With housing prices continuing to rise, pricing many families out of new developments, people are looking for alternative ways to afford a house. Some people have converted old train cars into houses, and others have used materials like straw bales as building materials. However, a new popular option is buying affordable tiny or small houses.


Saving Money with Small Houses

Tiny homes are being built all over the United States as an affordable alternative to buying traditional houses. The average cost to have a new full-size house built is $285, 546 in many American communities. However, many younger couples and retirees don’t want all their money going to a mortgage payment.

Instead, smaller houses can be built for much less, allowing people to enjoy their retirement, travel, and live debt free lives. On average, tiny houses costs about $23,000, which is less than a down payment on most full-size houses. Also, about 68% of the owners of these small dwellings do not have a mortgage.


Sizes of Tiny Houses

While there are many financial advantages of living in a tiny home, owners are giving up a lot of space since the average full-sized house is 2.600 square feet. Most tiny houses are between 60 to 400 square feet, with some as big as 1,000 sq. ft. However, a dwelling that is a 1,000 sq. ft. is considered a “small” house.

Before you run to the local home improvement store to buy supplies to build a tiny home, you should know that not all communities are zoned for them. There is usually a minimum amount of square footage required for new home construction and communities that have addressed the construction of tiny houses have specific ordinances for them.


Where Tiny Houses can be Built

In general, most tiny houses fall into two categories: one with wheels or one with a foundation. If it has wheels, then it is usually considered a recreational vehicle, and there wouldn’t be any building ordinances that would apply to it. You would only need to find a parking space for it.

A tiny home built on a foundation is considered to be an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, in many states. Unfortunately, you cannot buy a piece of land and build a tiny house on it. Only a few states have zoning laws for ADUs, including:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Texas

While these states are more open to the concept of tiny houses, not every community welcomes them. It’s important to do some research before having a house built wherever you wish to live.

In most communities within the US, the minimum requirement for a house is at least 1,000 square feet, which would make it a small house. However, you should either look up zoning ordinances about new home construction or make a call to the county zoning and planning office to find out the minimum requirements.


Small Home Construction

If you’re looking for something a bit roomier, but still affordable, than a small home may be the right answer for you. The definition of small houses can be murky, but many planners or builders consider them to be any house 1,000 sq. ft. or less, while others consider them to be from 1,800 sq. ft. or less.

For homes over the size of 1,000 sq. ft., there will be more options for where you can build your home due to zoning restrictions. If a tiny or small home is in your future, you’ll find many ideas online, including many tiny and small house plans. These plans can give you ideas about how to layout small spaces.


Costs of Small Home Construction

The cost of having a small home built will depend on its square footage. The national average is about $125 per square foot. So, if you decided that a 1,100 sq. ft. home was the right size for your family, then you would need to spend approximately $137,500 to have it built.

The construction costs would be in addition to the cost of the land and your furnishings. Of course, the higher end the fixtures are, the costlier it will be. It will also depend on where the house is located. A piece of land in California is going to cost more than it would in Wisconsin or Kansas.

One way to save money on costs is to buy a prefabricated house. A prefabricated house is one built in sections in a factory, then delivered to the house site and assembled. Some of the plans you’ll find online belong to prefab houses.

When you buy a prefab house, you need to buy a piece of land and the foundation on which it is going to sit. Again, it’s important to ensure that the land is zoned for a prefabricated house of the size that you’re your purchasing. The seller of the house should be able to tell you if it will meet the building codes where you live.


Sizing a House for Your Needs

The size of the house that you have built will depend on the size of your family. If you’re single or there is only two of you, then a home that is only 400 ft. sq. may fit all your needs. However, if you’re married and have children, then you’ll need more space.

There are several questions that you can ask yourself to help determine how much space is needed.

How long do you plan to live in the house?

Do you have children or are you considering having children?

Do you have friends or family that frequently visit you?

Are there elderly family members who move in with you someday?

These are some of the questions you should ask yourself when deciding which size house will be the best for yourself and your family. While some realtors or builders may claim you should calculate 1,000 sq. ft. per family member, most families could easily live in houses that are much smaller.

The layout of the house will be more important than the size in most cases. If your house is somewhere you plan to stay for the foreseeable future, it should accommodate your needs and goals. However, if you plan to move in five to 10 years, then you should also consider it as an investment and think about its future resell value.

A tiny or small home could be the right solution for people who are single, retired couples or those who do not want to pay a huge mortgage every month. There are also several advantages to consider when determining which size house is best for your needs.


Advantages of Smaller Homes

Whether you’re having a small or tiny home built, there are many advantages to both.


Cost Savings

As noted previously, the cost having a tiny home built is much less than a full-size house. Even if you consider the cost of construction at $125 per sq. ft., a house that is only 400 sq. ft. will only cost $50,000. However, that is for a house on a foundation. A tiny home on wheels will cost much less.

A house that is 1,000 sq. ft. will still cost less to have built than a full-size house. You also need to consider where your house is located, because the cost of building it could be less than the average of $125 per sq. ft. If it’s a prefab house, many of the building costs could be included with it.


Take it With You

If you decide on a tiny home on wheels, then you don’t need to buy land, and you can take it wherever you decide to move. Since it would be classified as an RV in most states, then you could rent space in an RV park wherever you live. If you decide to travel with it, make sure it is road worthy before taking off for parts unknown.


Reduce Energy Usage

A tiny or smaller house is going to use less energy than a full-size house. The appliances will be smaller, there isn’t as much room to heat or cool, and you won’t use as much electricity. If you install some of the lightweight solar panels on the house, you may not need to pay for electricity at all for most of the year.


Live a Thriftier Lifestyle

Since you won’t have as much space as you would in a full-size home, you won’t be able to accumulate as much stuff. A smaller home gives you the chance to live a more frugal lifestyle, buying what you need and will use due to space limitations. It is a good way of saving money on clothes, books, or shoes, and keeping your house clutter-free.

Before you consider a move to one of the smaller houses you’ve seen online, consider where you want to live, how much space you need, and how much money you want to spend on a home. There are many options for tiny or smaller homes, so you’ll need to decide which option is the right one for you.

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