Tiny houses are nothing new, but in the last few years they’ve managed to gain far more attention than ever before. They owe a lot of their newfound fame to the growth of social movements like sustainability and minimalism, as well as TV shows like Tiny House Hunters and Tiny House, Big Living, which have both enjoyed a several year long run.
Given the attention that tiny houses have garnered, perhaps it’s no surprise that you can now buy them on Amazon. If buying a house from an online e-commerce platform seems mildly comical to you, chances are you’re not the only one. But with their general ease of assembly, relatively affordable shipping rates (considering you’re getting a house), and variety of options, there are some compelling reasons to give Amazon tiny houses a closer look.
What Constitutes a Tiny House and Why Are They So Popular All of a Sudden?
There is no set definition for what constitutes a tiny house, but the closest we have to a general consensus is that anything under 400 square feet qualifies.
At the higher end of that range, a tiny house can feel adequate (if still small) for someone who knows how to make the most of their space — sort of like a studio apartment in Manhattan. Some tiny houses, on the other hand, come in below 200 square feet, which requires a level of extreme minimalism from the owner that most people would struggle to pull off.
For many tiny house enthusiasts, the lack of space is a benefit of the model, not a drawback. As we mentioned above, the tiny house phenomenon is deeply tied in with the minimalist movement, where people seek to constantly reduce their material belongings until they are down to the essentials. For people deep into minimalism, being forced to cull their stockpile of possessions is a welcome challenge.
Other tiny house enthusiasts like the idea of having a smaller environmental footprint. A tiny house naturally uses less energy, takes up less space, and doesn’t allow you to bring in as many material possessions (which of course lead to more garbage).
The majority of tiny houses also use composting toilets, which do exactly what the name suggests: turn your waste into usable compost through a biochemical process contained inside the toilet itself. This eliminates what is referred to in the waste disposal world as “blackwater” — the raw sewage from flush toilets that must be treated by a wastewater management facility.
For other people still, a tiny house is a way to avoid the so-called “debtor’s prison” of a conventional mortgage. A tiny house can often be bought straight-away or paid off over the course of a few years.
Tiny Houses on Amazon
Amazon now has a decent array of tiny houses available for purchase. The company Allwood in particular has over two dozen listings, ranging from a few thousand dollars to around $65,000. Not all of these necessarily qualify as tiny houses — some of them are too large, and at least one of them (a backyard barrel sauna) isn’t a house at all.
Most tiny houses on Amazon (like those from Allwood) come in the form of a “kit,” meaning they need to be assembled on arrival. The smaller houses can be assembled by two people over the course of one day, according to the company.
But perhaps you’re looking for a tiny house that needs no assembly and comes ready for you to move in. In that case, there are several “container houses” for sale on Amazon as well, manufactured just like real shipping containers or constructed out of similar materials. A container house will show up ready to be lived in — you’ll just need to furnish it, hook up the electric power and the water supply, and buy a toilet.
One challenge with buying a tiny house on Amazon is that it’s hard to find genuine reviews. Almost every review you’ll find for any of the available houses is either a joke review or a scathing opinion from someone criticizing the concept of a small, deliverable house.
The biggest problem for a potential buyer, however, is that you can’t see most of the houses in person before buying. So unless you’re already familiar with the company you’re buying from, it might be a pretty big leap of faith.
The one exception may be MODS International, which sells a 40 foot container home on Amazon. MODS builds all kinds of structures (residential and otherwise) made from shipping containers, and they offer on-site tours of any units they currently have at their headquarters in Appleton, Wisconsin (no word on their website of whether their tiny container home is one of them).
Of course, you’ll have to go to their Wisconsin headquarters to take the tour, but seeing and feeling their work in person may give you a better sense of whether or not a MODS container is something you would want to live in.
Your Tiny House Doesn’t Have to Replace Your Normal Sized House
While many people think of tiny homes as alternative living space options, they also make great backyard guest houses, hunting cabins, lake houses, Airbnb lodging, and so on.
In fact, some of the cheaper options available on Amazon, due to their size and configuration, might be better suited to short term stay or special use. Of course, the true tiny house enthusiast can probably make a 180 square foot home without a shower (or in some cases maybe even a toilet) work as a primary residence, but it’s safe to say that such a setup would most likely be a little too constraining for the average person.
But with the ease of setup and the relatively affordable price (as far as livable structures go), a tiny home such as one of Allwood’s less expensive models may be the ideal way to add a secondary living space, either to your current property or a small vacation lot somewhere far away.