Why Tiny Houses Are So Popular

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

| February 2016

Tiny house

One of the many benefits of building a tiny house is the ability to manage, design, and complete the build yourself.

Photo © Derek Diedricksen

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.

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