Thursday, August 7, 2014

You Go Right Ahead...

Seen on Facebook...

Have house will travel: Inside the Tiny House Movement where more and more Americans have rejected tradition for a simpler - and cheaper - lifestyle
Once upon a time an American family’s home was their castle and the bigger the better, but growing concerns about meeting mortgage payments and the environmental impact of large houses has helped fuel a new movement of people who are happy to live small.

The Tiny House Movement is a growing group of people who are happy to downsize the space that they live in and enjoy simplified lives as a result.
There's so much wrong with this whole thing, I don't even know where to start. First off, this is not a new thing. This is a very old thing. When I was out in WY back in May, there were cabins on the ranch property that were easily over 100 years old that were the same size as these "tiny" homes. You know what *is* rather new? The idea that we need more than one room in a house. Check out the cabins and old shacks - or huts in third world nations - and you won't find "bedrooms" or "living rooms" or "great rooms." You'll find one room.

Second, you know what else is missing in the story? Where do these tiny houses go? The ones on wheels - what's the permanent address? Where do their utilities come from? Yeah, didn't think of that, did you? The cost of the basic 8' X 24' home (under 200 sq. ft.) is $66K. Add the cost of a plot of land to that, and you're easily pushing $100K total (or more) depending on location.

Think you're going to play Caine and just wander the land? Good luck with that, having no permanent address or job, for that matter. Gas to haul something that heavy is expensive, and so are campgrounds. The 24' trailers weigh 15,000 pounds - that's a full-ton diesel pickup with a dual wheel rear axle, which is easily a $60K+ rig. Not only that, but you're talking single digit gas mileage when towing - and towing something that big is a major PITA.

Third, you know what else these "tiny house" people are missing? Anything even remotely resembling planning. Where do you store your tax records? Where do you keep extra provisions? Looking at a 200 sq. ft. home, I don't see a lot of room for extra canned veggies, toilet paper, or more than a handful of extra clothes for that matter. It doesn't seem likely that you'd be able to hold more than a few days worth of rations in a place that small.

When the Mrs. and I first started out, we had a small 2 bedroom apartment in a large complex. The whole layout was 650 sq. ft. We had to go shopping mid-week to garner the groceries we needed, because there simply wasn't enough room in the tiny galley kitchen to store all the food we needed to get through the week. Forget keeping a family's worth of extra food, toiletries, HBA, etc. on hand for future use.

It *sounds * really cool. $66K works out to something like $1200 a month for 5 years in a standard loan. Imagine paying off your house in 5 years. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? The Mrs. and I were halfway through our mortgage when we moved; and still had very little to show for the money we'd actually invest at that point. I imagine it'd be awfully tempting, were we just starting out, to shell out for one of these teeny houses, with the idea that it would be all ours in just 5 years.

It's when you factor everything else in that it becomes truly unworkable...

That is all.


Anonymous said...

Plus on top of that, you are tornado bait.

Eco-friendly my ass.

More like the Prius smugmobile, it's a way to be eco-conscious AT someone without having the usefulness or storage capacity of a normal home of today.

Joseph in IL

daniels said...

OK - first, this is NOT new. Nomads have existed for... as long as humans have existed.

Second, it can be a viable lifestyle. Ask anyone in the "fulltime" RV community and they'll kindly explain how it works. Yes, you need a PO Box. UPS stores and mail drops in tax friendly states like South Dakota are very popular.

I live a pretty nomadic lifestyle. It teaches you to keep things simple, what's important, and what's not. I'll not weigh in on the "environmental" aspect, but done right you'd be amazed how simple life can become.

But yeah... these tiny homes? They're cute. But seriously go buy an Airstream for the same amount of money and have a home designed to be on the road and still be (mostly) self sufficient.

Old NFO said...

Yep, eco-friendly my ass... and one more 'fad'... Good fisking Jay!

Bubblehead Les. said...

Gee, why don't the Socialist Tree Huggers just shove us into the REAL "Tiny House", you know the one that is 6x3x6, with our Name on the Stone Address Marker?

You know that SOME of them are Serious about reducing the "Human Footprint" to 'Save Mother Gaia." If they had their way, there MIGHT be about 250,000 Humans around, all "Properly Trained and Educated to be Stewards of Nature".

Frack them, and their Horses!

ZerCool said...

I'm going to go ahead and be the contrarian here. The "tiny house" thing is a mentality, not a "this is the only way" statement.

The tiny-house-on-wheels is a different RV, and for someone who wants that lifestyle and the associated bumps, it's a way to be a little different.

Tiny house on a plot of land makes even more sense to me, though. Our house in New York was 1800 square feet and about twice what we needed. It's not about "save the planet" for me - it's about efficiency, plain and simple.

Don't get me wrong - it's nice to have a family room, and a den, and an office, and a play room, and a dining room, but at least to a certain extent I think that approach has helped to fragment families. Instead of reading in the living room while the kids play on the floor in the corner and the Mrs does a bit of sewing, I'm in the den, she's in the sewing room, and the kids are glued to the TV in the rec room.

Am I an idealist? Sure. A bit 1950's Cleaver? Yep.

Efficient use of space and utilities appeals to me though - even more so as new construction prices skyrocket. When you're talking $120/sf for construction, the difference between 1,400sf and 2,500sf is nothing to sneeze at. The kids don't need 12x18 bedrooms, the master suite doesn't need a garden tub (or needn't be a suite at all), and the guest room can be just big enough for a queen bed and a dresser.

If you want a big house, then by all means, go for it. Me? I'd be happier with a bit smaller inside and a lot more outside. The 1100sf difference above, at $120/sf, would be $132,000 - enough to put in premium appliances, heat-pump geothermal, or buy a MUCH larger plot of land in many areas.

ZerCool said...

And since you posted this and I had a down hour at work, I watched the documentary "Tiny" on Netflix... about tiny houses. Yep, it's a crunchy doc. But there's some really good points brought up. Recommended.