The Small House Movement is a growing niche in the  housing market.  Some people are interested in Small Houses because they either can not afford a larger house, or choose not to put that amount of time and resources into a house,  or prefer to build a house without borrowing any money.  And others feel we have a strong moral obligation to dramatically reduce our environmental footprint and live more modestly and simply given global warming and climate change.

In 1950 the average home size in the United States was 983 square feet.  By 2004 the average home size was 2,340 square feet  (source:  Heather Levin, “U.S. News and World Report”).  Additionally, in the U.S. about 40% of our energy use is related to Buildings, and more than half of that amount is from residential buildings (Source:  Department of Energy).  Also between 30% and 50% of greenhouse gas emissions are a direct result of buildings, depending on which method of calculating greenhouse gases you use (Source:  Department of Energy, and other sources).

One recent article summed up the interest in Small Houses this way:

In the wake of the housing crisis and Recession, the “American Dream” of a super-sized home in the suburbs has lost its appeal; today, it’s the “tiny house” that seems more aligned with America’s readjusted ideals.  (Source: Baldwin, Eric. “Tiny Houses: Downsizing The American Dream” 30 Nov 2013. ArchDaily. )

For our purposes, we define Small House as any house less than 1,200 square feet in size.  While the actual top size limit is somewhat arbitrary,  arbitrary, the same principles can be applied to look at reducing the size of any residential building, whether it is under 1,200 square feet or not.

The interest in workshops, classes, designs, and building of Small Houses has exploded in recent years.  See Appendix A for a sample of recent articles about Small Houses.   Still, the efforts have been scattered and piecemeal.  And hands-on practical workshops have been few and often  expensive, limiting their reach and effectiveness.

With the Small House Institute we are organizing one central place to locate information about Small Houses, facilitate networking opportunities about Small Houses, offer affordable workshops and events to promote small houses, build and demonstrate Small Houses, provide plans and information on building small houses, and encourage creative design and research into Small Houses and neighborhoods of Small Houses.