That's a good idea!
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Green, Small and Mobile

Words by Tony Talbot

Like Trick or Treating, Hulla Hoops or your Kid's School Prom, what starts on the other side of the pond invariably ends up here in the UK. It is no different to a growing trend that started a fair few years ago in the good old USA  regarding small and portable homes. On the surface it seems like one of America's better ideas and given the increasing financial pressures we will all face as a result of the Global Pandemic especially with the ever-increasing and exorbitant costs in land and property prices here on our shores, are we about to see a boom in small portable homes over here?

Over in the States, the growth in small mobile homeownership is a pretty evenly spread across age groups with older people nudging ahead with around 30-35% of new purchases. It all sounds fine and dandy, however, land in the USA is significantly cheaper especially in more rural parts compared to the UK so buying or renting land to pitch your mobile home is far going to be more attractive.  

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Tiny House on Wheels for £50,000 for single story plus mezzanine bedroom

To give you some idea of just how many people live in these small and moveables in America. Mobile homes make up 8.4% of the US housing sector and there are 9.5m of them, down slightly on 2019, according to the US Census. The number of occupants is not recorded but it's estimated to total about 25 million and the "lets live in a small, mobile and cheap house"movement is gradually catching on in the UK.

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All mod-cons available

More and more people in Great Britain are looking at their gardens to create a bit more living space or temporary accommodation. Whether it's for a teenager, a spare bedroom for family or friends, a bit of extra B&B space or a place for grandad or granny these custom-built, fully insulated, luxury cabins are built like a house which will last a lifetime. The vast majority can be built to any size, any shape and more or less any colour. So many are looking for a property that is multi-functional and most importantly inexpensive, however, what else could be driving house purchasers in such a direction?

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Tiny House on Wheels (Single Storey )for £30,000 plus taxes

A staggering 40% of emissions in the UK come from households, and there was you thinking that the major villains of our carbon footprint are the internal combustion and aircraft engines, yet in reality, our two up, two down properties are the main culprits.

In the UK we are witnessing extremely socially conscious generations coming of age, thank goodness for our Millennials and Generation Z. These two generations are seeking to do things differently, be socially and environmentally responsible, and taking active steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Add into the mix that these same two generations are the ones facing prohibitively high housing costs on a backdrop of student debt, and you can start to see why there is such a monumental growth in the popularity of eco-mobile homes. Ever-increasing pressures as a consequence of the current pandemic will no doubt fuel interest into more affordable living.

Homes, Construction and Energy

As a nation, we’ve actually been taking some great steps over the last three decades to improve the energy efficiency of how we live. Homes for sale now have to declare their energy efficiency to prospective buyers, and new construction has stringent requirements. However, is it really enough? Are these actions merely lip-service to a problem which requires a radical change in how we think about living?

In the mass housing construction, the country is seeing to meet the housing crisis, we often forget about the impact of construction itself on the environment. Construction in the UK created 76,000 tons of waste in 2018, and that amount is rising.

Eco-mobile homes, on the other hand, have a very minimal impact on the environment around them. Materials are sustainably sourced, and they are designed to minimise their carbon footprint both in construction and use. They are therefore becoming a popular choice for those who take energy efficiency seriously.

Costs of Housing

On average, a first-time buyer will need to spend on average an eye-watering £235,693. £23,000 ish of that is a deposit alone. Given that the average student debt looks set to rise to around £54k whilst their average starting salary is £19-22k, you can also see that Millennials and Generation Z are understandably looking for alternative housing options.

Eco-mobile homes can be moved. They aren’t designed to be moved regularly like your holiday caravan, but they can be towed into position and moved occasionally. This means that they make ideal student ‘digs’ and then a first home, still with independence, even if they are in Mum and Dad’s garden. Similarly, with costs of a fully kitted out eco-mobile home starting £14,000,  they are cheaper than a house deposit alone.

The cost of housing is also a problem for the parents of the nation’s current young adults for the same reasons. There is a gradual upward trend in the age that young people leave home. Helping young people to fly the nest is harder for this generation of parents. However, there are obvious issues in sharing a household with young adults ready for their independence. Eco-mobile homes create a solution.

Social Responsibility and Environmental Awareness

In the digitally-connected age, people know and understand more about the impact they have on the world around them. Whereas once ignorance was bliss, the younger generations have grown up in a world where they are acutely aware of their impact, and that of older generations, on the world they live in. They don’t want to turn a blind eye. Instead, they want to be the generations that make changes for the better.

This generational mindset and attitude drive the eco-mobile home movement, and thus popularity is ever increasing. Eco-friendly construction is the most important trend in construction and it’s a trend that’s here to stay.

The advantages

  • They are fully mobile and easy to park.

  • Fully insulated and very cheap to heat.

  • Can sleep up to 6 people/teenagers.

  • Can be fitted with shower, WC and kitchen.

  • Elevated double bed sized sleeping areas.

  • In most cases would not need planning permission.

  • Can be craned into gardens with no direct access.

  • Has many uses as well as an office or studio.

  • If you move house, you can take it with you.

Planning?

Technically, if you are siting a Static Caravan or Mobile Home within the garden/ planning permitted grounds of your property, it is very unlikely you will need planning permission, provided a relationship remains between the house and the Caravan i.e. Occupants (kids, elderly relatives etc) are using the house to shower, or eat etc. So it is an addition to the house and not a separate dwelling. However, every case is different so make sure you check everything.