I was able to get my hands on a copy of interview transcript with a town planning consultant who is all about Tiny Houses. He has just moved into a Tiny House and has learned some critical lessons that I’d thought I’d share. He now lives in a Katrina Cottage, which I have a special affinity towards, it reminds me of the older style of a shotgun style house; I talked about them in this post. Here is what he had to say, remember he is talking some specifics about the Katrina houses.
Dropped randomly into acre-lot subdivisions and diminished by surrounding McMansions, they look eccentric and experimental. They need small-lot site-planning and the company of friends.
Here he talked about how things need to be somewhat uniform in size, the human condition likes patterns, to have a house that is dwarfed by others leaves us unconsciously unsettled. So there is more to us wanting a Tiny House community, it will allow us to bring in honest proportions.
Here’s the second lesson confirmed by my life in 300 square feet: The space has to be beautifully designed and the construction detailed perfectly. Otherwise you’ve got exactly what Katrina Cottage critics warned against – a tricked-out trailer.
When you compress the volume, the first thing to go is wiggle room for sloppy decision-making. Compromise on design and construction quality, including material choices, and you’re off to the race to the bottom. That’s why Cusato, Tolar, Steve Mouzon and others fight so tenaciously against cheaping out on ceiling heights, window selections, flooring, roofing, and trim details.
That’s bad news for workforce housing advocates committed to driving prices per square foot down. Better to achieve the savings by intelligently compacting the space, as opposed to competing with production builders who amortize prices per square foot over thousands of under-performing square feet.
There is more to good design then just being high quality, in a small space, its impact is magnified as the space is reduced. I am often asked by people”what is the difference between a Tiny House and a trailer/mobile home?” I am quick state: “a high level of design and attention to aesthetics”. I firmly believe that Tiny Houses must maintain a high level of design to not follow in the steps of mobile homes. (On second glance, this sounds almost elitist, what do people think? Does the Tiny House Movement have a sense of elitism?)