For most people, the word “house” conjures certain images found in childhood drawings. If you have a building with mostly right angles, a single front door, a few chest-high windows, and a chimney, you’ve probably got a prototypical home. However, real estate is a changing field, and people are seeking unique housing options that don’t quite fit inside the box.
By all definitions, tiny houses possess most of the features of their more spacious counterparts, just in a much more condensed way. A favorite in both rural and urban areas, tiny houses are as much a choice in dwelling as a statement of one’s principles. While there is no presently agreed-upon size restriction before a domicile is no longer “tiny,” 500 square meters is an accepted point in some circles. Got a few too many boxes of t-shirts weighing you down? Tired of walking such great lengths to get to the light-switch before bed? Trying to keep your real estate tax down to a minimum? A tiny house might be for you.
Not entirely in another world from tiny houses, passive houses are for those trying to reduce their environmental impact. Less a set of aesthetic rules and more an internal set of standards to maximize energy efficiency, this enterprising style is making considerable in-roads in the real estate market. Originating in Germany in the late 1980s, the style has slowly found a niche amongst people with a penchant for all things “green.”
Staples of these energy-efficient dwellings are superinsulation, airtightness, advanced window technology, solar techniques, and many others. Passive houses incorporate the entire system of real estate, so even the landscaping is efficient. For example, trees that shade parts of the dwelling appropriately and wind-reducing hedges can be a part of the design.
Perhaps living in trees will never constitute a substantial amount of the real estate world, but there is no question that they are gaining popularity. From increasing prevalence as an airbnb destination to a full-time paradise for more intrepid souls, life in a treehouse offers a lot of simple perks, as well as some drawbacks. Clearly for the more adventurous, many treehouses are entirely off the grid, and many of them are not quite up to code. Even a cursory internet search will reveal numerous forums on the subject of whether or not certain dwellings are legally allowed to be inhabited. Treehouse owners have to contend with being mindful of protected trees, wildlife protection acts, and other tight restrictions. If all of the criteria are met, however, the resulting home is something of a nature-lover’s paradise.
These alternative designs and ideas scratch the surface of present trends in housing. While they aren’t likely to replace conventional homes any time soon, they might be an indication of where things are headed.