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 minimalist 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 the tiny house, movement is the turn to more sustainable living practices including choosing sustainable materials for your house. How do you obtain a tiny, sustainable house, and what materials should you consider?

From this article you’ll get to know:

  • What is the tiny house movement and why is it trending
  • Importance of sustainable living and using eco-friendly materials for your house
  • Timber as a sustainable building material

What is the Tiny House movement?

The Tiny House movement is a social trend toward tiny houses. Rather than seeking more living space as has been the trend previously, more of us choose smaller living areas with less.

Living a minimal lifestyle combines well with the tiny house 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 to simplify their otherwise hectic lives. Others feel the need to live more intentionally and mindfully.

There are also practical reasons like financial considerations and the 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 actually don’t need to work and live with. The tiny house movement subsequently provides substantial financial advantages and the ability to live a lifestyle filled with a different journey.

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

For example, the Villart Micro Office is a garden studio, which measures 20 square meters, comprises a terrace and a small 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 office. The commute to work is now replaced with a stroll through the garden.

Benchmark by Thermory thermo-spruce cladding. Villart micro office by Margus Vilisoo

Why is the tiny house movement trending?

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

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

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

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

However, moving to a tiny house has helped many to turn this dream into a reality. Not only do tiny homes cost less, but they also cost less to maintain and thus help many save more. Furthermore, these reduced costs, from cleaning to utilities, mean a smaller footprint on the environment.

If you have less space, you naturally must consider how you design it and what you need to buy to fill that with. Most people in tiny houses not only consume less but also spend less. Less space means that every single item you wish to buy must be an item you need and use.

Thermo-spruce cladding. Yoki Treehouse by Will Beilharz, Artistree®. Image: Smiling Forest

Importance of sustainable living and using sustainable materials for your house

Sustainability is more critical than ever. It is a crucial element to 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?

When choosing building materials, 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. Materials like timber, provide high-quality, exceptional durability, low maintenance and a more pleasing aesthetic.

Thermory Ash Shingles. Image: ÖÖD houses

And it is not only homes that are using sustainable materials. Guesthouses and hotels are now building tiny houses 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 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 more 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 guest homes aids in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment. Unlike steel and concrete, which consume more resources to make.

Maidla Nature Resort Thermory Ash cladding and deckingBenchmark by Thermory thermo-ash cladding. Maidla Nature resort by Mari Hunt, b210 Architects.

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 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 area is much smaller than your typical house, tiny homeowners have reduced electricity bills, lower monthly payments, and lesser upkeep costs. On top of that, the house will cost less to buy upfront or have lower rental payments.

The tiny house movement is also a greener way to live 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 house? Read more about how to choose the best cladding material