Recently an article appeared where HGTV stars “The Property Brothers” shared their chagrin at the growing popularity of the tiny house movement. Their “actual” criticism had to do (primarily) with the lack of standards and safety of many tiny houses and their lack of adherence to building codes – a valid criticism. When I shared the article a few of my friends shared their disdain for tiny houses. But why? The answer is as varied as the people you asked, but they boil down to the following:
- Safety: The lack of adherence to safety standards and building codes has left many shaking their heads. If you’ve spent as much time as we have perusing tiny house websites/videos/etc. You’ve probably seen some sketchy things. Little things like exit doors opening out (instead of in) doesn’t seem important until you have a fire and are trying to get out in a hurry. There is a very good reason why federal and state code requires wire connections to be inside of a junction box. And while a fire in a traditional structure is dangerous, in a 500 square foot confined space they would likely be lethal.The reality: While there are some tiny houses that are cobbled together with no regard to codes are safety, many of the builders in the tiny house community are experienced builders who adhere to building codes.
- Property values: One of the complaints against tiny houses is that they cost less than traditional housing and can erode the value of houses in the area where they are located. This boils down to 2 things – resale value and taxes. Many feel that tiny house owners aren’t paying “their fair share”.The reality: While tiny houses are not taxed the way that traditional structures are, they also do not place as great a burden on a community’s infrastructure. When some think of tiny houses they think of cheap trailers or mobile homes, but the reality is that many tiny homes’ costs rival those of traditional structures and they are not “tenements on wheels”.
- Is it a trend or just a fad?: The sudden popularity of tiny house websites, TV shows, etc. has people wondering if tiny homes will be here to stay or if this is just a passing fancy. The sudden rise of popularity has some suffering from “tiny house fatigue”The reality: Tiny houses aren’t a trend. Tiny houses are a return to sanity. In 1950 the average family had 3.5 children and the average new house construction was 1000 square feet. Today, the average family has 1.6 children and the average new house construction is 3,100 square feet. Our society has been sold on the idea that we need a huge home to house all of things we’ve bought that we can’t afford. Tiny houses aren’t a trend, they’re a course correction.
- It makes them uncomfortable: The tiny house movement has caused many to reexamine their values. Just what do we need in house? How much “stuff” do we need to be happy? Convention says: He with the most toys, wins!The reality: Tiny houses make a lot of people uncomfortable. They say things like – “I could never live like that!” “How can anyone live like that?!” “Where would I put all my stuff?” The popularity and increased prevalence of tiny houses has generated a lot of important conversations about consumerism; debt; personal liberties.
There are a lot of reasons why people hate tiny houses, but there are a lot more reasons to love them. Tiny houses are are more than a fade or a passing fancy. The tiny house movement represents a return to time honored values like responsibility, frugality and living within one’s means. As for the haters, we say, “Let them hate!” Our joy doesn’t come from their approval!