A recent dwell article interviews ten tiny-house owners, including individuals, couples, and families. Here are their tips for downsizing. The article is worth a read, as the living situations – apartments, trailers, standalone houses, and one converted bus – are every bit as interesting as the advice.
“Edit your stuff… Small spaces tend to force you to be a little more organized on the fly, and not to procrastinate, but rather to take a few extra seconds to put your things back where they belongs. I’ve heard it said that every object should have a home… and I think that’s great advice.” –Graham Hill
“Definitely do your research on builders, or how to properly do the work, and come up with the floor plan if you’re doing it yourself.” –Gabriel and Debbie Mayes
“If you’re living with another person in a small space, you’ll learn a whole new level of patience and tolerance! Expect to be bumping into things for a while, and listening to noises you didn’t even know your significant other made.” –Sheena and Jason Armstrong
“If it’s a matter of convenience, or it seems ‘easy’ or ‘cute’, you may need to rethink it. Tiny houses aren’t the cheapest, or easiest path to shelter, but they can be an incredible tool to use to position yourself for a lifestyle you want.” –Macy Miller
“If you’re thinking of a trailer home, think about where will you park. Consider your utility hookups, and how and where you are going to connect your power, water, and sewer.” –Duff Bangs and Ashley Rodgers
“Rent a small place on Airbnb to try out small-space living first… Instead of getting rid of a lot of stuff in one go, put things in storage, then slowly dispose of them a year or two later, when you realize that you don’t really miss, or need them.” –Jack Mama and Nina Tolstrup
“I think some of the best things that come from living tiny is the time you gain… I don’t think we realize how much time we put into cleaning, organizing, and maintaining a large home.” –Trina and Steve Sholin
“If you’re thinking of downsizing, it’s important to consider the climate that your home will be in. I think the tiny home really works well in warmer, tropical climates where you can spent a lot of time outdoors, especially if you are a family with kids.” –Jay Nelson
“You have to choose to live differently in a tiny home. It’s a more intentional, and thoughtful way of life. As you bring in new things you need, you’ll have to let go of old things, or you’ll be buried alive in your possessions.” –Natasha Lawyer and Brett Bashaw
“Nothing really went the way we planned. It took longer, and cost more money than we thought it would.” –Damian Schmitt and Anna Jacobs
Today’s topic is a confluence of two types of efficiency discussed often in this blog: construction efficiency and energy efficiency. The former involves reducing cost to build and embodied energy, either by choosing a smaller building size or by using techniques like modular construction. The latter involves reducing the building’s environmental impact over its lifetime, through improved insulation and airflow and/or producing power on-site Now Vermont has a program to champion both strategies together. Not surprisingly, the organization involved is smart-building advocate Efficiency Vermont.
The Zero Energy Modular (ZEM) Program targets mobile home owners specifically, encouraging them to replace their current home with a high-performance modular home like those built by Vermod. Efficiency Vermont provides prospective buyers with an energy consultant for one-on-one guidance, as well as financing options that take advantage of the new house’s payback period to make the price competitive with traditional manufactured homes.
In Longmont, Colorado, a developer has found the sweet spot between tiny and conventional. Boulder Creek Neighborhoods is building a community of “wee-Cottages”, standalone groundbound homes that will range from 894 to 1354 square feet. As described in this Daily Camera article, more than 400 potential buyers have already joined the waitlist, even though the homes haven’t been built yet and sales don’t open until next month. A similar development in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood went on sale last year and had over 1000 buyers on the list for 30-odd homes.
The houses look charming and have great efficient layouts with an open floor plan below, bedrooms upstairs, a detached garage and a property manager taking care of the grounds. But I think the biggest draw here is the price tag. Metro Denver’s growth rate peaked in 2015, with a 2.8% population increase that year, but newcomers continue to pour in and real estate prices have skyrocketed accordingly. A traditional 2000-square-foot Denver bungalow on a tenth-acre lot goes for $600K to $800K these days, and that’s how a detached condo smaller than 1000 square feet seems like a great deal at $400K.
First floor plan.
Show unit in Stapleton.
The Longmont development is located near the Longmont Recreation Center with easy access to highways and bike paths. 27 of the 102 homes will be fixed in the mid $200Ks for buyers who meet certain income restrictions; the rest will be sold at market rate which might mean bidding wars given their popularity. Condo maintenance fees are unknown.