Thursday, March 10, 2016

3/10 Rant on "Tiny Houses"

I was planning on riding my bike to Old Tucson today, but I woke up with a migraine headache and vertigo, so I am sitting home watching TV and grading a few papers. 

I occasionally watch the various programs on tiny houses, especially when I can't find anything else on I like.  There are several things about those programs that bother me.  Note that I am really talking about the ones built on trailer frames and have wheels to supposedly move them.
  • First, you will notice that most of these tiny homes are built in places where housing is incredibly expensive, like California and Oregon, as a way for young people to move out of parents homes. 
  • Most are built out of solid wood and end up being VERY heavy.  Yes, the internal walls of most RVs are very thin and cheap-looking, but that is because of weight issues so you can pull them with a pickup truck. They never give the finished weight of the ones on TV, but most need to be pulled with larger trucks, which means you have to hire someone to move one.
  • Also, very few places allow them to be parked on regular lots as they do not meet building codes.  Those tiny houses can really only be parked in someone's backyard (where allowed) or out in the country on land owned by someone else.  You just cannot buy a piece of land and park one on it. I wonder if the young people buying them really understand this since they seem to be nearly all first-time owners? I think it would be nice to have special developments for such small homes, but again, that is a zoning issue for cities to decide.
  • And because they are not self-contained with fresh water and grey and black water holding tanks, they cannot be parked in regular RV parks. They might be able to get into state or national parks, but there is a two-week limit on nearly all of those places. Nearly all commercial RV parks require the RVIA tag on your RV because that certifies that it meets sanitary standards, among others.
  • They don't have any house batteries or converters to charge those batteries, so they have to be permanently hooked up to regular electric service and sewers.  Many use composing toilets, but It will take a lot of convincing to get me to empty one of those!  I can go at least four days without emptying my grey water tank and about 8-10 days without empting my black water tank, and it only takes about 10 minutes, which I have to believe is a lot easier.  
  • They almost never have slides. My two big slides gives me a LOT more living room and makes my motorhome not seem cramped.  They do seem to have lofts for sleeping, but because of height limitations, these are more like crawl-in spaces.
  • They also don't do a very good job of providing storage space.  For example, I may live in about 250 sq. ft. but I have a whole row of storage bins underneath my rig on both sides that give me enough room to store a couple of small suitcases, a vacuum cleaner, small carpet cleaner, air compressor, camping chairs and outdoor cooking stuff, plus things like brooms, brushes, and cleaning supplies.  Plus I also have lots of room for off-season clothing and extra groceries and paper stuff stored in my "basement."
  • Inside my motorhome, the manufacturer did an excellent job of using every bit of extra space, so I have cabinets above my queen bed, under my queen bed which lifts up to give access, and in the large wardrobe and set of deep drawers across from the foot of my bed.  Having a slide made all that possible.  And in my living room, I have cabinets along the ceiling of both sides.
Motorhome and RV manufacturers are skilled at building truly mobile and self-contained "homes" so I am not sure why so many people seem to be caught up in this "tiny home movement."  I am guessing there is a bias against RVs because they look like the dreaded mobile homes that have a bad, but really undeserved reputation. 

Anyone actually know anyone who bought one of these tiny homes and still live in it after more than a year? 

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