During the recent Princeton Environmental Film Festival, a documentary shed light on the ‘Tiny House’ movement, an ongoing trend for people to live in houses that are much smaller than usual. These homes, which are typically in the rage of 35o sq ft to 800 sq ft, are often constructed by the occupants themselves. The demand is so great that materials for the little houses can now be ordered as a kit, such as this model from ‘Tumbleweed Homes’. The cost of construction can be as little as $30,000, assuming you’re good with a hammer and nail.One advantage of a ‘Tiny House’ is that it doesn’t take up much space, so theoretically you can fit a number of them onto a small plot of land. In principle, this could help with affordability in towns like Princeton where land is expensive, because the cost of the land would be split between a number of ‘Tiny House’ residents. As things stand, existing plots in walkable areas around Princeton are being rebuilt with McMansions instead of smaller, more affordable dwellings.
In ultra-expensive San Francisco, a group are seeking land to plant a ‘village’ of 5-10 tiny houses with a shared yard/garden/communal space. Right now, they are advertising for a suitable site on Neighborland, a website dedicated to community collaboration for planning and placemaking. They also have their own blog at: tinyhousevillage.org
The founders describe it as:
“…an intersection of coliving, micro apartments, intentional living and affordable housing for the creative class. It’s also pushing the envelope of urban living, flexible (live from anywhere) lifestyles and with more of an emphasis on what our needs actually are…”
Despite their smaller environmental footprint and advantages in extending walkability to a greater population, ‘Tiny Houses’ are unlikely to appear in Princeton, because minimum lot sizes and restrictions on lot subdivisions make them uneconomical.
Trailer for ‘Tiny Houses’ documentary:
Would a ‘village’ of Tiny Houses create an affordable, bohemian alternative to Princeton’s over-cooked housing market? Or would it just be the fanciest trailer park in the state? Have your say in the comments below!