Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur

12/7/2012

My Problem with Tiny Houses

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 12:13 pm

Photo via: Tumbleweed Walden HouseI have highlighted tiny houses before here:

Since that post almost a year ago, I’ve been following the tiny house trends and have found myself irked. There have been many times when I’ve wanted to post a rude comment, but have stopped myself. Apparently, I’m not alone, because the tiny house bloggers have started complaining.

Most of the rude comments are NOTHING like what I would say. They liken the tiny house builders to the sort of recluses who write manifestos. They complain about composting toilets or showering in confined quarters. They assume that the tiny house people want to outlaw all of the McMansions and force everyone to live in 200 square feet.

My complaints about the tiny house movement are more nebulous and, at times, feel more petty than those.

Tiny Houses Are Wasteful

The tiny house people brag continually about how their homes have been built by reclaimed materials. They love to talk about how they scrounged whatever wood they could find from demolition sites.

Want to know what would have been LESS wasteful?

They could have just bought a cheap and used fifth wheel that weighs just as much and needs just as big a truck to tow. I see used trailers in our local classifieds all the time that will eventually end up in the land fill. Instead of scrounging for wood, why don’t they just buy a cheap fifth wheel?

Tiny Houses Are EXPENSIVE

I know they’re touted as cheap to build, but a camper that is similar in size on the used market will ALWAYS beat it. Just today, I looked at my local classifieds and I found over 300 trailers (bumper pull and fifth wheels) that can sleep 6-8 people for under $5000.

No building required.

Sure, some of those campers are beat up, leaking and smell like a hundred deer have been gutted within them, but they are livable homes with toilets, showers and sleeping arrangements for a family. Additionally, it only takes persistence and patience to find the jewel of a trailer that is immaculate, fully functional and ready to inhabit.

Tiny Houses Aren’t All That Easy To Tow

A lot of the bragging about tiny houses is the portability. Whenever you get sick of Portland, Seattle or San Francisco, you can just hook it up and haul it to a new place. You could even haul it to your own tiny spot of land in the desert that you found for sale on Craigslist.

The truth of the matter, however, is if you want to make your tiny house relocatable, you have to build it with more durability than salvaged materials can provide. Driving down the freeway with your tiny house in tow is like subjecting your home to hurricane force winds.

Additionally, it takes a massive pickup to safely haul a tiny house down the freeway. If you have to purchase a massive pickup, then you might as well just add the fifth wheel to the bed and haul a trailer. It’s just plain safer to haul an aerodynamic fifth wheel trailer than a cabin on wheels.

Tiny House Builders Are Elitists

In the end, why DON’T tiny house builders just buy a used fifth wheel camper? It has efficient bath and kitchen facilities. It can sleep just as many people as a tiny house. It’s well-insulated from the cold and just as portable as a wooden house on wheels. It’s probably even LESS expensive.

I can’t escape the feeling that the kind of people who build tiny houses are elitists. They act as if what they are doing is different than the folks who live in Winnebagos. It’s like they believe that a little house that looks like Walden on a flatbed trailer is NOTHING like those trailer trash who live in fifth wheels at the trailer park.

Trailer Park Trash

In the end, I feel insulted every time a tiny house builder brags about how cheaply they built their house or how very portable it is. I keep thinking that they could have just bought a fifth wheel for that price and then they wouldn’t have to dump out a chamber pot every morning. They could have a proper black water tank that easily empties into sewer hookups.

Tiny houses are cute. That can’t be denied. They can even be designed to work as efficiently as your typical camper, but almost EVERY time I see a video showing a builder bragging about his tiny house, I want to write rude comments on the post because they could have just bought a cheap camper and gotten all the features they are bragging about so meticulously.

Update 02-24-13

There is now a Utah-based company that is making tiny houses, called Open Trail Homes. You can see my review here:

The most humbling thing is that I feel completely different after seeing one in person.

As luxurious as a fifth wheel feels when I’m camping, it doesn’t really feel like a HOME. Walking into the Open Trails Homes felt like I was walking into a REAL house. I could see that it was on wheels, but it felt like a cabin instead of a trailer. Just seeing their designs in person was enough to make me re-evaluate my entire stance on the tiny house movement.

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30 Comments »

  1. But not everyone wants an RV. I have a little tent trailer, and I love it. I could easily see building a tiny house, not because it would be better then an RV, but because I would be making something. I think that distinction is important, each of there pros and cons, and the person that owns either does what matters for them.

