This Tiny Home is Affordable, Comfortable, and Available Online

Could e-commerce help tiny homes go from a fad into a bona fide housing solution?

Sep 5, 2019

Amazon's got you covered if you want to buy books, kitchen items, and even food. But did you know that the giant e-commerce retailer can deliver a new home too?

Since 2015, Amazon has been selling outdoor sheds and workhouses. It wasn't too much of a stretch to start selling tiny home kits too. Beginning in May 2019, Amazon started selling the Allwood Solvalla, a 172-square foot (15.97 square meters) cabin kit.

This tiny house is being marketed as an ideal home office or guest house that can be assembled in only eight hours. That may be a record for home building. With a price tag of only $7,250 it sold out quickly but is available now.

Another tiny home the 292 – square foot (27.12 square meter) Lillevilla Getaway Cabin is designed for do it yourselfers. It comes with loft beds – and free shipping –  the tiny home needs to have electrical and plumbing installed. You could order this getaway cabin for $18,800 but it is currently listed as unavailable on Amazon's website.

There is a slew of other companies that now have tiny homes on Amazon. With more people wanted to reduce their carbon footprints and live minimalist lifestyles, there is an interest in these compact homes. But is this a passing fad or a bona fide housing solution to the need for affordable housing?

There has been a lot of interest in the tiny home movement in the US, but the use is still relatively small. That's because most cities have zoning laws that regulate lot size, home size and density do not permit it. In cities like Portland, Oregon and Fort Worth, Texas, tiny houses can now share lots as accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or "granny flat" type housing with conventionally sized, site-built houses according to City Lab.

In other cities, like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, micro-apartments are being built for single people. According to MSN, these tiny apartments are 400 square feet or less. But these are exceptions and not the norm. Grassroots movements will have to push to reform the regulations before tiny homes can really go mainstream

Tiny homes are being used in some major US cities as a solution to homelessness. In San Jose, California, two tiny home communities were built to be used as bridge housing for people who do have permanent homes. The homes will be 80 square feet (7.5 sqm) and there will be shared bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchen.

Denver, Colorado built the Beloved Community – a village of tiny homes – in 2018 as a pilot program for 22 residents. The village shares communal dining, portable toilets, showers, and community gardens.

This isn't the first time that American's have been able to buy a home from a retailer. You used to be able to buy a house kit  through mail order from Sears, Roebuck and Company. In fact, 70,000 homes were sold by Sears Modern Homes from 1908 -1940. There were home designs in various sizes and styles sold.

The home kits were shipped by railroad and contained most of the materials that were needed to build the homes. Some were built by the new homeowners and their friends and family and others were built by contractors. Most of the homes were located in the East and Midwest but some went all the way to California. A pretty good feat at the time.

Some states are getting on board with the idea of allowing tiny homes. According to MSN, Washington State recently passed legislation that will allow tiny homes to be built as ADUs and in tiny house villages. New Hampshire has passed legislation to explore allowing tiny homes.

The tiny home movement seems to have arrived and could play a big role – despite their small size – in helping to alleviate housing shortages and the high cost of shelter. If Sears could do it, it is likely that Amazon can too.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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