Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
How to live large in a tiny house (washingtonpost.com)
157 points by wheresclark on Apr 24, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 97 comments



I love the idea of tiny houses (and not-so-tiny houses like this one) clumped around a much larger shared space. I love it so much that I'm part of a (currently) seven party consortium trying to find rural acreage in unincorporated parts of the outer SF Bay Area to build such a thing. What we've discovered is that zoning ordinances in every county of California are openly hostile to the idea. The general rule is basically one ginormous single-family home (with a single kitchen) per parcel. Sometimes a second, but that's pretty much it.

It might be possible to get variances or special permits from friendly planning departments, but it's hard to convince a group of people to make large $ investments in dreams which could be destroyed arbitrarily by changing political winds. We may take the risk anyways, but our problem has gone from practical matters of structure and finance to a fundamentally political one.

This is really a shame. I suspect that a lot of people, like us, would be perfectly happy in low-footprint small (<500 sq ft) homes as long as they had easy access to a fancy kitchen, home theater, storage, etc in a space shared with a dozen of their friends. I always wondered why this isn't common - and the answer is, at least in California, it's effectively illegal.


This is a really cynical take on it but I've found the key to interpreting these regulatory thickets is to simply ask "Would this benefit the poorer people in my community directly if allowed?". If the answer is yes, expect to find surprising resistance to the idea at all levels of government "planning".


The difficulty with this thinking (and I say this as someone passionate about building my own tiny home) is that we already have tiny home communities in the US for poorer people. They're called trailer parks, and they're exploitative, unpleasant places to live.


In what ways are they exploitive?


>...and the answer is, at least in California, it's effectively illegal.

Because your (prospective) neighbors are worried you're building a Section 8 slum that's going to crash the value of their own properties. The house is usually a family's biggest investment, so it's not really surprising people get testy when they see a potential threat.


<stickfigure>: I like that idea! What areas have you tried?

You can get pretty rural pretty quickly west of I-280 in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, and of course Santa Cruz County further south. Head 10 minutes west of I-280 via Sand Hill Road, and you're at Skyline at Alice's restaurant, which marks the limit of the town of Woodside's boundary. Anything north, west, or southwest of that point is unincorporated.

As a practical matter if you're in a rural unincorporated area you're going to have to deal with septic tanks, and finding a place in the bay area where you can dig seven (and counting) different leach fields with possible space for expansion, not on >35% slopes, not near streams, etc. is going to be tricky. Further out you may have problems getting water; are you going to dig a well? How many GPM? Check out the problems that mutual water companies in the hills have had during previous droughts. On the other side of the ridge things are even worse; there's La Honda's rationing and talk of trucking in water: http://www.hmbreview.com/news/cuesta-la-honda-guild-keeps-ra...

On a more positive note, if you can get the structure and finance down, why not build a ~3000 ft^2 conventional house with external power/water/septic hookups? Those hookups are where you'd place your friends' tiny-homes-on-trailers. They wouldn't be permanent structures, so perhaps that would pass legal muster. Or buy 7 acres and subdivide? Again, I like your idea and wish you the best.


We have primarily been looking for large agricultural plots (20-40 ac) in Sacramento, Solano, Napa, and Sonoma counties. Well and septic are tractable problems - which is to say, suitable properties are available. However, agricultural zoning rules in all of these counties forbid these kinds of dwelling groups. It's probably possible to fly under the radar but I don't think we're willing to take that risk. It might also be possible to get variances but again that's high risk, and you only find out for certain after you've bought the property.

It does seem to be that one of the least-friction approaches is to permit property as an RV park and have everyone move into tinyhomes-on-wheels instead of small permanent structures. We may end up taking that approach, although it would probably change the composition of our consortium somewhat.

There are some "special planning areas" in the delta (Sac county) that look very permissive, but they bring other issues (flood risk and flood construction requirements, mainly). On the other hand, hey, water :-)


Is it an absolute necessity for you to do this in the SF Bay Area? I'm sure you'd have a much easier time with city-councils, permits and ordinances if you were more open to the idea of doing this idea of yours in other parts of the country.


