The tiny-house movement (also known as the "small-house movement") is an architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in small homes. As of 2018 there is no set definition as to what constitutes a tiny house. However, a residential structure under 500 square feet (46 m2) is generally considered[by whom?] a tiny home. The tiny-house movement promotes financial prudence, economically safe, shared community experiences, and a shift in consumerism-driven mindsets. 
In the United States, the average size of new single family homes grew from 1,780 square feet (165 m2) in 1978, 2,479 square feet (230.3 m2) in 2007, and 2,662 square feet (247.3 m2) in 2013. Increased material wealth and individuals with high incomes are common reasons why homes sizes increased.
The small house movement is a return to houses of less than 1,000 square feet (93 m2). Frequently, the distinction is made between small (between 400 square feet (37 m2) and 1,000 square feet (93 m2)), and tiny houses (less than 400 square feet (37 m2)), with some as small as 80 square feet (7.4 m2).Sarah Susanka started the "counter movement" for smaller houses which she details in her book The Not So Big House (1997). Earlier pioneers include Lloyd Kahn, author of Shelter (1973) and Lester Walker, author of Tiny Houses (1987). Henry David Thoreau and the publication of his book Walden is also quoted as early inspiration.
Tiny houses on wheels was popularized by Jay Shafer who designed and lived in a 96 sq ft house and later went on to offer the first plans for tiny houses on wheels, initially founding Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, and then Four Lights Tiny House Company (September 6, 2012). In 2002, Shafer co-founded, along with Greg Johnson, Shay Salomon and Nigel Valdez the Small House Society. Salomon and Valdez subsequently published their guide to the modern Small House Movement, Little House on a Small Planet (2006) and Johnson published his memoir, Put Your Life on a Diet (2008).
With the depression hitting in 2008, the small house movement attracted more attention as it offered affordable, ecologically friendly housing. Overall, it represented a very small part of real estate transactions. Thus, only 1% of home buyers acquire houses of 1,000 square feet (93 m2) or less. Small houses are also used as accessory dwelling units (or ADUs), to serve as additional on-property housing for aging relatives or returning children, as a home office, or as a guest house. Tiny houses typically cost about $20,000 to $50,000 as of 2012.
Tiny houses have received tremendous media coverage  including a serial television show, Tiny House Nation, in 2014 and Tiny House Hunters. The possibility of building one's own home has fueled the movement, particularly for tiny houses on wheels. Tiny houses on wheels are often compared to RVs. However, tiny houses are built to last as long as traditional homes, use traditional building techniques and materials, and are aesthetically similar to larger homes.
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While the movement is most active in America, interest in tiny homes has been revived in other developed countries, as well. For example:
The popularity of tiny houses has led to an increase in amateur builders which has raised concerns regarding safety among tiny house professionals. In 2013, the Tiny House Fair at Yestermorrow in Vermont was organized by Elaine Walker. An attendee at the event, Jay Shafer, suggested promoting ethical business practices and offering guidelines for construction of tiny houses on wheels. Walker continued this effort in 2015, creating the non-profit organization, American Tiny House Association. Walker and founders Elizabeth Roberts, Andrew Heben, Robert Reed, and William Rockhill promote tiny houses as viable living spaces and work with local government agencies on approving zoning and coding regulations that are favorable to tiny houses.
One of the biggest obstacles of the tiny house movement is the difficulty in finding a place to live in one. Zoning regulations typically specify minimum square footage for new construction on a foundation, and for tiny houses on wheels, parking on one's own land may be prohibited by local regulations against "camping."  In addition, RV parks do not always welcome tiny houses.
Tiny houses on wheels are considered RVs and are not suitable for permanent residence, according to the RVIA. From RV Business, "The RVIA will continue to shy away from allowing members who produce products that are referred to as"tiny houses"or "tiny homes". (However, the RVIA does allow "tiny home" builders to join as long as their units are built to park model RV standards.)" 
Lower court decisions in the US have struck down zoning laws related to size that were an obstacle to tiny housing. One of those cases was League of South Jersey, Inc v. Township of Berlin, where the court found that a zoning law related to the size of a home did not protect citizens, so the law was struck down. These decisions are still far from being the majority, but they help in allowing the propagation of the tiny housing movement.
