Tiny homes have been on the market for over 20 years. Learn why this movement first started and how the granny units of today are modern works of art. 

The tiny house movement was reportedly started in 1997 when Jay Shafer built a house on wheels. Two years later he introduced the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and started sharing plans and ideas with the masses. Also in 1997, author Sarah Susank, published a book called “The Not So Big House.”

Ironically – or not – 1999 was the year when the F.I.R.E. Movement (Financial Independence Retire Early) started. Both revolutionary ideas seem to be interdependent: reduce your spending, live on what you make, limit your environmental footprint, and cherish experiences, not things. 

Since Jay and his house on wheels and Sarah’s book were introduced to the public, the ADU market continues to grow.But first, let’s take a quick look back at the real estate market over the past 20 years. In January 1997, the average home in the U.S. cost approximately $112,432.69 and as of June 1, 2020, that price rose to $278,621.25. While that’s great for homeowners, consider this: “After adjusting for inflation over time,” Eyul Tekin, a doctoral candidate currently working in the research department over at Clever Real Estate, writes, “the future of the American Dream seems rather gloomy: Median home prices increased 121 percent nationwide since 1960, but median household income only increased 29 percent.” This means that median home prices have increased at four times the rate of household incomes since 1960!

Now let’s take a snapshot look at the average debt a person has in the U.S. “U.S. household debt had reached a record high in the fourth quarter of 2019, at $14.15 trillion, according to the New York Fed’s Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, “ reports The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Broken down, “Student loans increased from nearly $661 billion in Q3 2008 to $1.64 trillion in Q4 2019, an increase of nearly 150%… Similarly, auto loans increased from $802 billion in Q3 2008 to about $1.20 trillion in Q4 2019, an increase of nearly 50%.” Unsurprisingly, mortgages are responsible for the largest chunk of personal debt at 70%. 

Here’s another interesting fact to consider: The average house size for a family in 1978 was around 1,780 square feet. This almost doubled in 2007 when the average home exploded to 2,662 square feet. Just about any new build community will show you that more is more… or is it? 

Boiled down, these facts show us two basic things: housing prices are up and debt is up. Is it surprising that ADU homes are increasing in demand?! These affordable housing options can be rented out to generate income, you can easily add one to your property to increase needed footage as a home office, and it’s an economical way to have an elderly family member or young adult nearby while still granting them their freedom and independence. 

A further reflection of the demand of ADUs is clearly illustrated in the 2014 lineup on HGTV. First there was Tiny House, Big Living, followed by Tiny House Hunters, then Tiny House Builders, which spurred Tiny Luxury, next Tiny Paradise, and finally Mighty Tiny Houses. But that’s not all! There’s also You Live in What? that demonstrated a variety of objects can be turned into tiny homes from 1970’s school buses to one room school houses to miniscule train stations in the middle of nowhere. Clearly this is a hot topic only second to Chip and Joanna Gaines and their megahit, Fixer Upper!

So where are we now in the world of granny units? With over 20 years of innovation and renovation, you’d be surprised at what’s available. 

Originally, tiny homes were considered to range from around 85 to 400 square feet and there were few builders who could help to create one. Here are some interesting statistics from Go Downsize that show the increasing demand for these small prefab homes:

  • Roughly 50% of tiny house owners have more money saved than owners of traditional homes. 
  • Over 80% of owners of tiny houses have less debt that the average US citizen.
  • The average cost of a traditional sized home is over $250k while the average price of a tiny house is around $75k.  
  • The average size of a tiny house is 150 square feet with 20 feet from front to back. The average dimensions are 8 x 20 feet and with a height of up to 12-13 feet. These houses weigh around 10,000 pounds.
  • It takes only three to six months for a tiny home to be built.
  • When tiny houses were first popular, it was estimated that 75% were built by the homeowners themselves. Now that number has flipped and only 25% build these tiny homes themselves!

The great news about the rise of the Accessory Dwelling Unit is that while you were once restricted, now there are almost as many options out there for customization as for average sized homes! It’s like when Henry Ford created the Model T. Can you imagine his face if he could see the Auto Row of any major city with not only Fords, Hondas, Mercedes, and tens of other brands not to mention 2-door and 4-door sedans, SUVs, trucks, FUVs (fun utility vehicles), and more? 

The ADU market has progressed rapidly and there are countless models, floor plans, materials, furniture options, sizes, composting toilets, solar modules, and other technology options to choose from. Whether you’re hunting for a home that is minimal and sleek or shabby chic, you won’t be missing out on any modern conveniences. 

Are you thinking that a granny unit just might be right for you? We’d love to talk with you! ADUWarehouse.com has a variety of options and models to get you started. From permits to cabinet colors to configuration options, we’ll help you make the best choice for your unique lifestyle and situation. 

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