Which states allow tiny houses

Tiny house movement - Tiny-house movement

Architectural and social movement

The Little House Movement (also known as the "Little House Movement") is an architectural and social movement that seeks to shrink, simplify, and essentially "live with less" living spaces. According to the International Residential Code 2018, Appendix Q Tiny Houses, a tiny house is a "unit with a maximum floor area of ​​37 square meters (400 square feet), excluding lofts." While tiny dwellings represent primarily a return to a simpler life, the movement has also been seen as a potential green solution for the existing housing economy, as well as a viable transition option for those who lack shelter.

This distinction is important as many people try to place tiny houses on empty lots. However, if a tiny home lacks any of the amenities required of a residential unit, it is an accessory structure that must be placed on the same lot as a primary structure as per the International Residential Code 2018. There are several reasons to stay in a tiny home Life. Many people who enter this lifestyle rethink what they value in life and decide to put more effort into strengthening their communities, healing the environment, spending time with their families, or saving money. Tiny homes can also provide affordable temporary housing for those in need of shelter.


In the United States, the average size of new single-family homes increased from 1,780 square feet (165 m 2 ) in 1978 to 2,479 square feet (230.3 m 2 ) in 2007 and beyond to 2,662 square feet (247.3 m 2 ) in 2013. Increased material wealth and people with high incomes are common reasons why houses grew in size.

The small house movement is a return to houses less than three hundred feet 2 . Often between small (between 37 and 93 m 2 ) and small Houses (37 m 2 ), some of which are only 7.4 m 2 are big).


Reconstruction of Thoreau's cabin

Henry David Thoreau and the publication of his book Walden are often cited as early inspiration. Some believe that the modern movement began in the 1970s. Artists like Allan Wexler examine the concept of living in a small space. The early pioneers include Lloyd Kahn, author of Shelter (1973) and Lester Walker, author of Tiny houses (1987). Sarah Susanka started the "countermovement" for smaller houses, which she describes in her book The Not So Big House (1997) describes in detail.

Tiny homes on display in Portland, Oregon

Jay Shafer ... built his first small house in Iowa in 1999 and lived there for five years. It was 10 m 2 large, with a steep pitched roof and a veranda.

Small houses on wheels were popularized by Jay Shafer who designed and lived in a 96 square meter (8.9 m 2 ) House and later went on to offer the first plans for small houses on wheels, first founding Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, and then Four Lights Tiny House Company on September 6, 2012. In 2002, Shafer co-founded Shay Salomon with Greg Johnson and Nigel Valdez die Small House Society . Salomon and Valdez then published their guide to the modern movement of the small house, Little House on a Small Planet (2006), and Johnson published his memoir, Put Your Life on a Diet (2008).

With the great recession that hit the global economy from 2007 to 2009, the small house movement attracted more attention as it provided affordable, environmentally friendly housing. Overall, it made up a very small fraction of real estate transactions. As a result, only 1% of home buyers buy homes that are 93m tall 2 Or less. Small homes are also used as additional housing units (ADUs) to serve as additional on-site accommodation for aging relatives or returning children, as a home office, or as a guest house. Tiny homes typically cost between $ 20,000 and $ 50,000 as of 2012.

Tiny homes have received significant media coverage, including a television show, Tiny House Nation , in 2014 and Tiny House Hunters . Bryce Langston from New Zealand has a YouTube channel called Living Big in a Tiny House creates and hosts this one that features international tiny houses and eco-friendly living

Tiny houses on wheels are often compared to mobile homes. In Canada and the United States, these are known as park-model RVs if they do not exceed a certain size, namely 50 m 2 in Canada and 37 m 2 in the United States. However, tiny houses are subject to state / provincial / territorial building codes. Park-model RVs are subject to standards set by the Standards Council of Canada or the RV Industry Association (RVIA). Tiny houses are as durable as traditional houses, use traditional building techniques and materials, and aesthetically resemble larger houses.

Outside the USA

While the movement is most active in America, interest in tiny houses has been observed in other developed countries.

