Tiny House In Asheville

I recently discovered a Tiny House practically in my back yard.  For those of you who have never heard of Asheville, NC, it is a small mountain city in western North Carolina.  It is easily classified as a hippy town, a town of free spirits, also where I went to school.  While I myself am not much of the hippy type, I enjoy the fact that the city is pretty progressive, eco-friendly and has a charm all its own.  It is a great place to visit, so check it out.

Like I said, this Tiny House is being built in Asheville, inspired by Jay Shaffer’s designs.  They did decide to go with a normal foundation of cement piers, which is the first I have seen.  Here are some of their construction photos, you can read more about her process here

tiny house framing

tiny house windows

tiny house inside rough

tiny house nature

tiny house wood

  1. Thanks so much for posting the photos of our house build. We are so excited with our progress – it has been a great experience.

    Since we still live and work in Atlanta, we go up to Asheville on weekends to work on the house so it hasn’t been a fast process. We expect to have a finished house by late summer this year.

    The house is the Tarleton from Jay Shafer’s collection. We were actually able to attend a workshop that Jay held in Asheville just before we started the project. We decided to do concrete piers because the house is built on a mountain and we don’t intend to take it anywhere.

    • Laura,

      What I am curious about is how are you handling things being off the grid?

      • As far as the building, everything is done either with battery powered tools or with a generator.

        We have a small solar array with an inverter that plugs into the house wiring (which is being done this weekend, actually). Heat is propane, when we actually need it. Water is from a spring but later we’ll do water catchment. And the toilet is composting – see The Humanure Handbook for more details on that!

        • Hm… Solar array huh? Interesting Location. Best of luck to you, looks great so far!

        • Hi Laura, it’s cool to have come across your project here. Was it a bit of a challenge to site your array? The site looks heavily wooded.
          We live off-grid full time in Ireland with pv and a home-made wind turbine, generator as back-up is rarely used.
          Our saw-dust toilet has caused a challenge occasionally for guests however everyone adjusts ok.
          The cabin that we sleep in, 150sq ft, is very like your tiny house, built on various height piers and our living space is a mobile home.
          We are building a new home, on stilts rather than piers and a little bigger that yours, about 1000sq foot.
          Good luck with finishing your project 🙂

          • Thanks for asking. The solar array hasn’t been positoined yet, but the site gets really good sun in spite of the trees. We’ve been tracking it for the last year to see the best place to put the panels. It is an interesting site because it is a in a clearing about halfway up our mountain.

    • Oh, Laura! I am so thrilled to see construction of a tiny house in NC and Asheville, even! I moved here two years ago and am living in Wake Forest, yet not really sure this is where I want to plant roots. I was born in Statesville, NC, and was a camp counselor in Old Fort for several summers while in college (Camp Grier). I am now 59 and sooooooooooo want to live in a tiny home. You give me hope!!!! If possible, may I come to visit your home upon completion? Even if for only ten minutes if I am there in Asheville? I graduated from UNC-CH in 1973 and am now an oncology massage therapist. My web page is www.hope-touch.abmp.com should you want to check my story. Oh, Laura! I am so happy for you! Thanks for this story. All my best!

      • Absolutely! Keep track of our progress on www.120squarefeet.blogspot.com – the new blog I have set up to post exclusively about the tiny house. We expect to be done with it this summer.

        We would *love* eventually to work with others in the area to build their tiny houses.

      • Hi Mary,
        I read your comment in The Tiny Life designed by Jay Shafer. I’m living in a 350 sq. ft. home just north of Durham near Rougemont. Let me know if you would like a tour!

        Mike M.

        • Mike,

          Would you like to share some photos?


        • I am looking into tiny homes now as I get closer to retirement. I live in Knightdale and I would love to be information on tiny or compact homes. Do you know of tiny homes I can tour near me. Thanks for any assistance.

  2. Awesome! Nice work, Cant wait to see it done.

  3. One of my favorite designs and you guys are doing beautiful work. Can’t wait to see it completed!

  4. Now, that’s what I’m talking about ~ one of the little houses on a permanent foundation! Looking forward to following your progress.

