Why Tiny Houses Are So Popular

Explore the merits of small-scale building and why the tiny house movement is growing.

  • One of the many benefits of building a tiny house is the ability to manage, design, and complete the build yourself.
    Photo © Derek Diedricksen
  • "Microshelters" is filled to the rafters with tips, floor plans, concept sketches, step-by-step building plans, guidelines for utilization of recycled and salvaged materials, and inspired decorating ideas that will be useful to newbies and experienced makers alike.
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

From basic to brain-bending, Microshelters (Storey Publishing, 2015) by Derek “Deek” Diedricksen offers a stunning photographic survey of 59 of the most creative and awe-inspiring designs for little cabins, tiny houses, “shoffices” (shed-offices), kids forts and more. The curated collection includes work by some of the leading bloggers, architects, and designers in the “tiny” field. What they all have in common is a flair for creative design and the ability to innovatively maximize the use of space within a minimal footprint.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Microshelters.

What’s With the Tiny Obsession?

I’ve been asked this question many times, and there’s no easy answer. I just dig tiny, cozy structures. As to why, there are numerous reasons, some you might not anticipate.

Creating a microstructure involves creative thinking, outdoor activity, and problem-solving — things many people crave but often find absent from their busy (and sometimes repetitious and regimented) modern lives. And not only is it a relatively affordable pursuit, it also requires far less time and patience than building something of “ginormous” proportions. That’s the beauty of very tiny projects: they’re easy on both the wallet and the mind. Their small size also makes them easy on the neighbors.

Depending on where you live you can also build many structures without a permit. Heck, if you do need a permit and later get busted for building without on (not that I’m encouraging that . . .), how hard is it to relocate a diminutive backyard hut or office? Toss that sucker on the back of a truck, or haul it off-site with a flatbed, and you’re good to go.

Building small requires relatively few resources, and you’ll find many structures here that have been designed around, and built with, free, salvaged, and recycled materials. By taking this path you’re keeping materials out of the waste stream and preventing them from clogging up landfills. You’re also saving yourself a good deal of money while working unique and character-rich design elements into your home, office, or hideout. Sure, permit-wise, recycled goods may not be allowed in the construction of full-out homes, but with tinier builds and backyard hideouts that don’t require town-hall paperwork, often there can be a lot more leeway. In some more rural areas you could even build a home out of recycled fast-food wrappers and bubble gum and no one would give you any guff.. well, except the ants, perhaps.

9/25/2019 8:19:32 AM

Most of the tiny houses I've seen appear so cramped and claustrophobic, they look very unappealing, not to mention, uncomfortable. I might see things differently if I were 40 years younger, but for me now, I want everything on one level and don't want to have to reconfigure my living space for what I'm doing at the moment, or crawl into a loft to sleep on the floor.

7/12/2019 11:21:59 AM

Why are The Tiny Houses so popular? The ones I have seen are very expensive. I instead purchased a 32' fifth wheel with two slide outs for $8000. Needed some minor cosmetic repairs that cost under $500. My personal belief is that the bang for your buck Tiny House's are a rip off.

11/10/2017 3:22:33 PM

Would appreciate interior pictures of these tiny homes

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