    Comment by Jake Spurlock — 12/7/2012 @ 1:15 pm

  2. You’re right, Jake!

    The desire to create is a VERY strong drive. I really wish tiny home builders would talk about that instead of the efficiency, portability and affordability of a tiny house.

    Building a tiny house isn’t efficient, portable or inexpensive, but it DOES fulfill that human need to create something useful. THAT should be what the focus of that movement should be about.

    Comment by Laura Moncur — 12/8/2012 @ 7:38 am

  3. What I wish the Tiny House people would focus on is the strange and difficult to navigate landscape called building codes. Yea I understand these codes were put in place to protect the public from shoddy constructed dwellings but it has drivin the cost of a home up significantly. The “on wheels” tiny house is a way to skirt the code. So rather than fighting for change they are busy cheating.

    Comment by Josh — 1/15/2013 @ 5:48 pm

  4. I totally agree with everything you’ve said in this article! I have always felt the same way about these beliefs too. Sure, a tiny house is nice, but, I’ve been studying them for a LONG time, and I have seen thousands of pictures. I always see something that is not right. The MAIN thing I see is the fact that people are using trailers that are WAY under built to be carrying all the weight people are putting on them. Some take an old travel trailer frame, and build a HOUSE on them! These frames were designed to carry the weight of a TRAVEL TRAILER!! LITTLE framing members, LIGHT aluminum siding, THIN paneling on the interior, EVERYTHING is designed around LOW WEIGHT! That’s just part of my concerns, I don’t have time right now to voice more! PLUS, some of the TINY HOUSES are TALL!! I can see a big wind turning them over. Lots of dangers that these amateurs aren’t facing properly. EVEN the ones that are supposed to be PROFESSIONAL!!! I wonder what they are thinking sometimes!! OK, I’m finished!

    Comment by ImReady — 1/16/2013 @ 1:09 am

  5. First of all you have a great site, but I think you get some tiny house builder fans a bit wrong…Some of these people want to build something with their bare hands and most of the time that’s why they are so proud of themselves, don’t get me wrong I live in Europe on a “little” house made of concrete and bricks but I love to work on it and that makes me quite proud sometimes. A simple example, it would be easy for me to buy a second hand headphone amplifer, but I like to build my stuff, so sometimes building one its more expensive than a second hand one, even so I’m proud of my work. Sure you can buy second hand stuff but its way more fun building it yourself. Best wishes.

    Comment by Rafael — 2/12/2013 @ 1:07 pm

  6. A camper CAN be as homey as a tiny house. I have seen many wonderful housetrucks, for instance. I once lived in a camper with a wood interior. I gave the ugly old wood an antique white faux finish, and decoupaged some beautiful paper around the sink. I made thick quilted curtains that could seal light out – or in, or could be opened wide for light. I stapled heavy lace around the ceiling light and burlap to the ceiling, then decoupaged a poster on the door of the space where the fridge would have been – we turned it into a much more useful pantry. The 3 burner range was our indirect heater – just put on a pot of coffee and you’ll be warm in no time! What was WRONG with it was exactly the things that are wrong with the tiny houses. It wasn’t self contained (so you always had to be near a bathroom) and it had no oven. I would do it again, only have to have those two things. Other than that, we kept a surprising number of books, paints, a sewing machine, radio – and most of the other conveniences of 1980 in it. No TV, but we’d planned that. Sorry I never got around to putting in a stained glass window. However, I also love the period travel trailer look as yours has. And I also marvel at the horrible price of tiny houses. One girl on youtube made one on a flatbed truck for way under that – about $2000 I think – all salvage and it’s much more individualistic than the standard tiny house.

    Comment by adrienrain — 3/25/2013 @ 4:24 pm

  7. I feel that same way as to using trailers for a tiny home. The article slips past that not a single tiny home I have seen has been constructed to RIVA standards for humane habitation. Not a single building code has been implemented in their design or build…Campers come with these certifications and are designed to withstand going down a highway at 60 mph. I bought a 1983 32.5 foot Shasta bumper pull on eBay for $3,500.00 and it came with $2,000.00 worth of deck and sheet metal awning. My home is RIVA certified and can be sold and transported very easy.

