Tiny home designs on TikTok are impractical and unsafe, Pinoy Architect explains why

June 4, 2024 - 2:13 PM
(Image from Home Design 369 via TikTok; Llyan Oliver Austria via Instagram)

Are architectural materials used on TikTok realistic and safe for tiny apartments?

Reconstructing small houses has become a viral meme due to their crazy lore and inconvenient locations.

Filipino Architect and YouTuber Llyan Oliver Austria shared the practicality behind the viral animation models showcased on TikTok.

It all started when TikTok user Home Design began posting tips on designing a small home to save space and money. The account contains numerous architectural animations, featuring a man named “Little John” as a human-size reference, and recurring tools and items like galvanized square steel, wood veneers, and expansion screws from Little John’s aunt.

Over time, the videos from the account started to generate over-the-top backstories of Little John, like purchasing a 1-meter apartment in New York City or even a house in the mountains, garnering the attention of millions on the social platform.

@homedesign369 Be bold and live on the cliff #roomdecor #housedesign #bedroom #bedroommakeover #homedesign #littlejohn ♬ Morsmordre(莫斯莫多) – Crazy Donkey

This could cost a life

Enter Architect and ALE (Architecture License Examination) bar top-notcher Austria— a content creator who reacts to unusual infrastructure styles and explains realistic architecture on TikTok and other social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.

In a two-part video, Austria said that the materials used in Home Design’s models aren’t actually on par with safety standards and living.

“Kapag ginaya niyo ang mga nasa video na ito puwede kayong mamatay for reals [If you copy the contents of the video you could die for real],” he said in the video.

Through his observations, the Pinoy Architect shared that the videos weren’t using galvanized square steels, but rather wide flanges.

“Mga galvanized na things ay hindi dapat winiweld [Galvanized things are not supposed to be welded].”

It turns out that any steel that has undergone galvanization is coated with zinc oxide to prevent rust, and if welded could exhaust fumes that are toxic when inhaled.

@llyanoliver Hidden Dangers of Galvanized Square Steel #galvanizedsquaresteel #fyp #constrcution #architecture #tips #foryoupagе ♬ original sound – Oliver Austria

In another video, Austria showed what expansion screws are used for. This particular tool is used to fasten anything on walls or slabs.

@llyanoliver EXPANSION SCREWS BORROWED FROM AUNT #galvanizedsquaresteel #construction #fyp #foryoupage #architecture #tips ♬ original sound – Oliver Austria

“Hindi ko alam bakit ba bili nang bili si Little John ng maliliit na bahay [I don’t know why Little John keeps buying small houses],” he said.

While animated house models attract a lot of attention from people who wish to revamp the style of their small spaces, some people watch the videos for the memes.

“WHY DO U EVEN BUY A 0.1 METER APARTMENT…” said one TikTok user in a tutorial video designing an even tinier living space.

Future me, is he illegally expanding?” another person commented.


@homedesign369 Design a 0.1 square meter apartment! #roommakeover #roomdecor #housedesign #bedroom #bedroommakeover #bedroomdesign #creatorsearchinsights ♬ original sound – Home Design