The Non-Traditional Homes Battle

Do you like going about things differently? Do you think that the concept of a big real estate property is something that does not fit your worldview and you’d rather have a smaller, less financially crippling place where you’ll basically sleep because the life is out there? Then you are a fan of alternative housing like Tiny Houses, DIY Homes, Mobile Houses, and Houseboats.

On this post, our team at RealEstateAgent.com puts all of those non-traditional homes up against each other to see how they pan out: it’s the Non-Traditional Homes Battle!

Meet the participants:

Tiny Houses

While its concept is pretty self-explanatory, its demand has a lot of different explanations. Hundreds of homeowner’s (especially first-time homebuyers) are living in Tiny Homes across the USA as an anti-establishment/capitalism statement, as a financial necessity (usually this one leads to the one mentioned before) or just because they think it’s cute. The alternative housing trend of Tiny Homes is probably the most “in-demand” type of non-traditional home at the moment.

DIY Homes

While we can’t say this is a new one, ever since 3D Printing technology has risen to fame the DIY Homes are increasingly becoming a thing, and they have a good chance of becoming the go-to non-traditional home. We’re not talking about 3D Printed Homes, but DIY Homes that have their parts printed on a 3D Printing machine. That’s the thing about a DIY Home: you buy a kit that comes with all the pieces and “all” you need to do is assemble them, ok? With 3D printing technology developing, pretty soon you’ll be able to print the parts by yourself on your personal 3D printer, and DIY homes will rocket to a new level. For the time being, printing a whole 3D Printed Home will be an exclusively industrial thing, with the machines costing too much to acquire, so we decided not including 3D Printed Homes on the battle just yet; it wouldn’t be fair to it.

Mobile Homes

This one is a very traditional one. Trailers, RVs and actual “home-on-wheels” date back to the World War II. The general perception of it — as well as its popularity — has shifted from time to time, but right now it’s considered pretty cool. You’re able to live your life with no definitive address, but, at the same time, a familiar place to rest your feet and establish a constant. It’s the most balanced way to be a nomad.

And, finally…

Houseboats

The most traditional non-traditional home of them all. People have been living on houseboats ever since the sailors (and pirates!) started exploring the world. They also provide its owners with freedom of movement, but restricted to the sea (or lakes). Well, that’s one point of view, right? Considering the Earth is 71% covered by water, it’s fair to say that Mobile Houses are the ones who are restricted to land: Houseboats can sail to the ocean and enjoy freedom like no other non-traditional home can.


Okay, now to settle this brawl, we should determine the rules. We have four categories over which we’ll analyze these alternative housing competitors. We’ll grade them from 0 to 3, being three good, two neutral, one bad and zero terrible, the worst, get out of here!. We’ve chosen those categories were broken down by our team at RealEstateAgent.com from the reasons why people choose non-traditional homes over traditional homes and they are:

Price

Price is the most common reason why people turn to the alternative housing lifestyle. At best, we can say that, in this category, Houseboats are the worst choice for you. They are definitely the most expensive alternative housing. They can be as expensive as a traditional home or more. Not only that, but if you weigh in all of the other costs connected to houseboats, it becomes worse: with houseboats you are obligated to either have a car, or spend money with uber/taxis or rely on public transportation, which, depending on the city, will cost you time (=money). With Mobile Homes and some Tiny Houses (that can, sometimes, be DIY Homes), you can just move your house to the place you need to go. While this is not practical and won’t happen every time, it does happen sometimes and it saves you money. So, houseboats, sorry, but you get a 1 point there — even though you are the only one of these that usually can get some money back out of airbnb renting because they think it’s fun and exquisite to spend a weekend in the middle of the ocean; but if you’re thinking about alternative housing as your main source of housing, there will be no need to rent, right?

Meanwhile: the much cheaper DIY Homes, Tiny Houses and Mobile Homes cost around the same in a way we couldn’t really separate, so they’ll all earn 3 points here.

Mobile Homes, DIY Home, Tiny Houses — 3 points
Houseboats — 1 point

Mobility

Most of the people that choose the alternative housing lifestyle belong to the so-called Millennial generation. And one of the main things that attracts them to it, is that it has no strings attached. They want to be able to move around when they can, but not only that: because of how financially hard and volatile the world is on them, they need to be able to move around when the situation becomes difficult for them.

Judging this one is hard primarily because of the concept of each one. Houseboats and Mobile Homes are pretty straightforward concepts, right? One is a house-on-wheels kind of a deal and the other is a house-on-the-water kind of a deal. If we were to judge just the two of them, we would award Mobile homes with 3 points — they even have mobile in the name! — and 2 points for Houseboats — the earth is 71%, but 99% of human’s life is happening out of it. So, of course they need to score higher — that’s one of the main features they have! Living in those, you will save a lot of money and will be able to travel to the best vacations destinations without having to pay for hotels.

