It is relatively easy to buy a tract of land compared with the mountain of paperwork and legal expense to buy a house, any house. I am a former homeowner.
I never knew much about Zoning until I researched it. I would love to downsize to a tiny home. However, most Zoning is built to keep big business housebuilders in business.
Tiny Homes can be built to code and be safe to live in. There are an array of environmentally sound principles that one can live by to recycle your waste, generate your own electricity and gas, and keep your tiny home cool or warm. They can be any architectural style. You may live in a rural area, off the grid, or in an urban area connected to familiar utility services. They can be any size. Families can live in them. They are easier to keep clean and maintain because, by definition, a tiny home is 400 square feet or less.
Want more space? You might want a small house like a cottage or bungalow. You can build a house more cheaply if it is less square feet. There are plenty of building codes in existence to insure that when you build, you are not building a firetrap, a structure that is flimsy, or a home for roaches or vermin.
The main obstacle to smaller houses is that the housing industry is built around expensive homes and profit. Communities that have experience with inexperienced DIYers who built homes of cheap materials and tried to circumvent zoning regulations made tougher laws to restrict homebuilding, laden with license fees and permit fees.
There needs to be a compromise between communities and the people who need housing.
During the Great Depression there were Hoovervilles. People made shelters out of cardboard, literally anything lying around that they could use. Most of our housing laws and local codes grew out of the desire never to have those again. They had inadequate sewage and bred vermin, filth and disease. People decided that small houses led to these kinds of poverty conditions.
They were wrong. It wasn't the size of the houses. It was the desperation of poor people.
Today we have tent cities in every major city. City fathers want to get rid of the homeless. They don't consider giving low-income people a chance to own a space. They cite health regulations and zoning regulations that are too high a bar for most low-income people to meet and still own a place.
There is an alternative. There is pride in ownership. There is safety in having a small space to keep your things in, and lock yourself into for protection.
Enter people like Elvis Summers.
The first link is an interview with Elvis Summers on his struggle to provide emergency shelter to the homeless and the corruption in the government and how they are fighting his project.
The last is a documentary about his work.