  5. I’ll looking to set up out near Brevard, I was wondering where to find areas you can Build Off Grid?

    • good question Carolyn – i’m eyeing Brevard too (tho i love Asheville, i rent in canton currently) b/c home prices are just still so high in Asheville. would love to talk to you more online about this, if you’ve found answers. tx! ….Lin

      ps and yes, if there are enough of us to have a ‘meet-up’ then let’s do it!! 8)
      i recently sold my 400 sq ft home in sc and am not finding a lot of things in the Asheville area that are under 1K sq.ft :s

  6. Some solar panels on that thing or maybe a small wind generator could run it easy.


  7. Hi Laura,
    I live in Asheville, NC too. I was wondering if you met any hurdles with city codes and such? To me it doesn’t even seem that the building is the hard part, that it’s getting around all the red tape.
    Love your house, hope things go well for you!

    • I wonder who else is in Asheville that is like-minded. Perhaps it could warrant a meet up!

  8. Hi Laura,

    I was just curious to know how many acres your house is set on. I couldn’t find it mentioned anywhere.



    • Sorry for the late response, but we have 15 acres. Thanks for asking!

  9. Hi, Curious about the composting toilet. I checked into that topic with Haywood County and I was told they were not allowed. If the land was not suitable for septic they said the land was unusable for a residence. How did you get around that ordinance, or are things different in Buncombe County?


    • This isn’t my house, but I will let you know, there isn’t a legal way to do it, just if you do you homework, you can do it safely, sustainably and it will be a benefit to the environment, not a detriment. They are very concerned with old style of outhouses that would leach into the water table.

    • Our house is neither in Haywood nor Buncombe counties. This has not been an issue for us.

  10. I am taking a trip to TN and possibly NC in late November to scout out land. I wish I could visit in warmer temperatures but vacation is hard to come by in my line of work.

    What are some areas in either state that are good for this type of construction as well as fairly inexpensive per acre? I’m hoping to find a single acre of rural land (or more if the cost is right).

    • Check out areas around Asheville, NC places like Hendersonville, Morgonton, Brevard, Linville, etc.

  11. Hey there, can you guys please contact me on building info of your cool tiny house. I am about to purchase a few acres outside Murphy NC and have a few questions that I can’t find an answer to. Thank you, email southernsailor@gmail.com come or call me at 850-346-0605

  12. Hey there, can you guys please contact me on building info of your cool tiny house. I am about to purchase a few acres outside Murphy NC and have a few questions that I can’t find an answer to. Thank you, email southernsailors@gmail.com come or call me at 850-346-0605

  13. Fantastic! It’s nice to hear about those getting smart with housing. I live in Asheville and am currently searching for land around the area. I’ve designed and will build a small geodesic dome home with a loft, along with a greenhouse. I’ve contemplated living on the land while building, but it hasn’t been easy finding land (1.50 acres or more) without restrictions and some amenities (internet for work), etc. I am curious about building codes. I almost bought a couple lots, but they didn’t perk. I’d rather use a composting toilet, but not sure of the permits/codes, etc. Best of luck to all smart builders ;°)

  14. I imagine you are using a composting toilet….
    Do you have water in your plans for a sink or shower.
    if so How are you getting rid of your grey water ??

  15. Greetings Shawn,
    Yes, if I can, I’d much rather not use septic, but a compost toilet instead. There is a very simple way to filter grey water. I’m not sure if it will pass inspection or whatever, but here’s what I read for some ideas and it was called the redneck way of grey water filtration. Don’t quote me on the exact title. Here we go. Take three 55 gallon drums, drill 2 inch entry and exit holes toward the top of the drums. The exit holes should 2 inches lower the entry holes. I’d say most are positioning them 180 degrees from each other. Coat the outside of the drums with a tar based substance to help stop rust, and the inside with a tough durable poly type substance. Dig 3 holes on your land that are lower than your home’s grey water exit pipe, and large enough to bury the drums. Drum 2 should be about 2 inches lower than Drum 1 and Drum 3 should about 2 inches lower than Drum 2. Place the drums in the holes. Run your home’s 2 inch grey water exit pipe to the entry hole of drum 1, run an exit pipe from drum 1 to enter hole to drum 2 and repeat for drum 3. Seal at least the exit holes to the pipes (maybe a nipple and coupler) but do it in a way you can detach them in the future without too much trouble. Fill each drum with gravel and charcoal and seal the drums with their lids. You can then run exit pipe 3 to water trees or bushes.