    Comment by Larr Slick — 3/25/2013 @ 4:45 pm

  8. I can see both sides of this. On one hand, it is very gratifying and rewarding to build something with your own hands, most of all, a HOME! On the other hand, it’s practically the same thing as a trailer, and it could be as satisfying renovating one of those into a functional home. Trailers do have issues with formaldehyde, though.

    I always thought it was ironic that many people who chose to build a tiny home for the purpose of being “independent” wind up parked in the driveway of a family member, hooked up to their electrical and plumbing, leaving all the neighbors wondering when they’ll hitch up their “home” and move on so the community can return to normal. I am much more impressed by those who build a tiny home on land with the purpose of actually BEING independent, and truly are.

    I’m thinking many people who build these homes-for-one will be in the market for larger homes once the novelty wears off. Unless your hobby is purely focused around outside activities, it seems like “a weekend spent at home” would be very limiting, especially on a rainy day.

    For that matter, why not fix up a dilapidated mobile home? I follow Trailer Chics’ blog, and love how they renovated small mobile homes under 500 sq. ft. into suitable homes for themselves. It cost them about the same or less to rebuild an old mobile home as many invest in a tiny home, and is much more livable. If you’re going to stay hooked up to the grid, wouldn’t this be a better option? In some areas, trailer parks are beginning to lose their reputation as being the places where lowly, destitute people wind up. Many people occupying these communities are now young professionals who, for once reason or another, fell on hard times, or cannot yet afford the American Dream in their chosen community.

    Comment by Traci — 3/25/2013 @ 5:04 pm

  9. I would be nice to return to a nomad nation. Go where its warm in the winter. Go where its cool in the summer.

    Comment by Tim Proksch — 3/25/2013 @ 7:11 pm

  10. Some valid points. But you can’t live in an old camper in winter in northern Canada. At least not comfortably. Lightweight isn’t necessarily practical everywhere. Also, as other commenters pointed out, it feels good to design and build – or just build – something yourself. This shouldn’t be underestimated. We’re humans, not robots. Cheers -

    Comment by Lara — 3/25/2013 @ 7:14 pm

  11. The reason why i would build my own RV is because I have intolerances to lots of synthetics. I have tons of problems with my throat and sinuses after being in mostly plastic RVs. With building my own place I could avoid a lot of that, but with 2 kids and living in an area that does not allow you to live in an RV on someone’s property, it’s not doable. But I am going to have some fun making a big shed into my & my husbands offices since we actually live in a small house and really need some private, separate space for our hobbies.

    Comment by Laurie — 3/25/2013 @ 8:38 pm

  12. My main problem(s) with tiny homes is a problem that all single-family buildings have: location. Houses can only be built in the middle of nowhere, or in suburbs which have all the downsides of the city with all the downsides of the country and none of the advantages of either. And my main problem with living in the country is that transportation becomes an expensive mess of 80-mile commutes in the same 6000lbs monstrosity you use to tow the house in the first place. Meaning any money you saved over a studio apartment, you just lost in a ridiculously expensive commute. And don’t even think of telecommuting, high-speed internet very seldom exists in rural areas, or is very lackluster.

    Comment by anonymous — 4/27/2013 @ 5:29 pm

  13. Im a maintainence man for bout two years now and I know how to build things I just didnt learn how to do thigs in just two years but have been buiding and fixing things since I was a kid. I plan on building a tiny home for the simple fact that I like building things. Mine will be built on a travel trailer frame and built to be ballanced in such a way my half ton chevy with a 5 speed manual can pull it with ease. Itll be totally off grid concidering the water suply when I need to fill my fresh water tank. Solar water heater but ill have an on demand propane heater for cloudy days and a generator fueld by propane, solar power, all handmade led lighting. Im not against people building tiny homes but they need to concider the cost of moving it around and the cost of fuel to move it around. Savage materials can be used to make them but you have to know what to look for and the parts that arent good enough for structural support can be used for other things in the home that arent load bearing. The support structure will be held together with aluminum brackets that i know how to make. Folks that dont know how to realy build that well shouldnt really mess with it though for thier safety and others moving the thing down the road.

    Comment by Michael — 6/18/2013 @ 10:14 am

  14. my family wants to build one so we can pay a low rent at a RV park. Then we will rent out our current house. We do not plan to move, but we enjoy the idea that it can be moved. We like the tiny homes because they feel like a home not an RV (which we were going to get until we heard of the tiny homes). Everyone has different views and perspectives. Yes, they could have bought a crappy RV then fixed it up, but that is not what they wanted to do. Just as you are entitled to your opinion they are entitled to theirs.

