Over the past few years, tiny houses have become all the rage across the country. Now, experts say that tiny villages might be the next big thing.
Tiny homes can often be better for the environment and easier on your pockets when it comes to monthly bills. They are also easier to keep clean, giving owners more time for the things they enjoy. The tiny house community is continuing to grow, giving like-minded individuals a place to forge bonds and relationships.
Two researchers at Kansas State University, Brandon Irwin and Julia Day, are interested in the growing trend. They are currently studying what advantages tiny villages might offer residents. The pair are researching if living in a tiny house village will encourage residents to be more physically active, sustainable building design and healthy building materials for tiny houses.
"Design elements and strategies such as solar panels or low-water-use fixtures are part of the bigger sustainability and environmental health picture, but when designing and building a tiny house -- or any house -- it is beneficial to thoughtfully select building materials without harmful chemicals to increase indoor air quality and health," Day said. "In addition, there are many known health benefits for natural lighting and fresh air in living spaces, a common theme in many tiny house designs."
An issue they've faced is the perception that smaller dwellings are often viewed as lower class. Laws made by several communities to discourage smaller home also cause issues.
"The biggest challenge with tiny houses is trying to find a place to put them," Irwin said. "Zoning laws dictate where you can and cannot put a house. Right now, the big question is what is a tiny house? Because how you define a tiny house dictates where you can put it."
Another benefit discussed is the use of tiny villages to possibly decrease the amount of homeless people in more populated areas. With more affordable housing, the amount of people experiencing foreclosures could possible decrease as well.
The pair started their travel across the country to further their research on tiny villages in late September.
"We were fortunate to receive the Stowe Faculty Development Award from the College of Human Ecology, which will allow us to travel around the country to visit different tiny house villages," Irwin said. "We want to immerse ourselves in those places and learn about how things work there."