There's a sort of catch-22 going on. We all have some variation of this story: When I was younger I wanted to live in SF and I couldn't afford to buy anything anyways; now that I'm older (42), rural life is more appealing and the finances work... but after 13 years of living in the city, I have a broad and firmly established friend group that I am loathe to give up, even taking a dozen of them with me. So we picked an arbitrary cutoff of 2 hours from SF.

Two hours covers a lot of counties, but none with ordinances that permit rural compound housing. I don't know how far you'd have to go. I don't think there are any in CA.


Your idea is basically a smaller version of a Kibbutz (excluding the shared finances). Interesting to see that kind of approach pop up in the US.


Utopian communes in the US predate the Kibbutz by almost 100 years. They mostly died out by the early 1900s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_Utopian_commun...


I'm explicitly interesting in seeing how to convert a kibbutz to american legal and value system. Its a bit of a mess. The US tax code is not really built with that sort of thing in mind. Right now it looks like building a LLC to represent group interests is the best options.


It also falls under the category of co-housing.


Consider adding a couple of wheels to your design. That way you don't qualify as a permanent structure. In some places it is enough if you just don't have a foundation.


That's a great idea! I've been trying to figure out my ideal living environment over the past year, and I've come to the conclusion that a personal space within a larger shared space - anywhere in size from a large house to a small village - would be ideal. How did you find the collaborators for your current planned arrangement? (And - might as well ask - do you have any openings?)


It really is just luck and timing. We're a bunch of close friends all in our late 30s and 40s who have known each other for most of a decade. Some of us already live within a few blocks of each other and some of us have already been (or currently are) roommates. After a decade or more in SF & Oakland, we all are feeling the desire to work less and live somewhere more rural, but not so far away that we lose our established friend group.

While no openings, I do plan to write up what I have learned when it is safe to do so. It would be great to have neighbor communities. Talk to your friends now and plant the seed; it may take years to germinate, but you can use that time to save money.


Ah, well good luck! I look forward to reading your write up.

Back in university I lived in a large co-op house with 38 other people and it was the best living arrangement I could possibly hope for. I'd love to do it again as an adult (though perhaps with less people and more privacy), but unfortunately I just don't know that many people who would be up for it!


It's a tricky by-product of the market. People are hostile to the idea because their property values drop when you get lots of micro homes in the area. And the property values rise when you have low density housing, privacy, little traffic, families with kids and dogs etc.

In other words, anywhere you want to do this, you're opposed by people who already live there, who usually have quite a bit to say about the area.

And anyone who wants to take away that influence from incumbent homeowners or tenants will be marked as someone who is destroying a long standing community for the sake of outsiders who want to take it over.

It is indeed a shame as I'm personally a big fan of small homes and at one point tried to get a new housing project off the ground.

But I'm seeing in some places slow consideration for new ways of living. From turning office buildings who've struggled to reach 25% occupancy in places where living rents are skyrocketing into homes, to microhomes.

In any case, it's not an easy issue. In some ways, small housing shares similarities with minimum wage: just because the economy is such that without a legal minimum wage, adults would still be willing to work for $4, doesn't mean we ought to allow it and let the market figure it out. People will get exploited. Similarly, the government needs to set building standards, including the minimum space a home ought to have, in my opinion (I just happen to think it can be quite small, if properly built, for certain people). If you don't have these standards, I would be the least surprised if we suddenly found large groups of students, young adults and struggling working poor living like they do as the 'Rat Tribe' in Beijing. [0] And again, like minimum wage, we don't want that.

But yeah then we're talking, really really small. <500 sq ft should really not be an issue. I live with my girlfriend on a little over 400 at the moment and it's great.

[0] http://projects.aljazeera.com/2015/01/underground-beijing/


Yeah, I tried to do that in some warehouse space in the north bay - no go, and the planning folks made it clear that if I bought the warehouse anyway and did it under the table, I'd get busted.


It might be naive of me to think that maybe you haven't already seen this, but if there are any examples of what you're trying to accomplish in California, they're probably somewhere on this list: http://www.ic.org/directory/listings/?cmty-country=United%20...

California certainly has some ecovillages, but most have buildings sized like typical houses.


