I grew up in a small two-bedroom house. The dining room was converted into a bedroom so I could have my own space. I don’t remember feeling cramped for space unless I was pounding on the only bathroom door urging whoever was inside to vacate immediately. I now reside in a small one-bedroom/one-bathroom duplex here in Dallas, yet I’m waiting for the day my old creaky house is the next on the demolition list. And that list has claimed most of the similar sized houses in the area, to be replaced with huge monstrosities.
But, is bigger always better? Small houses are being knocked down to make way for bigger spaces that come at a cost: a high price tag and high environmental impact. In 1974, the average single family home was 1,695 square feet, and by 2004 the average size had risen to 2,349 square feet, and today is more than 2,600 square feet. The larger houses take more natural resources to build, consume more energy to heat and cool, and come at a high price tag.
But around the country and even here in Dallas, simplifying your life and moving into a smaller space is becoming more popular. The tiny house movement is a great way to reduce raw materials and decrease energy consumption at a price tag you can afford. Joel Weber, a local hometown Dallas resident, recently made national news after building a tiny home to live in to avoid high college rent prices. He parked his home, mounted on a trailer here in Dallas before driving it to Austin this year for his junior year.
Tiny houses are usually less than 400 square feet and can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. The houses can be built on a flatbed trailer to make them mobile, so when you move, your home comes with you. They are designed with efficiency in mind and have everyday luxuries of electricity, small kitchens, showers and toilets. Many are equipped with solar panels to make them completely off the grid. No electricity payments!
B.A. Norrgard (abedovermyhead.com) worked as a paralegal in Dallas, with a house in the outskirts, for more than 20 years before deciding to transition to a tiny home. Norrgard put her 1,100 square foot house on the market, sold most of her possessions and moved into her hand built 112 square foot tiny home a few years ago. Norrgard said: “I certainly recognize that tiny houses are not for everybody. But, I really believe that living more simply makes you happy. More time with friends, family and in the community. Free from a big mortgage, it’s very liberating.”
North Texas median home prices have just surpassed the $200,000 mark this year. Most tiny home owners don’t even have a mortgage. Fifty five percent of tiny house owners have more savings than the average American with more than $10,000 in the bank.
Even the State Fair of Texas is getting in on the tiny house movement. On your trip to the fair this year, make sure to stop by the prebuilt tiny homes for purchase and check out a neat relic of a tiny home built inside a carved out redwood log (redwoodloghouse.com) or visit the new Tiny Houses for sale across from Canstruction.
You don’t have to pack up your family and move into a home the size of a parking space to lift the financial burden and lessen the impact on the environment. Smaller houses can ease your wallets and use fewer resources than houses with excessive square footage. The size of your house doesn’t make it a home: remember the saying, “Home is where your heart is.”