OPB Talks to People with Big Ideas Who Live in Tiny Homes

Yesterday OPB’s Think Out Loud radio program launched an interesting series called How We Live that examines a host of unconventional dwellings, including floating homes, vans, boats, and shipping containers, among other unlikely habitats.This Wednesday the show looked at the phenomenon of living in “tiny houses.”

OPB discusses the tiny home phenomenon.

OPB discusses the tiny home phenomenon.

Airing on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. on OPB’s affiliate on the FM dial at 91.5, How We Live takes a candid look at these unorthodox abodes and the people who call them home.This Wednesday’s show looked at the phenomenon of living in “tiny houses,” and spotlighted a Portland couple named Tammy Strobel and Logan Smith who live in a 128-square-foot home that was built on a 16-by-18-foot trailer. It uses alcohol as fuel, a free-standing electric oil heater and a simple plumbing set up. Although they share wireless with the land owner, they do not own a refrigerator or a shower. Their low carbon footprint appeals to those seeking a more sustainable lifestyle.

What makes it a “tiny home” …

Tiny houses are generally less than 200 square feet in size and are situated on trailers to allow for greater flexibility in location. Strobel and Smith cite the benefits – less cleaning, a more sustainable lifestyle, less dependence on the consumer lifestyle and no mortgage payment. You are unlikely, in fact, to get a mortgage loan for a tiny house, but you’ll only spend about $30,000 to acquire one.

Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD), a local house design company, built the Strobel-Smith tiny house and specialize in micro-homes. They even offer a manual about miniature home ownership called Go House Go! The manual details the basics of owning a tiny home, including how to control moisture and prevent the walls and roof from twisting and a common list of building materials. Their website also offers plans for Don Vardo homes, a style of tiny house that PAD has made their signature design.

What’s the appeal of a tiny home?

In this day and age of rampant home foreclosure and ever-tightening mortgage loan restrictions, home ownership isn’t quite the inevitable goal it once was for many Americans. This housing alternative offers the dream of home ownership without the commitment of a mortgage and the relentless demands of housekeeping  and yard work.

Although it sounds a bit like a mobile home, a tiny house actually looks more like a real house, offering wood craftsmanship, radiant-heat cork floors and a more “house-like” exterior and interior appearance. For those happily committed to the idea of living in a larger house, a tiny house is a nice alternative for a college student living at home, a home office or a guest quarters. And if you decide after a while that you don’t need it, you can always sell it.

Did you know you can also build your own?

It’s kind of incredible how accessible these tiny homes are. You don’t need to hire someone else to build your tiny home if you don’t want to! You can even get the building plans for free. Build a tiny cabin. Or the greenest tiny home you can (much like Strobel-Smith’s tiny home). Go bohemian or stick with the cute traditional cottage. Just because the home is tiny doesn’t mean it can’t still fit your style and image of your dream home. And how many people can say they built their own home?

To hear this Wednesday’s How We Live segment click here. You can read  more about tiny houses on the Tiny House Blog, Strobel’s blog Rowdy Kittens and at the Portland Alternative Dwellings website.

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