From our restaurant portions to the cars that we drive, it seems like the United States was built on the mantra that bigger is better. Which is why it’s so surprising that something many refer to as “The Tiny House Movement” could sweep the nation by storm. And yet, Instagram feeds, internet blogs and even multiple dedicated time slots on HGTV have become inundated with the tiny house craze.
So what exactly is a tiny house, and why has it become so trendy?
A tiny house is precisely what it sounds like. Ranging from 60-500 square feet, a tiny house is built to be minimalist and down to the essentials. Most tiny house aficionados join the movement for environmental and financial reasons. But manufactured homes have been here all along as a practical & ecological solution to affordable housing.
Putting a price on it
Tiny homes were born from the DIY trend. For those who are willing to build it themselves, a tiny house can be quite affordable. But depending upon the appliances and fixtures, the average tiny house typically costs between $200 and $400 per square foot.
Compared to manufactured homes, that’s less bang for your buck. The average manufactured home in 2015 cost $100.65 per square foot, making it two to four times more cost effective than its trendy counterpart.
The legal woes of tiny houses
Building a tiny house is one thing. But once it’s built, where do you put it?
In many places, it’s hard to live in a tiny house legally. Building codes, local zoning laws and county ordinances all must factor into tiny house planning. Alternative forms of affordable housing tend to address this issue better than their tiny counterparts.
Manufactured home builders follow federal Housing and Urban Development codes, and many buyers have the luxury of placing their new home in a community that has already been zoned accordingly. That means not having to sort out your own plumbing, which is something I think most of us could do without!
Designing your own home
No doubt, much of the tiny house appeal comes from the aesthetic. They’re trendy, craftsman and can be designed just how you like it.
However, customizations in manufactured homes have blossomed in recent years. A far cry from the cookie-cutter pre-fabs of decades ago, most manufactured home builders offer a wide range of customizations. From cabinetry to floor plans to appliances, the growing options give buyers the opportunity to design the home of their dreams.
Manufactured Homes: Going Green
If energy efficiency is what you’re after, the average tiny home might win out. But for years manufactured homes have been designed with energy efficiency in mind. They are the original “green living” home, and are still far more efficient than your average stick-built home.
Many manufactured home builders are Energy Star Certified, which means their homes are designed to meet the EPA’s strict guidelines for energy efficiency. This includes standards for effective insulation, high-performance windows, tight construction ducts and appliances and heating/cooling systems that use less energy. So while the tiny house movement tightly couples with less consumption and the “off-grid” lifestyle, manufactured homes are designed to maximize efficiency without sacrificing comfort and amenities.
For the DIY bloggers & 20-somethings fleeing the corporate life, there are tiny homes. But for hard-working Americans looking for an affordable, attractive place to call home, manufactured housing is the solution.