Saturday, January 16, 2010

Are Tiny Homes Really Less Expensive?

It is no secret that I have a fascination with small or "tiny" homes. Many are engineering marvels, others show us just how little we need to live very comfortable, even luxurious lives.

That said, I am always a little annoyed with the proponents of tiny homes in particular, tout the economy in buying or building a tiny home. Tumbleweed Tiny Homes sells its tiny homes (more or less a well built travel trailer which looks like a shrunken New England home) from $40,000 to $55,000, with square footage ranging from 65 ft sq to just over 100 ft sq.

If that sounds more like the square footage of your backyard shed, well it is! However in defense of Jay's designs, there are lofts, and the designs are very well laid out, as long as you are under say 5'10" at best.

But the question I am considering today is: are these really money savers in a time when even after the real estate crash, homes are still selling for hundred's of thousands of dollars?

If we look at it the way these designers and manufacturer's do, then the answer is "yes" just as they assert. After all, $50,000 is less than $200,000.. But is this a fair comparison? I argue that it isn't. During the boomtime for housing, I helped a young couple who were buying their first home. That particular home they purchased for right around $200,000. What did they get? 5500 ft sq! Now, it was not to my liking, nor located where I would want to live, but comparing house to house, they acquired a great deal more house for the dollar than in these tiny homes.

Jay's homes can cost more than $550 per square foot! This is more than 5 times the national average!!

Don't think that I am picking on Jay. He is far from alone from offering such outrageous sq foot costs. I came across a blog today, here, which offered a similar size home but just the shell, for $29,000+

All of which makes me wonder why these folks don't consider more reasonable alternatives. My own home should end up costing about $5 a square foot, less than 1 percent the cost of Jay's.. I will have more room, lower heating and cooling costs, far lower maintenance, and full utilities (off grid).

I understand that my own home is closer to the low extreme than most, but surely there is a great deal of room to work with between $5 per foot and $550 per foot..

Home builders, designers, and architects of all sorts need to rethink what they consider reasonable. We can do much better, especially for the poorest amongst us in whose name these designers of tiny homes often appeal.

We can do better.

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