Mother Earth Monday – The Big Idea About Little Homes

Image via Chris & Malissa Tack

I had heard about tiny homes long ago, but dismissed them. Having spent time living in a trailer home, anything less than 1000 square feet seemed like insanity to me. I suspect there are a number of you who feel the same way. Over the years now, I have realized that I don’t really need much space to be comfortable. I’ve lived in as little as a 10 by 10 space with only a few issues.

I personally only have 3 big hurdles in space. First is privacy, as there are times when I would like some personal space. Second is kitchen size. Of every room in the house, the kitchen is where I spend the most active effort. Last is that there must be room for the kids to be active. This, above all, is the main restraint in picking a tiny home. Only if there is yard space is such a small place a possibility. So then why am I even talking about this?

Well, about a year ago, I was working for Ikea. Among their various gimmicks is that they show mockups of the actual living spaces of other people. I say gimmick, not as a bad thing, but more as a statement of their many Ikea-specific quirks. Here is the kicker. None of these spaces is over 350 square feet. This includes one with two bedrooms! It got me thinking about the tiny home idea more closely and I realized that two of my big worries could be handled by being a bit creative. That left only space for the kids to run around and as I said above, that can be handled by a yard.

There are two main versions of the concept. First are those build as trailers and which evade many building codes by being ‘home made campers’. They are limited to about 13 and a half feet high total and may only be about 8 ft wide. Length can vary from 10 to 26 ft , though most fall in the range of 16 to 20. Usable square footage is between 80 and 100 ft2 in most of these and invariably they have a galley layout. You can find plans for these or buy them already made from several companies. Buying one can be fairly costly, though not nearly as much as a house would be. If you intend to build it yourself, the cost is generally around 11,000 dollars with 18 percent of the cost coming from the trailer bed itself. Buying prefab easily pushes that up by three times the cost or more. You can learn more with companies such as Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

Then there are those which are stationary. Again, plans exist and of course there are already a number of these on the market. If you make one yourself, you will have to be well aware of building code in your area and have proper permitting. That said, they can often be made from a modified tool-shed kit. Many of these are quite inexpensive and once you add all the insulation and extras, function just as well as the McMansions would but without all of the worries over the quality of materials and construction.

I have begun working on some ideas of how to manage a 4 bed mobile tiny home with both space and privacy, as well as room to work in the kitchen area. Of course I will be enlisting the aid of someone who is better at blueprints than I am and who also has some interest in the idea, so I can’t claim full credit when the idea is fully fleshed. If it works out, I might just go forward and try to build this mini marvel and give it a test go. With two kids, it certainly wouldn’t be a long term solution, but it could work as a way to avoid paying rent for a year when I buy property and intend to build on it. I will keep you posted when there is more development on this.

One final note is that if you have only yourself, you could arguably go really tiny. I wouldn’t advocate this, since the option means very little in the way of comfort. These ultra tiny homes would allow for no space for more than laying down or sitting. No kitchens of any real note, if at all, and of course rain would be very unpleasant. At this size, you may as well just buy a tent and call it a day. Still, here are the two smallest tiny homes around.

The Nicest 15 Square Foot Home Ever

Image via youtube

Paul Elkins’ portable home for the Burning Man festival is about as nice as it comes for a space of only 15 square feet! It can be moved by bicycle, is powered by wind and manages to have a small kitchen with solar oven. No bathroom of course and laying back comfortably is out of the question.

 The 11 Foot Home, Sort of

Image from CNN via Youtube

At 11 square feet, Architect Van Bo Le-Mentzal has the smallest version of a tiny home ever conceived. There is room to sit and room to sleep, but you sleep inclined and there really isn’t room for anything more than those two tasks. It’s an interesting thought project, but give me a tent any day. My SilShelter weighs 11 oz and packs down into my pocket. It also has room for two to sit or sleep. Somehow living in a greenhouse box just doesn’t seem to be a step up.


For your further viewing pleasure, three videos relating to the topic. First is a tiny home made from salvaged materials. It is a bit cluttered, but not unpleasant.

The second is a shed that would make an excellent tiny home with a bit of extra work. The price they list apparently also includes delivery and construction. DIY is probably far cheaper. The last part of the video isn’t really relevant to this topic.

The last is a mobile tiny home to a couple and their cat. They paid to have most of the work done on it if I understand correctly, which accounts for the price.

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