LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - More and more people are living large in tiny homes, and that trend has reached East Texas.
Andrew Harbuck built his tiny house as a newlywed as a way to become a homeowner at an early age, and on a budget.
"I started doing research, because I knew I wanted to build it myself, and that's what we could afford." Harbuck said. "When I started building, I had $500 in my bank account and would buy lumber, windows, and doors as I could."
Harbuck said it took a little over a year to build, but they took their time making things as efficient as possible. Tall ceilings, quality insulation, and as much natural lighting as possible to ensure the energy cost was as low as possible.
He said he enjoyed living in a tiny home more than he originally thought he would. It challenged his family to go outside more, downsize on their clutter, and cut out things that weren't necessary.
"It really is a different lifestyle, you cannot collect the things we normally collect as a human being I mean throughout your life you buy a shirt, or bring home a souvenir, but that starts to pile up," Harbuck said. "It forces you to always be clearing out, it forces you to have a simple life, and really bear down to the essentials, it really challenges you to think okay you don't need all the things you think you want."
Harbuck said it's a lifestyle that has continued to stick as his family has grown by two. He said minimizing the clutter is now second nature. It's something that the newest tiny house tenant took some getting used to.
"I remember sitting on my floor getting ready to move and staring at my closet thinking I was going to have to get rid of at least one third of my clothes," said Rene Ewing. "Once I started donating it to the Women's Shelter and Goodwill, I realized that this was why I wanted to do it in the first place."
She said after returning from a mission trip she wanted to make a lasting impact on her life, and the lives around her.
"I kept looking around and thinking, if these people can live on a lot less than we do, than I can live on half of what I live on now and be perfectly fine," Ewing said.
So she downsized her wardrobe and made the change that she says has improved every aspect of her life.
"It is all about needs versus wants. Learning the difference between the two, and then living this way challenged me to live a simpler lifestyle where I can enjoy people, not things," Ewing said.
She said now she has saved enough money to donate to charities, spend time traveling, and living life a little fuller even in her tiny home.
"It was always something I had said, but was ready to start living my life by: Things are nice to have, but you don't find your happiness and joy in things. You find it in the people you are with, and the memories you make."
Harbuck said that as interest in tiny homes began to rise, he plans on looking into building more in the near future.