    Comment by marie — 7/8/2013 @ 5:53 pm

  15. I think in your haste to condemn the tiny home, you’ve missed the major points of owning one. 1. It is cheaper… Than owning a regular 800+ sqft home. Even in my podunk little town a house that small is listed for 100000. The price to buy or build one is often less than the down payment on a regular sized home. Add to that taxes, utilities, etc, and you can start to see where a tiny home would be cheaper. Especially if you buil it over time, and paid for it as you go. No mortgage means no interest! 2. It is just as mobile as a mobile home. Tiny houses are not meant to be RV’s or Travel Trailers. If you move around a lot, then they wouldn’t work for that lifestyle. However, they are mobile enough that if you had to relocate for work, or just wanted to live somewhere else it could be done. There are many companies available that can move the house for you (just like you would need for a mobile home), so it’s not true that you would need to buy a huge truck. 3. They can be designed to be 100% off grid, or use “shore power”. A quick search for off grid will show you people that happily live using solar power, propane, rain barrels, etc. you can certainly have a fully functioning bathroom and kitchen with oven. 4. To the comment that they are wasteful… Seriously? How many perfectly good full size houses are sitting empty in your city? Now, how many new construction homes are being built? Alright then, how is building a tiny home more wasteful than that?!? 5. You could just buy a mobile home which MAY be cheaper. Now, I can only speak for the trailers I’ve been in but they are cheap for a reason. Flimsy walls, super cheap finishes… All stuffed into a big linear box. However, I am aware people have gutted mobile homes and made them into beautiful, comfortable spaces. That’s just not something I want to do. I love the character of the tiny homes. They look like, and are mini versions of larger spaces. 6. You’re going to want a larger space for cold/ rainy days. Why? I don’t spend those days running through my house. I spend them curled into my little reading nook, or watching something on TV or crafting. All things I can do in a house with smaller square footage. As an apartment dweller, I’ve lived in some tiny spaces. He’ll, when I lived with my parents all my stuff was kept in one little bedroom. And let me tell you honestly, you don’t need 1000 sq ft to be happy. I’m in a huge apartment right now and I’ve spent so much time and money buying stuff to fill it. The only reason I needed that stuff was because I had the space for it! I realize some people don’t feel this way, and that’s perfectly acceptable. The tiny house lifestyle is not for you. 7. And finally, what are you going to do when the novelty of it wears off? Well, it’s not really a novelty to me. Owning my own home is my dream. I love small cozy spaces, and at 35 I have already decided a big family is not for me. A tiny home works fine for 2 people, not sure how well for more. But, as my home will be paid for, should that ever change, I obviously have options. I could keep the house and add a secondary trailer or something to it to expand the space. I could keep it and buy a larger house, and park it in my backyard, and use it as a guest house, crafting studio, workspace, etc. Could buy a small amount of land somewhere and park it permanently as a vacation spot for my family, or vacation rental. Or I could sell it to someone who is interested in doing any of the things listed above. So, in conclusion, I can understand and appreciate why this lifestyle would seem undesirable for some. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a valid and happy lifestyle!

    Comment by Nicole — 7/18/2013 @ 8:02 pm

  16. RV’s are toxic. If built right, a tiny house can be just as mobile, even aerodynamic, as an RV. I’m designing my own because RV’s are ugly, off-gassing boxes. Luxury(by someone else standards)doesn’t equal comfort(by my standards) and alternative doesn’t equal “cheap”. A tiny house can offer a healthy, affordable alternative to living in a conventional chemical building. Apartments and condos are void of privacy and independence. Some people don’t want to be anchored to debt. A big house is like a big coffin, you

    Comment by Lisa — 7/23/2013 @ 2:39 pm

  17. That was an angry little rant Laura! Hmm I always wonder why people can get so hostile about something that doesn’t interest them. That you can feel so affronted by a movement that promotes sustainability, minimalism, affordable housing and flexible lifestyle choices says more about you and your anger than the Tiny house movement. Your comments show that you really don’t understand the Tiny House concept and why people would choose to live in one over a 5th wheeler. There are many reasons why 5th wheelers are not an option for many people. Do some research, educate yourself then follow up this vindictive rant with a well reasoned, articulate argument on exactly why you do not like Tiny houses. Also it might release you of the anger which makes you feel the need to want to write nasty comments on people’s blogs who are living THEIR dream and not hurting anybody else. I encourage articulate, alternate viewpoints but when they are based on complete ignorance on a subject and delivered with such belligerent anger I can’t really take your views seriously.