That reminds me of the SROs that used to dot the SOMA area before being slowly replaced with high rises. Many of the warehouses in the area are being converted into offices. One room with shared bathrooms and kitchens. Chinatown still has some of this housing as does the Tenderloin. I believe the Tenderloin is losing it fast with all the tech companies moving to the mid Market area. I don't think it's a good long term housing situation because of the tragedy of the commons.


Have you talked to any existing communes about their planning and permits? While communal living isn't exactly common, it's also not exactly virgin territory.


There is a solution. Tiny houses on wheels. That makes a lot of the permitting go away... Google it.


Unfortunately it is not that simple. It just changes the permitting process to something more along the lines of an RV park, which may or may not be easier depending on location, zoning, and neighbors. All the counties we have looked at have written ordinances that can be used to prevent tinyhouse-on-wheels villages on rural (low-density) property.

That said, some counties are apparently friendlier to this idea than others. And it is our fallback plan.


I live in the UK, and the tiny house movement appears to be a uniquely American phenomenon. The US is lucky to have so much open space which lets people build their own homes. The reason these tiny homes don't feel cramped is because they're surrounded by nature, with beautiful long uninterrupted views out of the windows. No noisy neighbours or traffic nearby either.

But take away the countryside location of these homes and could the tiny house work in an urban environment? I'm doubtful. The future for housing for most people on the planet (including the US) is in cities and urban environments. Can you live in a tiny home where you don't have long, uninterrupted views out of your windows? Or where you only have windows along one side of your dwelling (e.g. single-aspect apartments). Do you feel you have enough privacy when your apartment or house is joined with your neighbours' home?

Millions of people already live in homes like this and have to contend with these issues. The challenge for homebuilders and architects is to design housing to address these issues: homes that give us light, space, privacy, quiet and comfort in a noisy urban setting. Sadly, if I look at the new build housing going up in the UK I'd say architects and house builders are doing a pretty poor job of it. Are things better in the US in this regard?

Also, space can be 'modest' in size rather than micro or miniature and still be sustainable or amenable to high density. For example, London has it's own housing design guide that recommends new one bedroom apartments for two people to be a minimum of 50 square metres (538 square feet). That's still less than space standards in continental Europe but it's enough space to live comfortably even if it doesn't count as tiny by Western standards.


> The future for housing for most people on the planet (including the US) is in cities and urban environments.

I agree. Skyscrapers would provide the best bang for buck in terms of space. You could fit a lot more people into a city like San Francisco.


As a general rule, skyscrapers don't increase density much, as most of the space is taken up by elevators, plumbing, electrical, and so forth. A block of five-floor walkups is almost as dense as a 50-story tower-with-empty-space-around-it, and much less expensive to build.

Walkups, not skyscrapers, are the best bang for the buck.


How much space around the skyscraper? Surely at least half of each floor is usable, right? I can't find any normal tower floor plans that differ.

Ten times as many floors is a lot of floors...


This is an excerpt from a book called At Home in the City: an introduction to urban design which explains how the same plot of land can accomodate different types of development and different densities. Medium-rise blocks can match and exceed the density of high-rise blocks - see the attached pic in the excerpt below for an example:

"In 1972 Leslie Martin and Lionel March published a cogent analysis of the key forms of urban development. They postulated that on any given site development can take three basic forms which they called 'pavilion','street' and 'patio'. These forms cover different proportions of the ground area.

If developed with buildings of the same height and depth the pavilion form would provide the lowest density and the patio form the highest. On the other hand, constructing a given amount of floorspace would need buildings of different height depending on which form they took. Figure 2.2 illustrates this principle [see: http://imgur.com/LmJ1tTg ]. It shows that the same amount of floorspace could be built on the same site as a fifteen-storey tower block, five-storey linear blocks or a three-storey perimeter block."


Interesting, but they seem to be keeping the floorspace constant on purpose there. With such a narrow tower you could fit four on that plot!


Interesting. Most of SF residents I know still live in small houses or low-rise buildings, so there is a lot of potential for more living space (if current situation worsens in that way it is)


The myth of that, however, is that Tokyo, one of the more denser cities in the world, is not a city of skyscrapers. Even London isnt, so there is something else to living up to density in urban environments (though I live on the 16th floor in a beijing apartment).