  • In Australia, some interest started from designers like Fred Schultz and builders like Designer Eco Tiny Homes and TechnoPODS. TITAN Hills along Victoria's scenic Great Ocean Road is the world's first master-planned, ecological, off-grid, tiny housing development.
  • In Canada, the legality of tiny homes can depend on the location and whether the home is mobile or stationary. In Toronto, a small house needs planning permission and a power connection. In December 2019, Edmonton introduced statutes that allowed tiny houses on foundations, removing the previous minimum width of 5.5 meters. Some municipalities consider buildings that are not connected to municipal electricity and sewer systems to be a violation of their building codes. Some have described this as an attempt to avoid situations similar to the Leaky Condo Crisis in British Columbia and which resulted in stricter building codes being set. Similarly, some mobile mobile homes have been rejected from spaces reserved for RVs because the property does not meet the same criteria that the vehicles are tied to. An "eco-village" with houses under 56 m 2 in Okotoks, known as the Homestead Project, was proposed in 2017 but met opposition from some Okotoks residents. In August 2019, the council voted not to consider the project any further after deciding to acknowledge a petition with 3,000 signatures against the development.
  • In September 2019, the “Ty Village” opened its doors in France, 6 km from the nearby University of Saint Brieuc in the department of Brittany.
  • In Germany, the Vauban community created 5,000 households on an old military base in Freiburg. The planned density of the building in this area is 50 housing units per acre. The British architect Richard Horden and the Technical University of Munich also developed this in Germany Micro Compact Home (M-CH) , a small high-end cube (7.1 m 2 ) for 1 to 2 people with functional rooms for cooking, hygiene, eating / working and sleeping.
  • In New Zealand, company-built units are referred to as mobile homes (see https://mobilehome.nz) and do-it-yourselfers build tiny houses on wheels (see https://nztha.org). As of 2021, it will usually be a basic initiative with many tailor-made and tailor-made initiatives. Bryce Langston, a filmmaker with a passion for design, permaculture and scaled-down, eco-friendly living in a small space, has created short documentary-style videos for YouTube in a small space through his channel and website "Living Big in a Tiny House".
  • In Barcelona, ​​Spain, Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores (Flores & Prats) presented the 300 square meter (28 m 2 ) House in a suitcase .
  • In Sweden, a cooking couple started a Kickstarter and then started a new forest-to-table movement called Stedsans in the Woods made up of tiny apartment huts that could be rented in a Swedish forest. They share the plans for their A-frame cabins.
  • In the UK, Tiny Eco Homes UK has developed several customizable small home models starting at £ 26,000. Dozens of the houses are used as primary residences in the UK and mainland Europe. Abito created smart homes in Manchester that are 32.8 meters in size 2 ; Tiny House Scotland created the Nesthouse
    The tiny NestHouse ™ house designed and built by Jonathan Avery of Tiny House Scotland, Linlithgow, UK.
    ;; A 23 square meter, modular, mobile, small eco-house, in which the possibilities of a sustainable life on a small scale in a highly insulated half-timbered construction with some passive house principles are explored, which guarantee a very low energy consumption. The estimated cost of the nest house is € 55,000. Northern Ireland has also seen a small but growing community of tiny homeowners, although the planning rules do not specifically consider tiny homes, meaning that "the planning process (for a tiny home) would have to be considered on a case-by-case basis".


Interior of a tiny house in Portland

The popularity of tiny homes has led to an increase in amateur builders, raising safety concerns among small home professionals. In 2013 the Tiny House Fair in Yestermorrow, Vermont, was organized by Elaine Walker. One attendee at the event, Jay Shafer, suggested promoting ethical business practices and providing guidelines for building tiny houses on wheels. Walker continued those efforts in 2015 and founded the American Tiny House Association, a nonprofit.

One of the biggest obstacles to tiny house movement is the difficulty of finding a place to live in one. The building codes usually specify a minimum area for new buildings on a foundation, and for tiny houses on wheels, parking on their own land may be prohibited by local regulations against "camping". While tiny homes save some costs, they can still be expensive depending on the cost of the land they occupy.

