Today is "Sustainable House Day" - actually, the beginning of a month-long celebration that takes place in Australia every year now since 2017. https://sustainablehouseday.com/
Many things go into defining whether a home is "sustainable" or not, and it depends on who you ask.
Of course, most of us would assume that efficient energy use, low environmental impact during the build as well as use of greener materials, products and technology would always apply.
The result of much of that is to also end up being budget friendly for the inhabitants of the home over time (although I'm not certain that the up-front investment in these higher end materials and technology is less of a budget drain currently than standard materials, and that's part of the hesitancy.)
Here in the U.S. (and around the world) we are still in the throws of the Tiny-House-Craze. One of several reasons so many find it an intriguing concept is that it's assumed to be a vastly more sustainable option than your typical American home.
I would tend to agree with this idea theoretically, for some individuals.
However, I would argue that when viewed from the collective perspective of making a real and ongoing impact in our larger communities, tiny homes are NOT a sustainable option. And that there should be a wider, more vocal dialogue about small-not-tiny homes as the path to meaningful sustainability for both the environment and the larger community.
Let me explain.
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The cost per square foot is really pretty outrageous, and really only inexpensive if you are able to build your own from the ground up.
And even being able to find a place to park your not-cheap-house is a real hassle for most. The true cost of a tiny house is often not discussed widely. Check it out to learn more.
- 6 People on What They Wish They Knew Before Living in a Tiny House
- Tiny Houses Might Not Always be the Bargain You'd Expect
For some, the opportunities far outweigh the challenges for a dramatic downsize to a tiny house.
And for others, who have ample resources, having a tiny house as a second home for a seasonal or part-time get-away option is feasible.
Tiny homes are a trend that's lasted a surprisingly long time - but in the end, for the majority of Americans, it's just a romantic idea perfect for reality TV and instagram scrolling, or possibly fun for a one-time vacation get-away.
Ultimately, all of this boils down to the fact that tiny homes just are NOT a viable option for more than very few on a full-time basis, and maybe a few more on a temporary basis.
My Tiny House Experience
It's not that I'm against tiny homes - not at all.
I actually think they are fabulous for many reasons and I lived in one for many years as a young child with my family in Sweden during the summers. We lived there for 2, maybe 2 1/2 months at a time. In the summer. Over many many years.
It was a dreamy and magical time in my life and that tiny house, in the meadow in the woods, was a huge part of it. I truly get the romanticism that goes along with the tiny home movement.
Small not tiny
But you don't have to go tiny to offset that excess.
Recently, since the Covid Pandemic and also the resulting increases in interest rates, there's actually some evidence that Americans are finally more interested in (or limited to) some downsizing in the size of the average home. Builders are starting to eliminate formal living rooms and dining rooms as an example. This is now a necessity to attempt to fill some of the housing gaps. I'm thrilled to see this.
Smaller homes offer virtually all of the same benefits of tiny homes, and are truly sustainable in a big way because most of us could actually live very comfortably and even luxuriously in them. Additionally, there's a massive inventory of smaller, older homes that only need some refreshing rather than everyone having to go out and build or buy brand new structures which requires much more material and resources and land.
Much of the rest of the world already understands this on a large scale.
So what actually IS the difference between tiny and small? What are the benefits of smaller homes? I wrote an in-depth post a couple years ago: Size Matters: Does it Have to be Tiny?
If we could shift the housing demand to small-not-tiny homes in a big way, then we would actually make a dent in balancing our environmental, financial, and personal needs. We could do this without impacting the economy and homebuilding jobs negatively, and very possibly figure out a way to provide more affordable, high-quality housing for millions who are left out of the current housing market.
How to shift the demand is a question I ponder, often. I am not much of a social activist or politician, but in my small way I'm at least trying to start a conversation and advocate where I can.
© Baldur Studios.
cultural shifts start with trends
That's a lot to overcome. Feels kind of impossible really.
But if it became more exciting and sexy to picture yourself CHOOSING to live in a smaller (but not extreme) way, maybe more folks would start shifting their thinking. Does this mean there needs to be TV/Cable shows that hype small-not-tiny? Maybe!
If Americans start to understand how luxurious a small home can be in its comforts and efficiency and beauty, while also being infinitely more sustainable at the same time, we might have a winning formula.
Hey, if it has to become a trend before it becomes a new social norm, that's fine by me.
That's why I live how I do, and where I do. And one of the many reasons I started The Whiskey Porch. I guess my job is to share some of these ideas and try to get a conversation going. I do that with my content and my design work - one project at a time.
Peace and contentment,
Looking for help on your bungalow journey?
Hey there. I'm Miriam ~ and I've been doing this my whole life. It's my passion.
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