Small is the New Big: The Popularity of Tiny Homes

The container cabin

The 90s were a time of economic prosperity for many in America.  By the end of the decade, many Americans were no longer satisfied with simply obtaining wealth–they became preoccupied with finding ways to display it.  

Nowhere was this phenomenon more pronounced than in the housing market.  Increasingly, new homes were built with substantially more square feet and substantially less attention to efficiency.  Often, these homes were built on small parcels of land that were out of proportion relative to the massive homes.  The speed with which they were built, coupled with the uniform size, shape, and style of the houses led critics to dub these homes, “McMansions.”

McMansion neighborhoods sprang up country-wide.  The seventh giant brick house on the left that looked identical to the six giant brick houses before it was a master of consumption.  It used more water, more energy, and more space than could be maintained by man or mortgage.  When the market began to collapse in 2005, these same houses were large–and empty.

The Tiny Home Movement

Thousands lost their homes due to foreclosure or unemployment.  With their low cost and relative ease of construction, tiny houses became an attractive option.  People who had suffered catastrophic losses began to see themselves as free. 

Free from the burden of an unmanageably sized home and the mountains of household items required to fill it. Free from debt.  Free from the expense of rising taxes and utility costs. The popularity of the small home concept has led to the creation of tiny house communities where residents can continue their transition towards self-sufficiency.

Container Homes

Tiny homes tend to architecturally resemble full-size homes, but another architectural model is starting to take the movement by storm.  Several homes have helped launch the idea that simply-shaped shipping containers can be converted into beautiful, affordable, and environmentally friendly homes. These humble containers have evolved from buried bunker status to offer several pros for modern living. 

Their small size reduces the need for grid utilities.  Shipping container homes can use the same utilities as conventional homes.  Electricity can be generated by a generator, solar collection, wind turbine, or a combination of all three. 

This combination makes the shipping container home energy efficient and potentially less impactful on the environment.  The linear design offers a blank canvas on which to incorporate near-unlimited architectural designs and details.  

Because they are designed to withstand harsh weather and up to 175mph winds, their structural soundness makes them extremely safe for hurricane and tornado prone regions.  Finally, the passive security provided by steel container is a huge plus for families in either remote or more urban areas.  Containers can easily be stacked one on top of the other to create multi-story homes, container complexes, or communities. 

For more information about container homes and their viability for the future, visit

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