However, we cannot give 0 points to DIY Home and Tiny Houses because although they are not necessarily mobile, they can sometimes be. See, a DIY Home is nothing but a way to construct things… it can even be a luxury real estate — only built by yourself — why not? So, you can have a DIY mobile home. And Tiny Houses deals with the size of the construction and nothing else besides it. So, they can also be mobile! You can even have a sort of Megazord of non-traditional homes: a DIY Tiny Mobile Home or Houseboat; we don’t know your skills set!

So, to be fair, we will award 3 points to Mobile Homes, 2 points for Houseboats, and 1 point for DIY home and Tiny Houses. You barely escaped from the zero, boys!

Mobile Homes — 3 points (6 total) 
Houseboats — 2 points (3 total)
Tiny Houses and DIY Homes — 1 (4 total)

Practicality

Another great feature that attracts people to alternative housing is its practicality. Traditional homes are great, we love them. But we cannot lie and say that becoming a homeowner is easy as 1–2–3. Heck, we have a whole website devoted to that, with thousands of people coming to find a real estate agent because the whole home-buying process is so complex that a whole position was created to facilitate that!

However, there is a lot of differentiation to be done here. This is the one factor that most alternative housing adopters only realize after they actually enter this realm and it is a category that, in most cases, affects the other categories — especially the price one.

For instance: did you know that many states’ zoning laws do not allow owning land for a dwelling as small as a Tiny House? So a lot of Tiny House owners have to actually rent a piece of vacant lawn from a neighbor or even buy land as an investor and “develop” that small area with a commercial real estate or a bigger house and have the Tiny House on the side of it. It makes no sense and it’s zero practical, right? And you know what else? You can’t get a mortgage to buy a Tiny House! This will probably change in the future, but right now, there’s no mortgage lender connected with Tiny Houses.

And what about DIY Homes? This one is the king of not being practical. Building by yourself can be dangerous and it’s reaaaally time-consuming. And chances are you missed one little nail and BOOM! You have to fix the whole thing and work some more again.

Now, Mobile Homes and Houseboats are very practical. You can, literally, buy a new house in one day. And when you sign the paperwork and grab the keys, you can start living it, driving/sailing and the whole nine yards. And to top it all: you can get a mortgage to finance both of them. But there is no tie here: surprisingly, Houseboats are even more practical than Mobile Homes. The reason is simple: a houseboat can be as big or bigger than a traditional home. An RV, as big as it can be, can only have so much space, and space to move around makes everything more simple, thus practical. So, 3 points for Houseboats, 2 for Mobile Homes, 1 to Tiny Houses and ZERO, NOTHING, NADA to DIY Homes.

Houseboats — 3 points (6 total)
Mobile Homes — 2 points (8 total)
Tiny Houses — 1 point (5 total)
DIY Homes — 0 points (4 total)

Environment impact

Although classical construction has become increasingly aware of the problem and been providing solutions to help solve it, the alternative housing movement prides itself on not burdening the environment.

Sorry, Mobile Homes, you were happy in the lead, but you’ll get 1 point now, because although pretty soon someone will come up with a Tesla RV or something, right now you are pretty bad at this. You produce a lot of CO2, you rely on oil (a lot of it), and people usually go for the older models, because the newest ones — that deal much better with energy consumption — are still very expensive.

Houseboats, you’re not as bad, but we can’t consider you good as well. If something happens and oil spills… there goes some sea-life. Plus, the waste produced inside of your alternative housing requires good responsible homeowners, but we know that sometimes the laziness wins and, without even thinking, they throw stuff in the ocean as if it was a big trash; so, 2 points for you.

Tiny Houses and DIY Homes: you guys are head-to-head on this one. Is there any factor that could untie this? Not really. We’ll give it a tie with 3 points because you are both good on this.

Tiny Houses and DIY Homes — 3 points 
Houseboats — 2 points
Mobile Homes — 1 point

Wow Factor

Come on, admit it. Deep down, one that seeks alternative housing likes to brag about it and have it as an ice-breaker.

It’s only fitting that this is the last category because it’s the hardest one to grade. And that is because all of these non-traditional homes have that wow factor. They still are all unusual.

But you know what; houseboats and mobile homes have been around for quite some time. However different; it’s nothing new. Plus, they are not universally appealing — on the contrary; there are a lot of people who see no fun on living in a motorhome and would get seasick as soon as they step on a boat. Meanwhile, Tiny homes and DIY Homes are pretty new concepts to everyone; ask yourself how many times have you seen one with your own eyes or known someone who has one. But still, DIY Homes wins the wow factor, because it is a pretty impressive feat to build a whole house by yourself. 3 for DIY Homes, 2 for Tiny Houses and 1 for Houseboats and Mobile homes.

DIY Homes — 3 points
Tiny Houses — 2 points
Houseboats and Mobile Homes — 1 point

So, hey, look at that! It was a three-way tie with a really close loser! (sorry, Houseboat!)

Final Score

DIY Homes — 10 points
Mobile Homes — 10 points
Tiny Houses — 10 points
Houseboats — 9 points

But the truth is that, to each person, one factor weighs more than the other. At the very least, besides the fun we had together, we hope we have helped you weigh in all the alternative housing possibilities to find the best non-traditional home suited for you!