Posted by Dave on November 17, 2009
Could you live in a 100 square foot house?
In my initial post when applying for this job I wrote of my smallish 1,000 square foot house. Some of the comments stated that 500 square feet per person is large in comparison to global standards. Having recently scoured a city of 120,000 for small houses, I can comfortably say that the house we bought is one of the smallest available. After doing some reading I found that there really aren’t any smaller houses available due to building codes (something to do with the buildings being uninhabitable or something).
In addition to the connected townhouse we ended up buying we looked at condominium apartments, the square footage for the vast majority of places was somewhere around the 800 to 1,200 square foot range, which is not really small at all.
An alternative to all of these conventional condominium townhouses and 1,200 to 2,000 square foot detached homes was a Tumbleweed Tiny House. These houses range from 65 to 800 square feet, significantly smaller then what would conventionally be seen in Canada and the United States in homes being built. There were several qualities that piqued my interest in these homes:
1.) Cost – these houses can be built for approximately $20,000, most people that choose to live in one of these homes build them themselves. Depending where you build, you could easily have a house and land for the price of a new SUV.
2.) Larger houses have a negative impact on the environment. It takes a lot of energy to heat and maintain a 1,500 to 2,000 square foot house, it also takes significant amounts of raw materials that are required in constructing them (more trees cut down, fossil fuels spent).
3.) Most houses that the majority of the population lives in have a lot of unused space (For example, I moved in to my current home at the end of June and still haven’t really utilized the basement for any reason other than to dry clothes). Living in one of these might be more cramped then inefficient, but I think this is a better result.
4.) A smaller house would mean less “stuff”. I would love to live a less cluttered, more simplistic life with less room available. With a larger home there is no incentive to get rid of accumulated things that I have and don’t really need.
The house that I really like is 251 square feet. Its footprint is 18’x 14’ and allows for a queen – sized bed in the loft, with a small living room and kitchen. Generally, the place is just like any other, just significantly smaller and more efficient.
In the end, we purchased a more conventional townhouse. This decision came came after my spouse stated explicitly “I will not live in a garden shed no matter how ‘cool’ you think it is”. Also, we decided we wanted to live in the city for at least another few years. The house is significantly bigger then we need, but it’s close to both our places of work and was as small as we could find. I think it will be easier to entertain guests in our new house compared to a tiny home, but for the one weekend out of every two months we have visitors, I’m not sure this is worth the extra cost and essentially wasted space (two people can only use so much room on a day-to-day basis). Maybe in a few years we will revisit moving to one of these houses (I think I have to work on my “pro” side argument of living small, and maybe find one that looks less like a garden shed…)
I’m interested in other people’s opinions on these houses. Do you think you could be comfortable in an 18’x14’ home? How much room do you use in your current house, are there rooms that are not used very often?