In addition, RV parks don't always allow tiny homes unless they meet the criteria required for RVs. Tiny houses on wheels are considered mobile homes and are not suitable for permanent residence, according to the Association of the Recreational Vehicle Industry. From RV Business: "The RVIA will continue to shy away from allowing members who manufacture products called" tiny houses "or" tiny houses "(however, the RVIA allows" tiny house builders "to join for so long If so, your units are built to RV or Park Model RV standards.) "

Lower court rulings in the US have crushed zoning laws regarding size, which have been an obstacle to tiny homes. One such case was League of South Jersey, Inc. v. Township of Berlin, where the court found that a zoning law relating to the size of a house did not protect citizens, so the law was struck down. These decisions are far from being a majority, but they are helping to allow the tiny housing movement to spread.

In 2014 Spur, Texas was proclaimed the first "tiny house-friendly town". However, it was later made clear that a tiny house might not stand on wheels but must be attached to a foundation.

In July 2016, Washington County, Utah revised the zoning codes to accommodate some types of small homes.

Tiny houses have become increasingly larger, heavier and more expensive. The ideal of minimal environmental impact is not a priority for all homeowners as businesses benefit from the popularity of tiny homes.

Tiny homes have been classified as impractical spaces for family education. Overcrowding and lack of space are detrimental to physical and mental health and can affect school performance.

In New Zealand, some district councils have attempted to classify mobile homes and tiny houses on wheels as buildings, subject to the Building Act 2004. This was supported by the Department of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in a decision that was then appealed in the District Court (Dall against MBIE). Judge Callaghan issued a damning ruling accepting Dall's argument that his house was not a building, and the council and MBIE wrongly said it was. Other cases have been negotiated since then, but there was no clarification from the government until January 2021.

Housing for the homeless

A tiny, mobile home in a courtyard in Portland, Oregon.

The 2007/08 financial crisis fueled the growth of the small house movement. In several cities, entrenched homeless populations formed around "tent cities" or camps that became semi-permanent homes. Homelessness in these communities was fueled by foreclosures and expensive mortgages from the United States' housing bubble.

Tiny homes have become an affordable option for people who have lost their homes. Because of their low cost and relatively simple construction, tiny homes in Eugene, OR are being set up as shelters for the homeless. Olympia, WA; Ithaca, NY; and other cities. Communities of tiny houses offer residents a transition to self-sufficiency. Communities like Othello Village in Seattle, WA originally lacked electricity and heat. In Seattle, nonprofits are committed to providing amenities.

The accommodation of the homeless should be cost-saving for the municipalities. The long-term viability of tiny houses for the homeless depends entirely on the structure and sustainability of the model. Strict zoning and land ownership laws make it difficult for this movement to take root. The benefits of access to housing include privacy, storage, security, restoration of dignity and stability.

In Reno, Nevada, faith groups and community advocates have established new zones for housing the homeless in a tiny home community. Each tiny house would cost an estimated $ 3,800 to build, plus an operating budget of $ 270,000 for case managers to help residents find more permanent housing and a position as a project manager.

A challenge besides zoning and funding was the NIMBY response from the municipalities. Communities can weigh concerns that tiny home communities will become shantytowns or devastated neighborhoods that will deplete the property values ​​of surrounding neighborhoods. For cities like Chicago, tiny homes are seen as an attractive option to fill the gap in housing availability. Community planners also have concerns that communities will not turn into shantytowns like "Hoovervilles" during the Great Depression.

In California, the City of Richmond has commissioned students from the University of California, Berkeley, with a pilot program for the THIMBY (Tiny House In My Backyard) project to develop a model of six small transition houses to be housed in the city. With the support of Sustainable Housing in California, THIMBY wants to create an environment in which homeowners and residents of transitional apartments can live as neighbors and not in a landlord-tenant relationship. THIMBY acquires destinations for tiny housing developments by interviewing interested homeowners who offer to rent back courtyard space for the tiny residential unit. While Sustainable Housing in California has independently identified people interested in the initial pilot, the organization is also looking to work closely with the City of Richmond's Tiny House on Wheels regulation to support city-level efforts to provide affordable housing and housing. This is in line with efforts in the San Francisco Bay Area to use micro-apartments and tiny houses to combat the housing crisis and homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area. Similar efforts to use tiny houses to house the homeless continue in Oakland through a partnership between the City of Oakland and Laney College.

