Advantages of Living in a Tiny Home
Bigger isn't always better. Anyone living the tiny home lifestyle can confirm that small living offers many full-size benefits. Advantages of tiny homes fit into three main categories: financial gains, environmental benefits and psychological benefits. Some buyers focus on one main benefit, while others like the full gamut of advantages that come along with owning a small house.
Whether you're ready to downsize now or are just beginning your tiny home research, fully exploring the advantages and the options helps you transition to the lifestyle. Keep reading to discover all the potential pros of going small.
Basics of the Tiny Home Movement
House sizes have increased steadily in recent decades. The median size of new single-family homes sold in 2015 was 2,520 square feet. That's much larger than many of the homes from our parents' or grandparents' generations.
But not everyone craves massive spaces. The tiny house movement counters the "bigger is better" mentality by returning to the days of smaller homes. The idea is to cut down to only the essential to lead a more fulfilling and financially stable life.
Tiny homes range from 100 to 400 square feet, with an average size of 186 square feet - much smaller than the average modern home size. The tiny home movement is more than a shift in housing. It is a social movement, aimed at living a more rewarding life with financial and emotional freedom. Blogs and TV shows based on the movement continue drawing mainstream attention to shrinking house sizes. The advantages of building a tiny home outweigh the sacrifice of space for the people who choose to jump on the tiny house wagon.
Who is joining the movement? Tiny homeowners come from a variety of backgrounds and have different motivations for downsizing. Here are some examples:
- Millennials who couldn't otherwise afford a home of their own
- People who want to own a home but don't want a mortgage
- Retirees who want to downsize
- People who want to reduce their carbon footprints
- Adventurous types who want to spend more time traveling
- Individuals who want to take their homes with them when they move
- Homeowners who want to simplify
In the initial stages of the tiny home movement, most structures used the traditional wood construction on a smaller scale than traditional homes. As the industry gains traction, tiny homebuilders continue seeking out efficient ways to build homes. Steel is gaining ground in the industry, thanks to its energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, eco-friendly quality and durability. Thanks to the popularity of tiny homes, the building plans, materials and innovative designs continue expanding, giving you great flexibility in the finished product.
Build for Less
The financial advantages of tiny homes begin right away with cost-effective building methods. It costs much less to build a tiny home than to build a larger home. That lower cost opens up the option to buy for individuals who might not otherwise be able to afford a house. It also appeals to young people who may have lots of college debt or haven't saved up a large down payment for a home.
The specific cost of a tiny home depends on several factors, including the type of building, size, features and finishes. Prices typically range between $19,000 and $50,000. Tiny homes with higher end finishes or specialty features can go higher, but most tiny homes come in well below the 2015 average new home sale price of $360,600. The cost of land is another factor if you don't already have a spot to place the home.
A tiny home gives you the option to build at a fraction of the cost of a traditional home. Here are some of the reasons building a tiny home is more affordable:
- Fewer appliances to own because of the limited space. Tiny homes typically have small refrigerators and a small cooking appliance. Some may have small washing machines or dishwashers
- Smaller amount of materials needed to cover the smaller surface area, including flooring, siding, windows and cabinets
- Less time to build, resulting in lower labor costs
- Simplified systems without expensive parts and extensive installation processes
- No basement or large, intricate foundation
Choosing cost-effective materials helps keep the initial cost of a tiny home low. Steel is an affordable building option for small homes. Complete your steel tiny home with affordable yet durable finishes to keep building costs down and minimize ongoing upkeep costs down the road.
Ditch Your Mortgage
The idea of eliminating a mortgage payment is a big draw in the tiny home community. Because of the low building costs of smaller homes, many people pay for tiny homes in cash. In fact, 68 percent of tiny homeowners are free of mortgage payments, while only 29.3 percent of all homeowners have no mortgage. You also save money on interest by paying for the home outright or paying the outstanding balance quickly. The interest on a traditional mortgage means you end up paying a lot more than the sale price by the end of the loan term.
Living without a mortgage offers several advantages, including:
- More flexibility in your budget to pay other expenses
- Financial freedom
- Full equity in the tiny home to increase your overall assets
- Option to use tiny home as collateral if needed
- Security of not losing your home if you face financial hardships
- Increased opportunity to build savings account
- Opportunities for other investments
- Satisfaction of owning a home outright
If you don't have the money available immediately, saving up the cost of a tiny home is possible in a short amount of time. The total cost of a modest tiny home is similar to the down payment on an average home sold in the U.S. You also have the option to pay cash for part of the cost and take out a loan for the rest. If you do need to borrow money, your payments on the cost of a tiny home will be much lower than a traditional mortgage payment. With lower payments, you can pay off the loan faster by paying more than the standard loan payment each month.
