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Tiny House vs Small House – What’s The Difference in 2024

What is the main difference between a tiny house vs small house in 2024 when in concerns costs, lifestyle and if it’s worth making the switch?

The popularity of small and tiny houses expanded with the housing crisis and increased environmental concerns globally.

Both the cost of living and environmental concerns are at the forefront of many people across the world.

Recent researches and data analysis around the world agrees that the tiny and small house market is on the rise and is expected to rise exponentially over the coming years.

After the financial downturn in 2008, the tiny house movement gained traction because more people struggled to support their mortgages and wanted to cut on the cost of living.

From this time, right-sizing started to become a trend.

This means that many buyers focused less on getting the biggest houses as was the case with the previous trends.

comparing Tiny House vs Small House

Tiny house vs. Small House: Overview

What is a tiny house?

If you have ever thought about selling most of your things and moving to a house you can easily and affordably maintain, then you definitely have the idea of a tiny house.

If this is what is clocking in your mind right now, you are not alone, more than 50% of Americans are thinking about Tiny Homes.

But you might be wondering what the difference between a tiny house and a small house is.

The main difference, in this case, is the size of the house and the space it occupies.

The difference is defined in the International Residential Code, Appendix Q.

It states that any house that 400 square feet or less in the floor area are a tiny house.

There are however other liberal definitions that include a home of up to 1,000 square feet on the floor to be a small house.

While you will come across some tiny houses built on permanent foundations, some people opt for a trailer because this way, they can be hitched to a heavy-duty vehicle and be moved.

This is actually what has led some municipalities and states to label tiny houses as Recreational Vehicles.

The tiny house is expected to have a septic tank and solar panels.

However, if it’s built on permanent foundations, it can easily be hooked on the services including electricity and sewers.

For a structure to be considered as a tiny house, it must have a ceiling height of no less than 6′ 4″.

The average height of a tiny house is expected to be 8 ft.

and the smallest tiny house should be 80 square feet.

Tiny House Movement

The tiny house movement originated in the 70s but took almost 10 years to peak speed.

It gained speed in the 80s when pop culture promoted the ‘’greed is good ‘mentality.

At the same time, there was a countercultural rise of social consciousness inspired people and serious environmentalists that sought to declutter, downsize and hustle more.

The idea of tiny houses sounded good to the majority that wanted to get away from the hustles of the busy cities and cut the cost to the upcountry.

After 2008’s financial downturn, the movement gained more momentum and more people sought to build tiny homes.

Pros and cons of living in tiny houses


  • The tiny houses combine the best of a camper and a house
  • Less tiny house space means less to clean
  • Tiny houses on wheels can be used as RVs
  • Tiny houses save you a lot of money
  • Less space means less consumption
  • You can get fresh ingredients from local markets which means healthier cooking especially for the famous indoor grilling
  • They are energy efficient
  • You can easily go solar with tiny houses
  • You might not need to tie into septic systems
  • There’s enough storage space
  • Space is enough for a combo washer/dryer
  • They cost relatively less to Build
  • RVs save you the land
  • Less clutter and more quality time with the family.


  • You have to clean them more
  • The space is relatively limited especially when compared to Small Houses
  • It’s almost impossible to get a mortgage for tiny houses
  • The storage amount is not as accessible and functional as it should be
  • If you have tiny houses on wheels, you have to manually empty a composting toilet
  • Less space means more unsustainable packaging.

What are small Houses?

Lately, tiny living has taken the world by storm.

But what is considered tiny living and what’s considered small living?

Small houses are relatively bigger than tiny homes.

They are actually more of traditional homes and they usually take 1,000 square feet or less on the floor.

Unlike tiny homes, small houses are not mobile and they cannot be on wheels.

They are however great options for someone looking for a relatively bigger living space for a small family.

Despite their small space, they have all the amenities just like normal homes.

In many instances, small houses have two or three bedrooms.

Some of them may have one bedroom with roomier kitchens, living areas, and bathrooms.

Small Homes are ideal for young families, retiring couples, and newlywed couples.

When purchasing tiny house plans and small house plans, you might come across the name, narrow house plans which means the same thing.

difference between Tiny House and Small Houses

Pros and cons of living in Small Houses


  • They are more energy efficient
  • There’s less cleaning and maintenance required
  • Cozy and Intimate
  • Less expensive
  • More unique
  • Uses small land
  • Square footage
  • They are environmentally friendly
  • You can save a lot of space


  • The space is relatively small
  • The government regulations are more
  • Their value is not that high
  • It’s hard to secure mortgages with small houses

Reasons why tiny houses and small houses idea is spreading rapidly

There are many reasons why many people are choosing to go the minimalist way.