Increasingly, tiny houses have become larger, heavier, and more expensive. The ideal of minimal impact on the environment is being lost as businesses capitalize on the popularity of tiny homes. The distinction between tiny houses and luxury RVs is diminishing, causing some of the long time leaders to abandon the movement.
The financial crisis of 2007-08 fueled the growth of the small house movement. In several cities, an entrenched homeless population formed around "tent cities" or encampments that became semi-permanent housing. Homelessness in these communities was driven by foreclosures and expensive mortgages from the United States housing bubble.
Tiny houses became an affordable option for individuals that lost their homes. With their low cost and relative ease of construction, tiny houses are being adopted as shelters for the homeless in Eugene, OR; Olympia, WA; Ithaca, NY; and other cities. Communities of tiny houses offer residents a transition towards self-sufficiency. Communities such as Othello Village in Seattle, WA, originally lacked electricity and heat. In Seattle, non-profits have stepped in to help provide amenities.
The tiny house option can often be low-cost and is sometimes used to provide housing for the homeless; however, the long-term viability of tiny houses for the homeless is completely dependent on the structure and sustainability of the model. Housing the homeless is said to be a cost-saving for municipalities, but the strict zoning and land ownership laws make it difficult for this movement to take root. Some of the benefits of access to housing include privacy, storage, safety, restoration of dignity, and stability. 
In Reno, Nevada, faith-based groups and community advocates have legislated for new zoning for housing for homeless persons via a tiny home community. Each tiny house would cost an estimated $3,800 to build, as well as an operating budget of $270,000 for case managers to help residents find more permanent housing and a project manager position.
One challenge besides zoning and funding has been a NIMBY response by communities. Communities may weigh concerns over tiny home communities becoming shantytowns or blighted neighborhoods that reduce property values of the surrounding neighborhoods. For cities such as Chicago, tiny houses are seen as an appealing option to close the gap in housing availability. Community planners also have concerns that communities don't devolve into shantytowns such as during the Great Depression in "Hoovervilles".
In California, the City of Richmond has engaged UC Berkeley students involved with the THIMBY (Tiny House In My Backyard) project with a pilot program for developing a model for six transitional tiny homes to be placed in Richmond. This is in-line with developing efforts in the SF Bay Area to use micro-apartments and tiny houses in combating the housing crisis and Homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area. Similar efforts of using tiny houses to house the homeless are also ongoing in Oakland through a partnership between the City of Oakland and Laney College.
In the co-authored research article The Psychology of Home Environments, it's argued that the drive behind the tiny house movement is centered around desires of modesty and conservation, in addition to environmental consciousness, self-sufficiency, and wanting a life of adventure. Environmental psychologists reason that homes influence people's emotional state because they "facilitate the social interactions and the power dynamics that are played out in a home". In building tiny houses, there is often a misalignment between the needs of the occupant(s), and the expressed design from the creating team. This reality is used as a call for architects and design teams to work with psychologists to build tiny homes that are better suited towards the needs of the occupant(s). In understanding these considerations, it is important to note that not everyone is suited for a tiny house. 
Smaller homes are less expensive than larger ones in terms of taxes and building, heating, maintenance, and repair costs. The lower cost of living may be advantageous to those 55 and older with little savings. In addition to costing less, small houses may encourage a less cluttered, simpler lifestyle, and reduce ecological impacts for their residents. The typical size of a small home seldom exceeds 500 square feet (46 m2). The typical tiny house on wheels is usually less than 8 by 20 ft (2.4 by 6.1 m), with livable space totaling 120 sq ft (11 m2) or less, for ease of towing and to exempt it from the need for a building permit.
Small houses may emphasize design over size, utilize dual purpose features and multi-functional furniture, and incorporate technological advances of space saving equipment and appliances. Vertical space optimization is also a common feature of small houses and apartments.
As small houses may be attractive as second homes or retirement houses, their increased utilization may lead to development of more land. People interested in building a small home can encounter institutional "discrimination" when building codes require minimum size well above the size of a small home. Also, neighbors may be hostile because they fear negative impacts on their property values. There has also been opposition based on this fact, due to concerns about increased taxes.
By placing greater emphasis on quality living, personalization, an environmental ethic, and community values, the tiny house subverts the consumer-based mindset. Culturally, what the tiny house does is simple: it creates an opportunity outside the norms of society where people can understand that the value of the environment and human interaction is much greater than the value of material goods.
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