History of Tiny Homes
Between 1908 and up to 1940, Sears was one of the first companies to offer what we now call a “mobile home”. Through their catalogue, they offered different floorplans, window options, and stylish decors that you could pick for your home. Once ordered, Sears would them pre-cut the timber, shingles, and even drywall for your home. You would them assemble it yourself, on site. While this home wasn’t built in a factory, or transported like a mobile home is today, it is the first example in history of mass-producing homes like we see in the manufactured home industry today.
These homes were a great success for Sears, and in some ways things have come full circle. Enter Tiny Homes. These are “kit” style homes, either built by dedicated manufacturers or hobbyists, that follow no rules. Like Sears, the first catalogue manufactured homes did not comply with any rules or regulations. It was a handymans dream.
Modern Tiny Homes
Tiny Homes today are in a similar situation: being so small, they are not actually covered by international building code standards. Because of this, many towns & counties won’t issue a “Certificate of Occupancy” for a tiny home. Their argument is that the home is under the minimum size needed for the average human being, and as such is not suitable to live in. Thousands of Tiny Home enthusiasts would respectfully disagree.
For this reason, a lot of Tiny Home culture is hidden. That is, these extremely mobile homes are pulled up on properties, hooked up to some electrical source, and lived in like any other home without necessarily being inspected or approved. And in a way, this represents a type of Civil Disobedience. Just because a government agency believes you shouldn’t live in a tiny abode doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.
Tiny Home Regulation
Part of the reason there is so much kickback against Tiny Homes is the way our government is set up. Instead of having a national HUD code that applies to mobile homes, building codes can be state wide, county wide, or even town specific. This may sound ridiculous, but it’s true. You could potentially have a completely different building code from your neighbor just 20 feet away. Since Tiny Homes are really a niche movement, there has been no unified push to get them legalized on a national level. For now, if you want to live in a Tiny Home you’ll have to contend with your local building officials (which is no fun, trust us).
One exception to overbearing government officials is found in some rural areas. Some local governments that are "out in the sticks" see opportunity to allow tiny homes to reside within their confines. Why? Relaxing building code and essentially allowing these small abodes attracts people. More people means more paid in taxes, water bills, utility connection fees, and more. As is usually the case, it comes down to the money. Big cities want to protect the profits of their existing home buildres, while small towns with no home building industry want to jump on the tiny house craze.
Eco Friendly in a Small Way
So, with all this regulation and anti-zoning laws, why are some people drawn to living in matchbox sized home? One of the more common reasons, besides the classic anti-regulation America spirit, is a desire to be eco-friendly. With a tiny home comes a phenomenally tiny footprint. Because so few materials are even used in a tiny home, there is much less opportunity for waste. Heating & cooling a miniature mansion is also a lot easier. Less air = Less energy needed to acclimate your home. Due to the mobile nature of a tiny home, it’s not always possible to hook these domiciles up to a sewer connection. In the eco-friendly way, many tiny home owners will use a chemical toilet, or if they’re camping out on a friend’s lawn, just use the closest toilet. This further reduces the impact each home has on the environment. Not to mention, many tiny home builders actually follow more stringent “green” building processes. A tiny home is one of the few types of housing that is green from start to finish.
Just Saving Money
There’s another very practical reason why people choose to live in tiny homes, and that’s affordability. The truth is, the American dream of becoming a home owner is getting harder and harder, as the gap between rich and poor widens. As regulation creeps in, rent becomes higher, which only increases demand for homes (to escape the rent) and ultimately dwindles the supply. Where does it end up? Too few houses, for too much. This creates the perfect opportunity for tiny homes that cost next to nothing to build and maintain. Modern tiny homes can have all the amenities that a normal house can have, just in a smaller package. Because of this, many choose to forgo the “get a 30 year mortgage and be tied to a bank for the rest of your life” life plan, and go their own way with this type of home.
This also has its downsides, the most obvious being that local code may not permit you to live in your new creation. Besides that, tiny homes are not suitable for more than 1 or 2 people, at a maximum.
While tiny homes are by and large discriminated against by local governmental bodies, there is a way you can legitimately call these miniature structures your home. How? By classifying it as an RV. In fact, there is a type of RV that is almost identical to what you would call a tiny home, only a bit larger. It’s called a Park Model RV. These are built on a metal frame, and attached to wheels, to be pulled behind your average joe truck. Because of this RV classification, and the smaller width, some can even forgo the requirement for a “toter” and escort to have the home moved down the highway. By transporting a Park Model with something like a Ford truck, you can save a lot on transportation costs. Tiny homes also benefit from this RV form factor. After building your tiny home, you can go to the DMV in most states and apply for your home to be classified as an RV. Once that’s done, you’re legally allowed to live in your home no more than 6 months out of the year (local requirements may vary). While it’s not optimal, this is a potential route to legality when deciding to purchase or build a tiny home.
At Home Nation, you don’t have to decide between complying with the law and choosing your home. You can do both! Actually, we offer several Park Model RVs you may consider, that are comparable in size to a tiny home. The difference is, you can live in these homes like you would any RV. If you’re interested in the tiny home movement, contact us to see our smallest floorplans offered. You may be surprised! Our homes are also built in a factory, and not outside like most hobbyist tiny home builders will do. This means our homes are cheaper, and actually built to a better degree of quality. Don’t break the budget, get a tiny home and pay a tiny price.