Tiny Houses

13 December 2013

I. Tiny House Questionnaire

We had about 56 responses to the five questions on our questionnaire, along with some write-in responses.

Our first question gauged how interested respondents were in DIY-ing a Tiny House. The majority were interested in in something between building a house themselves and customizing an existing Tiny House plan to their needs, and many people gave us feedback indicating that they’d be interested in some kind of design/build project where owners worked hand in hand with construction professional. One respondent said they’d like “a small amount of help with the big stuff,” and another respondent said that they “think most people would be interested in helping to build IF it reduced costs.”

The second question asked if respondents were interested in living near other Tiny Houses. The majority of renspondents were interested in living at minimum on the same block as other Tiny Houses and many were interested in living in a pocket neighborhood of Tiny Houses. Responses included: “I like cluster because of 1) cost efficiency and 2) start-up revitalization,” “I would love to be in a community farming group. Open to co-op living, share amenities,” and “Co-housing style; intentional community.” But some respondents expressed concern about clustering too many Tiny Houses together. One respondent wrote, “I wouldn’t want the tiny houses to turn into a gated community,” and another echoed that sentiment: “As mixed as possible. The benefit of Tiny is they can fit in places where conventional houses would not.”

Our third question asked what kind of setting respondents envisioned for their Tiny House, in a wooded area or in between other houses (Garfield has both). A majority of the write-in responses indicated that respondents wanted neither extreme and instead were interested in having space for a garden. “Room for a generous garden,” “Want some land for gardening, entertaining,” “Garden space is super important,” and “Outdoor space (private or shared) would be nice to make up for interior space. Private garden space is important, shared garden space would be awesome” were typical responses.

Our fourth question asked how tar away from a main street (i.e. Penn Avenue) respondents would like to be. The majority of respondents indicated that they’d like to be between one and five blocks away from a main street, and many respondents also wrote in to indicate how important being close to public transportation and bike routes were to them.

Finally, our fifth question asked how important having a place to keep a car was to respondents. Most interesting here were the write-in responses, including “Ideally, I wouldn’t have a car, I want to be within walking distance of grocery story & bus stop, be in bikeable area” and “No parking/ no car or maybe bicycle parking in a pocket neighborhood,” though some respondents still felt they would enjoy “Better quality of life with parking.”

Finally, we went through the notes that participants left on their questionnaires to describe more precisely where on the spectrum they fit, or bring up priorities that we didn’t ask. 28 respondents mentioned a garden; 24 respondents mentioned the importance of public transportation; 17 respondents mentioned sharing resources or public spaces with other Tiny Houses; 10 respondents were specifically interested in some kind of owner designed/built Tiny Houses; 5 respondents were interested in using salvaged materials; five respondents specifically mentioned that bikes were an important part of their lifestyle; and three respondents echoed something that came up in discussion, an interest in training community members in construction to build Tiny Houses in Garfield.

II. Build Your Own Tiny House

We gave respondents a worksheet with three basic Tiny House plans (Tiniest House, Tiny House, and Very Small House), a variety of added amenities, and enough sticky hold stars to spend on only a few choices (see a photo of a worksheet here). The results show that most respondents were interested in a 300-500 square foot base plan for a Tiny House with some kind of outdoor space, be it a porch or a deck, in-unit laundry, and a sleeping loft, as shown in the graph above.

We’re grateful for the feedback our brainstorming participants gave us and enthusiasm they brought to the session; we look forward to working with them as the project continues to unfold in the new year.


  1. Julie Brown said on

    I heard about these on WEPA. Great idea. They remind me of the Katrina cottages proposed after the hurricane in New Orleans. These houses would generally not provide enough space to raise a family, even with only one child. Therefore the appeal to 25-40 will be limited to those not planning on children, any time soon at least. They would be appropriate for empty nesters, who might leave larger homes in the neighborhood available for young families. I hope Universal design will be incorporated for this reason. Modular designed panels would probably make construction less expensive.
    And if the homes were designed with the ability to add on another room or two easily they would be more appealing to those planning children in the future.

  2. The ability to add more rooms would defeat the idea of the Tiny House movement. As you mentioned, these houses are ideal for empty nesters, but also for those at the other end of the spectrum. People just starting in their careers, and willing to save in order to build enough capital to be able to have a family, and fulfill the traditional American dream, although many families, even those with two children, are living in houses of under 500 ft.

    This kind of lodging is ideal for those who are eco aware, and willing to change their life style in order to enjoy life more by having less. This movement is not for everybody, but I believe there are a lot of people who would be awfully happy living in one of these little wonders.

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