The launch of the Social Bite Homeless Tiny House Village in Edinburgh, UK, in May 2018

In Edinburgh, UK, Social Enterprise Social Bite asked Jonathan Avery of Tiny House Scotland to design a variation on his tiny NestHouse house to create a two-bedroom version for the homeless Tiny House Village in the Granton area of ​​Edinburgh. Opened by Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equality, Angela Constance MSP on May 17, 2018, the village has eleven tiny NestHouse Duo homes and a community center built by Carbon Dynamic.

The pros and cons of tiny houses

In the co-authorized research article The Psychology of Home Environments it is argued that the drive behind the tiny house movement is also based on a desire for humility and preservation in addition to environmental awareness, self-sufficiency and the desire for a life full of adventure. When building tiny houses, there is often a misalignment between the needs of the residents and the explicit design of the construction team. This reality is being used as a call to architects and design teams to work with psychologists to build tiny houses that are better tailored to the needs of residents. To understand these considerations, it is important to note that not everyone is suitable for a tiny home.

Smaller houses are cheaper than larger ones in terms of taxes and construction, heating, maintenance and repair costs. The lower cost of living can be beneficial for those with little savings, e.g. B. for people aged 55 and over. Not only do small homes cost less, they also encourage a less crowded, simpler lifestyle and reduce the environmental impact on their residents. The typical size of a small house rarely exceeds 46 m 2 . The typical tiny house on wheels is typically less than 2.4 x 6.1 meters and no more than 11 meters in living space 2 to facilitate towing and relieve it of the need for a building.

Small houses can emphasize design over size, use dual functions and multifunctional furniture, and incorporate technological advances in space-saving devices and appliances. Vertical space optimization is also a common feature of small houses and apartments. An example of this is the use of loft space for sleeping and storage. Because of the general height restrictions associated with the ability to easily tow a tiny house, it is common for lofts to have an interior height between 1.0m and 1.7m. Larger floor plans are therefore more typical for the accessibility of older and disabled people, in which essential elements such as bed, bathroom and kitchen are retained on the ground floor.

The increasing use of small houses as second homes or old people's homes can lead to the development of more land. People interested in building a small home may face institutional “discrimination” when building codes require a minimum size that is well above the size of a small home. Neighbors can also be hostile because they fear negative effects on their property values ​​and have concerns about increased taxes.

In a broader sense, these feelings of "other" homeless and unhodged people have led to a wider movement of NIMBY ism, or "not in my backyard".

The rise of NIMBY ism preoccupied much of the dialogue about community organization and lawyer accommodation in the 1980s, so some have coined it as "the populist political philosophy of the 1980s". In many ways, the NIMBY philosophy works through the "spatiality of stigma" which allows residents and homeowners to reassign and redefine neighborhoods and local communities and, consequently, who are allowed to occupy such an area. While modern US society has statistically seen a growing need for human service and welfare, researchers have recognized that “the stigma of people and places is mutually constitutive, resulting in community rejection and organized opposition to the sitting of institutions for Indeed, community opposition to housing advocacy and affordability policies is exacerbating the dwindling number of public resources and social services available to the vulnerable and displaced homeless.

By treating homelessness as an unfamiliar problem, residents and homeowners are effectively relieved of the community's obligations to the welfare and protection of other members of the community affected by homelessness. Despite the elaboration of housing as a fundamental rights issue, community perspectives have evolved into a more economical, individualized form that integrates a person's home ownership and housing with their values ​​and ethics, employability and general ability to care for themselves Relationship sets and their families. As such, the inability of both the private and public sectors to fill the growing gap between affordable housing and housing is explained in some ways by an individual's alleged inability to ensure stability of life, maintain financial independence, and position within of the sector to consolidate society in general.

Electrical construction and network effects

Tiny houses are threatened with increased power outages due to their low energy requirements due to their small size. Their tailor-made constructions and their lower energy requirements often lead to a reliance on photovoltaics on the roof, such as B. solar panels on the roof. In view of the continuously falling price of solar panels and batteries, tiny houses are examples of existing and commercially proven alternative, off-grid housing.

