How the tiny house movement has led to sustainable living

The tiny house movement has gained more momentum in the last decade, but why? It is based on tiny living: owning less so that what you own doesn’t own you. It’s the belief that experiences and connections that matter, not things.

Alongside tiny house living, the tiny house movement is the turn to more sustainable living practices including choosing sustainable materials for your small house.

How do you obtain a sustainable, tiny house, and what materials should you consider?

What is the Tiny House movement?

The Tiny House movement is an architectural and social movement toward tiny houses. The idea is that instead of living big as has been the trend previously, more of us choose a small space with less.

Living a simpler lifestyle combines well with the tiny house nation philosophy that having more causes more lifestyle stresses. People opt for minimalism and tiny living for different reasons.

Some find it a way to focus on what matters and reduce distractions for simpler living. Others feel that tiny house living satisfies the need to live more intentionally and mindfully.

There are also practical reasons like financial considerations and environmental consciousness. The tiny house community wish to have a lower impact on the environment. More of us are concerned with reducing our carbon footprint and ready to take action.

Plus, there is the desire to work more remotely and away from the hustle and bustle of an office. We are confronted with many things we don’t need to work and live with. The tiny house movement subsequently provides substantial financial advantages and the ability to live a simpler life filled with a different journey.

Small houses can also serve as additional on-property housing for aging relatives or returning children, as an own home office or studio space, sauna, or as a guest house.

How big are the tiny houses?

Jay Shafer, largely credited with sparking the modern tiny house movement, built his first tiny house in 1999 and ended up living in it for five years. It was 10 square feet with a steep gabled roof and a porch. Shafer popularized little houses on wheels with even smaller square footage and launched the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

Whilst no fixed specification qualifies a residence as a tiny house; is usually less than 40 square meters. The tiny house movement grew from the minimalist lifestyle, thus encouraging living a more straightforward, purposeful and simpler life, in the forests, just as much as in towns and cities.

Thermory Spruce brushed and oiled cladding_ash decking_flooring Villart tiny house

For example, the Villart Micro Office is a garden studio, which square footage is only 20 square meters, and comprises a terrace and a tiny indoor space that has been constructed with a flat roof, a wooden frame, and mineral wool for insulation. The dark exteriors and vertical boards blend in with the surrounding trees. A stone pathway passes across a grassy area to enter the tiny office. The commute to work is now replaced with a lovely stroll through the garden.

Why is the tiny house movement trending?

As more people consider simple living, the tiny house or tiny house movement has trended in the same direction.

Many tiny homeowners state that their quality of life and overall happiness improved when they started tiny living. They spend less time cleaning and maintaining their own home, which allows more time for leisure activities.

The tiny life allows for you to have more time and freedom to enjoy life adventures.

Moving to a tiny home is not only about less pace and possessions. The tiny house community consider it a way of life that we should embrace – a social movement.

Financial considerations

The drive behind the tiny house movement is centered around desires of modesty and conservation, in addition to environmental consciousness, self-sufficiency, and wanting a life of adventure.

This growing tiny house movement has sprung up because most of us now carry a heavy debt burden. To achieve financial freedom, many understand the need to downsize the average-sized house to make that dream happen.

However, moving to a small house has helped many to turn this dream into a reality. Not only tiny houses’ initial cost is smaller, but tiny houses cost less to maintain as well and thus help to reduce financial concerns.

Furthermore, these reduced costs, from cleaning to utilities, mean a smaller footprint on the environment.

If you have a tiny home and a smaller space, you naturally must consider how you design it and what you need to buy to fill it with. So, thanks to the tiny house movement, most tiny home owners not only consume less but also spend less.

Less space means that every single item tiny house owners wish to buy must be an item they need and use.

Thermory Benchmark thermo-ash decking and cladding, Nature Resort in Estonia, architect Mari Hunt, photo Elvo Jakobson
Benchmark thermo-ash cladding & decking / Maidla Nature Resort by Mari Hunt, b210 Architects / Photo: Elvo Jakobson

Importance of sustainable living

Sustainability is more critical than ever. It is a crucial element in almost every way of life – none more so than building homes. Now, more than ever, it’s essential to consider the impact of your actions on the planet, individually and as a community.

But what importance does sustainability play when using construction materials?

Using sustainable materials for your tiny home

When choosing building materials for your tiny house, you should consider their lifespan, from their origin to their disposal. Regarding decking (or panelling) materials, homebuilders can measure a product’s sustainability and eco-friendly qualities from manufacture to demolition.

Using materials such as thermally modified wood instead of plastics and concrete ensures durability and is a far more sustainable option.

Using sustainable materials leads to less waste, less energy consumption and less landfill waste than other types of materials. In essence, a more negligible impact on the environment. In short, timber has a lower life cycle cost than other materials.

Beyond reducing our carbon footprints, using sustainable materials adds more value to properties, including tiny houses. Materials like timber, provide high-quality, exceptional durability, low maintenance and a more pleasing aesthetic.

Yoki Treehouse Thermory Drift cladding

And it is not only tiny homes that are using sustainable materials. More and more companies are now joining the tiny house movement by building small hotels and guesthouses made of sustainable materials to entice guests to stay. Especially those seeking to reduce their carbon footprint as part of their travels.

The Maidla Nature Resort and ÖÖD houses in Estonia and the Yoki Treehouse, an eco-retreat in Austin, Texas, are prime examples of sustainable tiny house accommodation using thermowood.

Is timber the most sustainable building material?

Timber is considered the most sustainable building material within the housing and building industry. With a low embodied carbon footprint, homebuilders can use it to maximise a project’s green credentials.

The tree obtains the elemental constituents of the material through a natural process that works on a timescale ranging from decades to centuries. Compared to the fundamental components of concrete or steel, timber is a more readily accessible and sustainable building material.

Timber is renewable, whilst concrete and steel materials are not.

Planting more trees increases carbon sequestration, which takes up atmospheric carbon dioxide from trees and other plants. The timber used in building tiny houses and tiny guest homes aids in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment. Unlike steel and concrete, which consume more resources to make.

Are tiny houses the future?

Tiny houses are a winning solution in all aspects. They are beautifully designed with both singletons and couples in mind, allowing anybody to live comfortably in a tiny home.

More importantly, concerning financial viability, they are more affordable and offer freedom to tiny house owners seeking to reduce their risk of being tied to a mortgage their entire lives.

After all, one of the most significant benefits of a tiny home is cost savings. Because the tiny house living area is much smaller than in a typical American home, tiny homeowners have reduced electricity bills, lower monthly payments, and lesser upkeep costs. On top of that, the tiny home will cost less to buy upfront or have lower rental payments.

The tiny house movement is also a greener way of living with healthier options for ourselves and the planet – making an impact for all who live amongst us.

Are you looking to build your own tiny home? Read more about how to choose the best cladding material.

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