One of the most recent developments to come out as a global movement is small homes. Small is beautiful. Small lessens one’s carbon footprint, simplifies one’s life, and creates mobility (an important consideration for those who live near the rising seas).
Large cities are welcoming the idea of small-home living. New York launched a program in 2012 to develop a new housing paradigm to accommodate its budding small home population. This program – adAPT NYC – was initiated to meet the demand for smaller flats for the approximately 1.8 million households the measure only one or two individuals. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development authorized the creation of self-contained “micro-units” of up to 300 square feet, counting the kitchen and bathroom.
Tiny homes – a global movement
The idea of living small is catching on all over the world. In Lismore, Australia, The Container Build Group turnstough metal shipping containers into comfortable little homes. A similar inexpensive shipping container neighborhood has sprung up in Brighton, England. In Johannesburg, an ancient grain silo has been turned into fashionable residences, with the penthouse made from shipping containers.
The small home movement seems to be spearheaded by young people who want to live in the middle of a city. The house is just where they hang their hats; the city is home.
The first and most obvious advantage of owning a small home is reduction of the financial burden. You can reduce or eliminate your mortgage entirely and cut utility costs. Saving money and having a smaller carbon footprint are important to many people today.
There are some surprising intangibles as well. Everything is within arm’s reach. It forces you to get rid of the clutter that adds so much chaos and confusion to a modern life. Let’s face it, sometimes the things we own wind up owning us.
Consider mobility. Small homes can usually be put on trailers and moved easily, whether by an old John Deere tractor or a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado-1500. You don’t own land and the land doesn’t hold you in place. That’s freedom. And no property taxes.
Zoning and regulation
While there is usually no limit to how big you can build a home, the opposite is not true. For the tiny home movement to grow, city regulations and zoning must be reconsidered. Often, city regulations will not allow small houses to be built or packed into parking garages. Some have gotten around the prohibitions on small houses by simply putting them on wheels because the regulations governing mobile homes is different from stationary ones, even ones that never move.
Brave new world
But it’s not just about saving money and economizing. Much of the tiny home movement incorporates modern technology and design to make these houses more harmonious with sustainability. The design often incorporates passive solar heating in the winter, a metal roof for collecting rainwater, and an incinerating toilet to economize on water usage and obviate the need to dispose of sewage.