Off-grid solar power system

Every room and every house has its own energy consumption profile and its own generation requirements. As a result, they have to dimension their power supply systems accordingly. The size of battery systems required to store the energy consumed or the energy supplied by the grid that is used in times when there is no electricity generation from the solar roof, e.g. B. with insufficient solar irradiation, depends on the generation capacity (in order not to fall short of the power generation or to oversize the battery bank), the type of batteries used, their individual capacity (A⋅h), the discharge rate permitted per cycle (%), the size the loads (W), how long they will be operated and how many days will be stored. To simplify this process, online calculators are available for dimensioning batteries. Additionally, battery balancers, sensors that can read and recalibrate the available capacity or the state of charge between different battery cells, can be added to extend the life of a battery system and prevent voltage offset or non-ideal current flow that can potentially damage or reduce capacity reduction on batteries in the Over time. Batteries are rated in ampere-hours with their discharge rate and capacity set by the manufacturer for a specific current and total time as the voltage varies with temperature and power varies depending on the discharge rate.

In order to completely convert a tiny house for off-grid living capacities, other power electronic power supply devices are required, e.g. B. a charge controller, an inverter for the power supply of AC loads or down regulators for DC loads as well as suitable protective devices such as circuit breakers and fuses. A specific sine wave inverter can also offer a grid power connection "called grid-tie inverter" if there is insufficient energy generation on site. Line inverters are of academic interest and are being studied by utility companies for their effects and potential benefits for voltage regulation, infrastructure effects, protection scheme requirements, economics and the optimal policy to integrate into the power grid with the increase in distributed power generation, namely solar energy supplied in residential areas .

Cabin-inspired little house built in the woods

Size of houses

Tiny houses are typically between 9.3 and 27.9 m 2 large . Given the small size of tiny houses compared to medium-sized houses, the energy costs are invariably lower. In addition, tiny power grids for homes are typically drawn from solar panels, which reduces the amount of publicly produced energy needed to maintain the home. More importantly, the price difference in using solar energy for a tiny home compared to an average-sized home doesn't significantly reduce the cost of homeowners. Hence, the variation in energy emissions and costs required for performance to vary significantly between a tiny house and a medium-sized house. While a tiny house operates at 914 kilowatt hours per year and produces an average of 0.519 tonnes of carbon dioxide, an average large house uses 12,733 kilowatt hours, releasing nearly 7.3 t (16,000 pounds).

As a result, tiny houses inevitably require less energy to support the homeowner. As a result, people who live in tiny houses typically limit the accumulation of materialistic items. The limited space of a tiny house insists that the owners sacrifice the idea of ​​abundant materialism. It also enables homeowners to reassess their personal habits, which is then translated into an awareness of environmental procurement. The concept of a “tiny” house reflects all aspects of the chosen lifestyle. Minimized footprint requires minimal consumer spending, while the limited area reduces the rate and level of energy consumption.

Environmentally conscious design

Humans have made a major contribution to recent environmental changes. A critical proponent of these changes concerns infrastructure; Buildings affect both people and the environment. However, the cost tends to have an impact on the environment, while the benefits are reserved exclusively for humans. With the construction of a new infrastructure, its sustainability should be guaranteed over a long period of time. The less environmentally conscious a plant is, the more it depends on the consumption of natural resources. "Part of the definition of a tiny house is that it is built from environmentally conscious and renewable materials." Most tiny homes are designed to get their services in a way that is less polluting. Power grids and public utilities are a distinguishable way that tiny homes receive various water, electricity, and plumbing services. This detail is important when individuals are moving from average sized homes to tiny homes as it allows individuals to save money while using fewer environmental resources. Another important environmentally conscious feature relates to toilets. Some tiny houses are equipped with incineration toilets, which remove waste by burning rather than flushing. Eliminating the need to flush toilets significantly reduces water consumption in a household. An alternative feature is a composting toilet, where the waste is broken down by evaporation to remove it. Therefore, tiny houses are not only energy efficient but also environmentally friendly. In order for new materials to be used sustainably both for construction and for long periods of time, the manufacture of such materials depends on various chemicals. This additional step removes additional resources from the environment. An alternative to this is the use of recycled materials, which reduces the need for added chemicals, as the process has already taken place in the initial production. For example, the tiny houses designed by a group in Texas deliberately avoid using new materials in their construction. Given that people use between 30 and 40% of all energy, the infrastructure is best suited to factor human consumption into their plans.

