The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Tiny Homes

tiny homes Sep 16, 2020

The following needs to be said and soon, before people keep wasting good money. I am about to unload on tiny homes, the good, the bad and the ugly. Are you ready?

Here's Good:

  • If it is not mobile, it is not good. The only thing good about a tiny home is that it can or should be mobile. The only real benefit to tiny homes is to get out of dodge with your entire home and be nomadic to find a better place. And if mobility is needed, why not just buy a cheep RV that you can easily resell? Even better, why not buy an Airstream trailer, restore it, and then resell it when done using it for a higher price? Airstream trailers consistently rank the highest in resale and are well designed (mostly aluminum) and they are great restoration projects. They require almost no maintenance and their design still outperforms even the best tiny home I have seen. 

The Bad:

  • Typically, tiny homes are 100 and 400 square feet, not much bigger than a hotel room. While there isn't a set standard, a tiny house is rarely more than 500 square feet. Beyond that size, they're merely, small. For reference, the median size of a new, single-family home is around 2,520 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This means a tiny home is is less than 1/5 the size of a median sized home.
  • Many tiny homes are temporary. They sit in mom and dad's driveway or on side yard, or they are build on a double axel flatbed trailer and parked in the backyard.  
  • Tiny homes are typically built without proper energy conservation. They are costly to heat and costly to cool.
  • Tiny homes do not plan for the future. If you have a growing family, forget it, tiny homes cannot accommodate that need. 

 The Ugly:

  • A tiny home is typically not real estate. Meaning, you are not building equity when you build a tiny home. This is the greatest negative for most tiny homes. In fact, most tiny homes lose money every year. They do not increase in value like permanent built structures. 
  • Tiny homes are often built without a building permit and so they cannot be recorded or counted as square footage of real estate. No appraiser will count a tiny home as part of the square footage if it is not properly permitted and recorded with the county or on a permanent foundation. Therefore, do not invest in tiny homes. 
  • Tiny homes are rarely integrated living, meaning they are outside the community and not part of it. Yes, there are tiny home communities, but they have a stigma of affordable housing or low-income housing and this is more of a distraction than a real attraction. 
  • Why do tiny homes cost so much? Because they are built by people who ignore lasting quality and efficiency. Tiny homes are a trend with less utility and less value than nomadic cultures mastered, cultures that could pack up a tent with far greater square footage in just minutes. Even some of our modern tents are more intelligent in design than tiny homes. Just because you can build a 340 square foot craftsman tiny home on a flatbed trailer with four wheels does not make you smart.
  • Take a moment and compare tiny homes on any internet search with small homes. For a great resource on small homes, see This is an architect and community planner that has designed smaller homes with true functionality and lasting quality without any stigma. 

How do you build a tiny home cheep and fast? The answer is you can't. If affordability is what people are looking for in building smaller, there are better solutions. Please subscribe to get notified of that post to follow this one. It will be titled "Three Better Ideas Than tiny Homes." In that post I will give three superior alternatives to tiny homes that we are not considering. Owner builders are sure to love that post. 

Keith R Kelsch
How to Build Your Own Home

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