“Tiny Houses”: the boom of mini-houses in the United States since 2008

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Small revolution in the land of gigantism, more and more Americans are choosing to live in “Tiny Houses”, mini-houses of less than 40 m2, for their low cost, their minimalism and their lower impact on the environment. Come back on the boom of mini-houses in the United States.

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“Tiny Houses”: the boom of mini-houses in the United States since 2008

The movement, which includes houses on wheels or on the ground, has its origins several decades ago, but the 2008 financial crisis and the arrival of “millennials” into working life gave it new impetus.

First strong point, the cost. About $ 50,000 for a new house of just under 20 m2 with a personalized interior, of those which the American television channels specializing in DIY and decoration now adore, which have multiplied thematic programs for five years.

“We are facing a housing crisis and an aging housing stock ,  observes Brandy Jones, who moved in with her husband and two children to a “Tiny House” eight months ago in Reading, a hundred or so. miles west of Philadelphia.

For a new house, she says, it normally costs “at least” $ 300,000. The mini-house option ” makes a huge difference. It makes (the cost of) living affordable.”


But, more often than not, economic factor alone is not enough to make the decision in a country where the median area of ​​new homes for a family is 228 square meters, according to the census office.

For the past 40 years, “the American company had gone into gigantic mode, to build huge houses ,  explains Marcus Stoltzfus, sales and marketing director of Liberation Tiny Homes, located in Leola, near Reading.

But today, he says, “people in places are realizing that living on less is very beneficial for your lifestyle.”

“We liked this minimalist approach” explains Scott Berrier, who moved in with his wife four months ago to a 34 m2 house and appreciates “not having as many things” as before.

Although small in size, these houses are more functional than a traditional apartment. “The main difference that I notice is (…) that there is no wasted space ,  says Scott.

Roland Figueredo is due to leave his New York apartment this summer to move into his new “Tiny House” in Oregon . “We are trying to simplify our life and get rid of all our mess,” he says.


Even if mentalities change, it is not always easy to go against social norms and dominant materialism.

“You must be getting claustrophobic in this!” Several friends told Scott when he told them about his plan.

“It’s very hipster,” admits Marcus Stoltzfus, for whom the “Tiny” movement still has a “negative image” for some.

The desire for minimalism also applies to the environmental impact, explains Scott. “You reduce your carbon footprint. You don’t use as much electricity, as much water” as in a conventional home.

Despite these advantages, the “Tiny Home” wave is slow to become a tidal wave. According to some estimates, there are now just over 10,000 mini-houses in the United States.

The first major obstacle is funding. It is almost impossible to find a classic mortgage, the banks consider these constructions more as belonging to the mobile-home or motorhome category than to that of traditional houses. For a mini-house, they rather offer a medium-term loan (up to 7 years), at significantly higher rates.

But the main obstacle is the legislation: most local authorities prohibit their residents from living year-round in a dwelling on wheels and set a floor for the area of ​​a house, often over 80 m2. Historically, bungalows, caravans and caravans have had a bad reputation, considered to be poor quality housing, occupied by very poor populations.

“Preconceptions” of mini-houses in the United States

While several states are considered progressive on the subject of mini-houses in the United States, including Colorado, Nevada or North Carolina, the most populous regions have so far largely ignored the phenomenon.

Looking at Scott and Melissa’s house, with its impeccable finishes, its designer interior, with bathtub, glass roof and cinema screen, we are however far from the imagery of American “trailers” (caravans).

“There are a lot of preconceptions,” Scott sums up. “They haven’t seen enough. It’s new, that’s the problem.”

Liberation Tiny Homes, like Scott’s or Brandy’s, are “built like a normal house”, with the same materials, explains Marcus Stoltzfus, whose company has already produced more than 65 units since its launch in 2015.

A mini-house has nothing to do with a mobile home, says Brandy Jones, who lived for several months in a mobile home before moving into a Tiny House. “It’s day and night,” she said.

And if some projects try to bring together homeless people and “Tiny Homes”, the movement today mainly concerns couples who can afford to spend more than the price of a mobile home.

To get around a sclerotic regulatory landscape, many buyers of mini-houses in the United States are moving in without permission from the local planning department.

“Communities” are forming everywhere, like Tiny Estates, in Elizabethtown (Pennsylvania), which has taken over a former campsite and has the necessary authorizations to accommodate mini-houses on wheels.

“It’s important to attend your city council, your neighborhood committees, to say: this is what a ‘tiny home’ is,” urges Scott, whose mini-house is located in Tiny Estates.

“It’s not some shady clandestine thing. They are beautiful little houses, with a nice design, that rather increase the value of the houses around than anything else.”

From SL https://incredibletinyhouse.com/

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Originally posted 2020-07-22 14:28:46.

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