Henry David Thoreau may have been the nation’s first celebrity advocate of the tiny house when he went to Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., in 1845 to build a cabin in which “to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.”
Indeed, the tiny house movement and the quest for more minimalist and deliberate living have seemed to catch fire once again, promoted by programs on HGTV and other networks that inspire a longing for the simpler life.
In the Greater Lehigh Valley, which has seen large homes rise over the past 30 years, tiny houses aren’t all that big, with only a handful of examples of the kinds of tiny houses depicted on television.
But while the tiny house movement hasn’t quite caught on locally, the trend is moving toward tighter, more efficient homes as consumers take a harder look at the living space they really need and consider economics, energy efficiency and uncluttered lifestyles.
Tiny houses, which can be as tiny as 120 square feet, typically cost from $10,000 for a do-it-yourselfer using salvaged materials, to $60,000 if purchased from a tiny-house builder, said Elaine Walker, co-founder of the American Tiny House Association.
“The trend in the past year is for tiny houses to become larger and more expensive, with some as large as 350 square feet and costing $85,000 or more,” she said.
According to Walker, they are becoming popular because:
- Tiny houses offer a way to greater financial independence.
- Tiny houses on wheels can move with you.
- They are built to last longer than a typical recreational vehicle or manufactured home.
- They offer an opportunity for creativity and personalization (by designing your own).
Keith Hoeing, owner of Erwin Forrest Builders in Salisbury Township, had his first tiny house experience last year in New Tripoli.
“It was a 720-square-foot home with conventional framing on a poured foundation,” he said. “We used red vinyl siding to make it look like a cottage tucked in the woods. It’s like an in-law suite without being invasive.”