When I became involved years ago, the tiny house movement had two central themes:
- Less is More: voluntary downsizing to own fewer possessions and consume fewer resources, allowing us to get off the hamster wheel, focus on the work and people we love, and live sustainably.
- Quality homes at a low cost: whether owner-built or purchased, most tiny houses were built by people with a vested interest in quality.
In the last few months, as the tiny house movement has exploded across major news media and TV, people with different goals and values have jumped on board. Businesses are attracted by the opportunity for profit, and the general public is attracted to the potential for cheap housing. We’re at risk of losing the focus on a better life through decreased consumerism and increased quality.
We’ve already seen one craftsman muscled out of his own tiny house company by someone with a sharper eye for profit. Now we’re seeing general construction companies moving into tiny house territory, and it won’t be long before the RV and mobile home manufacturers come up with their own versions of tiny houses, too. As big business enters the market, small craftspeople may be forced out.
Yet, if all we want are affordable houses, why not welcome big business involvement? Perhaps because many of us still remember the issues with FEMA trailers. Here’s a refresher, for those who forgot: Embalmed in Your RV: Formaldehyde Poisons Vacationers.
As the population ages, the need for affordable housing will continue to grow. Retirement mobile home and RV villages have been a viable choice for seniors, but the business model strongly favors the owner of the park.
America desperately needs quality built, sustainable homes that are inexpensive to purchase and inexpensive to maintain. Tiny house communities organized as co-ops can play a vital role, if codes and zoning will allow them to.
We need to work hard to maintain the integrity of our movement and not let it be taken over by profiteers. Show your support for local craftspeople and speak out to preserve your right to build your own house. Your active, vocal participation can make all the difference!
What can we do to keep the tiny house movement progressing in the right direction?
- Think about how you obtain your house:
- If you have the time and ability, build your own tiny house. Use high quality (new or salvaged) eco-friendly, healthy construction materials.
- Another option is to buy a shell and finish off the building yourself. Several tiny house builders now offer shells, and they can save you the worry of securing the house to the trailer yourself.
- If building isn’t a good option for you, find a reputable builder and be willing to pay a fair wage for his or her services.
- Design your house for safety. If you cut corners and your house falls apart on the road and injures others, or your tiny house starts a fire in an RV park, we’ll see a strong backlash from government in the form in increased regulations against tiny homes.
- Don’t participate in “reality” television shows that mislead the public. Fame is not more valuable than your integrity.
- Don’t try to make a quick buck from the movement.
- We don’t need more “I love tiny…” t-shirts, coffee cups, or key chains.
- Unless you’re truly an expert with unique advice to share, don’t write an e-book. Some of the current books just regurgitate information that’s already free on the internet.
- Think long and hard before starting a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign. There are already dozens of campaigns asking for money to build a tiny house and most are unsuccessful. What about your situation makes you more deserving of donations than others? Is there a way you can pay-as-you-go instead?
- If you’re living in a tiny house, be a good neighbor. Be careful about disposing of waste and burning of fuels.
- Help organize a tiny house community.
Fellow tiny house enthusiasts, do we want this…