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Liberation Tiny Homes

What It’s Like to Live in a Tiny House

By Tobias RobertsRise Writer
Feb 12, 2019

What’s it like to live in a tiny house? Most of us wouldn’t know: the average square footage of a home in the United States today is 2,687 square feet. Tiny homes, on the other hand, are usually between 250 and 500 square feet in size. While innovative design strategies can certainly help you get the most out of the limited square footage of tiny homes, there is also a recent trend of tiny house “regret.” Many homeowners who were originally intrigued by the beautiful, creative designs of tiny homes showcased on TV shows and magazine articles find that sharing 400 square feet of interior space with others can present challenges and problems.  

In fact, one recent study by the real estate website Trulia found that one in three homeowners across the country actually wished they had chosen a larger home. While tiny homes certainly offer numerous environmental, sustainability, and financial advantages, purchasing a home that you don’t feel comfortable in often leads to homeowners abandoning those homes. And because there are still several legal hurdles to legitimately purchasing and living in a tiny home, selling a tiny home can be extremely difficult. 

RISE recently sat down to talk with Marcus Stotzfus of Liberation Tiny Homes, a tiny home design and construction company based out of Leola, Pennsylvania (about 70 miles outside of Philadelphia). Liberation Tiny Homes has built almost 60 tiny homes for a diverse clientele. The homes that they design and build are specifically tailored to be relevant, convenient, and alluring to a wide range of demographics. They offer four different types of styles: the Farmhouse, which has a more rustic look with lots of interior wood (and their most popular style), or the Modern, which has a sleeker contemporary look and feel. Each of these runs about $80,000. Then there’s Rumspringa, which is simple and basic—and their least expensive, at only $45,600. The fourth style is just the Shell—for do-it-yourselfers who would prefer to do their own finishings—which, depending on the size, ranges in cost from $10,000 for a 12 foot home to $22,000 for 32 feet. 

Marcus mentions that living more economical and responsible lifestyles appeal to people from different walks of life. However, he also tells us that several complexities come with tiny home living that is often overlooked by homeowners who have fallen in love with the idea of building their own tiny home after watching an episode of Tiny House Hunters

RISE: Have you noticed any trends about what type of people purchase tiny homes? 

Marcus Stoltzfus: Our target audience based on Google Analytics, social media, etc., is 30-50-year-old females. Many of our clients fit in that range as well. Single women or young couples are generally purchasers.

RISE: What would you say are some of the challenges that come with living in homes with reduced square footage? 

Marcus Stoltzfus: Storage is the biggest one. Forcing to downsize after dragging around so much stuff over the years can be challenging. It ends up being an emotional time when the client begins to downsize and get rid of things. They usually stumble across personal items that they haven't seen in years. 

RISE: Have any of your clients expressed frustrations over the tinier size of the home? How have you dealt with those issues? 

Marcus Stoltzfus: Our clients understand that it will be a smaller home, so they don't usually complain over that. In fact, many show up for the first time and are surprised by how tall they are. Including the trailer, they are thirteen feet and five inches, and that can feel really big. Our modern homes have a shed-style roof pitch, and it makes the inside really spacious.

RISE: What would you recommend to people looking to downsize to a tiny home to be best prepared for this type of lifestyle? 

Marcus Stoltzfus: Since the home is such a small space, things in the home get used more often. Sometimes things need to be replaced more due to wear and tear. I would recommend that they prepare for that and the lack of storage, especially for wardrobes. I saw a comment on a blog about how a tiny dweller had several weddings in the same summer and wore the same dress to all of them. All of the photos came back with her wearing the same clothes, and she was embarrassed by that.

RISE: On the positive side, what are some of the advantages/benefits that come with tiny home living?

Marcus Stoltzfus: Tiny homes obviously mean that there is less to clean and less to maintain. They also come with smaller bills and allow you to pay off the house faster. With tiny homes on wheels, you can move from state to state with your home, which allows you to work from home but travel often.

RISE: How does your company go about designing tiny homes to maximize the space and livability of the home? 

Marcus Stoltzfus: It is something our owner has perfected through his deep experience. After building so many and spending most of his life in construction, you tend to figure out what works and doesn't work over time. This is the advantage of going with an experienced builder versus building one yourself.

RISE: Anything else you would like to add? 

Marcus Stoltzfus: Tiny homes are not for everyone. They do answer so many questions like: “What can we do for senior living?” “How can I house my grandmother on our property but not in our house?” Things like that. We also sell to investors who are looking for short-term rental options like Airbnb, etc. They make great passive income when placed at a tiny home community, for example.

Some Final Considerations

Most tiny home builders recommend that people interested in downsizing spend some time inside a real tiny home before deciding to make a move. Several tiny homes can be rented on AirBnb to help you get an idea of what the actual space feels like. (And if you need to start paring down your stuff, check out Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or her Netflix television show, where she shows people her KonMari™ (a play on her name) method of decluttering, organizing, and how only to keep what you use or love. She asks each client, with each possession: does it “spark joy?”)

Finding an experienced builder that either can do custom builds or offers several different models of tiny homes will also help you customize a home for your own needs. If you live in an area where there are zoning ordinances or building codes that discriminate against tiny homes, finding an experienced building company can also help you deal with legality issues, land development, and other problems that might pop up. 

Tiny homes continue to grow in popularity and present themselves as a tangible alternative for affordable and sustainable housing. Considering some of the issues brought forth by Marcus can help you make sure that you find a tiny home that is perfect for your own needs. 

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-10T05:56:38+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.