Ikea’s insanely small pre-built houses are tempting but caveat emptor

Before you consider buying one of these, you may want to research the problems that often plague tiny houses.

The interior a small house made by Ikea.

Downsized living is a real estate trend that has won an impressive global audience among both young and old buyers, according to Rental Housing Journal. Now Ikea, a household name better known for furnishing houses than making them, is stepping into the itty-bitty house market with its own pre-built offering, the Architectural Digest reports. It covers a humble 187 square feet and can be checked out for purchase online. The pre-built unit sits on a trailer, which was created out of a collaboration with media firm Vox Creative and the RV manufacturer Escape.

The current price for a base model is $47,550, and it’s being positioned as eco-friendly thanks to the inclusion of solar panels and composting toilet. Other details of this box-on-a-trailer house are also bound to sway eco-conscious customers since the kitchen unit and other parts of the tiny interior are made of recycled bottle caps while its faucets decrease water use by 50 percent and its bulbs need 85 percent less energy than regular ones.

But is tiny living truly sustainable in the long term even if it promises to decrease carbon footprint? Is buying a pre-built Ikea house — which is very similar to Amazon's container homes — really the bargain it seems on paper? If you’re seriously considering buying one of these, you better look into the accompanying complexities of towing, maintenance, and storage problems.


From bargain to bust — Ikea's pre-built unit is fixed on a trailer, so you’ll have to find a place to park it where you won’t be breaking the law. That means, unless you have a willing friend with a ranch or similar, you need to either own or rent a suitable piece of land to put it on. Zoning laws differ greatly depending on your location, and if you get it wrong you’re liable to be fined or forced to up and move.


On top of needing land and making sure you don’t flout any laws, you have to figure out how to move your tiny house. A truck capable of pulling it can cost you thousands of dollars — plus there are still expenses like electricity, water, heating, insulation, and internet connectivity to factor in. And, of course, there’s the problem of storage space. Tiny homes are difficult if you’re accustomed to the trappings of apartment living, let alone if you’re coming from a full-sized home.

Think twice, move once — Downsized living isn’t impossible, but it’s not as affordable or care-free as you might think. Also, while we love an Ikea gaming storage launch or plush toy as much as the next young professional, do you really want your whole home built by the Swedish flat-pack furniture and meatball maker? After all, people don’t shop at Ikea for the longevity of its wares, they shop there because of the reasonable prices and the convenience.