Given the view out of my flat is more flats like mine and cars I'd happily not have so many (possibly even any) windows if I could replace them with equivalent sized high DPI screens (a constant trope in sci-fi) and had adequate ventilation.

I nearly picked one flat when I moved because it had a bedroom without a window which would have made a perfect office.

I accept I'm not the norm though.


These screens are basically light bulbs, you really don't want to be exposed to that all the time, both your eyes and skin. E paper displays would work better, but would probably still feel fake compared to an actual view. If you want, plenty of ant tribes live in windowless beijing basement apartments, life isn't good for them.


I think the parent might be talking about something more like this: http://www.coelux.com/

Imagine a room where the entire ceiling + walls has that effect. It would feel like you're outdoors (on a summer day, in Kansas.)


Pretty much, I'm trying to remember the film that had them and at the time I thought I want those!.

Also with near full wall HDPI displays you could do some awesome infograophic style style stuff, house conditions etc.


I have a project that I eventually want to get off the ground. It has to do with improving how we build houses by making all interior structure modular.

I don't necessarily think "small" is the way to think about it. Instead if a family lives in a house for decades their priorities / needs change. So, for example, the retired couple who still live in the house with 2 bedrooms for their children when they first bought the house.

Or what about the house that's available and in an ideal location and has all the right things, but it's a one-bedroom with plenty of square feet, but where will the kids sleep?

If you had a modular way of reconstructing the interior of the house, and they redo the walls using inexpensive modular components, all of a sudden maybe now their master bedroom is twice the size it was, or maybe that space becomes a loft / sitting area instead.

Suddenly it makes sense that a family could reasonably expect to live in the same house over long periods of time comfortably, if it suits them, no matter the changing circumstances that life presents them.

EDIT: And make far better use of the space they have over time as circumstances change.


A place here in town builds modular office environments that have snap-together walls, etc. Sort of like huge cubicles that are grown all the way up instead of slapped together. They have giant metal base plates that you install on the exterior walls of the floor and then you click your "fake walls" into them at right angles. You can even get sound deadening panels or colour inserts that slide inside the walls.

I asked one of the guys on the tour why they don't do it for houses. He replied that the problem with houses is that it's rare to find houses that are actually built with enough precision to have perfectly square corners and perfectly vertical walls. It doesn't really make sense to go to that extent for a narrow-margin stickbuilt 2- to 3-storey dwelling that doesn't support the immense weight of an office building.

The modular idea could still work. You'd just have to add this little hacky layer in between to adapt the out-of-plumb house bits to the injection-moulded modular walls or whatever. I dunno what that layer would look like and still be cheaper than making changes to a home the traditional way.

Good luck if you do it, I can't wait to buy it.


USM, a Swiss modular furniture company built a modular building platform back in the late 60's. It was based on the same idea as their furniture - a scaffolding+panel design.

Unfortunately it didn't take off then, only a few buildings were built with it. It's a shame because it looked very modern, very cool, and frankly I'd like to own one of those buildings.


Thanks for the comments. I definitely agree, the construction of the perimeter would likely be more expensive because of the need for more precise measurements for modular components. And even without the extra work on the exterior it may be doable.

I guess the question really is whether the additional expense is manageable.

And of course I definitely think the way to go with modularity would be open source. That way the market becomes immediately inclusive of all potential manufacturers or DIYers.


Knocking down or throwing up the structure for a partition wall isn't that expensive. If you want to build something like 16 linear feet of wall, you need 4 panels of drywall ($40), about 16 2x4s ($43), some tape ($2), joint compound ($15), a gallon of primer ($20), and another of paint ($30-60).

All in all, you can do that for about $200, if you're willing to do it yourself. This neglects doing the electrical (you don't need plumbing for a partition, but you do need outlets every 12 ft so that there is no space on the wall with more than 6' without one).

Until you get into moving structural walls, or doing kitchens and bathrooms; you can change the interior of the house fairly cheaply. Depending on where you live, you may not need any permits either if it isn't a structural change.


That's true, except perhaps you're not calculating in all the extra tools you use to do that work that (as far as I know) the average homeowner may not have laying around their house.