    Comment by James — 9/24/2013 @ 7:25 pm

  18. I don’t know what kind of tiny house news you’ve been following but this is not what I got from the movement. I also feel like you’re missing the point. The camper comment got me the most because first of all campers are like at least half of the tiny houses I see on sites like “Tiny house blog”. People buy old campers and fix them up and make them livable. and just saying people should just buy old beat up campers clearly shows that you miss the point entirely. A camper (not renovated) has to be hooked up to sewage. You basically have to live on a campground and you’re still dependent on the grid more than you would be if you had a compost toilet. also, these people want to live in houses not campers. they want to feel at home not like they’re camping. There are definitely goofy ritsy tiny houses, usually premade, that seem counterproductive. but let’s be honest, who cares if rich people are choosing this way to live? isn’t that better than buying a giant house?

    in conclusion, I think this is a stupid thing to get worked up about.

    Comment by Lindsey — 9/25/2013 @ 5:25 pm

  19. WHERE did that painting come from and who is the artist? It’s amazing! I’ve lived in many tiny homes all over the place but in the early 90′s I did some time in Moab on an acre down by the creek. I was served well by a teepee and a 1951 singlewide I named Pearl. This painting is as close as I’ve come to those glorious days on Shumway lane. I would die to own that painting, or at least know more about it.

    Thanks, Wendy

    Comment by Wendy Alderson — 9/26/2013 @ 10:13 pm

  20. I am really looking into buying/building a tiny house. I lived in a rv for three years, and I can tell you that it truly is not the same thing as a tiny house. I understand and respect your concern about older rvs ending up in landfills, but they don’t offer what a tiny house does in terms of durability. They are made of very flimsy materials that are not meant for daily living. The floor of our rv, for example, was made of two inch thick plywood that a nest of ladybugs easily made it’s way through. Virtually everything broke on it in the those first few years: the slideout, the faucet, having to fix the floor, the metal siding starting breaking away…RVs are often much larger (unnecessarily) than tiny houses as well. Just some food for thought.

    Comment by Kristy — 10/26/2013 @ 11:11 am

  21. BRAVO!! I’ve been in such blind love over these things since my friend told me about them. I’m buying an RV. Thanks

    Comment by Rhizza — 11/13/2013 @ 10:07 pm

  22. Hi, I personally am in the market for a fifth wheel and have spent that last two years downsizing and preparing for my new life which is around the corner in about 6-8 months now.

    I want to point a few errouneous details you expound on. Even though I am in the market for an RV, you have your facts wrong. Most older RVS are not well insulated. THAT is why they are so cheap. It is more cost effective to build one of these tiny homes than to get an newer RV with good, solid insulation.

    Additionally, many people do not want to live in an interior space that “many deer have been gutted in.” Also, these people will likely be utilizing RV size used furniture, appliances, countertops, etc. when building thier new tiny home.

    Chill out! I know you’re annoyed, and do your research. These are eco friendly and economical. It is my plan to buy land at some point and maybe to build one in my future.

    Comment by Jeen — 11/24/2013 @ 1:26 pm

  23. I read the whole article and the first few comments, so please pardon me if someone has already spoken on my points… First of all, I own a regular trailer. Well, regular from the outside. It’s built using aluminum and weighs a fraction of the stick built trailers half it’s size. I also have had problems and your quoting points that while you may have read some, most are not correct.

    We looked at upgrading to something we could use bi-coastal in case our jobs shifted )as we are bi-costal), there is none outside of what is essentially a Tiny Home which he RV industry calls them Park Models. At best for seasonal usage you get a three season trailer. They put in heating mats in the basement (your speak would be crawl space), and or they vent the heat you are using via hooked up to 30 or 50 Watt Electric or more often tiny propane tanks. You can go to extreme lengths to help it retain more heat, usually don’t by stuffing straw under the trailer and siding that area… think, old single wide mobil homes. As I have seen many builds for Tiny Homes, the frame is 2×4 which then you insulate well between and have something comparable to a normal on foundation house. Trailers of all kinds, (including Fifth Wheels) are built very much like those old single wide mobil homes. The siding is very thing usually using a layering of thing sidewall plywood, thin insulation foam, and the thin interior paneling which gets that oh-so-lovely wall paper finish.

