Though the size of my family prevents me from going full-on tiny house, I have toyed with the idea of shrinking my square footage.
My first home in Hollywood, Florida was just over 1000 square foot and I loved it. It was built in the early 50’s and had a raised foundation with wood floors, much like the house I later bought in Tennessee.
I really liked that little house but the location was terrible. Our backyard flooded and destroyed six years of hard work thanks to a poorly designed run-off ditch that sent water crashing through our yard.
And the town of Smyrna… stinks. Corrupt and controlling government officials, bad infrastructure, ugly architecture (except for the old houses), strip malls, rising crime.
I truly hate Smyrna.
Yes, I have some built-up resentment. Must… let… it… go…
Back to the topic.
My current home is a spacious 1800 or so square feet. It’s also a nice, modern house with clean lines and great insulation.
However, I just want something simpler. I want to be able to climb underneath the house and run my graywater out into a banana circle without sawing through a slab. I’m a sucker for shotgun houses, Cracker houses, frame homes, prairie log cabins and little tropical shacks.
Rachel and I took the children to St. Augustine this last week for a homeschool field trip and, as I often do, I drove around some of the neighborhoods just to look at houses.
This one caught my eye:
I know, it doesn’t look like much – but I was thinking about how very easy it would be to repair, paint, roof and care for a house that size. Plus, I love the little cottage style.
As an example of the benefits of a tiny house – or just a smaller house – here’s a story:
Tiny House Savings
A friend of mine gained success and was making great money so he bought a great-looking house at a good price. It was a big house, too. I’d guess it was around 5,000 square feet. It was also three stories tall.
His roof and my roof both had issues at the same time. Re-shingling his place cost over $20,000, whereas my 1250 square foot single-story home cost me $3500 to have re-shingled.
Our air conditioner consisted of a few $250 wall units. When one died, I could buy a new one in cash. He had two AC units, both of which failed the same year. They were commercial-sized air conditioners and ended up costing him $10,000 EACH to replace.
At first I was happy for his success and ability to get a big home… but later, I wondered if perhaps his jump into the upper middle class was less wonderful than it seemed at first glance.
A big house is big bucks. I’m way too cheap to buy a big home. I’d rather have something simple and have more money to spend on plant experiments and maybe some traveling.
In some ways, we’re forced into blowing money here in the United States on things we’d rather not have to buy.
Try buying land and building your own home like the Florida Crackers used to do. Good luck! Codes and requirements will kill you – and if you get caught building on the sly and moving in, you’re toast. Also, once you improve the land they’ll jack up your taxes.
I got this book recently and found it inspiring:
I would totally love to put together a house like one of the ones in that book.
But it’s not easy.
Want to build a house without AC? Good luck.
Without power? Nope.
With a composting toilet system instead of a wasteful septic system? Ha!
No matter how you try, you’re basically forced to leave a big footprint and to compromise with your building plans.
It’s not all hopeless, though. One of the best ways to get around these restrictions is to build a tiny house on wheels and roll it around. We’ve considered doing that, though I don’t think we’d be able to fit the whole family into that kind of a place.
The best bet, I think, is for us to get a small, simple old home when we buy again and then work with what’s there.
At least we won’t have anything too complicated for me to fix.