If you're building up a tool inventory from scratch and all your power tools, etc. that will be needed, this won't be free :)

Then there's also the fear that an inexperienced person would have: "am I buying the right tools for the job?". Or, "will I ever do this kind of project again?" If not why don't I just hire a contractor to do the work for me instead of investing in tools I may never use again, and remove the fear of doing it wrong or causing more damage which in turn will end up costing more money.

The way things are done today it's relatively intimidating to someone who doesn't know the first thing about it. On the other hand I would argue that perhaps it's not necessary that the process of redoing the interior layout of the house should be intimidating or inaccessible to the average home owner.


It is true that I didn't include tools; trim and finish also add to it depending on what you're doing. When you're doing demo, you may also need to fix or match existing finish work (e.g., you might have interrupted hardwood floors or carpet where there was the old bottom plate).

But building a wall actually requires fairly few tools. You can get buy with a hammer, handsaw, square, and level to do the framing. For the drywall you need a utility knife (for cutting the drywall), some drywall taping knives, a paintbrush and a roller cover.

You can certainly add a drill (to screw it together) or rent a nail gun/compressor to make things go faster. A circular saw is also one of those things that it makes sense for a homeowner to have.

But even if you aren't doing it yourself, you can pay someone who has those tools, and it shouldn't take them that long. Stick construction with drywall is easily modifiable (as compared to e.g. concrete).

Also, I think that now with the advent of Youtube and online forums; things are a lot easier for someone who wants to do it themselves. You can see videos of people doing it, you can ask questions related to your specific situation (which even if you read a book may not be covered, because everything presents just a little bit differently).

It's very empowering to be able to improve your living environment.


I've always wanted to do this kind of thing with LEGO-like wall tiles containing plumbing, electric, and ventilation sections.


"(why the standard ceiling height in this country is 8 feet is a concept I will never understand)"

One word: efficiency

Tall ceilings create a heating and cooling nightmare. In my area a number of builders over the last two decades came into the valley from warmer climates like Arizona and built a bunch of homes with very tall ceilings. People loved them and they kept building, then a cold winter comes along and people complain about their $800/month+ heating bills in what was claimed to be an energy efficient home.


Two words: ceiling fans. :)

My house has a tall main room that spans two floors. People ask me why I have the fans on in the winter... and I tell them that it keeps our heating costs down. It's counterintuitive, but true.


Wow, eye opening, and actually quite logic given that warm air travels to the top.


Ceiling fans actually have a little toggle on the side to switch from 'blow' to 'suck'. Doing so circulates the air without the direct 'breeze' across your skin which may chill you.


I don't really think it's the case. You're adding surface area, yes, but not that much, and you can easily compensate by being more careful with windows and avoiding wasteful features like bumpouts &c.

On a 35*50 (1750 sq. ft) single level house, you're adding 170 ft of exterior wall to an envelope that had 1360 sq. ft of walls and 1750 sq. ft of ceiling giving directly on outdoors, or 5.4%. Given a "code" insulation level of R-20, it would mean adding less than an inch of insulation to compensate.

I suspect the builders from warmer climates simply didn't build correctly for the climate: not enough insulation, problematic details. You get issues whenever builders move from one climate to another, because many of them just don't care enough to learn about how to adapt houses to their new climate. Details that are fine in one climate (if you're living in a dry enough place, you can install your windows almost without thinking) won't work in another (install a window "Vegas-style" in Seattle and see how long it takes before it leaks).


It's not a question of surface area, but that the air you're paying to warm up will all go right to the ceiling. You can easily get temperature gradients of at least 5 C on a cold day with a two-story high open set up. That is where ceiling fans come in, though.


Or a passive house design.


That's why you put in radiant floor heating. It doesn't matter how high the ceiling is.


Yup. Here in Edinburgh we have quite a lot of Victorian flats with 14' ceilings. They're noticably more expensive to heat in winter than flats like my current one, which is modern and has 8' ceilings.

They do also feel a lot bigger, though. Maybe it's worth the tradeoff?


I have wondered whether you could go crazy vertical and try to get rising heat to create a cooling system, as with termite mounds. In winter, pull cloth mezzanines across to create buffer layers.



