Tiny homes range in scale and form, but for the most part they have one thing in common: small spaces. They're a solution borne of need. In Australia and New Zealand house prices have steadily increased of late, and the social ramifications of soaring house and land costs are widespread.
"When you look at Sydney for example, where some years ago the median house price reached one million dollars, you're looking at a situation where the social impact of people servicing mortgages that large is huge," Designer Eco Tiny Homes founder Grant Emans says.
"We have so many split marriages, and in my opinion, the impact of financial stress has a lot to do with that. Also, when you look at families with children, the need for both parents to work long hours means everyone is lacking in the most precious thing we have: time. For children, time with parents is essential, and in so many cases that can't be a reality."
Compared to our traditional way of living in large, expensive homes, the tiny home concept is a refreshing one. The cost of a tiny home, on average, is likely to be around a tenth of the cost of a median-priced home in Sydney, Grant says.
"In my view, a tiny home represents an appropriate use of resources, financial investment and space. Building a tiny home uses an appropriate amount of natural resources to house a person, or people.
"While large homes may be achievable, they aren't sustainable and we need to look further ahead and take a more sustainable approach for generations to come."
Contemporary society in Australia and New Zealand looks very different to the way it did, even in the last two generations. "Then, people didn't move nearly as much and I think that's related to our work lives. Now, people have many jobs throughout their working life, and with that comes the need to move more often, which is not something that's compatible with our traditional way of living."
Tiny homes are generally dwellings of very limited size, and are often transportable, which means there is limited red tape around where they can be sited. "The tiny homes we build are legally registered as caravans so they can be put in many places and avoid consents and other local council requirements," Grant says.
"Because they're transportable, they also give people the flexibility to move as required throughout their life. And due to their limited cost, living in a tiny house gives people choices. They don't have to work so much to service large mortgages or rents, which results in less stress, and gives the gift of time – something that is more valuable than any pay cheque can offer."
The concept of moving frequently dates back to nomadic times; it's something that's foreign to us in contemporary western society but it's one worth considering as our lives evolve, and one that transportable tiny homes offer a solution to.
Due to the reduction of natural resource use, tiny homes also offer a sustainable approach to living. "While large homes have their place for larger family groups, for example, tiny homes represent appropriate use of resources for smaller families or groups. Our environment is facing serious issues and we need to address those at so many levels. Tiny houses are one way of doing that."
As the tiny home movement gathers pace, so too does the design and technology available. It's a compact way of living, but when designed well tiny homes offer a comfortable and often luxurious sustainable living option.
If you're interested in finding out more about tiny homes, get in touch with Designer Eco Tiny Homes on Treading Lightly here.
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