The tiny house movement (also known as the small house movement) is a description for the architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in small homes. There is currently no set definition of what constitutes a tiny house; however, a residential structure under 500 square feet (46 m2) is generally accepted to be a tiny home.
The small house movement is a return to houses of less than 1,000 square feet (93 m2). Frequently the distinction is made between small (between 400 square feet (37 m2) and 1,000 square feet (93 m2)), and tiny houses (less than 400 square feet (37 m2)), with some as small as 80 square feet (7.4 m2). Sarah Susanka has been credited with starting the recent countermovement toward smaller houses when she published The Not So Big House (1997). Earlier pioneers include Lloyd Kahn, author of Shelter (1973) and Lester Walkee, author of Tiny Houses (1987). Henry David Thoreau and the publication of his book
Walden is also quoted as early inspiration.
Tiny houses on wheels were popularized by Jay Shafer who designed and lived in a 96 sq ft house and later went on to offer the first plans for tiny houses on wheels, initially founding Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, and then Four Lights Tiny House Company (September 6, 2012). In 2002, he co-founded, along with Greg Johnson, Shay Salomon and Nigel Valdez the Small House Society. Salomon and Valdez subsequently published their guide to the modern Small House Movement, Little House on a Small Planet (2006) and Johnson published his memoir, Put Your Life on a Diet (2008)
In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, Marianne Cusato developed Katrina Cottages, that start at 308 square feet (28.6 m2) as an alternative to FEMA trailers. Though these were created to provide a pleasant solution to a disaster zone, Cusato received wider interest in her design from developers of resorts, for example.
With the financial crisis of 2007 08, the small house movement attracted more attention as it offers housing that is more affordable and ecologically friendly. Overall, however, it represents a very small part of real estate transactions. Thus only 1% of home buyers acquire houses of 1,000 square feet (93 m2) or less. Small houses are also used as accessory dwelling units (or ADUs), to serve as additional on-property housing for aging relatives or returning children, as a home office, or as a guest house. Typical costs are about $20,000 to $50,000 as of 2012.
In Oakland, California, Gregory Kloehn builds small houses out of found materials, for an estimated cost of $40.
Small and tiny houses have received increasing media coverage including a serial television show, Tiny House Nation, in 2014 and Tiny House Hunters. The possibility of building one's own home has fueled the movement, particularly for tiny houses on wheels. Tiny houses on wheels are often compared to RVs. However, tiny houses are built to last as long as traditional homes, use traditional building techniques and materials, and are aesthetically similar to larger homes.
Some companies have put into motion plans to create tiny home developments
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