ITT bay area people that can barely afford to buy a studio apartment cause prices be cray and they can only dream about having a tiny house.

This is how it's done in Europe:

http://humble-homes.com/heijmans-one-affordable-tiny-house-a...


To be fair, Europe is packed with barely liveable spaces being rented/sold at exorbitant prices

Yes, I'm talking about the UK (and Ireland)


is the uk really that bad though? i feel like most flats outside of london are reasonably priced. london z1/2 on the other hand... ;)


This could be an entire discussion on it's own :) , if you are in the U.K. then see what Crossrail is doing to property development and prices. Wherever a building/construction company find's permission to build, they are building blocks of flats. That should have an expected outcome of price dilution due to availability BUT doesn't seem like that's happening. The worse thing I fear that may happen is that areas which have houses at the moment may start converting into areas with flats. There already are more than one examples of that happening in the area I live. Decent areas of London are out anybody's price range. Too many straight out cash buyers wanting to park their monies :-/


That's pretty cool. For better worse, a pre-condition for living in a tiny house is having the land to build one on. For my family, an amenity of our somewhat larger house happens to be its location, among nice neighbors, near public transit, and within walking or biking distance to all of our daily destinations such as work and school.


So, you can build portable tiny homes, though that constrains the tininess even more so.

Another pre-condition is being in a city with tiny house-friendly zoning regs.

As someone who frequently entertains the notion and novelty of tiny living, I keep up with it, and know more than a few folks who have been evicted from their tiny homes.

D.C. has actually been making it harder to live in tiny homes, as they are non-conformant structures in which you can "camp", temporarily, but cannot live, so there's this shell game going on of tiny home dwellers rotating out their dwellings just frequently enough to be on the right side of the law.


Another issue in my locale would simply be the availability of land. Pretty much every empty lot was snapped up during the real estate bubble. My house is small by contemporary standards, but not tiny in any credible sense.

But it's worth noting that by "tiny homes," we mean specifically tiny detached homes. Within a few blocks of my house are some four-banger apartment buildings with ~ 1000 square foot units, and I could probably afford to buy one and rent out three of the apartments. That could actually be a realistic option if I ever become an empty-nester.


I've seen a few implementations of that. There are obviously the micro-condos in NYC, but tiny house villages have been cropping up (like trailer parks, with less of the stigma). More land-efficient are the shipping containers as condos are becoming more popular too.


They are exactly that, yuppy trailer parks


What laws or regulations have caused the people you know the most trouble? I remember some stories in the past about sewer or water regulations causing problems, but not for tiny houses.


On top of the arbitrary square footage requirements that wlesieutre already mentioned, in a lot of cases it boils down to windows per room requirements, as well as the typical <x> requirements per room, where rooms like kitchen and bathroom are the most problematic.

While I'm generally not a big fan of regulations, I get that there are definitely well-intentioned regulations for legitimate problems, such that landlords weren't allowed to cram too many people into too small a space, or demand that too many people share too few kitchens and bathrooms, but for those who choose the path for themselves, those self-same regulations are burdensome.


A lot of towns have minimum square footage requirements that are too high for tiny homes to be legal


That's slowly changing; stop by https://www.reddit.com/r/tinyhouses for details.


This is my idea of tiny house:

http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/products/cypress


While it's not nearly as small as the one in the article, my house is on the smaller end of many Bay Area homes (1600 sqft on a very narrow lot). But nobody who visits believes that it's only 1600 sqft - they all think it's closer to 2000, probably because the architect vaulted the entry/living-room ceiling to 15ft, and the upstairs bedrooms to 13 ft.

What's harder about living in a small house as your primary home (not a vacation home like the article) is storage space, especially when you have kids.

There are also clever ways of doing built-in storage in a small home that minimize the use of living space. Of course you also can't be a packrat.

I recommend Dwell magazine as a great source for small living space design ideas.


I find it ironic that you call 1600 sqft "small". Here is a pretty standard 700 sqft house in the UK that a family of 4 would comfortably fit in - I wouldn't really call this small:

http://m.zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/details/36576725?search_ident...


