Tiny Houses and Housing Crisis

I’ve been fascinated by Tiny Houses for a while now.
There are a few youtube channels dedicated to tours of tiny house designs, and from what I’ve seen they’re all perfectly livable. Modern, quaint, beautiful, and efficient. I have a few reservations about composting toilets, but after watching interviews with the people who have lived with them for a while,  it doesn’t seem like an unbearable adjustment. A full size house almost seems like a waste of space after seeing how functional a tiny house actually is.
Most tiny houses are built on trailers because of building code restrictions, so they are limited to RV sizes at no more than 8.5-feet wide, 40-feet long, and no more than 13.5-feet tall. Most of them have a bed loft above the kitchen/bathroom to maximize the space. I have a background in design, so I’ve been inspired to draw plans for dozens of tiny houses this year. I’ve experimented with designing them as compact as possible. But there’s a cliff for what I consider a reasonable living space situation. I wouldn’t design a living space less than 8 x 14-feet, even though it is possible, because I don’t consider it comfortable for 2 people.
After finding the ideal space required for 2 people, at 8 x 30-feet [240-squarefeet], I started seeing trends in what features I preferred in a house. I like booth tables with storage in the bench, desks with organizers above, couches with drawers underneath, and cabinet-stairs.
Unfortunately, Tiny Houses aren’t mainstream enough for any major home developers to mass produce.  Tiny houses are frequently custom built, so they don’t have mass appeal, and therefor are difficult to re-sell and don’t hold their value as well.   Plain one-size-fits-all apartment buildings are favored by cities, because of their predictable re-sell value.  Very few cities in CA welcome communities of tiny houses.
Meaning that even if you acquire a tiny house, you still need to purchase/rent the land where you want to park it, and then treat it like an RV. I saw an article about a couple who are being evicted from their own land/home because the city won’t allow them to permanently ‘live’ in structures that are off-grid.   Having a main-structure nearby that you can claim as the primary on-grid dwelling is essential to establishing a ‘legal’ Tiny residence.

Lately, I’ve started designing houses out of shipping containers.  I made the transition to shipping containers because of a news article, which indicated that because they can be constructed in a factory-setting, like an RV, they are inspected before they are shipped, and therefore are already up-to-code as a dwelling. They can be outfitted in the factory, and trucked to their destination, where they are simply hooked up to the grid like a mobile home.   A single 40-foot shipping container is perfect for 2 people.  Add another  20-foot container, and it’s perfect for a family of 3-4people. And it’s much less expensive than a regular house.
Tiny living has become a new passion for me, as I face concerns about long term housing costs in my area. “There have been 500,000 new jobs created in the Bay Area since the recession ended,” says Carol Galante, professor of affordable housing and urban policy at Cal, “but only 50,000 new housing units have been built. …we’ve still seen double-digit rent increases ….”. The home prices in the area have sky-rocketed, making it impossible for me to buy a home. This year, I’ve had to accept that if I ever want to settle down, I will either be forced to move far away from my hometown OR live in unconventional housing, like a tiny home.



  1. Pingback: Tiny Houses and Housing Crisis | talknonsense – WORLD ORGANIC NEWS
  2. Life's Happy Highlights · June 26, 2016

    I too have been fascinated by tiny houses (so much so that I am working on a graduate thesis on the subject!). While I have seen the shipping container homes I didn’t know all the info you shared. I really enjoyed this read! Also not sure if you’ve ever seen this site but it might be helpful to you, I found it as I was researching on my own http://www.tinyhousecommunity.com Good luck with everything!


  3. Pingback: Shipping Container Houses | talknonsense

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