Save Money Long Term
The lower build cost helps you save money initially, but the cost advantages of tiny homes continue after you move into your small home. From lower maintenance to less space for furnishings, the lifestyle helps you cut costs.
A smaller space means less money spent on decorating. It won't take many pieces of wall décor to spruce up your home, and you won't have room for large pieces of furniture. You can redecorate cheaply when you get tired of the current style. Painting the interior doesn't take a lot of paint or time.
If your tiny home needs repairs, those costs are likely to be much less expensive due to the smaller size. You won't need as much material to make the repairs. If you hire a contractor to do the work, he can finish the job quickly, reducing the amount you spend on labor. Even if your entire roof needs replaced, for example, the surface area is so much smaller that you save money on the materials and labor costs.
Live in an Eco-Friendly Home
The environmental advantages of tiny homes appeal to many people who join the movement. A smaller home makes it easier to reduce your carbon footprint and minimize your impact on the environment. The idea of a tiny home is to have just the amount of space you need. Traditional homes have lots of wasted space, unlike tiny homes, where every space has a purpose. This concept of only having what you need supports the sustainable lifestyle.
Tiny homes require a much smaller amount of materials than a traditional home. This reduces the amount of natural resources used for the structure. The smaller space may also make it possible to use reclaimed or secondhand materials, further reducing the impact on the environment.
Steel construction naturally lends itself to a green lifestyle, since steel is the most recycled material. Recycling doesn't affect the integrity of the steel, so you gain the benefits of recycling without sacrificing the stability of your home. Steel is also stronger than wood and better able to handle weather elements, mold, pests and fire. Your home remains secure and needs less maintenance when you opt for steel.
Building a tiny home requires much less energy and produces significantly less pollution than a traditional home. The smaller scale of the project allows for smaller equipment. The homes are often built in manufacturing facilities, minimizing disruption to natural areas. A shorter building process further minimizes the amount of energy consumed and pollution created.
A tiny home lends itself well to living off the grid, for additional eco-friendliness. The small size and lower than normal amount of electrical components makes it easier to power the space with solar panels. Composting toilets minimize water usage, offering a green way to outfit your bathroom. Rainwater harvesting systems can easily provide a water source to sustain the small size of the home. This reduces your carbon footprint and gives you greater freedom in placing your home.
Enjoy Energy Efficiency
The small space inside the home makes it easy to heat and cool, no matter how you supply energy. A properly sized heating and cooling system won't have to run long to get the home to an optimal temperature. With fewer windows than a larger structure, a tiny home is better able to retain heat in the winter and cold in the summer, which further reduces the amount of time the heating and air conditioning system has to run.
To save on space, many tiny homes skip the traditional oven and large stovetops in favor of countertop cooking appliances. These appliances generally consume less energy than a full oven. They also produce less heat, which keeps the space cooler during the summer months.
Choosing an energy-efficient building material compounds the benefits. Steel is a solid choice for creating a cost-effective, energy-efficient tiny home.
Other decisions during the design process help improve the energy efficiency of the home. Retrofitting an existing tiny home is also an option. Consider these energy-saving ideas when designing or updating your tiny home:
- Seal any gaps to prevent air leakage.
- Insulate the walls to prevent hot or cold air movement.
- Install an insulated door.
- Choose energy-efficient windows.
- Position windows opposite one another to allow for a cooling cross breeze.
- Add skylights to allow heat from the sun to enter easily during the winter. Those skylights also let in natural light, reducing the need for using light fixtures during the day. A blackout shade on the skylight minimizes heat during the summer months.
- Size the heating and cooling system properly so it doesn't work overtime.
- Maintain the heating and cooling system by changing filters and keeping ducts cleaning. This allows the system to run efficiently.
Take Your Home With You
Many tiny homeowners choose this lifestyle for the portability of the home. Tiny homes built on trailers allow you to tow the house wherever you want it. Other styles of tiny homes aren't as easy to move, but they are still much more portable than a traditional house. If your career takes you to a new location, you can take your entire home with you instead of selling, packing everything and buying a new house.
Even if you decide to build a more permanent tiny home, the lifestyle affords you flexibility in the placement of the home. At less than 400 square feet, tiny homes don't require much land. Lease a small plot of land or place the home on land owned by a family member or friend for affordability. You can also buy a small, inexpensive piece of land if you want to feel more grounded.
