UK Tiny House or Small House – why, what and how?!
Why Tiny Houses? ‘The Tiny House Movement’ originated in the USA around 2000 and has grown in popularity due to the pressures of the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn which has forced people to look for alternative ways to afford their basic shelter in life. In addition, the movement has a strongly idealistic motive harking back to the self sufficiency days of the 1960 and 70’s Hippie movement – something which is now even more relevant when considering the sustainability of the Earth. It is also a post-consumerism movement, eschewing the need for so many personal possessions, when living simply can bring greater happiness.
What is a Tiny House or Small House all about? Whilst almost anything tiny is cute (insert kitten, puppy, pig etc.), tiny buildings are no exception – however this is not their raison d’être – their shape and form are the result of several core principles and the cuteness is a bonus side-benefit of these! Typical ‘normal’ homes average 240m2 (2600ft2) in the USA and 110m2 (1200ft2) in the UK, but road towable Tiny houses on wheels are generally only around 9-18m2 (100-200ft2 ). For further information: The Tiny Life is an excellent American website by Ryan Mitchell which gives a common sense view of the subject from a USA perspective.
Let’s be clear – Tiny Living is NOT for everyone! However, there are lessons to be learnt from the principles and for some people it may facilitate a better quality of life or just suit their circumstances whilst addressing the hugely important issue of Sustainability and use of the Earth’s resources.
In any case it is interesting that in the UK new build developer homes have now dropped to 76m2 as reported in Shoebox Homes by the BBC but of course raises the question of quality of living space – with tiny rooms and windows and the difficulty of getting a wardrobe through the front door (!) and it is widely known that the Site showhouses often use reduced scale furniture to make them look bigger! So for me, this liveability is a key point – the challenge is to produce a small form factor which is light, airy, cosy, characterful and a joy to live in.
Here at Tiny House Scotland my definition of a Tiny House versus a Small House is based on the characteristics of width, internal floor area and mode of moveability:
a Tiny House on Wheels (THOW) is less than 18.5m2 / 200ft2 and under 2.55m (8.36 ft) in width – on wheels then it is legally road towable, my NestPod™ fits this description.
a Small House is over 13.9m2 / 150 square feet but not more than 46m2 /500 sq ft and wider than the road towing legal limit – my NestHouse is 3.4m – and therefore not road towable but is moveable on site on its wheels.
The pro’s and con’s of the two sizes revolve around whether you want to travel in your home or would rather stay put and enjoy much more generously proportioned interiors. Of course it’s all down to personal preference, I think if I was 20-30 again then I would love the ultra-compact mobility of a NestPod™; but now in middle age I would prefer the extra space of a Small. This is why I designed the NestHouse – an important part of the brief was to have a minimum of built-in caravan-style furniture thus allowing the use of regular furniture like comfortable sofas etc.
Providing the basic necessities of shelter by using architectural design to protect the occupants from the external environmental weather elements such as wind, rain, heat and cold; also to provide facilities to eat, wash, sleep, work, relax etc. Add to this the architectural principles of low energy use and resource conservation and then apply key green design principles to create an optimally functioning living environment. Since in good design, form follows function, then the aim is also to have the by-product of an aesthetically pleasing appearance too!
UK Tiny House Designer Builder – Tiny House Scotland
Whether you are considering commissioning a build from Jonathan or would like to assess the suitability of a Tiny House in the UK, why not book a one-on-one visit to the NestHouse which includes a two hour consultation – it would be a great investment to benefit from Jonathan’s extensive knowledge and get a real feel for what a tiny house is really like.
Also see Wikipedia for info.