Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Preferred Name - First Author

Rollin, James

Preferred Name - Second Author

Busby, Hollyn

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Integrated Science and Technology

Advisor(s)

Dr. Steven Frysinger

Abstract

Over the last 40 years, the average new United States house has increased in size by more than 1,000 square feet, from an average size of 1,660 square feet in 1973 (earliest year available from the Census Bureau) to 2,687 square feet last year (Perry, 2016). In that same time period, there was a 91% increase in home square footage per inhabitant and a decrease in average household size. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average home in the United States costs approximately $358,000 to build, an increase of roughly $200,000 since 1998. Meanwhile, the average annual income in the U.S. has remained unchanged for the last several years, at approximately $52,000 per year. As costs increased, the U.S. homeownership rate fell to its lowest point in over 50 years. Since 1965, the homeownership rate has decreased to 62.9% as of the second quarter in 2016.

These trends have created a dire need for affordable housing. This project addresses this problem, while proposing tiny houses as a solution, and following the triple bottom line. This is an economic model that focuses on economy, ecology, and equity as the dimensions of success. Tiny homes are sustainable as they are more energy efficient and require less materials, as well as less space. In congruence with less materials and less land required, technology such as passive solar design, high R-value insulation, or energy star appliances can drastically reduce energy costs (Morrison, 2015). Depending on the size, tiny homes use only 10% of the lumber as a traditional home. The cost of a tiny home is comparable to the down payment of a traditional single family home. A typical down payment on an average-sized house is $72,000, whereas the cost of new construction for a 200 square foot tiny house can be as low as $35,000. Socially the tiny house lifestyle promotes a greater sense of community, more socio-economic accessibility, and the benefits of minimalism. This project takes all of these principles and applies them to examine the feasibility of implementing tiny homes within the Harrisonburg area.

 
 

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