The Big Deal with Tiny Houses

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Jun 6, 2017

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If you watch HGTV, you’ve seen them popping up everywhere: tiny houses, often mobile, perfectly sized for a simple and more affordable lifestyle. They’re easier to maintain and give owners the option of taking home on the road. Many current homeowners are interested in the tiny house movement. So why aren’t we seeing more of them?

With the financial crisis of 2007-08, the appeal of tiny houses skyrocketed. House hunters loved the idea of streamlining to the bare necessities, spending less and owning an ecologically friendly home. But despite the appeal, building codes and zoning regulations in most states and cities are often the deal breaker. Only a handful of cities in the US are “tiny house friendly.” Lucky for us, Portland, OR, happens to be one of those cities! Many states, including Washington, have proposed bills for Micro Housing that would allow permanent smaller structures to be built on land. If you’ve got big dreams to own a tiny house, there’s still hope!

The RV Vs. The ADU

Even with changing regulations, becoming a happy tiny house owner may depend on which home you’re dreaming of. A house on wheels is legally considered a recreational vehicle (RV), while a tiny house on a foundation is an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). Living in an RV means you’ll need to register it in your state to get a license plate. After that, it’s just a matter of finding a place to legally park it. For road trip lovers and folks who telecommute, this is ideal.

But what if you want to put down some roots in your tiny home? Unfortunately, building and owning an ADU is a more complicated process. At 400 square feet or less, tiny houses are smaller than the often required 1,000 square feet for a new construction home. However, some cities (like Portland) allow ADU construction, provided a larger building exists on the property or your home is part of an organized tiny house community.

Test Drive a Tiny House

The allure of tiny living continues to grow. But it’s important to consider the implications of living in such a small space. Would the novelty soon wear off? Will you be happy in such close quarters? If you aren’t completely sure, you can test drive tiny living. The Mt. Hood Tiny House Village, located just outside Portland, includes several tiny homes you can rent for a day or more, ranging from 175 to 260 square feet. Each home has a unique style and design, and all meet the 500+ safety requirements for a Tiny House RV.

The Future Looks Bright

Still set on the tiny lifestyle? Read about current state regulations at American Tiny House Association, and keep track of the latest tiny house developments. With proposals in consideration, odds are you’ll soon be able to go small and go home.

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