: you have to tailor your needs to your desires and income.

      I look forward to reading more of your posts, John. :D

      Reply

  7. Deb Durham

    Mar 01, 2014

    Thanks you for this much needed piece, Laura. And, John. Bravo!

    Reply

  8. Carrot Chaser

    Mar 01, 2014

    Reply

  9. Liz

    Mar 01, 2014

    I call those people the Unabombers. Because they have no appreciation for anything but the most utilitarian cabins. They also tend toward the survivalist and paranoid. It’s pretty much the reason I don’t participate much, since the mentality that we can live without the support of other human beings is the opposite of what I think we need to understand about the future and how we need to change. The negativity is toxic.

    Reply

    • DeWhit

      Mar 01, 2014

      I think calling persons with a different mindset “unabombers ‘ is a bit drastic.
      Your stance and choice of a deadly label should be considered extreme to those that practice their self reliant beliefs and harm no one. Why label them anything ?

      I think the younger educated persons are to be applauded for wanting to try a smaller housing idea while starting out since they could go the traditional route , but see the financial benefits to saving money thru their housing choices. I also admire the younger working class that know they have to do something to protect themselves and their finances in the future against the whittling away of their work and ability to live comfortably with a family.

      If it makes any difference, everyone involved with alternative housing and living style would have been labelled as a hippy, communal freak, commie , pinko, druggie or social outcast in the not so distant past. I ran away from home as a kid and worked on a carnival and lived in a sleeping bag in an empty freight trailer while moving from town to town. We were called carnival trash by many and often warned to stay out of local businesses by police and town leaders. We lived as well as we could for what we were paid which was squat.
      People like labels for the most part. Something about classification clarity. who knows ?

      Reply

    • Robin

      Mar 03, 2014

      DeWhit: In defense of Liz’s comment, regarding the Unabomer comment, I completely understand what she was saying, but I also get your point, too.

      We all know that stereotypes exist because of the redundancy factor. As noble as we all try to be, every human alive responds to patterns, so if “A + B = 80% C, then that’s the natural area our minds will drift toward. For instance, when I was a kid growing up, ALL laundries were run by Asian or “Chinese” owners. Convenience stores inevitably had Indian owers (re: Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, anyone?). And if you lived in the middle of nowhere, wore faded, old clothes, had a beard and wild hair down to your knees and only came into town every 4 months, you were considered “suspicious” and up to no good.

      Even today, a quick visit to youtube will net you 100′s of “Unabomer” video rantings from rabid Tiny House owners that are screaming at viewers about “carbon footprints/the sins of the Baby Boomers/global warming/consumerism” and a host of other topics. My Gran taught me that you can “Catch more flies with honey than vinegar” and that holds true to attempting to convince non-believers of “Less Is More”. If you bash and belittle people who are investigating alternative lifestyles, DON’T make them feel guilty for owning more than 6 pieces of clothing.

      Being neat, clean and tidy goes a long way toward selling an idea. If you were applying for a loan and your bank officer was sitting in front of you with a wild bushman beard and hair, dirty finger nails, long toenails sticking out from recycled tire sandals, would YOU put your trust in him? Or an excessively overweight fitness trainer: would you hire her to teach YOU about health? So it goes for tiny house education: telling a couple with three children who are into every sport and extra curricular activity that they should sell their 2,000 square foot home with 3 bathrooms and move into a 200 sq.ft. home with an outhouse is NOT going to convert anyone! Oh, and they also have to ditch 95% of their belongings and go Off Grid, too.

      Better to give an exploring person a Carrot such as: “How about a more modest 1,000 square foot home, on grid, and save the extra money for your kid’s college education?” You’re get a lot more interested people THAT way, rather than the more radical approach of beating them up with an Eco-friendly Stick. LOL

      Reply

  10. Kay Sarginson

    Mar 01, 2014

    Laura,

    I really enjoyed your article. I love the Thoreau house, but don’t think it would be for everyone. Unless you have lived for an extended time in a tiny house, it might take some
    time for a person to acclimate.

    I’m not quite ready to make the move but hope to some day.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    Best regards,
    Kay

    Reply

  11. 2BarA

    Mar 01, 2014

    Well said, Laura. I have always been a sewer, making clothes for self and family. When
    people seemed astonished at the high price of children’s clothes such as coats, whether
    bought off the rack or made-to-order, I reminded them that making a coat for a four-year-old
    requires everything that an adult’s coat needs, except the same quantity of fabric. One pays
    for quality, whether in a garment or a house.