I don't know if the price on that listing is wrong, but 45000GBP ~= $68000. At 700 sqft, that is about $90/sqft. Average price/sqft of central Sheffield homes seems to be $225/sqft (http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/city_result.jsp?country...). The Bay Area's halfway decent neighborhoods are now somewhere north of $500/sqft.

On topic, though, I agree with your statement about the irony. I have family in the UK and the ideas of whether a house is "large" or "small" is completely different compared to the US. Ultimately real estate is local, and my place is small compared to nearby ~2500+ sqft Silicon Valley homes.

2 generations ago, families of 4 lived in 700 sqft houses in the US. We've supersized over the decades.


It isn't surprising, the US is relatively empty compared to the UK. California is about 40% the density of the UK, the citified regions of the east coast are denser than the UK average, but that is about it.

There are also substantially different histories in play (when was the last time the UK government was giving 65 hectares to anybody that asked? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_Acts ).


when was the last time the UK government was giving 65 hectares to anybody that asked?

I think it was a bit after 1066, if you had the good luck of being Norman and if William was feeling generous that day.


If I were to buy something like one of these tiny houses on a trailer[1], is there a place to set it up in the bay area for a reasonable cost?

1. http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/


And here's how to live large in an actual tiny house: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQM7a5Yjp9g


I thought you were going to post this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6pj3jVgeh8


Anyone knows what kind of window-glass is he using? As he says "it looks always sunny".


It's a vacation home that looks fairly secluded, has big windows and nice furniture. Am I just too paranoid? This seems like the sort of thing that's due for an inevitable burglary. That's one attraction to me of the cargo container homes, despite the terrible aesthetic. If you need to go on an extended trip, you can just throw a cargo lock on the front door and be done with it.


>Am I just too paranoid?

Pretty much :-) Not really different from just about any other house in a more or less rural environment.


This is one of my favorite tiny houses:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSzgh3D7-Q0


*vacation house


Which therefore they're not "living in" in the common sense of the phrase but are "holidaying in". Rich people, pah.

"I work my office job from a toilet cubicle. You guys paying for offices are schmucks. Here's how I do it, I go to the toilet for free right next door to my office space I rent for $5000/mo. I'm working in entirely cost free space for the whole day. Then for the other 8 hours 45 minutes of my 9 hour day I work from the office. See, it's easy; can't see why people don't do this more!"

/tired, bad humour


This is a good manual for hackers. I live on tight budget and it's preety tought to have a room by myself with a lot of space


"Tiny house"

A vacation house bigger than most people I know can afford for their actual home. And than the author speaks of "making sacrifices". Makes me want to throw up.


How can you say that? I don't actually see the square footage of the house mentioned anywhere, but it doesn't appear to be overly large (once you account for the optical tricks the author used to make the space appear larger than it is). My estimate would be somewhere around 800 sq. ft., which isn't unreasonable for a vacation home.


We're a family of four living in 550sq foot. Maybe I should write an article.


House? You're lucky to have a house. We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, half the floor was missing, and we were all huddled together in one corner for fear of falling.


Glad someone got the irony. Where I grew up we couldn't afford irony.


Luxury.


And guess what, there are areas in the world where families of 3 or more generations share a tiny single room and call that their home. How dare you to imply that you are living in a tiny home when those people would be more than happy with a single room of yours.

Well, or maybe we can simply agree on the fact that different people have a different understanding of what a tiny house should look like? I'd too call that house tiny because the part in the world where I come from we tend to have much bigger houses.

And btw. the article isn't so much about the fact that this house is tiny by all means, it's more about using what you have or can afford and make the most out of it.


So approximately the size of the average UK house (818 sq ft)


The author says in the article that the room (which is all the area) has 14ft by 40ft, so 560ft² (plus the loft).


He doesn't quote that size as being the size of his house - he quotes it as the total floor space of an average dining room, a small kitchen and a small living room, added together.

He doesn't give the dimensions of his home. However, from looking at the pictures it's possible to estimate - I get around 25' by 20' looking at the number and size of windows.


So a average European house then.


Only in the US can 800 sq. ft. be considered tiny. I live with my wife and daughter on 700 sq ft. and while a bit more space would be nice, it's hardly cramped.


I bet countryside is bit cheaper than a city or town.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: