Tiny houses have emerged as an extremely popular alternative to modern “McMansions,” and as a way to create shelter that is affordable, sometimes portable, and eco-friendly. We have spent the last two years building our 350 square foot home. And while I’ll be the first to tout the benefits of going tiny, I’ll also admit this: We never set out to build a tiny house. Even so, it was a great decision for our family, and in this post, I will share with you my top three reasons to build a tiny house.
When we moved to NE Missouri in 2011, one of the aspects of living in this rural community that most excited us was the opportunity to build our own home, in a county that has very relaxed owner-building codes. For years we have dreamed about building a timber framed strawbale house and were inspired by the many alternative structures in NE Missouri (see this post for inspiration!).
However, the reality of building a large timber framed building is that it takes a long time. For instance, our neighbors Mike and Julia have been working on their round wood timber frame home for three summers. They have done a lot of work by hand, but have also used power tools and a generator when necessary. Our neighbors to the south have been working on their duplex strawbale home since we first visited in October of 2010. While they are using only hand tools, they have also benefitted from workshops and interns helping their project along.
For a family with two small children and only one skilled builder (not me!), the idea of jumping right into building our dream home was daunting, at best. Besides, where would we live while the building happened?
Our initial plan was to construct a three season shelter that would act as a screened sleeping area and covered outdoor kitchen. The idea was that we would live in this shelter while we built our dream home. But we very quickly realized that we would have to rent a living space elsewhere, and the idea of moving OFF of our land when we had just arrived made us reconsider. We decided to turn the footprint of the three season shelter into a fully insulated tiny house.
Here are my top three reasons to build a tiny house:
1) The building is human-scale. For almost all aspects of building, my husband has been able to work alone, or with one other person, using only small power tools. No cranes, no heavy machinery, no waiting for a crew to come together.
2) A tiny house can be built quickly. We broke ground on our home in February of 2013, and were moved into an insulated house by the end of October of the same year. Granted, there were still many details to finish, such as flooring and wall plaster, but we were warm, sheltered, and most importantly, we were not paying rent elsewhere.
3) Tiny houses can be extremely affordable, as the amount of materials needed to construct the house is, well, tiny. For a full comparison of the expense of building our 350 square foot home and our neighbor Beth’s 120 square foot home, see this blog post.
Honestly, we see an addition in our future, as 350 square feet would probably be quite perfect for a couple, but a bit small for a family with two growing children, ages 4 and 7. We hope to begin work on a timber framed strawbale addition in the next year or two.
We just recently installed our solar electric system, and will continue to work on finish details such as window trim, shelving, and a built-in booth seating area. But for now, our tiny home is a cozy, warm, gorgeously detailed space in which to live and dream.
If you’d like to read more about building a tiny house, this category is chock full of information!
Would you ever live in a tiny house? How tiny is too tiny for your family?
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