But the main obstacle is a legal one: most municipalities and towns ban residents from living year-round in anything on wheels, and often have statutes requiring homes to be at least 900 square feet…
Historically in American culture, bungalows, caravans and mobile homes have a bad reputation — they are seen as badly made and decidedly lower-class.
But the Berriers’ home is impeccably decorated with a bathtub, a sunroom and a movie screen — no “trailer trash” here.
“There are preconceived notions. They haven’t seen it enough. It’s just something new. I think that’s the problem,” Berrier said.
This leads to a conundrum: if Americans love driving and homeownership, why do they dislike mobile or smaller housing so much?
The less positive reactions to tiny houses suggests it is not solely about owning a vehicle or home; the kind of vehicle or home matters. Driving is good but driving a nicer car is better. Owning a home is good but owning a bigger, more permanent home is clearly superior. Cars and homes are functional items and status symbols, important social markers of who a person is and desires to be.
A more functional approach to housing might be more open to tiny houses. People need a place to live at a reasonable cost? Affordable housing is scarce? Homeless people need residences? Let’s make it happen. Change zoning guidelines. Make it cool to downsize.
On the other hand, there are plenty of tiny house buyers who prefer getaways or luxury touches, not long-term housing in such a small size. It would be easy for the tiny house movement to be co-opted by those with resources and social status. Those people might be able to get tiny houses into certain places where they might otherwise not be allowed, but their motives would run against others who want tiny houses because of their reduced footprint and simpler lifestyle.