    To say that any trailer out there in mass production is as good is ignorant and/or delusional. I have been to at least 4 of the last years of the largest RV show, sat through seminars and looked at everything on the market.

    The nicest Fifth wheel I saw cost around $80,000, it’s lifespan would be a fraction of the Tiny Home and would cost considerably more to maintain a comfortable climate.

    In regards to the building codes and skirting them. I have been in Real Estate for almost 25 years. Anyone out there pay an HOA fee? That covers such wonderful things like if you let grass grow in the cracks of your cement driveway you will get brow beaten by the HOA and fined… or worst. I’ve seen these fascist levy liens!

    In almost all areas of or so called free nation, we limit your freedoms in absolutely stupid ways because most local politicians who cover these building codes and your right to insulate the space above your garage and live there!

    Why you ask? Look at who their financial contributors are. Builders! Not the little guys like the guy who wants to divid his generous lot to sell off the back portion… not, it’s the huge national chains. These guys are suppose to contribute to things like funds to widen roads, build parking structures for all of the additional human toll to the area which they’ve overbuilt. Ask yourself why your suburban area has such stupid traffic in areas, it’s because someone at the local level allowed that area to be overbuilt by the big subdivisions.

    To say that they are skirting oversight by a corrupt local committee is just mean. Most people have tried to get variances but can’t because the brainwashed public holds their neighbors responsible to overcrowding and parking problems. I’ve heard them speak of possible fire hazards at these meetings. We have a younger population who doesn’t want to graduate from college in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt, and it’s because there is a massive shortage of affordable housing.

    We are Americans, stop listening to the dribble from the town counsels and the planning commissions who have the big builders skirting the funds that should be going into your neighborhoods.

    SInce when are we not the land of the free?

    Comment by Val — 2/22/2014 @ 1:11 pm

  24. I agree with all the reasons for wanting to choose a camper over a tiny home. But there’s two reasons a tiny home is better for me.

    1. Unless you want to live twenty miles outside of town, in a secluded area, you can get in trouble for living in an rv (yes they can tell you to move it and get out while parked on your own property.) I know it’s not always likely, but if one person complains about that ugly brow/white/yellow/blue thing hanging around, it’s over. On that note.. Let’s face it. Campers are just funny looking and usually ugly. Not that you can’t fix them up a little, but they’re oddly shaped, etc. Your neighbors will want to pull their hair out. The tiny home blends in, and others find it much more pleasant to live with. Anyway, as far as code goes, it’s a tiny home, it’s a grey area. Not really an RV and not a house either. So you’re kind of avoiding the rules.
    2. Off gassing in campers/rvs. Not much more to explain there.

    Comment by Kali — 4/22/2014 @ 10:40 pm

  25. I keep going back and forth between finding a used RV trailer and building a tiny house. There are definitely pros and cons for each. Also, “fifth wheel” trailers are those that hitch in the center of the pick-up bed. Those that hitch at the rear of the tow vehicle are usually called “travel trailers”.

    Tiny houses can be built for much less $$ than many of the examples online. Jenine Alexander of Forge Ahead Construction frequently builds them with just a few thousand dollars in materials. Tiny houses are also much better suited for permanent habitation than RV trailers. They are much better insulated (comparably to stick-built homes), use double-pane windows, and offer much more weatherization overall than RV trailers. The floorplans are also more open and fully custom. RV trailers often pack so many fixtures and appliances into the space that it’s difficult to set them up for long-term habitation.

    On the argument of waste disposal, the “Humanure” composting frequently used in tiny houses is far superior to RV blackwater systems in terms of sustainability. It is easier, uses no water and is symbiotic with the environment. If I end up with an RV trailer, I will be replacing the toilet with a Humanure bucket.

    Tiny houses are also ideal for implementing alternative energy sources, such as solid fuels, lamp oil and denatured alcohol. RVs are set up to be overdependent on propane, so they keep you tied to the energy infrastructure unless you remove the appliances.

    Comment by Eric P — 5/11/2014 @ 10:10 am

  26. Have you ever bought an old RV? RV’s that are 10 years old are pretty rotten and still cost an arm and a leg, so to speak. I have a 1991 sportsman that I replaced the rear floor in 10 years ago and now its rotten again along with a a multitude of other things. Every time something goes wrong with the plumbing, electrical, heating, or air you have to pretty much tear things apart (destroy) to fix it ad you end up paying a whole lot of money. If your door rots, which it will, 750 dollars to replace it, if you can find the exact size.. Fifth Wheel trailers are so mis-engineered that they break down from road rash. Their framing is light weight. The industry counts on all of the above to keep them in business. I am going to just build a hobbit house.