    I’m not sure about how long a system like this would last, but it seems as though it would depend on usage, etc. There are kits to test water so if I adopted this idea, I would keep an eye on those test results until I understood the timing for replacement. That’s all I know so far. I hoped that helped. Forgive the grammar as I’m typing on my phone and it’s a bear to go back and check for errors on this site.

  16. Have become very interested in tiny homes lately. Seem the appropriate thing to do for yourself and the environment. Am 60 and approaching retirement and feel that this would be the way to go for me. How to even get started??? Land, area, restrictions??? any ideas???

    • Hello Deborah,

      It’s great that another person is interested in tiny homes. Go Gaia Go – go go go! Although the environment is definitely something everyone should work toward improving, the true reason why most people are concerned with saving the planet is to save themselves and their loved ones. Why do I say that? Well, because Mother Earth will survive even if the humans pollute themselves to extinction. Anyway, I’m already off-topic. Sorry about that…

      I just turned 51 so I’m feeling that retirement thing rolling in pretty quickly as well. Let’s face it, the economy is not going to fully recover, but if it does, it won’t last long enough to comfortably glide through retirement like previous generations have. I’m convinced of that, so a very smart move on your part!

      I’ll share what I did these past 3.50 years and how I ended up happily where I am now. Who knows, maybe this will help you. I take it you live in the Asheville area? My goal was to find inexpensive raw land within an hour radius of Asheville. I searched on LandWatch, and various real estate sites. I even began looking on Craigslist. My goal was to NOT finance it, but if I did, it would be a very short term loan. I was leaning toward owner financing as banks are not my thing these days and not loaning much for raw land unless you’re a developer.

      I was looking for around 1 – 5 acres depending on location, how much of the land was usable, south facing, etc. I saw raw land going for anywhere from $5K to $30K per acre. I knew if I was going to build a tiny home, in my case a very small geodesic dome, I would have to find land that didn’t have deed restrictions or covenants that ran with the deed. Most deed restrictions and covenants will not allow for tiny homes – too small.

      I looked and looked and looked for exactly the same thing for 3 years, but then one day while in Lake Lure, I stopped off at a restaurant and struck up a conversation with a young lady. She and her husband had also been looking for the same thing. She told me this old timer told her to look for land that had a mobile home on it, or maybe one that needed to be removed, or maybe something that had burned down. That way you’ll be sure to have electricity and water. That made a lot of sense, because I’ve heard nightmare stories about the cost of drilling for water in the mountains. Sometimes you have to go way deep, and that can cost more than the land itself!

      I changed my search criteria, and within 6 months I found a place I could afford and absolutely love! I need to run, but I’ll talk about building codes and all that later. Bye for now!


      • Thanks for the reply! I look forward to hearing more. Any information on intentional communities in asheville or surrounding areas. Just think that would be a wonderful idea, a few tiny houses on a few acres, sprinkled with a little interdepence.

  17. Hi,
    I currently live in the Rocky Mount/Wilson area of NC and I’m interested to know if there are any tiny homes in this area. I am very much interested in downsizing and this seems like a good option. Any comments will be appreciated.

  18. Hello,

    My fiancé and I are planning a return to Asheville to build a tiny house. We are only in the beginning of this journey. Our biggest question is about legal stuff, permits etc. how is Asheville dealing with tiny houses? Do they require permits if under a certain sq ft? Any guidance is appreciated.

    • Hey Lisa,

      Best of luck on your future marriage. If you don’t already own your property, make sure when you do decide to buy, that it doesn’t have deed restrictions or covenants. Many deed restrictions and covenants limit the size of your home, forcing you to build a home no smaller than ____ sq ft and once you start building you’re sometimes forced to finish your construction within a certain time. The amount of these things I read were insane, just crazy. I’ve never built a tiny home, but from what I’ve read, and don’t quote me on this, if it’s small enough, and built on a frame with wheels, it’s not considered a normal home that needs building permits, etc. You can always connect a solar toilet to it and filter your gray water (urine, wash, bath and sink water) to avoid the whole septic tank thing.