    Reply

  12. Naomi

    Mar 01, 2014

    I love the tiny house movement but totally agree with the author. Craftsmen and artists deserve to be paid appropriately for their talent and skill. I say this as a costumer… my biggest frustration is when a client asks for a reproduction of a movie costume at mass market China prices. This is also my biggest dilemma in moving to a tiny house scenario. My business is in my home and at under a 1000 sq ft. For me to grow my business I’m also ready to expand a bit.

    If I built my own tiny house while I could live without a lot of space I do have a couple necessities that aren’t able to be in the trailer versions. A nice soaker tub and an awesome chefs range. I’d also be someone who would have a craftsman make my cabinetry etc. My place would be small by many people’s definition but for me it would be functional and comfortable. An oasis in the run of life.

    Reply

  13. Carol O.

    Mar 01, 2014

    Laura, this was a valuable and pertinent article. To those who have been complaining or pointing fingers or making judgements, judging someone else’s choice of material or size or type of tiny house is silly and immature. No one else will ever make all the same choices that you make. Is a portable tiny house better than a site-built tiny house? NO! Neither is better, except to the person who is building it. Is a stone house better than an RV? Is a plywood house better than a geodesic dome? Not necessarily. It all depends on the owners and what their purposes are and what their aim is. Imposing your idea of what is “best” on others is so common and so selfish and self-centered.

    This world needs to stop judging others about silly stuff and we need to support each person in their pursuit of what works for them. I LOVE the tiny house movement, but I know me. I doubt 400 square feet or under would suffice for me because of my hobbies and family. However, I still GET IT. I get the concept of less is more and using our indoor spaces for multiple purposes instead of having useless, conditioned dead space that is used once a year. I get the down sizing and not needing 40 different pans for cooking and lowering the impact we have on the earth. I am taking in all the stuff I am learning from the tiny house movement and I want to apply the concepts to a house that is not as tiny. I am looking forward to less and freeing myself from baggage and materialism and piles of STUFF. I will not have a storage unit AND a big house.

    See, even if my house is 500 sq feet or 1000 sq. feet, there is benefit to be taken from the tiny house idea. I appreciate so much, knowing that there are people living with less and allowing space for those who want to live with less too.

    Otherwise, my heart thrills to see the uniqueness inherent in tiny houses from all over the world. Your article was a great reminder to accept the individuality around us and rejoice in the variety that is human life.

    Reply

  14. Lars Lunde

    Mar 01, 2014

    Well put indeed, Laura. To each his/her own, I say. The tiny house movement can and SHOULD cover the gamut of style/budget because it’s really all about quality of life anyway. I’ve built all sorts of things for my clients in the past with wildly varying budgets; better, cheaper, faster – pick two, because that’s all you get.

    And your “tiny uncomfortable movement” comment made me laugh out loud. Could be a funny video… hmmm.

    Reply

  15. Ginger

    Mar 01, 2014

    I recently bought a 396 sq foot park model home. Not new…a 2007 model. But lightly used. It had three advantages for me. It was inexpensive, and I am retired on a tight budget. Ground floor bedroom…no loft, and I have two very bad knees that will be replaced soon. And it was already built…I don’t have to build it. I will paint it and replace carpet with laminate floors. Add other personal touches. So for me, it is a good solution. Yes, I follow all the tiny home news closely. Would I like to be able to afford a new, custom unit from Tumbleweed or Slabtown customs? Yes. But it wasnt practical for me. I think the tiny home movement is a wonderful way to help many people back away from the excessive bloat of modern life, and return to something more human-scaled. With less stuff to manage, we can choose our lifestyle options more carefully and thoughtfully. My park model is in a mobile home park. Once I finish paying for my improvements, my monthly costs will include $300/month park rent, and about $100 in utilities. This low cost will allow me to spend some time developing an online business, and allow me to explore a couple of hobbies that might also be lucrative but will surely be rewarding. I will also feel better about my carbon footprint…I don’t need to live in my current 2500 sq feet and use the resources required to heat, light and cool it. Too much for me. So, I think that each of us have different goals, and fortunately, tiny homes come in many varieties that can fit any number of lifestyle plans.

    Reply

    • Paula

      Mar 01, 2014

      Ginger: Where did you find a Park Home already set up to purchase? I have been looking for over a year and I can find the new ones, but the caveat is always “you just can’t put them any place.” I would like one with a loft so I set up my sewing obsession in the bedroom downstairs.

