Quality vs Quantity – Tiny House vs Traditional Home

Why go Tiny?

You and I are creatures of habit, are we not?

We like our certainty, to stay within our comfort zones and to live the way we’ve always known how to live.  But what if you could have more?  What if you could live better?  Would it be worth getting out of your comfort zone, changing your ways?

Don’t answer that… yet.  

Just suspend your disbelief for a moment and consider the following ideas as ideas for someone else you may know who’s open-minded, adventurous, free-spirited, not willing to settle, tired of not having all they want, or some other way of being along those lines if you’re not… yet.

Let’s first start with some facts and definitions:

  • The average American house is probably around 2300 square feet.
  • The average Tiny House is probably between 150 and 400 square feet.

Where I live (in Huntsville, AL) you can get a brand new home for as low as $55/sf on the low-end or as much as $200/sf on the higher end.  Alabama is much more inexpensive than most areas of the country, so for comparison sake, these numbers are probably even lower than most people would experience, but I want to make a fair comparison.

So, at $55/sf you’re looking at a 2300 sf home at $126,500 and at $200/sf $460,000 (though houses at that price per sf are usually much larger as well, so probably closer to $700,000 or more).

elm 18 exteriorNow compare that to a Tiny House, which overall would be much cheaper – even fully-loaded with the latest technology, most efficient appliances, windows, insulation, etc and really cool designs and one-of-a-kind features.

A prime example is a Tumbleweed Tiny House company, one of the more popular, bigger and more established Tiny House Builders/Manufacturers, who will build for you a 160sf (24-foot long) Tiny House on Wheels (THOW) from scratch, which you can get with lots of options for 70,000 to $80,000 (that size starts at $66,000).

So if you calculate the cost per square foot of a Tumbleweed Tiny Home , even just using the base model of the 24-foot THOW we discussed above, we get $412.50 per square foot (keep in mind there are many Tiny House builders and manufacturers out there, with prices for a custom-built tiny house ranging from around $30,000 to $70,000 or more, and sizes as small as you can imagine to upwards of usually 400sf, if on wheels).

Quality vs Quantity

So what you end up with is a much higher quality, more functional, custom-designed luxury home for substantially less money than even the cheapest 2300 sf traditional house.  You pay much more per square foot for a much higher quality house, making every space you’re paying for count versus spending almost twice as much for the cheapest of the cheap quality traditional homes.

So I’ll leave you with this thought:

How does it feel to be paying so much more each month in housing costs for so much less?

When it comes to square footage and heated and cooled space, more is sometimes less

What do you think?  Did I piss you off?  I bet I ruffled some feathers with this post!  Share below, I’d love to hear what you think.  I appreciate you!

– Hans Schoff

englewood co view of mts


(Above, my view today of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains while blogging here in Denver, CO)

PS> Have you seen our facebook page for the New American Dream Project?  We’re using Tiny Houses to help people create Freedom in their lives, in numerous ways.  Come visit our page and say hi!  And don’t forget to LIKE the page so you can stay in the loop and watch the project progress – it’s exciting!  


6 thoughts on “Quality vs Quantity – Tiny House vs Traditional Home”

    • Thanks Regina! It’s amazing with all the windows and light that shines in, the high vaulted ceilings and the efficient use of space how spacious and functional these homes actually are – feels like you’re living in a space 3-4 times the size!

  1. For twenty years now I have lived in a 537 square foot bungalow and love it!!! Maybe build them this size too because it is big enough. Even though it cant be moved it feels liberating. When I bought it, it had to be repaired and it was a mess and took some time to bring it back but well worth it. There were times when I wondered what was I thinking when I took it on but I was determined to do it because I knew it would be worth all my hard work and most of all I wanted people to know that there was a better way to live and it the freedom that living more tiny bring. I often wondered why there wasnt more of them around and was determined to be part of something truely special in living a better way!!!

    • That’s awesome Sandy, thanks for sharing! There are more and more around, people are starting to figure it out and really get the many benefits and freedoms of going Tiny.

  2. I don’t think the quality of tiny houses are that much better than traditional construction. Certainly not 4 to 8 times better as the cost reflects.

    • Hey Deb, anyone can build a tiny house, so in that sense yes, quality isn’t necessarily that much more. However, for the amount of savings that can be had with a tiny house, you can certainly dramatically increase the quality of the materials and the overall build for relatively no money (compared to what it would cost on a much bigger, traditional house). Also keep in mind, these homes are typically better insulated than a normal home and are made to drive on the roads and as such are subject to a lot more wind and cross currents than most homes would normally encounter on a regular basis and are built up for that reason.


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