To help you understand this better, I’m listing all the six reasons why the tiny house movement is on the rise and why additional people are choosing small houses.


The first reason is that Tiny houses are very simple and require little attention.

The homes in the US have continued to reduce in size.

Between 1978 and 2013, people used to build houses as large as 2,662 square feet.

Despite the decrease in the average size of the American family, more people choose larger homes.

The tiny house movement has been cited as a better rebellion to the excess in square feet of an average house in the US.

Small and Tiny Houses are environmentally friendly

The most cited reason why most people are going with tiny houses and small homes is that they are very sustainable.

Small and tiny houses are more energy efficient.

Because tiny houses and small houses require less energy consumption, the overall lighting space and cooling space is smaller.

Most people have sought to go with solar meaning that the tiny houses are even more sustainable because solar has an even smaller carbon footprint.

There’s little maintenance

One of the most obvious benefits of small and tiny houses is that you require less time and money in maintenance.

For tiny homes that are less than 400 square feet, there’s little clutter that can accumulate.

Consequently, dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming will take a fraction of your time and money.

The repairs will equally be reduced significantly which ensures an even smaller cost.

Take for example repairing or replacing a tiny house roof.

This can take less than an hour and 10% of what large houses require.

Tiny and small houses are Multi-functional

Many people currently love the idea of tiny houses and they want to reduce the living space to less than 1,000 square feet.

Some families even take time to use the tiny and small houses as the studio, rental property, home office, guest house, and much more.

Some cities such as Seattle and Portland tap the idea of tiny and small houses to combat homelessness.

Low cost

The amount of money that will be used to build small and Tiny Houses is a fraction of what you would use to raise a large home, the smaller the house, the smaller the cost.

However, you must ask yourself about the cost-effectiveness of building tiny houses.

The average cost of building a large house is $270K while the average cost of building a tiny or a small house is $23K.

The cost can be reduced by almost 68%.

Small House plans vs. Tiny House plans

If you already have an image of a house that is smaller than an apartment with a small living area, one bathroom, and a single bedroom, you are actually thinking about a tiny house floor plan.

The house measures 322 square feet or smaller meaning that a tiny house is almost the size of a garage.

They have lofts to add more living space.

They also focus mainly on dual-purpose features and structures such as double beds and a coach.

For the people that want to enjoy more space, the idea is to go with a small house plan with two-story and more than one bedroom and bathroom.

Most small houses have a separate bathroom to serve the master bedroom and another for the rest of the house.

Just like tiny houses, small houses have design elements that help the house feel bigger than they are.

In some instances, they have vaulted ceilings and open layouts, and minimalist designs.

They also come with functional outdoor living spaces that combine the feel of a larger house and more open spaces.

With that information, you are probably wondering if a small house plan or a tiny house plan is right for you.

To make the decision in this case, ask yourself the below questions.

  • What is the size of my family?
  • How many people need to live in the house?
  • What additional features do I need?
  • Do I need entertainment?
  • Are there any large pieces of furniture that can take more space?
  • Do I need an office or a study area?
  • What size of the living room do I need?
  • How many Bathrooms do I need?
  • How many bedrooms are needed?
  • How many floors do I need?

Benefits of Small House over Tiny House

It’s easier to customize

The space in a small house is relatively larger than what you get with tiny homes.

What this means is that the larger space, the easier it is to customize the house.

When you live in a large house of about 3,000 square feet with two living rooms and four bedrooms, it will always be very expensive to furnish.

It can even be more expensive and time-consuming to decorate.

Living in a very tiny space of less than 400 Square feet makes it difficult to include all the features you want in the house.

What this means is that a house with 700-1,000 square feet on the floor offers enough space to include all your decorations

The space in a small house can be decorated and set up according to your preferences without wasting any money or time.

You can actually paint the house on yourself and start grabbing all the decorating items on your own.

Upgrading the space is also easier and cost-effective.

You have a relatively larger space

A 700 square foot two-story house is very gorgeous and also gives you enough space to meet up with your 5 friends over for dinner.

If you get a relatively larger small house such as 900 square foot of living, you can decorate it beautifully and personalize every item.

Space can even be more than enough for a family gathering or a Come together party with your formal workmates.

There will be a lot of space to accommodate two or more bathrooms with a shower and toilet and up to 3 bedrooms.


Many Tiny house owners are usually surprised to find out that they have just invested in a Recreational vehicle (RV) that is generally not termed as a living space.

The RV lacks craftsmanship and low-quality materials especially because they must be lightweight.

