Posts Tagged small house

Jim & Sid’s Tiny Houses

Got an email from Jim and Sid about their tiny houses, here is what they had to say

We recently posted a youtube video of the tiny houses my wife and I have lived in/remodeled in the past 5 years. They range from app. 220 sq. ft-580 sq. ft, plus 2 “watermelons” (fiberglass travel trailers).  I also included our 900 sq. ft. home in Trinidad, Co even though it is not tiny, the overall cost (mortgage, taxes, ins, utilities is cheaper than most tiny houses and it’s an 1885 adobe in a really cool town)



After poking around at a link that was sent to me by Lelia I found this interesting house style called a pigeonnier.  The word in french has two meanings; A house that pigeons and other game birds are raised in or a low rent apartment, often in a less than desirable part of town.  They have a very unique style, but what is uniform to most is they are taller than they are wide and they have gorgeous wooden beams.


Tiny House In Berkley

The Berkley house was built in California for $98,000 at 420 square feet (about $233 a square foot).  The house features 6″ walls filled with recycled denim insulation.  The house itself is actually a Net-Zero energy house and is powered by a 1.67 Kw solar system.  Pair that with energy saving techniques like insulated pipes, efficient appliances etc, this house actually will produce more than it takes to run it.


Making Tiny Houses Legal

One of the biggest challenges of living in a Tiny House is finding a place to put it, there are laws, code, and zoning to contend with that make it difficult.  With many places upping the minimum square feet and conservative code enforcement divisions not willing to even entertain the idea, it is time to get a bit more creative.  Now many will quickly say “but my house is on a trailer” which in some places will be fine, but in many places it isn’t the magical loophole we hope it would be.

So how can we be a bit more creative?

The idea arose when I was talking with a friend, who suggested incorporating a township.  This is brilliant because by doing so, you can designate your own building codes, municipal laws, taxes, etc.  Taking a look around I have found that there is even the ability to secede from a township so long as the proposed area and those that live within it, vote 51% in favor of it.  This technique has even been used by schmarmy corporations to put objectionable facilities in an area.  Now this will be irrelevant if you want to setup shop in unincorporated county land, but if you want to get a bit closer to cities, this might be your only option.

What do you need to incorporate?

First of a lawyer, you will be using one extensively, so there will be a good chunk of change dedicated to that.  To say that this is going to be a quick and easy process would be foolish, there are many steps and red tape to get through.  In many states you will need signatures of 10% of the populous; the application is submitted and often has to be reviewed by a county judge.  In some cases your town will need to be approved by the state senate.

So what are the implications?

Obviously being part of a township has its advantages and disadvantages.  Townships/cities often have sewage treatment, police, medical, fire, and water services.  It isn’t too uncommon for smaller towns to contract some of these services from a larger one.  For water, sewage, and power you simply can take an off-the-grid approach, which many of us are going to anyway.  The medical, fire and police are more difficult.  This is why if you are fine setting up shop on unincorporated county land you by proxy will have access to country services without the heavy taxes of the city.  However there exists in several state what is called “specialty districts”  which is basically a township that has access to all the services (fire, police, medical, power, water, and roads).

By taking this idea further we can quickly see how our town might be the first to require solar, require a maximum square footage, require you grow 10% of your own food.  It is an interesting idea that I hadn’t thought of before and thought I’d share.

How to incorporate a town: here