People who live in tiny houses are directly connected to the environment primarily due to the proximity between tiny houses and the surrounding ecosystems. Constant contact gives the homeowner the opportunity to better understand the functions of nature. Such an understanding enables an increase in environmental awareness.

In addition, the design of tiny houses is subject to individual changes. Style, sustainability, complexity, materials used and modifications are determined by the preferences of the homeowner.

Environment and homelessness

Homelessness is a critical issue in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, around 550,000 people were homeless on a given night in 2018. Over half of these people could sleep in various types of temporary shelters, while about 35 percent could not live in a sheltered area. Despite the little information available on the subject in the popular media, homelessness can have a dramatic impact on the environment. According to the Sacramento Environmental Council, homelessness is contributing to the deterioration of the environment. For example, garbage (garbage, drug paraphernalia, etc.) produced by the homeless accumulates in their living quarters, which are typically located near waterways, sewer systems, or parks. This leads to the contamination of the surrounding ecosystem. The Environment Council offers steps to preserve the environment and at the same time deals with the issue of homelessness. These steps include cleaning various water systems and public spaces to provide both clean water and clean areas to everyone in the community. One of these steps also includes government intervention in the establishment of sanitary and safe rooms for the homeless in order to prevent further environmental damage. Fortunately, with the tiny movement of the house, systems for it begin to form.

A critical form of combating chronic homelessness is the establishment of tiny house communities. Those behind such institutions want to help individuals solve their housing problems and provide a space where individuals can connect with others who are in similar circumstances. Creating these communities takes a lot of support, but the ultimate goal is ultimately shared. The main players in building and financing tiny homes for the homeless are nonprofits. Their goal is not only to provide housing for the homeless, but also to provide them with resources that will help them in all aspects of their lives. Building communities with tiny houses for the homeless is a group effort involving the homeless, cities themselves, and residents. Through their efforts, the problem of homelessness itself and its effects on the environment are continually combating and improving.


The tiny house's movement inspired several reality television series:

See also



  • Correction to source 17. "The House Jonathan Built" appeared in Tiny Living Magazine, June 2016, Tiny Living Magazine UK

further reading

  • Sarah Susanka, Kira Obolensky, The Not So Big House: A Blueprint For The Way We Really Live , Taunton (1998), ISBN 1-60085-047-2
  • Lloyd Kahn and Bob Easton, Shelter , Shelter Publications (1973), ISBN 978-0394709918
  • Ryan Mitchell, Tiny House Living: Ideas for Building and Living on Less than 400 Square Feet, Betterway (2014), ISBN 978-1440333163
  • Andrew Raise, Urbanism in tent cities , The Village Collaborative (2014), ISBN 978-0692248058
  • Vail, K. (2016). "Saving the American Dream: Legalizing the Tiny House Movement". University of Louisville Law Review , 54 (2), 357–379.
  • Ford, J. & Gomez-Lanier, L. (2017). "Are Little Houses Here To Stay? A Review of the Literature on the Little House Movement". Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal , 45 (4), 394-405. doi: 10.1111 / fcsr.12205.
  • Fürst, A. (2017). Finding Space: Understand how planning responds to small homes for homeless populations . Master thesis. McGill University School of Urban Planning.
  • Turner, C. (2017). "It takes a village: designation of 'tiny house' villages as temporary camp sites". University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform , 50 (4), 931–954.
  • Abigail Ross, The Tiny House BIG Book, an illustrated beginner's guide to a complete tiny house build . Bread & Butter Tiny Homes LLC (2019), ISBN 978-0-578-50181-9 https://www.breadandbuttertinyhomes.com/
  • Frank Olito (October 9, 2019). "17 Photos That Show the Ugly Truth of Life in a Tiny House". insider .
  • Minimalist life for a maximum life by Emily Gerde

External links