When talking to friends it became clear that there was a surprising amount of confusion about what a tiny house actually is.
Living in Scotland, and rarely watching TV, I was only vaguely aware of the phenomenon of the USA style tiny houses which are built on trailers and can be towed around.
When people talk about tiny houses, I suspect it is this sort of house which people now think of.
I sometimes find it helpful to refer to my tiny house as a cabin. It’s easier than saying “tiny house” all the time and people know, more or less, what I am talking about. Though while cabins could be lived in full time and may be even quite large and comfortable, I think they are generally perceived as being somewhat rudimentary.
In France, when I talked about my project to the neighbours, they would say “oh, like a chalet?”. They mean a small alpine or Scandanavian style building typically with from interlocking wooden walls. These are quite a common sight and people would often assume I was going to buy such a house in kit form.
In the UK people are quite familiar with the idea of a summerhouse. As the name implies, these are small buildings (probably at the bottom of the garden) that would typically be enjoyed during the summer. Perhaps somewhere to read or relax when the weather is nice. Construction wise, they are likely to be made from wood and unlikely to be insulated. As they are something of a feature, they look a bit prettier than a garden shed.
In his introduction to “The tiny book of tiny houses”, Lester Walker said the book began when he wanted to illustrate “affordable build it yourself vacation homes”.
OK, so here is my take on it …
My definition is that a tiny house must be:
- A house!
By that I mean, yes, it is very small but it must also be a real house too. In other words you should be able to live in it all year round, just like any other house. So that means good insulation and glazing, some means of cooking and washing and somewhere to sleep and sit.
It could be on wheels (though mine is not) and could be made of any material. It could be cheap or expensive, self-built or built by others. It could be used for holidays or lived in full time.
My own tiny house looks a bit like a garden shed because, according to my planning application, it is! (more of this later). But it does have (or will have) the previously mentioned features of a real house.
So that’s it. Tiny House = Real House but smaller. Simple!