It may have begun with Sarah Susanka back in the late 1990s and her book The Not So Big House. Or it may be a reaction to the poor economic climate of the last decade or so. But it is definitely here. You can see it on Facebook and other social media. You can see it in headlines in the real estate sections of newspapers and magazines. And you can see it in online blogs and articles.
“It” is a fascination with smaller houses, a stark contrast to the “McMansion” boom of the 1980s and early ‘90s.
A 204-sq.-ft. cedar-sided bungalow features a pine-and-cedar interior and a ladder to the loft sleeping space.
Here at The Plan Collection, we’ve noticed increased interest in our small house plans. They appeal to all types of buyers, but one group in particular has been fueling interest in small or even tiny homes: Millennials. A Millennial is defined loosely as a person born between about 1980 and the early 2000s.
Small homes in general—and the independence of building their own small home in particular—appeal to Millennials for a variety of reasons.
The impact of the recent recession and the collapse of the housing market, starting in 2007-8, had an emotional impact on everyone. But particularly on the generations known as Millennials and Gen-Xers (the age group right before Millennials). These groups were the ones not yet in the housing market and struck by questions as to whether they could even afford a home.
A graph from Pew Research marks the position of Millennials in a timeline of American Generations.
The news wasn’t great. According to the Pew Research Center, “Millennials are also the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations (Gen-Xers and Boomers) had at the same stage of their life cycles.”
Research results show that more young adults are living with their parents rather than investing in their own homes, a trend that needs to change and may be helped in that direction by small and tiny houses.
With that experience firmly in mind it’s no wonder that the Tiny Home movement is burgeoning, especially among Millennials. Websites and conferences started popping up about the benefits of a small home. Gone was the desire for a MacMansion (at least for some). Frugality, ease, and saving money became positive buzz words.
Why a Tiny or Small Home?
Some of the pluses of building a home are the sense of control in getting exactly what you want. We have over 300 plans for homes of 1,000 square feet or less; that is a really livable size. And thousands more that would still fall into the small house category.
An attractive “tiny” house plan that will charm anyone, particularly millennials. It is all of 850 square feet with a beautiful landscaped courtyard entry, a covered porch, two bedrooms, a rear patio, and spacious living room and kitchen/dining area (Plan # 142-1031).
A small home saves money:
Lower cost of construction & financing
Lower taxes and insurance
Lower heating and cooling bills
Other Benefits of a Tiny Home
For Millennials a sense of freedom is really important. Not being tied down to the maintenance of a larger home in terms of time spent cleaning and repairing. That leads to more time and money to explore and travel locally or worldwide. Given the freedom the Internet provides to be self-employed or a freelancer, this idea of freedom to travel yet having a home base to return to is easiest with a small dwelling.
The environmental impact of a smaller home is going to be much less, in terms of materials used, emissions, and energy usage. So it’s not just personal benefit but a plus for the planet.
One of the many tiny homes on the market features a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen/living room, and private deck in 400 sq. ft. of living space and 100 sq. ft. of outdoor space.
What to Think About when Building a Small House
Whether the home is a small cabin or a ranch, because it is modest in size it can often be built on a friend’s or relative’s existing piece of land. That’s what many in the Tiny Home movement do; there are lots of options. Or a group of friends could buy a few acres and build homes together on the property.
“Bestie Row” is a series of tiny homes outside Austin, TX, built by a group of friends. With about 400 square feet of space, the homes have a bedroom and bathroom. An open-floor common area features a kitchen, dining area, living room, and spare bedroom for guests.
Real estate investor Marko Rubel over at the Huffington Post says that the cost of a small home is “anywhere between $10,000 and $40,000 to build, with the average being just $23,000.” This might be a bit low, so do your due diligence, but it’s bound to be way less than building the typical home.
Prices, of course, depend on factors such as your location, price of land, and home design—and constructions costs vary regionally. If you have some building skills and can help, that’s a cost savings too.
Design Ideas for Building Tiny
Even if the concept of a small place is appealing, you may not have grown up in a small house. Modern small houses are built to be comfortable—storage and issues of flexible use of space are key considerations. That’s what will separate a small home from being “cramped” versus being “comfortable.”
If you are going with very small square footage, then consider a house plan that has a loft space for sleeping. That’s a great option, as it doesn’t take away from the living square footage underneath it. Or a home office space can be built in underneath the loft area. Space has to be thoroughly thought out, and you need to consider multi-tasking space in a small home.
A tiny house in Nashville—built on wheels—can be rented out to tourists. Check out the stairway that goes to the loft sleeping space and the couch in the living room that can accommodate another person.
Most owners of tiny or small homes consider outdoor spaces as key to not feeling cramped or constricted. A great part of the year or (all year round if you live in a warm climate), the porch or a deck or patio is usable space. So unlike our parents’ or grandparents’ generation, outside space isn’t just for weekends. It’s a part of what makes a tiny home workable. The ability to sit outside and work on the laptop or return calls while a partner is doing their own thing is key.
Here’s a delightful one-story, two-bedroom country home with two baths, and lots of usable space packed into 900 sq. ft. An inviting courtyard and covered porch are ideal for lazy summer days. There are ample closets plus outside storage space (Plan # 142-1036).
A covered porch in a small home can provide private space for family members who want to work or study (Plan # 142-1079).
Our house plans are so diverse that you’re bound to find one that you love. But even if you find one that is just “almost there,” you can make changes. Whether it’s something you want to tweak or a feature you may want that’s missing, see our modification page for more options or give us a call. We can offer suggestions and help to find the perfect small house plan for your needs.
A one-level bungalow with two bedrooms and a bath features a cozy covered porch, large kitchen, and living room … in 892 sq. ft. of space (Plan # 157-1254).
A smaller bungalow fits two bedrooms, a covered porch, plenty of windows, a good-size master bedroom, and an open floor plan for the dining/kitchen areas in 780 sq. ft. of space (Plan # 157-1501).
A great one-story starter home built on 874 square feet of space comes with two bedrooms, a full bath, and an open floor plan for the kitchen, dining, and living room areas. Stone or concrete steps flanked by white railings lead to the covered entrance. The brick exterior and hip roof add to its charm (Plan # 158-1112).
So whether you’re building/buying your first home or thinking about downsizing, consider reducing your footprint—and associated bills—with a small or tiny home.
Footnote: The lead image (upper) in this article is a two-bedroom ranch style house built on 864 square feet of space. A covered porch and landscaped courtyard enhance its curb appeal. For more on the home, click here (Plan #123-1050).