Posts Tagged tiny house community

Designing A Tiny House Community

Many of you have heard me talk about Google Sketchup, it is a pretty easy drawing utility that allows you to draw floor plans, models, tiny houses etc all for free.  I really like it and it can be downloaded here for free:

I thought I would share some models I have found for you all to use to design your own Tiny House community, to see what it might look like!  I want to see what your creativity can do!  I want to see how you envision a Tiny House Community.  Use the models I have here, add your own, add some landscape etc. When you are done tinkering send them to me and I will share them on the blog.  My email is ryan112ryan [at]


Steps Towards A Tiny House Community

In my view Tiny Houses are the answer to many of our larger systemic issues that exist today; The inaccessibility to housing, toxic mortgages, materialism, abuse of the environment and lack of community.  When I think about these issues it occurs to me that many of these issues have stemmed out of one thing, the lack of responsibility to our fellow man or woman.  But who can blame us, we live in these large houses where we don’t even know our neighbor, where politicians live in an alternate reality of millionaires and closed door deals, where cities drown their citizens in bureaucratic red tape. 

So what can be done?  We need a Tiny House strong hold, a place to make a home, to demonstrate our viability, to make our statement or….. just simply live.  It can get frustrating at how complicated the process is to live simply is, that’s some irony right there!  I am emailed almost daily by individuals wanting to live more responsibly, to connect with those around them and to do so legally.  While there is hope in more progressive locations like the west coast, many places find themselves locked in building codes that won’t budge.  Here on the east coast, we find ourselves having to sneak around, hide our Tiny Houses, it’s quite difficult.

The trick is to have one viable Tiny House Community, a model that can be replicated.  With one model, we can show people what it looks like, how it functions.  We can show our municipality that from a legal standpoint, that there are models that exist that work.

It occurs to me as I write this, what if we were to write a set of building codes and zoning laws that pertained to Tiny Houses, that was licensed under creative commons and we designed to slip into existing codes of most cities.  These codes and laws would outline the construction, zoning, taxation, safety concerns, and issuance of permits for Tiny Houses.  It would be a template which, with some convincing, we could provide to our local code enforcement and lawmakers to show them how Tiny Houses could function within their framework and where they could issue permits, collect taxes, ensure safety, ensure public health etc.

I think where many people get stuck at is when approaching code enforcement, they are unable to articulate a solid plan to achieve both the goals of the municipality and the Tiny House person.  A set of codes would demonstrate the person is serious and establish talking points relevant to those who make the rules.

Dare I say, this just might be the first step on a journey to spark a revolution for Tiny House communities?


Observations Of Living In A Small House

I was able to get my hands on a copy of interview transcript with a town planning consultant who is all about Tiny Houses.  He has just moved into a Tiny House and has learned some critical lessons that I’d thought I’d share.  He now lives in a Katrina Cottage, which I have a special affinity towards, it reminds me of the older style of a shotgun style house; I talked about them in this post. Here is what he had to say, remember he is talking some specifics about the Katrina houses.

Dropped randomly into acre-lot subdivisions and diminished by surrounding McMansions, they look eccentric and experimental. They need small-lot site-planning and the company of friends.

Here he talked about how things need to be somewhat uniform in size, the human condition likes patterns, to have a house that is dwarfed by others leaves us unconsciously unsettled.  So there is more to us wanting a Tiny House community, it will allow us to bring in honest proportions.

Here’s the second lesson confirmed by my life in 300 square feet: The space has to be beautifully designed and the construction detailed perfectly. Otherwise you’ve got exactly what Katrina Cottage critics warned against – a tricked-out trailer.

When you compress the volume, the first thing to go is wiggle room for sloppy decision-making. Compromise on design and construction quality, including material choices, and you’re off to the race to the bottom. That’s why Cusato, Tolar, Steve Mouzon and others fight so tenaciously against cheaping out on ceiling heights, window selections, flooring, roofing, and trim details.

That’s bad news for workforce housing advocates committed to driving prices per square foot down. Better to achieve the savings by intelligently compacting the space, as opposed to competing with production builders who amortize prices per square foot over thousands of under-performing square feet.

There is more to good design then just being high quality, in a small space, its impact is magnified as the space is reduced. I am often asked by people”what is the difference between a Tiny House and a trailer/mobile home?”  I am quick state: “a high level of design and attention to aesthetics”.  I firmly believe that Tiny Houses must maintain a high level of design to not follow in the steps of mobile homes.  (On second glance, this sounds almost elitist, what do people think?  Does the Tiny House Movement have a sense of elitism?)