Tiny house movement goes mainstream

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The tiny house movement has many underlying causes and goals. Some people want to stop paying rent or a house payment. Others want a more environmentally friendly "leave no trace" lifestyle. Some just want a small vacation home or mountain cabin.

My interest is less about any of these issues and more about an appreciation for efficient design. Yachts, RVs, conversion vans, tiny urban apartments — like tiny homes they manage to fit an entire life's worth of rooms, furniture, and appliances into a miniature box. Designing a two or three thousand square foot home is easy. Multiple bathrooms, even more bedrooms, kitchen, living room, the list goes on... Trying to fit all of that inside a space no larger than the master bedroom's closet? Now that's a challenge.

That's where 84 Lumber comes in. It's a 60-year-old, Pennsylvania-based company that owns and operates more than 250 stores, plus component plants, door shops, installation centers and engineered wood product shops in 30 states. This isn't a small start-up funding its efforts on Kickstarter, and now they're offering tiny house packages starting at under $7k for the base do-it-yourself model. This is significant. It's less than $50k for a move-in ready tiny home or you can split the difference and get the $20k "semi-DIY package."

They offer four different models in a variety of configurations. The designs are intriguing if less than perfect in some regards. The prices aren't the best (nor are they the worst), but what is significant is that the tiny house concept is steadily moving from a fringe notion to a mainstream alternative to overpriced apartments and even more expensive houses.

The designs are on the small side of the "tiny" scale at about 154 square feet each, but they still manage to include all the basics and a number of extras as well. It has an upstairs loft bedroom that features a full-sized bed, windows, and lighting. The kitchen features a walnut butcher block tops, an Energy Star refrigerator, a stainless steel sink, a smooth surface electric cooktop, a designer faucet and a built-in kitchen table.

These tiny homes, like many others, are built on trailers in order to avoid most building codes and zoning regulations. They can sometimes even be considered travel trailers for legal purposes. You can learn more about this subject HERE.

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