Tiny Homes: Are They Worth The Hype?

April 25, 2023

Living Big in a Tiny Home

Tiny homes are a big buzzword right now, but how tiny are they really? And are they worth the commitment to downsizing? 

Tiny homes have been a growing fad over the past few years because of rising home costs, and have coincided with the rise of minimalist trends due from the growing wellness industry and increased burnout many have been experiencing over the past few years.

Tiny homes are defined as a residential suite being 37m2 (400 ft2) or less. Some tiny homes are built on wheels, not dissimilar to a trailer, and others are more permanent being built on full foundations. Tiny homes are often designed to be ultra-compact living spaces. Because of their growing popularity over recent years, tiny homes have been given their own set of building code requirements in many communities across Canada.

Tiny custom homes
Tiny Home Interior.
Image Source: James Alfred Photography. 

Tiny homes aren’t necessarily a new idea, people have been living in close quarters since the beginnings of permanent settlements, either out of necessity or to compliment a nomadic lifestyle. Whether you’re someone who is looking to downsize and live a more minimalist or nomadic life, a tiny home might be the option for you. 

In this blog we hope to investigate the pros and cons of what it’s actually like to live in a small space, hearing from tiny home residents, and debunking some of the myths of what it’s actually like to downsize your space to the bare minimum.

“You’re Always Together”

Many people often romanticize the idea of downsizing and don’t consider the lifestyle adjustment it takes to be able to comfortably live with less. One woman reminisces on the hardships of constantly being in close quarters with your partner in a tiny home. 

In this short article on tiny living1, this Alberta-resident talks about the adjustment period that it took to adjust to sync up living habits with her husband and figuring out how to endure Alberta winters together in such a small space. Her takeaway from those years was that it was a good testament for their marriage, and she would recommend having the experience of living together in close quarters for young couples or other newly weds, but not necessarily as a long term solution.

“There were fights and some uncomfortable things, but when I look back at the things that were a little bit of struggle, those are the moments I remember.”

Is It Really Custom?

custom houses

When you type “tiny homes” into google, the first images that come up are compact, dollhouse-like homes on wheels. Most interior images show dreamy spaces of small lofts with rustic finishes with built in beds overlooking views of remote landscapes.

Fitting a home on top of a trailer hitch is no easy task, and there’s only so much design flexibility you can work with. Many custom home builders have capitalized on this by coming up with various prefabricated modules that are fully factory built and shipped to your site. While many prefabricated homes claim to be customizable, there’s only so much adaptability you can have with such a small footprint, window areas, and code minimums for safe living. 

The Best Homes Are Built On Good Foundations

As custom home builders, we love the challenge of taking on a new project and better understanding how our clients live. We also love challenging the status quo. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to home building, which is why we do what we do. 

While the current trends of tiny homes are well-intentioned, they may not be the be-all solution for long-term living. What we appreciate about tiny homes is their consideration of every square inch of space. Which is why we often look to tiny homes for design inspiration for custom builds, rather than limiting space and lifestyle needs to a compact module. 

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  1. Unknown. (2023). “You’re always together”: Alberta woman’s takeaways from 5 years of tiny living. https://tinyhomesincanada.ca/youre-always-together-alberta-womans-takeaways-from-5-years-of-tiny-living/
  1. Lockhart, Megan. (2021). From 3000 sq ft to 400: how our family’s entire life changed and is still changing by going tiny full-time. https://tinyhomesincanada.ca/from-3000-sq-ft-to-400-how-our-familys-entire-life-changed-and-is-still-changing-by-going-tiny-full-time/
  1. BC Homes Research Centre. (2023) Tiny Homes: Alternative to Conventional Housing. https://www.bchousing.org/publications/Tiny-Homes-Alternative-to-Conventional-Housing.pdf