      I hope this helps, at least a little.


  19. As a NC licensed general contractor, I’ve got to say deed restrictions and covenants are not the only restrictions. Our building code is in place to allow for responsible building.

    • We have decided on a piece of property on Jason’s famy land that we want to have deeded out, we have decided about 600 sq ft We want solar and energy efficient. At this point we are about to begin making more definitive steps forward. This includeds finding a qualified licensed contractor.

  20. As a NC licensed general contractor, I’ve got to say deed restrictions and covenants are not the only restrictions. Our building code is in place to allow for responsible building. Like using proper framing materials for snow loads or fire code or septic. There are other issues and I wouldn’t count on “what I heard and don’t quote me on this . . . “. If your goal is environmentally friendly, do it right.

  21. HI, I have been reading the post on here, trying to get a better idea of how the codes and permits are for tiny houses. I have several questions. I have been told that if the house (storage building) was moved in on a flat bed then we do not need any permits as long as it is movable and not placed on a permanent foundation. Is this true? We will not have any power or water hook ups. (solar, battery 12 volt and spring water only). There is an existing outhouse on the property that is a composting toilet. It will not be lived in full time it is for a weekend getaway on our own property that is located in Buncombe county. I guess what I am wondering is are we breaking any county laws? So far it is a storage building that we had to move and now we would like to use it for other purposes. Also it has been built to all state code standards. It is 224 sqft. Thank you for time.

  22. Hi Laura, is there a way to make the foundations without concret? Thanks

  23. So sad to say : Been there,Done all that. IF you can find a building inspector who is willing to even Listen to your questions about a Tiny home,count yourself a fortunate soul. They don’t want to hear it. And,everyone I tried to talk to on the State level shrugged me off and sent me back to the county offices. Look at Scot’s reply and let’s add a little more truth to it : The county and state can’t make enough money off of those that want Tiny homes, Off the grid lifestyles, & freedom. Ask Scot what he charges per sq ft. Ask anyone what an electrical or plumbing contractor charges per hr. Sorry folks, It’s all about the $$$

    • You are absolutely correct Sherry. It is all about the money. It’s sad too because with more than 7 billion people on the planet, we need to continue the trend of conservation and sustainability. Some people are naturally willing to downsize. We somehow need to fight the centralized bureaucracy and protect this trend.

  24. I have had a 6yr battle with the state,(NC) & two counties trying to have a Legal Tiny home. I just don’t have the strength & the right connections to continue. The final straw was a quiet warning from a lady in the Social Services dept. (How she knew of my goals???) : “Children under the age of 12 and the Elderly must have a State or County approved living environment or their situation could be view as Neglect and they will be relocated to a suitable environment and the responsible parties made accountable.” Oh Boy, I guess I really ruffled someone’s feathers ! I am nearing retirement age and my husband has been retired for several years. Does that mean he or we are considered Elderly ?
    So, A composting or incineration toilet is not legal in the state of NC. A rented PortaJon is. Varies per county: A building permit is required before a septic permit can be issued. In most counties outside of city limits and without a preexisting ordinance, only grain & feed storage buildings & shelter structures for farm animals can be built or moved onto a property without a Permit.
    My husband and I received a stern letter from our county building inspections office stating that we were to remove a storage building from our property or they would pursue Legal actions for it’s removal, plus fines. “A Secondary type structure can not be built or placed on a property without a Primary structure” Lucky we already had a permit for the building as it was a storage and supply building for our honeybee hives on the property. Guess they thought we were going to sleep on top of empty brood boxes and eat beans from our wax melting pot.

  25. Looks great! I plan to build something similar and was wondering how deep you dug for the footings? Also, do you back fill by hand, or did you you use a small loader or something? I will be building on a grade like you. Did you anchor the posts with hardware, or set them in the concrete?

    Thank you,

  26. I want to get some information on how you built the foundation on the slope, because I live on a slope and I am searching for ideas on how to do it and I like how yours are done.

  27. This is too beautiful. I wish I could also see the interior of this house.
    I have always been fascinated by how you guys can find a way to make even the smallest face look and feel bigger.

Leave a Reply