Tiny Houses Make Big Impact
Author: Jane Fielden | Photographer: M.Kat Photography
Interior view from the bedroom loft in Ben Kennedy’s newly built tiny home on May River Road in downtown Bluffton.
Unless you’ve been living in one and have been off the grid, you’ve probably already heard of the tiny house movement. What constitutes a tiny house? What is this trend called “tiny living”?
In a nutshell, it is a social movement in which people are choosing to downsize their living space. The average size of a single family home in the U.S. is just under 2,700 square feet, while the typical tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet. Tiny houses enable a simpler lifestyle in a compact, mobile and more efficient space.
The most popular reasons for joining the movement include the desire for more time and freedom to roam, extra disposable income, environmental concerns and an increased level of overall happiness. Seventy-six percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck because, on average, one-third to one-half of income is allocated to just the structure of a home. The tiny house movement started taking the country and media by storm during the financial crisis of 2007-08.
For thousands of Americans who lost their homes due to foreclosure or unemployment, tiny houses became an appealing alternative to renting. With their low cost and quick construction turn-around, tiny houses are being used as shelter for the homeless in cities across the nation. These tiny house communities can offer a transition toward self-sufficiency.
Ben Kennedy, owner of Brighton Builders, stands outside of the almost finished tiny home.
This stylish tiny house has hardwood floors, seating for four in the living area, a loft bedroom and bathroom just beyond the mini kitchen.
White wood panels throughout reflect light to keep things bright; a flat panel TV is set between two tiny windows.
The recent historical South Carolina flooding took lives and left many families without a home. Local company, Brighton Builders, with the support of the Town of Bluffton put a tiny home plan into action immediately.
“Our tiny homes seemed to be the obvious answer as to how we could help the most,” said Brighton Builders president Ben Kennedy. “They are a great solution for families who need a place to live while rebuilding their home following a disaster. With the help of our community, we are now in the final stages of preparing the first tiny home to be delivered to a family in need.”
After six weeks of building, Kennedy is ready to deliver Tiny no. 1 and has completed the framing for Tiny no. 2. He is working with non-profit agencies to place a family for the home. FEMA has not yet released the final numbers of the loss in housing because so many people were without flood insurance. Kennedy has committed to building two homes for donation and will continue to build more if the funding can be raised by individuals and businesses to cover the cost of materials.
Kennedy and his team at Brighton Builders hope that these homes give as many families as possible a new start in the New Year. “If we could build these homes for everyone who needed them, we would do it,” Kennedy said. “We would like to see the homes be passed on to other families in need once people are able to get back on their feet. We couldn’t do this without the support and donations from our community.”
*Local companies who donated time and/ or materials to the tiny home include; Ameripro Roofing, Arbor Nature, Atlantic Spray Foam, Bird Hardware, Bluffton Millworks, Covert Aire
Cregger Company, Custom Coatings, Grayco, Muck Electric, Multicom Welding, Nature’s Calling, Play & Gourmet, Sherwin Williams, Sit & Sleep, Smart Trim, Specialty Flooring
and Underwood Plumbing.*
To give families a chance at a new start and to donate towards covering the cost of these tiny homes, please visit BlufftonCares.com.
Ten Reasons to go Tiny:
1. Freedom. Simpler lifestyle, frees up your leisure time and your finances; allows you to make the decision of where you want to live, different places at different times of the year.
2. More disposable income. With fewer bills to pay and little to no mortgage, you’ll have money to spend on other things and go places you’d like to go.
3. Smaller energy bills. Tiny homes equate to tinier utility bills; the mobility allows you to utilize shade in summer, sun in winter.
4. Less to clean. What used to take several hours to clean can be accomplished in much less time and there is less to maintain and/or repair.
5. Environmentally friendly. Less use of energy, resources & building materials.6. Downsizing. There is no room to accumulate items that aren’t necessary, and you’ll be less inclined to spend money on items you don’t need.
7. Health. Having a smaller indoor space encourages outdoor living; with less storage for food, living tiny encourages the purchase of fresh foods on a regular basis resulting in less waste.
8. Family, Friends & Sense of Community. A sense of closeness prevails in less square footage, plus you’ll have more time to spend with family and friends. Since your belongings have been minimized, you may be inclined to borrow infrequently used items from neighbors and friends.
9. Versatility. There are so many uses for a tiny home: primary residence, weekend getaway, hunting or fishing cabin, student housing, guest housing or a hospitality suite at sporting events.
10. Level of happiness. By reducing your cost of living and your stress level, there is a positive impact on your overall level of happiness. Larger homes and more possessions don’t necessarily make you happier.