12/16 Could you live in a tiny house?

paper cut out tiny house with a heart above the chimneyBigger isn’t always better for many homeowners. The proof: the ever-growing popularity of so-called tiny houses, where full-size people live in small-scale homes of 80 to 400 square feet.

That’s quite a leap from a typical single-family home. If you’re looking for affordable, sustainable housing where every inch is put to good use, then a tiny home may be for you.

Here’s what to keep in mind if you’re thinking of a dramatic downsize.

You’ll have to pare down big-time
Since there’s severely limited storage space in a tiny house, you’ll end up giving away most of your stuff — furniture (in favour of fold-down beds and tables), full-size appliances (compact models rule), books, clothes and much more. But following a minimalist lifestyle and keeping only the things you truly love and need often leave people feeling not deprived but exhilarated.

If you put the house on wheels, you can move it
While some tiny homes are built on a foundation like a traditional house, most are constructed on trailers. Being on wheels makes packing up and heading for the highway when you want a change of address a snap.

Finding a place to build or park your tiny home may be difficult
Zoning regulations in many areas require a minimum square footage — far greater than a tiny home’s — for new construction built on a foundation. But building a home on wheels and parking it on land you own or rent may not be possible either since it may be considered “camping” by the local or state jurisdiction. And recreational vehicle (RV) parks may prohibit tiny houses on wheels too because of their concern with liability, says Elaine Walker, a co-founder of the American Tiny House Association. “Since about 65 per cent of tiny houses are self-built, RV park owners are worried that they aren’t safe.”

Cleaning your home will be a breeze
With such minimum square footage, there’s only so much dirt and dust that can accumulate. That means less home maintenance and more time to pursue fun or educational activities. Or take naps and relax!

You’ll leave a smaller carbon footprint
Many people are attracted to a tiny house not just for the simpler life it promises but also for its environmental advantages. “It reduces the use of resources like fuel,” Walker says. She estimates that 25 per cent of tiny homeowners live off the grid and use only solar power.

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Elaine Walker

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