One of the World’s Tiniest Pre-Fab Houses Goes on Sale in Japan

As of April this year, YADOKARI, a company based in Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture has started taking orders for possibly one of the smallest pre-fabricated dwelling units in the world. These houses, named “INSPIRATION” measure 6 meters by 2.4 meters (about 13.4 square meters of living space) and sell for for 2.5million yen (about $20,250 at today’s exchange rate). The company has thus far received orders for over 300 units.

For comparison, an ISO standard 20-foot freight container has external dimensions of about 6 meters by 2.4 meters and internal dimensions of about 5.7 by 2.4 square meters.

The houses come equipped with all the basic necessities, including a shower, toilet, and kitchen. The walls, floors, and ceiling in the basic 2.5million yen unit are made of composite larch, but the company also offers a higher-end model, priced at 4.5million yen, which has storage space, flooring, and an add-on wooden deck (shown in the photos below).

The INSPIRATION Minimal Pro 20++ model with deck.

The INSPIRATION Minimal Pro 20++ model with deck.

The INSPIRATION Minimal Pro Model 20++ Interior

The INSPIRATION Minimal Pro Model 20++ Interior

The houses are made almost entirely of pre-fabricated materials, so the parts can easily be hauled to the location where the house will ultimately be assembled. The company designed the units so that they can easily be moved and put together almost any place where residences are allowed to be built.

The company claims that even the basic unit is enough living space for a family of three: two adults and a small child. It has received a large number of orders from families with parents in their 30s and 40s who plan to use the houses as their weekend homes. Inquiries are also coming from people in their late 60s who are looking to downsize and others looking to use the units as storefronts and offices.

Standard for Minimum Living Space

Interestingly, the Ministry of Land Infrastructure Transport Tourism (MLTT) has an official recommendation for the minimum amount of living space that people should have in order to promote “health and culture” in Japan.

For a single person, the MLTT recommends 25 square meters as a minimum and 30 square meters for two people. The recommended minimum standard is 40 square meters for a single person living in an urban area, and between 55 and 70sqm for three people living in an urban area.

Seventy square meters is significantly more spacious than the 13.4 square meter INSPIRATION house, but the builder has a vision of promoting “meaningfully living” that is not tied to the amount of space one has.

According to its mission statement, YADOKARI’S goal is to spread the ideas of “minimal life,” and the small house and mobile house concepts in Japan and make them an option for living in Japan.

The INSPIRATION series and small houses, in general, are aimed at people who want to live more affordably and ecologically.

The average size of a new house in Tokyo’s 23 wards is about 100sqm (1,076 square feet). As we covered in another post, the average price of a newly constructed house in Tokyo was about 34 million yen, or about 340,000yen per square meter. Compare this to the 13.4 square meter INSPIRATION house at about 186,570yen per square meter. One of the design concepts behind the INSPIRATION house was to make a dwelling that someone could buy without having to take out a loan.

For comparison, in the United States, the average size of a new single family home in 2013, was about 247.3 sqm (about 2,662 square feet), but since the 2008 global financial crisis the “small house movement” has made some gains in the land of the McMansion. This movement, in the U.S., aims to return to houses of less than 1,000square feet (93sqm), which would still be more than 74 times the INSPIRATION house.

Sources: YADOKARI (Japanese), MLTT (Japanese), Wikipedia