Simplify Your Life
The major downsizing that happens when you move to a tiny home forces you to simplify your life. You simply can't keep everything you own. Cutting things like furniture is easy. It's often the sentimental items, clothing and other possessions that take some effort to donate or sell.
The benefit of cutting back is the freedom often felt with the lack of clutter. Keeping only things with a purpose or with significant meaning makes you appreciate those items more. While difficult to decide what makes the cut, people often report a sense of freedom by getting rid of all those things that never get used.
You also learn to do more with less when living in a tiny home. You can't have 10 different small kitchen appliances, because you don't have room for so many items that serve only one purpose. Instead, you learn to use one appliance in 10 different ways to maximize the space.
Tiny homes give you a crash course in simplifying your routine while using everything efficiently. Every area of the home needs a specific purpose and organizational tools integrated into the design. The most efficient designs allow for multiple uses in one space.
The money and time you save by living in a small space allows you to experience more in life. Low or no monthly payments on the home free up a huge chunk of your income, allowing more money for experiences, such as travel or local outings
Because the home doesn't have a lot of room to do things inside, the tiny home lifestyle encourages owners to get out and be active. Instead of sitting in a tiny room, owners enjoy nature around them or pursue hobbies outside the home. Those experiences can lead to a richer life, focusing on memories rather than on collecting things.
Cut Cleaning Time
Cleaning a 2,000-square-foot home takes a significant amount of time. By shrinking your living space and the amount of furnishings in the home, you reduce your amount of cleaning time drastically. You have few windows to clean, less floor space to sweep and few dishes to wash. That time savings gives you even more freedom to experience life.
The small space and the scaled back amount of possessions make it easier to keep the home tidy once you clean. You have fewer things to leave out, which makes for less clutter. The need for organization in such a compact area also helps keep everything neat and orderly.
Bond With Family
Spending quality time with a partner or family in a tiny home encourages bonding. In such close quarters, it's not an option to hide away and do your own thing. This lifestyle engages family members in conversation and activity. Living in such a small space can encourage better communication habits. Tiny homes also encourage compromise to share such a small space.
Show Off Your Unique Style
A tiny home gives you the chance to customize every aspect of the build, more so than a traditional builder going off a set of standard plans. With a tiny home, you can customize the layout and create a space that works for you. The building method works with any style of home, from traditional and rustic to modern styles.
Beyond showing your personal style through the design, living in a tiny home is a conversation starter. When you tell someone you live in a tiny home, expect to get many questions. This is a great opportunity to showcase your reasons for downsizing and for promoting the tiny home lifestyle.
DIY Tiny Home Versus Choosing a Builder
Building your own tiny home can save you money, but the process also presents plenty of challenges. Doing the work yourself will likely take much longer than using a commercial builder. Check out these advantages of having your home built for you instead of building it yourself:
- Experience: A company who specializes in building small structures knows what works. This results in efficient building practices, quality construction and structural integrity.
- Time: Builders often employee a large staff with experience in the field. They have the manpower to build the structure quickly, even if you have a tight deadline. The employees know what they are doing and have worked through problems on previous builds, so they don't waste time trying to find solutions or figure out how to tackle a particular task.
- Quality: Reputable builders use quality materials and high standards in their construction methods. This results in a quality-built tiny home with a durable design.
- Varied Expertise: Staff members with training in building practices ensure the house meets codes and can withstand local weather and environmental factors. Engineers, designers, detailers and project managers make up the team at MBMI.
- Cost Effectiveness: While a DIY project may seem cheaper on paper, unexpected expenses and the time cost of doing everything yourself adds up. You may be surprised at the cost effectiveness of hiring a builder to complete the tiny home for you.
Another option is to have a builder construct the shell of the tiny home while you complete the interior detailing. A steel building is the perfect option if you want to go this route. We handle all the structural components of the building. Windows, doors, insulation, metal siding and metal roofing are also options as part of the build. You can tackle the rest of the build to keep your project on budget and put your own sweat equity into the home.
Start Building Your Tiny Home
Choosing a steel building for your tiny home gives you a durable, energy-efficient framework. At MBMI Metal Buildings, we build custom steel buildings to your specifications. Our in-house team of professionals provides you with the support and guidance you want throughout the process.
We use the best materials and finishes with sound engineering practices to build a sturdy structure that allows you to take advantage of all the benefits of tiny homes. The cost-effective construction lets you enjoy the financial freedom of owning a tiny house, and fast build times mean you can move into your new tiny home quickly. Contact us to find out more about customizing your own steel building so you can join the tiny house movement.
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