This way, the tiny houses are difficult to insure and are usually not very durable.

Over time, tiny houses have landed in a legal category.

Additionally, tiny houses are not very weatherproof and can easily be damaged during the winter season.

Differences in Resale Value

Because the Tiny houses are not very durable, the resale value is always smaller than what you get with Small houses.

Many tiny house owners were distressed to find out that the resale value of the space they called home was rapidly dropping.

It’s almost the same as selling a car.

Besides the fact that tiny houses were very easy and affordable to build, you might be frustrated by their resale prices.

Tiny Homes are too tiny

Sometimes, the tiny houses are too tiny to accommodate all the needed necessities.

Tiny houses have a space of 400 square feet and come with clever storage options.

However, space is not enough to accommodate the modern family.

In some instances, the tiny houses can be as tiny as 80 square feet which cannot be ideal for accommodating two or more people.


Homes are meant to last for generations but tiny homes, however, last for few years.

Unlike the tiny homes, some small houses offer many of the same features that are offered by ordinary houses.

The small houses use materials that do not discredit for years.

Tiny houses on wheels are made in a way that they will only be light especially because of the movement.

Tiny House vs Small House

Benefits of Tiny Houses over small Houses

Use of fewer materials

It now makes sense that a house of below 400 square feet would take fewer materials to build.

In most instances, tiny houses come pre-installed which eases the whole building cost and time.

Using less material will be very cost-effective mainly because you will save on the cost of transporting materials.

Fewer materials will equally be needed in case of replacements and repairs.

You save on land

Tiny Homes on wheels unlike Small houses are not built on permanent foundations which saves a lot of land.

This also reduces the amount of money you spend on land.

This is an added advantage because the land can be used for something else.

Reduced energy use

Besides the fact that small houses also use reduced energy, there’s relatively tiny space to heat, cool with an air conditioner, and light which saves more energy with tiny houses.

In many instances, people use solar energy to light tiny houses which is not only sustainable but cost-effective.

Less clutter and less waste

The design of small houses incorporates small storage spaces than an average-size home.

What this means is that you have fewer things and less waste.

You will also be amassed to purchase quality things and equally have less impulse buying.

Most people claim that they love tiny houses for many environmental and economic reasons.

Lower costs

It’s relatively cheaper to purchase tiny houses and tiny houses plans.

This is mainly because the prices for materials and the number of materials you will need in this case will be minimal.

So is a small or a tiny house right for you?

There’s a lot of information you need before you jump on board the tiny house movement.

I actually advise you to think long and hard.

You should equally take time to weigh all the benefits and cons of living in any of them.

As a matter of fact, tiny houses are affordable and cost-effective to manage and maintain.

But still, tiny houses don’t work for everyone.

They are also not very demanding in terms of maintenance and labor

The 400 square feet on the floor is smaller than most studio apartments in the city.

The living space and the sleeping area and other rooms however offer better space for living.

But if you live with kids and even animals or if you expect your family to expand soon, you have to consider small houses.

Tiny houses might seem like the perfect gateway at first for you but space can be limited as your family grows.

If you are an individual looking for a minimalist lifestyle but don’t want to live in very tiny spaces, you can consider a small house.

They have more rooms including bedrooms and provide large enough spaces for a growing family.

Before making any decision, take time to weigh the options and your living needs.

Whats the difference from Tiny House and a Small House


Do tiny homes retain their value?

Yes but small houses have a relatively higher resale value than tiny houses.

I’m trying to say that small houses typically have a better profit margin and sell faster than tiny houses.

Another thing to note is that small houses appreciate while tiny houses depreciate.

So, tiny houses are poor long-term investments.

What are the disadvantages of tiny houses?

Tiny houses have less living space and they also lack enough space for a luxury kitchen or bathroom.

They also have less storage space, financing them is also a challenge and they usually face stiff zoning rules.

Are tiny houses or small houses a bad investment?

The fact that tiny houses are cheap and easy to manage doesn’t mean that they are better long-term investments.

Small houses have a better long-term profit margin.

Tiny houses depreciate very fast compared to small houses.

Why is a tiny house better than an RV?

Tiny houses are better than RVs because they have a relatively larger space.

The insulation is also better and they are weatherproof.

Tiny houses hold their value longer than RVs.

Given all these advantages tiny houses are better than RVs.


Tiny houses just like Small Houses save a lot of energy and space.

However, each of them has its own pros and cons.

This means that you have to weigh your living needs and instantly make a decision depending on your needs and preferences.

Other factors such as the cost and energy usage can play a serious role in making the decision.