Someday I plan to own my own home. I also plan to build this house. Of course, I will have to get some help from my Dad, who is a master at all things construction. To date, while I am handy with a hammer, I have only successfully built a rickety tea shelf. With the downturn in the housing market as well as the economy and the fact that my generation is the first not anticipated to exceed our parents, this is the only kind of house I am likely to afford. Let’s face it, ministry does not pay that well.
Tiny homes are more than just a fad in the housing market along with Cargotecture and houses constructed out of straw bales. Tiny homes are a great way to cultivate a lifestyle of Christian stewardship and love for neighbor. With the amount of over-sized and large mortgaged homes being foreclosed upon in America, a smaller home does make sense. Tiny homes are typically around 100 ft², as opposed to the almost 2,500 ft² average American home. Tiny homes can get as small as 64 ft² or as large as 200 ft² and are usually built on trailer hitches. Trailer hitches make these tiny homes mobile and help the homeowner avoid government regulations.
Several companies currently build prefabricated tiny homes, or sell plans so that tiny home enthusiasts such as me can build their own homes. The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, is perhaps the largest and most popular of the tiny house companies that have sprung up in recent years. Tumbleweed has several models most of which can be purchased completely finished for under $50,000 or DIY for around $20,000. Another company, Tiny Texas Houses, only builds prefabricated houses. These houses are uniquely created for each individual and made out of almost 100% salvaged materials.
This summer I was lucky enough to stay in a modified Fencl, one of the Tumbleweed models. The official square footage for the house is 130 ft²; however, this does not count the sleeping loft. 130 ft² does not seem like a lot of space. In fact, it is around the size of an average bathroom. This small space provides all the amenities (toilet, shower, stovetop, sink, mini-fridge, sitting area, sleeping area, storage) that a single person or a very close and happy couple need.
There are several reasons that I consider tiny homes a positive move toward Christian stewardship and the divine commandment to love ones neighbor. Tiny homes use much less construction waste and emit a fraction of the greenhouse gases. Utilities even in cold parts of the country cost around $65 dollars a year. This not only saves money and the environment, but also cuts down on waste.
In a tiny home, there is no room for anything (dishes, books, clothing, etc…) that is not used frequently. Tiny homes help cut down on consumerism, over-consumption and clutter. Furthermore, with only a mini-fridge and limited counter space to store food there is less possibility for food waste.
Most tiny homeowners spend more time outside. This was certainly true for me. The lovely Fencl that I stayed in was located on the Olympic coast enabling and encouraging me to spend much more time outside then I normally would. I visited the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge and went to the beach several times throughout my trip. There is nothing like spending time outside to continue encouraging me to be actively to care about the environment.
Hospitality is the one thing that is a bit limited in a tiny home. During my stay, I had my entire family and roommate over for lunch. The Fencl was big enough to accommodate five people eating and playing a fierce game of Scrabble. However, it hardly seems like hospitality when you have to ask the guests to bring their own chairs. In a tiny home, it is easy to be hospitable to a few who by no means struggle with claustrophobia. Larger gatherings necessitate larger spaces. I would not find anything wrong with more celebrations, birthday bashes and parties with the neighbors in church. What would our Churches, neighborhoods and lives look like if our central place of gathering was not the home, but instead the Church?
Tiny homes are not for everyone. They are simply too small to accurately provide for a family or realistically more than one person. However if you want to live the righteous existence of a monk or nun, even if it is just for a few years, a tiny home could be for you.