      Reply

    • Laura

      Mar 01, 2014

      Hi Ginger,

      A huge congratulations on your new home and I wish you the very best on your upcoming surgeries. I hope that with the replacement you will be scooting around with comfort!

      With kind regards,
      Laura

      Reply

  16. Myra Horst

    Mar 01, 2014

    I was thrilled to view the tiny stone house… it is the stuff of dreams. I welcome the craftsmanship and diversity. I personally am feeling a little redundant about the endless configurations of an 8×16 wooden box on wheels with a mattress up a ladder in the loft.

    Reply

  17. Jeff Mogul

    Mar 01, 2014

    The main reason I got involved in the Tiny Home movement is because they can be moved to a different location if necessary . Lets face the fact that nobody owns the land on which they dwell ; they rent it from their local beauracracy , which increases yearly , until it becomes unaffordable . Then you are forced to sell your house & move , you would be lucky if you do not incur a major financial loss . With a tiny home ; you can move it another location . Maybe , someday we will not have to rent the land that we dwell on , but I doubt that we will see that day in this present life time !

    Reply

  18. Marsha Cowan

    Mar 01, 2014

    Thanks for this article. I used to build 2000 square foot homes, and though they took longer to finish, they were relatively simple to configure and put together, especially with a good crew. The two tiny houses I have built in the last couple of years have taken all the ingenuity I have to build. Much more precision is required because the margin for error are so small (no pun intended). Every space is precise and tiny and hard to reach, with many tiny turns and what seemed like thousands of tiny fittings everywhere. Whew! On top of that, the houses had to be hurricane proof for traveling which requires extra measures, and still be light, insulated, well ventilated, and stronger than an ox. On top of that, I wanted my houses to be beautifully finished and decorated requiring searches for just the right materials to make the perfect ambiance to make them truly feel like home. Sometimes, if one is good at using recycled materials, all this can be done somewhat inexpensively, but most people (especially ones new to building) feel the need to use new materials as they are ready to be put together. Either way, price reflects what has been spent on the house, and if a house has had lots of things built into it, then it is going to cost more than one with less things built into it. All is fair in love tiny houses.

    Reply

  19. Pete

    Mar 01, 2014

    Being one of those “creative types” who helped beautify and populate otherwise neglected,underappreciated or devalued areas, many in the insanely expensive tri-state (Conn.,N.Y.,N.J.) region,,,I was always one step ahead of the rising rents,often having to give up the place as consensus and the status quo deemed it a desirable thing or area.Like with almost anything else I sometimes wonder whether when/if things like the “Tiny House Movement” are better off left unpublicized lol.Whether human folly,greed or ego we all have too much baggage,daily needs and most pertinent to posts.replies and comments OPINIONS.There is no right or wrong and I have enjoyed watching both sides of this debate. Rather than tear eachother apart let’s pave the road less traveled not with tar or feathers but changes in perception,legislature,zoning,and costs to ourselves and our planet. “The American Dream” need not be suffocating reality nor a bloated ideal of living large and having it all…there will always be choices and compromises to be made.Our Global Home must have room for all without losing itself in the process… or our product$!

    Reply

  20. lisa

    Mar 02, 2014

    Well said Pete.

    My interest in this movement is for all of the reasons people have mentioned, because my interest is not just how it effects me and my network of family and friends directly, but the effect it could have on many people, which would still effect us but a little indirectly. Cost-efficiency, reducing carbon footprint, living simply, being able to maximize the use of your land and also grow our own food, living debt-free, beautiful unique design with excellent workmanship, living off-grid as much as possible, being able to relocate easily, not feeding the corporate beast, not paying more for something that it is truly worth, support for small-businesses/entrepreneurs/craftsman and people who think outside the box and folks who are caring.

    @ john — I wonder what would happen if you took someone outside of your normal circle of friends to your cabin — someone who had a different reason for being interested in a tiny house. You might get a different reaction. I am ready to live small and I am super organized/clean and already maximize my space but I think it would be a great trial for my husband who is the opposite and is used to wide open areas and doing everything ‘big’. Also, his family would never live in such a small space and they wouldn’t even understand it and would only think about it from the cost perspective ‘oh, you wanted to save $’ — they love collecting things.

