Tiny House Movement. Could you Live in 500 Square Feet?

Alan and I recently listened to a popular podcast called Stuff You Should Know and the subject was “What is a Shotgun house?”  I’ve heard the term before but not been exposed to many in Oklahoma architecture. Having family in the Mobile, Alabama area, I had seen some when visiting but more than anything the name caught my attention. http://castroller.com/Podcasts/StuffYouShould/2872754

The show reminded us of the tiny house movement we’ve seen in the United States the past 5 or so years. Many people have wanted to downsize to something more manageable and less expensive while others want to reduce their carbon footprint. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_house_movement

The shotgun house and tiny house have size in common. I wondered if they had design commonalities as well. This is what I learned.

Built before central heat and air, shotgun houses were designed to offer the best airflow with doors and windows open. Given it’s name because the floorplan allows someone to stand at the front door and shoot a gun through the house and out the back door, these homes were popular after the Civil War

in the Southern states. They continued to be popular through the 1920’s. New Orleans has many shotgun homes but they can be found as far away as Chicago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotgun_house

The shotgun house has been revived since Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area as an easy and quick way to build housing to those displaced by the 2005 storm.

In the western part of the country, California and other areas started thinking smaller houses for other reasons. The economy crunch and the real estate market decline caused people to want to own but have less maintenance and lower cost. The tiny house movement came from this.

Tumbleweed Tiny House:

The Widbey Plan

461SF for 1 bedroom/1 bathroom

557 SF for 2 bedroom/1 bathroom

Estimated Material Costs: .

$35,000 – $41,500.

Tumbleweed, Tiny House Company is the commonly known company to offer this kind of a home. Offering floor plans from 99 SF to 874 SF, these homes can be stationary or on wheels. They have three styles: bungalows, house to go and cottages with the later being the largest. I did find that the floorplans are quite different from the shotgun house as their main goal is efficiency and offering today’s conveniences in as little space as possible. http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/pages/plans

One of the earliest things we learn as students is that history repeats itself. The reasons can be different but usually the outcome is the same. We have seen a recent movement toward simplifying and this is how it has evolved in housing. The question is… what is your definition of enough?

Finding what works best for you and your family is what matters. Sometimes that has to do with the amount of space. Other times it is more about features of a house or location. Or maybe wanting a house on the go.

I will close with one thought… isn’t nice to have so many choices?

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors


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