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Tiny House – Solution for housing problems in Africa

The size of a home varies around the world; while some families live in one room huts, others have gigantic homes which seem to never end. whatever the case, homes tend to grow with their owner’s prosperity.  Since 1970, the size of the average new american home has grown by 50 percent. this growth trend is similar in most western countries.Even in Zimbabwe, people have grown their core two or three roomed houses and  have extended them to three to four bedroom houses. We hear stories of ministers with thirty bedroom houses with en-suits and state of the art television and sound systems in each. A drive to Philadelphia in Borrowdale reminds you that there is no need to go Philadelphia in America, because America is just at our doorstep.

However, for every trend there is an counter-trend. In the case of home size, more and more people are choosing to live in small homes. most downsizers opt for more modest quarters, while some homeowners take this trend to a new level, choosing to live in tiny homes (and we mean tiny!). these tiny homes can be as small as 90 sq. ft. complete with bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and living quarters.As homes grow bigger on end of the spectrum, others are getting tinier and tinier. It seems that the cool trend is to reduce your carbon footprint by living small. There are benefits to be had with this type of living. Instead of working a whole lifetime to pay a mortgage, some choose to just build only what is necessary for a comfortable life and then live the rest of their lives mortgage free and somewhat happier lives.
cabin

As I read through the lifestyle blogs and watched youtube video’s I realized that this lifestyle would never catch on in Africa. I am still amazed that solar energy has not taken off with a vengeance in Africa. Instead generators are taking over the whole of Africa and yet we have abundance of sunshine. Families are spending their whole lives building houses that are so big and so difficult to maintain, as they aspire to the American dream. Until recently, families lives in mud huts and there was never a need to have a single bedroom for each person. Life was basic and minimalistic and I believe that people were much much happier. Now we find Europeans building mud houses and thatched houses, and yet these concepts are totally frowned upon in Africa where they originated. Some trends would just never stick in Africa. Maybe when we have gone full circle and enjoyed all the finer things in life will we realize that less is more and more is less.

stphens tiny hse

If the tiny house concept was to catch, it would really solve the housing problem that we face in Africa. One advantage of the tiny house, is that it is possible to self build. Most tiny houses use wood, which we have readily available and pre- made cabins are in abundance. All that is required is to finish of your house to your taste. I wonder whether these would require planning permission though. Considering the fact that in Zimbabwe they have a tendency of pulling down such structures. A bit of planning and creativity could actually clean up our shanty towns while providing people with low cost housing options.

While the world looks to reduce greenhouse gases and go as green as possible, Africa is still oblivious to the fact that there is a green movement going on. Not only will going smaller, or just building what is necessary help to reduce our carbon footprint, it will also save a lot of money. At the end of the day, it is only possible to sleep in one bedroom at a time.

The average American home consumes about 3/4 of an acre of forest and produces about 7 tons of construction waste. Add to that 18 tons of greenhouse gases every year!

By downsizing your home, you easily reduce waste. A typical Tumbleweed Tiny House gets constructed with 4,800 pounds of building materials and 100 pounds to landfill. Ongoing energy costs are a mere fraction of larger place.

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