    The amount of money a person of little means, who typically have little choice but to rent from slum lords (because of cost or situation), would amount to more than enough for a tiny house. It doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want to invest in or live in a beautifully crafted tiny house made by a craftsman — it would cost them less than what they are forced to pay now for living in the hovels that are available to them. I have seen many neighborhoods with home owners who have very crappy homes, not because of their inability to keep it in good repair, but because of the poor workmanship that went into building it by the developer/contractor whose interest is in making the most money they can irregardless of the quality of their work.

    My husband is a very skilled craftsman and he builds things that stand up to all kinds of abuse and last a lifetime. he is an artistic engineer or more appropriately an artist with an engineering background. While looking for a house, and we are still looking, we decided to focus on things that needed work because why pay for a house with recent substandard repairs when we could do much better ourselves. We have been floored by the lack of quality of work in the homes we have seen, even the newer ones.

    There are all kinds of people engaged in this movement so I think it’s here to stay. But, for those of us who are passionate for so many reasons, many good ones, we have the opportunity to lead by example, to share ideas and possibilities, and to act. We can change the world, or more realistically we can help expose one person to a new way of living, an option that they may not have even thought about before.

    Reply

  21. Michelle Boyle

    Mar 02, 2014

    I agree. The tiny house movement is not just about living tiny, but also being able to create the space WE want to live in. If, however, someone is going to build a tiny house and expect everyone to love the idea and unconditionally support them; they might want to re-think their plan. Despite the recent increase in popularity many of us still face criticism about everything from the very idea of a tiny house as a primary residence, to the shower size. Thinking of building or living in a tiny house? I recommend that you 1) grow a thicker skin 2) understand that opinions are like noses (everyone has one), and 3) accept that we walk our own tiny, undefined, often understood path.

    My two cents. (and worth, exactly, that much)

    Reply

  22. Robin

    Mar 03, 2014

    Dear Laura: I’m going to personally nominate YOU for being a “Tiny House Diversity Ambassador”!!!! Over and over again, when I read your blog, YOU are the “Voice of Reason”, attempting to smooth the Tiny House Waters by writing, “Can’t we ALL get along?”

    There is SO much to quote from your article, I could copy and paste the entire contents in my reply. But two quotes stood out to me: 1) “Please remember we are not all about tiny and cheap.” and 2) “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’m often dismayed when I read many of the comments on Alex’s blog posting from people screaming, “Too expensive!” “What’s with the custom THIS and custom THAT?!” “You’re not ‘truly’ into “tiny houses” if you are hooked up to the Grid!”

    Oy! It reminds me heavily of my Vegetarian Decades. If you drank milk, ate butter or cheese, a fraction of the Veggie/Vegan community labeled you a “sell out”, saying that “You are STILL dependant upon animals and you are TORTURING COWS for using their products!” Having been raised on a dairy farm, I can honstly say, “The Cows Had it BETTER than the farmer’s!”, at least on our farm! Fresh water, heated barn, food they didn’t have to work for…and let’s face it, cows produce MILK, whether in the wild or in a barn. Then, when I turned Vegan for a couple of years, for some folks, that STILL wasn’t “good enough” because I had the nerve to COOK my meals…that’s right…I had the hutzpah to actually apply HEAT to rice, beans and such. In order to get “serious” creds from the Hard Core, I had to eat RAW!/RAW!/RAW! food….ONLY!!!!

    So, you see where I’m going with this. No matter WHAT the topic, there is always going to be a “Fringe Group” of folks who ONLY use the soap they make themselves from ashes and lye; the group that ONLY eats raw apples and sunflower seeds, and the group that ONLY “… pops together a square with 6 pieces of plywood and lives there.”

    I don’t understand why a blog postings from Alex, featuring a famous Hollywood producer and Dentist that downsize receives accolades of applause for “doing the right thing” but a random blog post featuring any couple who downsize from a large home into a custom built 800 square foot home are vilified? WHY the H.A.T.E.? Simply because they are NOT famous? Or is it jealousy, that a couple who managed their money wisely can afford to roll over the huge profits from the sale of their large home into a custom smaller home?

    I.Just.Don’t.Get.It.

    So, thanks again, Laura, for being the Voice of Reason and calling out the Hater’s out there that think only THEIR “sense and sensibility” is the measuring stick we should ALL be judged by! Whether a tiny house costs less than $5000 or over $500,000.00, there is almost always ONE or more idea we can use from the featured homes.

