A Huge Move to Tiny Houses
Many home buyers are choosing tiny houses that bring new meaning to downsizing. Often these diminutive dwellings are no larger than 300 square feet –not enough room to store a material girl’s shoe collection. But, those who choose to live tiny are expanding their experiences, while minimizing their materialism, and reshaping the American Dream.
“Smaller living is not just a trend, it is a paradigm shift,” says Darin Zaruba, president of Colorado Springs based EcoCabins. “Many people are deciding to live simple, sustainable, and smart.”
A forerunner in factory-built housing, Zaruba has seen amazing transformations in the industry over the past 12 years. Following the mortgage crisis, he noticed a growing interest in more compact, efficient, affordable houses. Within the past couple of years, tiny house reality shows have fueled the movement.
To serve this niche, product manufacturers like Zaruba are ramping up. He refocused part of his brand to specialize in tiny dwellings, cabins, and cottages. The primary markets interested in smaller homes are millennials and young families who don’t want a mortgage, or boomers who are downsizing and no longer want to maintain a large home.
“Previously, tiny houses were bought as cabins or vacation homes. Suddenly people were asking where they could get one to live in full time,” Zaruba says. “The appeal of living small is that it offers more financial freedom, flexibility and limits one’s environmental footprint.”
Small, but advanced, tiny houses are different from RVs because they are built with traditional building materials explains Zaruba, yet precision designed with innovative, multi-functional features and vertical space optimization. They can also be customized and updated over time.
EcoCabin’s 390 square foot Park Model was featured in the 2014 Colorado Springs Parade of Homes, alongside million dollar custom homes, and won the People’s Choice Award, causing quite a stir.
The Tiny House industry faces obstacles when it comes to zoning and coding regulations. It is sometimes difficult to find a place for one due to minimum square footage specifications, or to park a tiny house on wheels, even on one’s own land, as it may be prohibited because it is considered “camping.”
But perseverance pays off. Andrew and Gabriella Morrison left their large house for a tiny home they designed. “As a family we spend a lot more time enjoying each other’s company. Our pace of life has slowed down significantly and we prioritize rest, excellent nutrition, and exercise. No more wake up alarms or house payments (we paid for our materials in cash). No more utility bills (we are off grid). Breaking away from the Joneses has been the best thing we could have done.”
Zaruba is so passionate about tiny houses, that he decided they needed a celebration. His company, EcoCabins, is the founding sponsor of the first Tiny House Jamboree to be held on August 7th through 9th, at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry in Colorado Springs, where Andrew Morrison will speak. Many of the nation’s best tiny house builders will join forces to educate and inspire all who are serious or just curious. It will also be a great opportunity to tour some artful micro dwellings.
Beyond the structure, living tiny is a liberating state of mind that brings big perspective on what’s truly important in life.