By Laura LaVoie
Recently, the Oregon Live website picked up our interview with Tammy Strobel about her tiny house in Portland. A commenter, Donald Beams, takes issue with Tammy’s declaration that tiny houses in the city of Portland need to be deemed “cute,” asserting instead that a mobile home his company builds will stack up any day to the “Cuteness” of the tiny house movement.
There are times in his argument that I am uncertain whether his main point is that more people should consider rural settings for their tiny homes to avoid zoning enforcement or whether they should consider mobile homes before they decide to build a tiny house at all.
“Rural living itself, which eliminates most of the zoning hassles enumerated in the article. With your own (shared?) well, septic system, and solar electric system you can break or ameliorate dependence (and a burden) on both utility companies and municipal services, which are going up in price at the same time their dependability is coming into question.”
I don’t disagree with his primary point. I myself chose to live in a rural setting so I could enjoy the Smokey Mountains. However, not every tiny house builder wants to live in the mountains, or any other rural setting. Some people build tiny houses and want to live in the city.
“And lastly, it is out-dated [sic] thinking to assume (or promulgate) the idea that any site-built or modular house on a wood frame is somehow inherently better in ANY way than a well-designed mobile on a steel frame which happens to have removable wheels and can be set on permanent piers just like that modular, IF one were so short-sighted as to de-commision [sic] a ‘vehicle’ with way lower taxes, (negligible in some states, which means you register the vehicle in one of those states and plant it wherever you want) and thereby eliminating the option of using it as a touring RV, or selling it on CraigsList while avoiding realtor commissions and a host of closing costs and fees. ‘Location’ ceases to be an issue in terms of buying OR selling. Moving it requires only a pickup truck with a 9,500 lb. bumper-hitch towing package.”
The thing is I don’t believe that the tiny house movement is antithesis to the mobile home idea. In fact, in many ways, I see it as an extension. Some people use the wheels of their tiny home to avoid building codes or zoning issues, to be sure, but others genuinely desire a mobile lifestyle. I happen to have a home on a foundation, but that was simply because I didn’t relish the idea of watching it roll down the mountain! In fact, I believe the idea that Beams proposes here is precisely what Tammy has done with her “Cute” and “A-Legal” tiny home.
When Beams states that “This article contains just a tad of city-dweller tunnel-vision, and a rather out-dated [sic], back-handed slap at the concept of mobility,” I believe that perhaps he feels much the same way about the tiny house movement as he perceives our feelings about the mobile homes he manufactures. I don’t believe that tiny house builders were intending to imply that their tiny homes are better than his product, but we don’t want his product. We want tiny homes.
The reason for this may be the Do-It-Yourself nature of tiny house building. We want the adventure of the tiny home from start to finish. If that were not the case then certainly I believe many people would consider manufactured homes, such as Beams sells. What is your take on the issue? Are tiny houses inherently “better” than mobile homes? Why do you prefer the tiny house idea over what Beams suggests? Do you feel there is an inherent bias in the tiny home community?