Single-Family Housing Alternatives: Are Tiny and Modular Homes Worth the Hype?

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It’s no secret the tiny house movement has taken off in recent years. Tiny houses appeal to several factors sought after by millennial homebuyers: affordability, eco-friendliness, and reduced living space for smaller families.

But just how eco-friendly is tiny house living? And does living in a home 500 square feet or less help you consume less energy? According to a new study from Virginia Tech, tiny homes live up to the hype.

Tiny house living significantly cuts back on carbon

Maria Saxton, a Ph.D. Candidate in environmental planning and design at Virginia Tech, spent a year analyzing the environmental impact of 80 people who moved into tiny homes. On average, homeowners who moved into a tiny house reduced their energy consumption by up to 45% and only needed 9.5 acres of resources to sustain themselves for a year.

People living in tiny houses were more likely to recycle more, Saxton says, and more likely to grow their food. Tiny homeowners also generate less trash and bought fewer things.

What are the benefits of going modular?

Needless to say, there’s a major ecological advantage to buying a tiny house. But tiny house living isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a little more square footage, but still want an alternative to a single-family home, modular housing makes for a great housing option with a similarly reduced carbon footprint.

Here are a few key benefits of going tiny or modular if you’re looking for an alternative to a single-family home:

  • They’re more affordable. Whether you’re building a modular home or a tiny home, modular construction itself can reduce construction costs by 9% to 20%. This is because the structure is built inside of a warehouse so there’s no need for additional equipment or materials. Lower construction costs help to make the entire structure more affordable. Compare a $60,000 modular home to the $1.9 million condos in Manhattan.
  • They’re easy to move. The average tiny house weighs approximately 10,000 pounds and an 800-square foot modular home weighs approximately 40,000. That’s less than the weight of a refrigerated trailer, which is capable of carrying 44,000 pounds. Because these houses are easy to move, you don’t need to sweat over figuring out where you want to settle down. You can always pack up your house and move onto the next adventure.
  • They reduce your energy use. With a single-family home, your mortgage is only part of your monthly expenses. Utility costs can get expensive with each additional square footage. With tiny homes and modular houses, you don’t need to worry about high utility bills. These smaller spaces use fewer resources for electricity, heating and cooling, and water usage.

Many people dream of owning a home, but may not be able to afford the hefty down payment necessary to get a good mortgage on the houses available on the market. Tiny houses and modular homes offer alternative housing for home buyers looking for a more affordable, eco-friendly option.

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