C’mon. Aren’t these just glorified mobile homes?


Aaah, the Tiny House movement. The Tiny House explosion. The dozens of Tiny House TV shows. The Tiny House luxury market. The family of six who want to live in 200 square feet. The young couple who want to eschew accumulating things and live tiny. There’s the group of Tiny House fans who want to travel all year in their tiny home on wheels (aka mobile home). Please ask them how they plan on making money.

Now I ask you – is there a difference between the photo above, described as a Tiny House, and this below? I don’t see any difference.

I happen to love the second photo. It’s a classic streamlined mobile home, in a mobile park, where all mobile homes should be.

NOT in Uncle Fred’s back yard and NOT on grandma’s farm. The problem for tiny home owners is there are lots of  town regulations that prohibit them. I know our son who owns land in upstate NY says his deed specifically prohibits a trailer, or any mobile structure, for that matter, not even a $100,000 Luxury Tiny Home.

The Alpha, The Alpha Tiny House was featured on HGTV’s “Tiny House, Big Living,” Season 3, Episode 9.

No matter if the Tiny House is pretty or ugly, the fact remains that they are illegal in most municipalities. This Oregon couple found out that to be true.

To keep costs down, they located their new home behind a duplex on land owned by Teasdale’s parents near Mount Tabor Park. The 15-foot-wide strip, tucked between an unused garage and a hedge, was covered in brambles and castoffs from previous duplex tenants.

They moved inside the teeny dwelling with their 80-pound sheepadoodle named Trek. Since their front door was close to the alley, they met neighbors and felt they were part of “a cute little community,” she said.

Then a neighbor’s complaint triggered an inspection from the city’s Bureau of Development Services. Officials see tiny houses on wheels as mobile homes and in violation of Portland’s single family zoning code when used as a permanent residence.

Teasdale and Frazier were forced to give up their tiny house life. They had to move out, and now are trying to find a place to park their DIY tiny house.

Leave it to Huffington Post to tell readers how to find loopholes in having your Tiny house where it might be illegal, but hay, laws are for little people, right, just not little homes.

Hey, here’s a fun thought, one of the keen suggestions by HuffPo.

6. Explore land sharing in a blighted area.

If you’re building a tiny home on wheels rather than a permanent foundation, consider participating in what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development calls “temporary urbanism” by planting your tiny house on urban property that’s otherwise not useful.

Austin, who once lived on property held by another tiny house owner, now resides on city-owned land in Washington, D.C. The site of an abandoned middle school, the land is too costly to fix up or tear down. Instead, the city leases the front plaza of the property to a neighborhood farming guild, which in turn subleases a small plot to Austin.

“The idea is to move the house there for a few years, and then when they’re ready to start developing [the property], you find another place to move,” Austin said.

The ultimate irony in the Tiny House movement is reading the stories of couples/families who have abandoned their Tiny Home, not because it was illegally placed, but simply because the fun of living in 200 square feet wore off. HGTV even has a show Tiny House: Where Are They Now? They are in bigger homes, that’s where.

I’m not saying I couldn’t live tiny. I certainly could, as long as I could see out and it was clean. Our youngest lives in a 350 sf studio in NYC but up on the 16th floor with huge windows and a sprawling 160 degree view of lower Manhattan. A 350 sf studio looking at a brick wall, I might go stark raving mad.

Looking the typical tiny house owner, they tend to be young and idealistic, do not want the “responsibility” of a mortgage or a permanent home. I’m not sure what that says about them, if it’s a good thing or a cop out.

Could you live in a tiny house?

12 thoughts on “C’mon. Aren’t these just glorified mobile homes?

      1. I think that’s far more the truth than the fluff segments on HGTV where everyone is happy and all things work and are easy to access.

        I’ve heard so many good things about Portlandia but have never watched it. I guess I should find some episodes online and start.

        The guy in video – was he SNL? He looks so familiar.

        1. Yeah, it’s Fred Armisen (but, I had long ago stopped watching SNL when he was a regular.
          I haven’t found a mirthless episode yet. Probably my favorite:

          (the chicken/restaurant one is good too)

        2. Was that Steve Buscemi (sp?) as the celery man??

          As soon as you said chicken and restaurant, I remember seeing that episode. My daughter who manages a restaurant sent it to me. She says it’s so spot on for NYC!

          Here, hysterically.

  1. I understand the Tiny House appeal but I can see how the practicality of it doesn’t work. There’s hooking up to a septic system or having a compost toilet. Water, where do these tiny houses get water if they are parked on someone’s land? Drain the family well or illegally hook up to town water?

    I find the most amusing and telling that many tiny house owners are oblivious to real life. I’ve seen episodes where their build budget is $15-20k but they drive a Kia or a Mini Cooper. Wait til they see what a truck costs to haul a tiny house.

    1. The kids and I had the exact conversation recently – that when they need to buy a 3/4 or one ton truck to haul their tiny home around the country, a truck that probably gets max 10mph, there goes their save the country we’re going green theory.

      The HGTV shows never address the water and how the tiny houses who sit on someone’s property get water.

  2. I see the appeal of the tiny house.. within reason. So I guess I see the appeal of the smallish house, or cheapish cabin. But when they are tiny tiny tiny.. all I can think about is that, for all your talk about not focusing on things, you will never be able to have many friends or family sitting around comfortably being together in a relaxed way in your place.
    I do think traditional trailer homes are kind of neat though. My sister had one that was charmingly retro and a solid answer for the need for affordable rent.

    1. I too see the appeal of the Tiny House but the trend has gone from reasonable to every TV show with their own take on what a Tiny House should be. I mean some of them cost as much as a traditional home in many cities.

      I agree that traditional trailer homes have far more character to them, retro as you said, and they do offer someone an opportunity to have affordable rent.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I enjoy watching the Tiny House shows and have always thought those houses would make nifty vacation homes. For no more than two people. As primary residences? Insanity. Channeling George Carlin, where the heck would you keep all your stuff?
    And composting toilets? Not a cholera enthusiast myself.

    1. I’m on Tiny House show overload. Too many. Have you seen Tiny Luxury? It’s usually on the DIY Network. A little too fancy for me.
      I’m all for anything George Carlin says. Miss his sense of humor.

Comments are closed.