    Comment by Dan — 5/17/2014 @ 10:27 pm

  27. I agree 100% with you laura.

    Its funny that people rant “for” tiny houses, but their arguments have no substances…

    its the same as “going solar movement”…people who have no clue of solar, will spend a lot of money and will realize LATER its just not practical.

    I would rather see more videos of “practicality” of tiny houses. but instead they show their designs and try to make money off the ignorant

    Comment by James — 5/26/2014 @ 3:52 pm

  28. Although this article is a bit older, I hope to shed some light on the tiny home subject. I have lived in a camper in extreme cold winters for the past two years and can say that it is time for me to build my tiny home.

    Tiny homes are built like a standard house with 2 x 4 construction and full insulation. Most campers and RVs have, at best, 1.5 inches of insulation. Most older campers leak air around the windows and just about everywhere else.

    A tiny home is literally a standard home on wheels. They cannot be put in the same category as an RV.

    Tiny homes are built to last and built for daily use. Campers fall apart fast if used daily. I know first hand.

    I have studied tiny houses for years now and am a firm believer in them. This winter I will sleep in comfort with fully insulated walls and double glass windows. No more cold winters.

    Tiny homes can be built with no need for codes or permits. In most places they are exempt. That is another huge reason many people build a tiny home.

    Another big reason for building a tiny home is that you can customize it to your liking instead of just taking whatever used camper your budget allows.

    Comment by Troy — 6/24/2014 @ 9:36 pm

  29. I decidedly purchased this particular travel trailer – 2006 26foot with a lovely window seat pop out. I have lived in it ever since and love it. I thought about the tiny house but feel it does not look attractive to me, nor does it feel luxurious to me. They all look rustic and tight. I wanted to go minimal and have, but cramping is not for me either. I have remodeled the inside a bit and put in a gorgeous oak window facing office. I am truly pleased with my minimal lifestyle, mobility if I choose and the comforts. I have never been too cold nor too hot in all these years. A skirting and planter boxes doll up the outside and provide herbs and adequet insulation for the winter months. I have a nice patio garden this year under an adequet awning and the entire home simply closes up, tucks in, folds and drives away. I think the “trailer park” attitudes melted away with the “RVer” attitudes that came with retired travelers. Tiny homes simply look silly to me. Are you copying a travel trailer with a cabin in the woods? If so, it works! I like things a little smoother and cleaner looking and enough space to entertain my family when they come to visit. Yes, I am a minimalist now, but reasonably so, I did not go to the OTHER extreme of cramping into a small space with “full home” design wrapped around me. There are many ways to minimalize and Tiny House Lovers have theirs and the comforts they choose. Just minimalize and forget it.

    Comment by Trailer Happy — 7/3/2014 @ 9:39 pm

  30. I am currently seriously looking at building a tiny house and while ì an researching this I find it always helpful and insightful to look at both sides. Especially when considering something like a tiny home as you find way more positive sides than honest negatives. So with that said thank you for asking the question and taking a step back for a second. You have some very fair points regarding the obvious question. Why not just a travel home already built by a reputable manufacturer? The conclusion is that these rv’s although built well on quality trailers they are not going to be suitable for year round living where winter is a factor. They are just not insulated well enough. Sure if you used it fir a week at a time, But not as a permanent solution. The concept of a tiny home is more focused on the fact that some people are looking for an alternative to spending energy for housing they don’t feel they need. From what I can tell most people that preach this are not putting themselves above other simply putting it out to others that may feel the same and help them realize the same desire. I personally am searching to feel more connected with the natural world while maintaining touch with our societal world. It goes way beyond the home. But these homes are on par with any house built on the ground structurally. The trailer is a means of realizing this as you could not legally build the exact same house on a concrete Foundation. Your last point is valid These are not easy to tow (never have before but I am familiar with trailering other units) but with careful and safe planning for the few times you might move them this issue does not outweigh the pros. Thank you fir shedding light on possible problems. It’s part of my process. However if these points turn out to be the only negatives I must say I’ll be a tiny home owner very soon! !! ;)

    Comment by zac — 7/12/2014 @ 7:54 pm

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