Tiny Homes are Big in Portland

tiny homes in portland

Imagine coming home and taking two steps to the kitchen, grabbing some food, turning around, and sitting on the couch. When it’s time for bed, you stand up and go up the ladder to your loft. Your home is less than 100 square feet, cost less than $5,000 to build and is so small that it doesn’t qualify as a “permanent residential structure” under the building code, so it actually sits up on wheels.

This might not be your reality, but it is for hundreds who are part of the Tiny House movement in Portland. Some do it because it’s affordable, others to be different, but most who live in tiny houses seem to just prefer it over anything else.

Recently these miniature homes have been popping up around Portland, Oregon and now there’s even a tiny house hotel on Alberta Street that allows the skeptical to take one for a test ride.

What are some of the advantages of living in a space smaller than some walk-in closets? Less to clean, for starters. Also, aside from saving money on construction and electric bills, those who live in tiny homes find they are less likely to buy things they don’t need. Where will they put them?

The tiny home trend begs the question – How much square footage do you really need when searching for your perfect Portland home?

According to the U.S. census, since the 1960s, the average home size for a family has more than doubled, while family size has shrunk. Of course, if you’re going to have a large family or just like a lot of roommates, it probably makes sense to spring for a large home with lots of room to grow. On the other hand, if you’re like the average American family, you might end up paying for more space than you can actually use.

The costs of buying, owning and maintaining a home go up exponentially with the number of additional rooms you have. From roof replacements to property tax to heating bills, you can save a lot when there’s less area to cover.

Maybe you’re not quite ready to live in a tiny house. They do make a good point, however. If you’ve been searching for a four-bedroom home in your price range because you’ve got to have a home office/rec room/guest room, it might make sense to reconsider. Think about how you can re-purpose other spaces in the spirit of those tiny house aficionados. Hooks, shelves and cupboards can be thrown in almost anywhere to add storage capacity. Semi-private spaces can be created out of larger rooms by simply putting in a partition wall or screens.

If you find the perfect home that seems a little small but it’s in the perfect location and all the other “must-haves” are there, you might consider its “hidden” square footage. For example, could you put in a loft for extra sleeping space? Enclose the patio for a three-season sunroom? Or are there other outdoor spaces to make up for a small kitchen/dining area?

The big question is: What will you do with the extra cash you save on your scaled-down home? We’ll let your imagination run wild on that one. Need advice? Contact your local Portland real estate agent.

August 29, 2013

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

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