By Rachel Hinkle
Ashley Jonasson, an entertainment and media studies student at the University of Georgia, has been interested in tiny houses since they became popular through television shows on HGTV and other networks. She is considering building her own tiny house one day and had a few questions about the tiny house movement and where it is projected to be in the future.
Jonasson’s questions were answered by Kimberly Skobba, an assistant professor in housing and consumer economics at the University of Georgia, who researches housing issues, including the housing needs of low income households and the relationships between community development and social capital in rural and small towns.
Q: How big is a typical tiny home?
A: Typically, anything under 500 square feet, most are much smaller than that. I would say anything from 150-170 square feet. Because of how they are put on a trailer, that is where most of the size constraints come from.
Q: Why do you believe there is so much hype about tiny homes in today’s society?
A: I think there a number of things that tap into different interests when it comes to tiny homes. HGTV is one. They would not have multiple shows if people weren’t interested in them. Also, It’s the opposite of living in an excessive space and sort of the idea of minimalism. People are interested in how you can make the most of a small space. It captures the imagination of some people and for others, it is the possibility that you could build your own house. There is a strong component of people who think that they can easily and affordably build their own home. Some people don’t want to spend so much money on housing costs. Many people who have these strong interests are college age/younger adults and people who are planning to retire. They want to live mortgage free and in something very small.
Q: In your opinion, is the tiny home a lasting trend?
A: I’m not sure in its current form. I know they are pushing communities to think about minimum square footage sizes for homes and different zoning and building regulations and I think that will have a lasting impact. The tiny house movement says to me that people are looking for other options other than what is currently available, so I don’t think most people want a tiny home on a trailer where they can move around from place to place. Frankly, tiny homes are not designed for constant movement, but you can move them so I think what people really want is something smaller that they can afford and maybe own their own piece of land. I believe that this message of offering wider variety of housing options will continue on.
Q: Do you believe the tiny home has had an impact on the way people view mobile homes?
A: I think it is the other way around. I like to think this is the case anyways. Within this continuum, we see places that are trying to build a pocket park of tiny homes and the push back from nearby neighborhoods is that these tiny homes are like mobile home parks and that is what is being connected to the tiny house movement.
Q: Do you think that you could live in a tiny home?
A: Probably not at this stage in my life because I have kids living at home. I don’t think that I could live in a 160-square foot home, but I definitely think I could live in a 500-square foot home when my kids are gone. I would love to have a tiny house in my backyard so I could go stay there.