Volume No. 18 Issue No. 4 April 2021  

  Living small

     Tiny houses are a common phenomenon today. The blog “Tiny House Talk” reported on 27 tiny home dwellers and their reasons for choosing the tiny lifestyle.
   Some people go tiny because they’re stressed out by belongings; others want to reduce their housing costs; some want to travel more; some want to live more sustainable lifestyles; and some want to be different, just to be different!
   There are many types of tiny homes such as a van, recreational vehicle or bus conversion, a cob house, even a vardo (a round-top wagon). The more traditional version of a tiny house is one on wheels, where the base of the home is a trailer bed.
   From the I Property Management website (https://ipropertymanagement.com/research/tiny-home-statistics), the difference between just a small house and a “tiny” one is defined in the International Residential Code, Appendix Q as “a dwelling that is 400 square feet or less in floor area, excluding lofts.”
   With the rising cost of housing, consumers are opting for the smaller mortgage that comes with the small living space. According to statista.com (https://www.statista.com/statistics/240991/average-sales-prices-of-new-homes-sold-in-the-us), the national average sales price of a new home in 2020 was $389,400; in 2021, it increased to $408,800.
   Statistics from I Property Management show the average cost of a built-to-suit tiny house is $59,884. The average cost of a DIY home build is closer to $23,000. A smaller price tag means less loan interest to pay; it’s not uncommon for mortgage holders to end up paying an additional 50% of what their home is worth in interest alone. Seventy-eight percent of tiny home dwellers own their home, compared to 65% of traditional home dwellers; 55% of tiny house owners have more savings than the average American.
   Weather is an important factor when buying a tiny house. From I Property Management: Because the interior of a tiny home is inherently small, having an outdoor seating and/or dining area can essentially double the size of a living space. This means, however, that in inclement weather, the living space will suddenly decrease by half. The most popular places for tiny home living are warm and temperate climates.
   There are many benefits of a tiny home. According to I Property Management, a tiny home uses about 7% of the energy that a traditional house does — 85% of tiny homes operate at above-average energy efficiency. Moving to a tiny home can decrease a household’s ecological footprint by 45%.
   However, there are some drawbacks to choosing a tiny home. Insider.com (https://www.insider.com/disappointing-photos-tiny-house-living-2019-10) put together 26 photos that display the negative side of living in a tiny home. It has been shown that traveling and moving a tiny home is expensive and difficult. The photos show cramped spaces, very small closets, difficulties of a sleeping loft, how hot it can get, as well as the methods of getting up to a loft. Appliances are smaller, toilets and showers are extremely close together, and temperature control is tricky — mold can grow quickly if the systems are not properly installed.
   Insider also addresses problems with zoning codes. The codes are passed and enforced by local governments, which means they vary greatly throughout the U.S. and any dwelling must be built with these codes in mind. One major stipulation is that most codes have a minimum square-footage requirement for homes. To make matters more complicated, the zoning codes differ from community to community.
   Another key issue, according to Insider, is that tiny houses on wheels are considered RVs in the eyes of local governments. Most local governments only allow RVs to be parked in certain locations, like RV parks or campgrounds, making it impossible to park a tiny house in a backyard or on a private piece of land and live in it full time. RVs are also not considered inhabitable for full-time living, so many municipalities limit the number of days a person can live in their tiny house.
   Other versions of a tiny home include renovations of an RV, bus or even a large van. The shape and size of each limit the renovation options, but it does alleviate the zoning and parking issues.
   “Tiny House Nation” is a series on Netflix that shows what it takes to move into a tiny home, along with being able to customize it to fit the owners needs — it’s all wrapped up in a heartwarming comedic package. The show highlights how and why going tiny is chosen by different demographics: young couples with kids, retirees, a single parent with kids, couples who want to travel, grandparents who want their kids to be able to stay over, and the list goes on.
   The general demographic of a tiny home owner are those 50 years and up or millennials, according to I Property Management. Sixty-three percent of millennials are interested in buying a tiny home, and 40% of tiny home owners are 50 or older.
   Close to home, there are multiple professional construction companies in Colorado that specifically build tiny homes. Home Builder Digest picked out some of the top construction companies in Colorado: Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses, Sprout Tiny Homes and MitchCraft Tiny Homes.
   Colorado is also one of the most tiny-home-friendly states in the U.S. According to an entry of Tiny House Blog by Alexis Stephens, El Paso County approved the first tiny house on wheels zoning ordinance in the state. They now allow them in unincorporated areas. Tiny houses must be constructed to ANSI RV standards, and are allowed in RV parks for full-time living, on single lots and as accessory dwellings.
   Currently, there are tiny home communities in Escalante Village in Durango, Woodland Park and Leadville, Colorado.
Colorado is one of the most tiny-home-friendly states in the U.S.
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