    Reply

  23. Deal

    Mar 03, 2014

    Enter the gentrification, and bourgeois mentality to the tiny house movement. Gee, that didn’t take long did it? But then that’s human nature to not leave well enough alone. To take a thing, or a concept, and try to make it ”better”, until it no longer is what made it in the first place. Or to outclass someone else’s idea of what it is. A true tiny house – though not always mobile, is typically small and light enough to fit on a trailer. Try as you might, that stone house ain’t going anywhere hitched behind your pickup truck.

    These homes, finely crafted to a luxury caliber – while certainly beautiful and comfortable, are not ‘tiny houses’ as such, but simply regular houses that are tiny. The basis of the tiny house movement – no matter how much some people want to deny it, was founded on the principle of attainment. That you don’t have to be wealthy enough to afford a traditional home, to have a home. Nobody said anything about ‘spartan’ – that is a preconceived judgement. For you can make an inexpensive tiny house – or even a trailer, as luxurious, or as bare inside as you like.

    And if your little house costs the same as many regular homes, you might as well be real, and just call it a little house. Rather than try to catch a ride on a trend to look cool, by calling it a ‘tiny house’. And admit to yourself that you either have divergent needs, or just don’t have it in you to be a true tiny house dweller.

    If I were to build a dwelling – like the stone house, I wouldn’t kid myself or anyone else by calling it a ‘tiny house’. Call it what it is, it’s a stone cabin.

    Reply

  24. culturedsf

    Mar 04, 2014

    I look at tiny houses for sale everyday. When they are upwards of 40K I usually just move on. I’m not poor but I’ve got to spend my savings wisely. Fact is if I invest 30-40K in a tiny home someone else is selling I then have to find a piece of land to put it on. And that piece of land will need to be invested in to make me self reliant (garden, root cellar, animal shelter) All this also costs money. I can’t afford to invest everything in the tiny home itself knowing that I have a finite amount of money to spend. Not to mention- what if I can’t find a legal place to put it? I think once the issue of it being clearer/easier where you can legally put a tiny home, that more people will feel safe spending the money on a tiny home. We need tiny home communities so that people will feel like they can invest in tiny homes.

    Reply

  25. Lauri

    Mar 15, 2014

    I find it SO strange that people would think of a stone cabin as “expensive” automatically. Um…people do know that rocks are basically free, right? I don’t know the circumstances of this particular tiny home, but I DO know that a hundred years or so ago people built stone homes because it was a free, available material — it just required a lot more labor. Now, of course you COULD go to a big-box store and just buy your materials, but I think of the Tiny House movement as being about resourcefulness, too. There are parts of the country where getting that quantity of stone would be a breeze, the tools to shape it can be rented, and if you have the skills (or an internet connection and some time to learn…which, I guess if you’ve got time to be online arguing about what is or isn’t a tiny house, then ‘nuf said) then this could be a FAR more affordable option than wood. True: it isn’t a good option for pulling on a trailer. But building with stone is one of the oldest methods of construction; it’s only a modern American mindset that sees a beautiful stone cabin as “expensive”.

    Also, I’m puzzled by the people saying that a tiny house for sale is a “failure”. I’m planning on building a tiny house this year, living and traveling in it for a year, and then also planning on most likely selling it…and using the money to build another with what I learned from that year. For some of us, I think the design and building part is every bit as exciting as the living part, so don’t judge without knowing more. There is an art to all of this as well!

    Reply

  26. Wendy

    Apr 03, 2014

    Thank you! Thank you!
    I just had a discussion (which almost turned into an argument) with my son in law about tiny house living.

    He was upset that people were spending as much for a tiny house as they would on a larger one. He said that the point of tiny living was to build cheaply and to live cheaply, lessening our carbon footprint on the earth.

    I had to laugh. I agreed with the lessening our footprint thing but, I could not see where it was wrong to live small in a large way. If you have 150k to spend on your tiny house, go for it. The point is to not have a mortgage once it is built. Not to be tied down to working just to pay that mortgage and your utilities and such, to live efficiently and comfortably and not pay out the nose to do so. The point is to actually be able to LIVE YOUR LIFE! Spending time with your family, seeing the things and places around the world that you may not have the money for if you were paying a mortgage/rent and, utilities to run that house.

    I have been working on plans for our retirement home, which will be a tiny home, I think, at 420 sq. ft. And, I have devised some clever builds that will allow the house to sleep at least 10 and, maybe more people, so that our kids and grand kids, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters and friends can come visit us on the beach.

    It really isn’t about doing without but, rather living without less stress and aggravation , I think.

    Reply

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