Most of our residential projects tend to be luxurious mansions but every once in a while, we get the opportunity to install our products in a completely different setting, did someone say tiny homes? These pint-sized buildings can range anywhere from 80 sq ft to 400 sq ft and cost as little as $10,000 to construct. They offer an affordable mobile housing option for young people graduating college or older individuals looking to reduce monthly costs. But what is the tiny house movement and how has it evolved to include luxury mini manors?
The average American home has almost doubled in the past 30 years, going from 1,780 sq ft in 1978 to 2,662 sq ft in 2013. This had led to wide-spread urban sprawl and skyrocketing housing prices. The larger the home, the less space there is for other homes to be built around it. This led to a variety of authors (Sarah Susanka, Llyod Kahn, and Lester Walker) pushing for an increase in smaller houses under 1,000 sq ft. A man named Jay Shafer took this a step further by designing, building, and living in a 96 sq ft tiny home, popularizing the “tiny house on wheels” trend. He later founded Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and co-founded the Small House Society with Greg Johnson, Shay Salomon, and Nigel Valdez.
When the great recession hit America hard in 2008, it left many people unable to pay their inflated mortgages. Tiny houses offered an affordable solution for these people that they could build themselves due to lack of regulations. They also felt more like a real home than moving into an RV (although the two are often compared). The movement gained a lot of press during this time including several television shows on HGTV, and have been used as affordable housing for students and homeless populations.
There were and still are numerous issues facing individuals who wish to stay in tiny homes. For those who build the homes themselves, there is the issue of safety – most aren’t contractors and aren’t familiar with building codes, meaning the homes can end up poorly built and dangerous to inhabit. And even if they pay a contractor to fabricate their home for them, many are not familiar with the issues that need to be taken into account with tiny homes (highway speeds, for example) which may mean high repair costs down the line. The biggest obstacle however is finding a place to park your tiny home. Zoning regulations generally specify minimum square footage for new buildings being placed on foundations; most tiny homes are much smaller than this minimum. Putting the homes on wheels to classify them as RVs is a way to get around this, but you still may not be able to get around this thanks to local regulations against “camping”. And many RV parks do not allow tiny homes as they are not built up to typical RV codes. Although there are several cities that have been called “tiny house friendly”, most still have outdated zoning regulations that restrict tiny home owners from finding a permanent location to park.
Despite these challenges, the tiny house movement has continued to grow and evolve into an active, diverse community. While originally seen as a cheap alternative to traditional housing, many are starting to see it as a way to embrace minimalism. With less space, many tiny house residents are able to put their money towards high-end products, turning their homes into luxury estates. It’s no wonder then that Panda has had a hand in this transformation. Our large windows and doors can help remove a sense of claustrophobia and make the interior feel bigger while enhancing a modern design aesthetic. We are a perfect addition to any tiny house!
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