Lisa Gervais: Are tiny homes really the answer?
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | June 28, 2018|
My house is about 1,000-square-feet. So, by definition, it isn’t a tiny house. A house has to be about 500 sq ft or smaller to meet that requirement. In the summer, it doesn’t feel tiny, as two adults and three cats can sprawl outwards to a seasonal sunroom, and into the great outdoors. In the winter, though, as we lose that sunroom, the floorplan shrinks to about 800-sq-ft and it feels very tiny on some days.
Tiny homes, and tiny home clusters, have become a trend in recent years. On the surface, they look like an excellent anecdote to high median house prices and mismatched household incomes. They’re popping up all over the U.S., in states such as Texas, Arizona and Colorado. Not just houses, but tiny home villages.
If you’ve never seen a tiny home in person, you can do so this Canada Day in Minden. The Minden Hills Housing Task Force has invited Joe Wills of Barry’s Bay Tiny Homes to bring a 350 sq.ft. model home that will be parked in the driveway of the River Cone. Some of you might have seen another tiny home at the Haliburton Home Show.
The task force wants people to come and explore the much-talked about approach to making housing affordable. The concept of tiny home clusters is one of their proposals to tackle Minden’s future housing needs.
I like the concept well enough, but I’m not convinced it would work in Haliburton County. I don’t think we have the climate to go along with the tiny home cluster concept. Would it be practical for full-time residents?
Another argument is that a tiny house requires far more material to construct per unit than an apartment, for example, because there are no shared walls or floors or ceilings. For the same reason, it also requires more energy to heat.
So, maybe we need to be cautious about trendy ideas and spend more time looking at what’s worked for centuries, such as apartments in towns where people are within walking distance of services. This creates synergies. For example, it supplies customers for local businesses, our mental health is better because we’re living closer to other people and friends, and we’re in better physical health because we’re walking more.
The task force has suggested combining retail with second-storey housing to stabilize the main street. In my mind, that’s a great idea. I also really like their suggestions of granny flats, secondary suites, garden suites or accessory units, whatever you want to call them. I think a graduated retirement complex is also worth further investigation. This is a facility where a person moves from independent living to ‘down the hall’ as more supports are needed.
So, by all means, go and see the tiny house in Minden. They are pretty cool. Sit down on the couch, close your eyes and think for a minute about what it would be like to be there in the middle of February in a Haliburton snowstorm.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.