Tiny Houses: definition, history and useful know-how
28/03/2022 · Autor: VON POLL IMMOBILIEN
The phenomenon is on the real estate market rather a marginal phenomenon, but the question "What is actually a Tiny House" we encountered in everyday professional life for some time more often. In this article, we are therefore happy to give you a comprehensive introduction to this, as you will see, not so "small" topic.
First to the definition of a "Tiny House": literally translated, the English term means "small" or "tiny" house. A generally valid rule, up to which living space size one speaks of a Tiny House, does not exist at least in this country however. With designating one is likewise flexible: Often we meet in the German also the designations mini, small or micro house.
In the USA, where the Small House movement took its beginning, the definition is however clear: Each home with less than 37 m ² floor space is considered there as Tiny House. Here, the rule of thumb is: "Tiny" usually means less than 50 m² of living space. Above that, one speaks - up to a size of 90 m² - of a "Small House".
Meanwhile, whether you are overseas or in Europe: Mini houses are mostly also considered an expression of a lifestyle. A good reason to take a closer look at this topic for you.
What awaits you in this article:
- We explain the American origins of the "Small House Movement".
- You'll get a first look at what varieties of micro homes are available.
- We provide guidance on the topic of permits.
- You'll get beginner tips around buying.
- You'll learn the pros and cons of "tinyhousing."
How it all started: the Tiny House Movement in the US
As is so often the case, there is no one reason why a certain type of housing finds its fans. Various factors have led people to discover living in small spaces as a favored form of housing. At first, it may seem surprising that this development began in the USA, of all places. A country that is not exactly known for the philosophy "Small is beautiful".
In 2015, the average living space size in the U.S. was, after all, still at a spacious 230 m² per 2.5 people in a single-family home, according to the American fund provider Jamestown. But then came the housing crisis of 2008 - and it became a financial necessity for many Americans to downsize spatially.
Today, this primarily economic pressure to act is no longer the driving force behind putting Tiny House ideas into action as a single, couple or even family. A change of heart gradually occurred: today, a tiny house stands more for a "downsizing" attitude that focuses on a life that is deliberately reduced to the essentials.
Ecology and self-realization are the focus; people express that they want to live in an environmentally conscious way and differently from the average - away from the "mainstream."
Small, yet subtle differences - the three types of mini houses at a glance
There are different types of mini houses, each with corresponding regulations and frameworks.
The Tiny House variants at a glance:
- Fixed as a building. Once your cottage is firmly connected to the ground, the state building codes of the individual states are responsible. Possibly then - depending on the local regulation - a building permit may be required.
- Module house. Here, various modules are assembled in wooden construction to a prefabricated house and handed over turnkey. This variant is equivalent to a fixed building.
- roof house. An exciting future concept for cities where newly buildable areas are rare: Very light and compact houses, often called "cabins" in this case, could be built directly on the flat roofs of existing high-rise and family houses. The idea behind this is that you could gain many thousands of square meters of living space in major cities alone, and with relatively moderate effort.
- Mobile on wheels. This unusual-seeming variant also exists. In this case, your rolling home - legally speaking - is considered a vehicle or "trailer with special body". And that means: the TÜV or DEKA must officially grant approval for road traffic. However, if you can load your tiny home on a trailer, it is indeed considered a "detachable load" - but this is a rather the exception.
Get Tiny House approved: Decide type and location
The very question of whether you need a permit is often an issue, so we'll go into a little more detail here. The key question is how you plan to use your mini-domicile. In the case of a residential, vacation or weekend house use, a building permit is generally required, which is issued by the local building authority.
In doing so, you must ensure, among other things, that an electricity and water supply as well as waste disposal is guaranteed. Who wants to set up its micro house meanwhile on a camping site, must co-ordinate indeed not with building offices, but act for it in accordance with the camping regulations of the Land. Therein for example maximum sizes can be regulated.
It applies thus: The kind and the place define, which requirements must be fulfilled in each case. In the search for an approvable area, you should therefore allow extra time for obtaining all relevant information and permits, which is why consulting a professional is highly recommended.
Useful basic tips for buying mini-houses
- Test out the principle. There are now many providers who specialize in this area. Some even offer a trial overnight stay in a mini model house. You should take advantage of this opportunity to first check whether this unusual form of living actually suits you. Or else: you simply spend your next vacation in a mini house - here you can find some examples. On the website of the Tiny House Association you can also find selected examples of Tiny House settlements.
- Inform yourself about the market prices. When it comes to the cost - as with any real estate purchase - the personal requirements and ideas are decisive. There are smaller, mobile versions on wheels with 25 m² of living space, some of which are already available from 25,000 euros. Larger mini-houses, however, can cost up to 150,000 euros or more (as of February 2022). Offers can of course also be compared with single-family house and multi-family house offers to approach the question of whether the noticeably less space is nevertheless justifiable in terms of price.
- ask yourself whether a Do-It-Yourself approach is something for you. What you need to know: If you want to buy a "used" small property, you often need a little luck to find it. A new construction and their own creative effort is more the rule than the exception for mini-house aspirants. If you are handy, you may be able to do some of the work yourself. However, one should not underestimate this undertaking. In this video you will learn what to look out for when self-building.
- Think ahead. In any case, you should plan the purchase of a mini house with the same care as the purchase of a larger object. Preferably together with an architect who specializes in such projects. You may find: Often there are even greater challenges with small living options, as particularly clever planning is required in a confined space. By the way, this is especially true for mini houses that are to be specially designed to meet the needs of seniors.
Advantages and disadvantages of Tiny Houses in a quick check
These advantages offer mini houses:
- - Often less capital is required than for larger properties.
- - Usually they use less water and energy - that spat costs and the environment is protected.
- - You can significantly reduce the effort to clean and maintain your home.
- - The concept helps to live minimalism. For example, you can get rid of ballast in household appliances and interior.
These disadvantages bring mini houses:
- - It can be tricky and more complicated to get a plot of land or a building permit.
- - The head height is usually relatively low. Especially taller people may find this circumstance annoying.
- - Also a handicapped accessible conversion may be more difficult to implement.
- - Separate rooms are rather a rarity. To whom this is important, should pay attention accordingly in the planning.
- - Those who do not live alone in it, will experience rather less privacy.
- - Also, if a roommate, for example, is a little messier, it is particularly noticeable in such a small space.
- - Some construction variants have to deal with the heat in hot summers. Bedrooms are therefore usually located on the lower floors.
- - Families with children often literally outgrow the mini-house. From "just enough" space sometimes quickly becomes "far too little" space.
- - When it comes to interior design, compromises are mandatory. Often, therefore, many multifunctional furniture can be found in mini houses.
- - A Tiny House in combination with luxury is not mutually exclusive, but rather a rarity.
Conclusion: with a Tiny House, you can put into practice a philosophy of life focused on minimalism. Above all, however, the topics of building permits and purchase planning should not be underestimated - here is not necessarily something smaller than "the big" properties. So it is best to consult an expert right at the start of your project planning. In addition, it applies to deal beforehand quite consciously with this form of housing and to check whether it really suits you.
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