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How To Build A Tiny House

How To Build A Tiny House How To Build A Tiny House

Related: 18 Small Cabins You Can DIY or Buy for $300 and More

If you’re an urban dweller who fantasizes about building your own tiny vacation home, listen up. Joshua Woodsman is an architect who wants to make your dream become a reality. 

Some of the cities that permit tiny houses are Walsenburg, Colo.; Canyon County, Idaho; Ashland, Ore.; and Richmond, Maine. Additionally, Pulaski County, Ky., has no zoning laws, a fact that makes it a great choice for tiny home dwellers.

Take the idea of a mobile home to the next level by bringing your tiny house with you when you travel. Not only does doing this save you money on hotel costs, but it also helps you avoid breaking temporary living rules.

One drunken New Year’s Eve, Dave Herrle promised his wife that he would build her a tree house. So he did, and it soon became their second home.  The project cost $4,000 and took six short weeks to construct, though this was possible only because Herrle is a skilled craftsman. Elaborate treehouses for adults are increasingly common as permanent residences for those dedicated to tiny house living. 

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Related:…MORE What the Heck is a Yurt? 7 Yurt Kits for Modern Nomads

“Most people don’t want to risk building their tiny home on a foundation on someone else’s land because it would be so difficult to move,” Walker said. “You don’t necessarily want to take the risk if it doesn’t work out with the larger homeowner.”

It’s no secret that tiny houses are growing in popularity across the U.S. Not only can owners of tiny homes simplify their lives by reducing possessions and space, but they also tend to pay less for mortgages, utilities, and other costs.

Related: How to Convert a School…MORE Bus Into an Affordable Tiny House

Many places — including Nantucket, Mass., and Fresno, Calif. — place less stringent regulations on tiny houses that are portable. According to LaVoie, the advantage of living in a portable tiny home is that you can move if necessity, or opportunity, dictates.

“A lot of places don’t want somebody living in an RV in a driveway, so they’ve put prohibitions on it,” said Jay Austin, designer and owner of a tiny house called The Matchbox and member of tiny house collective, Boneyard Studios.

“The idea is to move the house there for a few years, and then when they’re ready to start developing [the property], you find another place to move,” Austin said.

“It won’t be an overnight process, but it’s something people have done and people are doing in cities all over the country,” LaVoie said.

These tiny dome-shaped homes are called Binishells. They are constructed using a process that is similar to making a papier-mâché balloon base. In this case, concrete is poured over a heavy-duty air pump bladder and a steel rebar framework. Next, the bladder is deflated to reveal a tiny, resilient home that can stand up to extreme conditions such as earthquakes, high winds or even lava flows. 

Have a look at the…MORE following five tiny homes for some examples of how it can be done at prices ranging from an incredible $500 to a little less than $12,000. 

If you’re looking to build your tiny home without having to jump through a lot of zoning hoops, choosing an area that already has other tiny homes is a sure bet. Numerous tiny home communities exist across the country and, according to Walker, might be good options for those who feel uncertain about sharing land or moving their homes frequently.

Still, zoning laws can make it hard for average Americans to find sites for their pint-sized properties. These guidelines affect the dimensional requirements for various types of buildings.

“Most people don’t build their tiny house with the thought that they’re going to move it constantly like you would a camper or RV, but there are people who do want that completely mobile lifestyle,” LaVoie said.

Walker offers an incomplete but expansive list of tiny home-friendly locations on her site, Tiny House Community.

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“It really is a great option, particularly for elder care,” said Laura M. LaVoie, who built and lives full-time in her tiny home in North Carolina and blogs about it at 120squarefeet.com. “In most cases, it would be essentially a rental situation (for the worker), so it’s up to them whether that’s something they’d be open to.”

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Very old homes in New England, for example, often measure in below present-day zoning minimums. However, according to Walker, “you can be grandfathered in with that footprint.”

For best results, research your municipality’s restrictions on RV ownership before deciding whether to register your tiny house as one.

North Carolina-based LaVoie is a member of the Asheville Small Home Advocacy Committee, a volunteer group that’s working with the city council and planners to make tiny houses more viable within the city.

Moving regularly can enable you to get around restrictions on camping, or keeping your tiny home in one spot for too long.

In many parts of the country, zoning laws prevent tiny homes built on foundations and those not considered accessory dwelling units. However, the list of places that allow tiny homes is expanding.

Austin, who once lived on property held by another tiny house owner, now resides on city-owned land in Washington, D.C. The site of an abandoned middle school, the land is too costly to fix up or tear down. Instead, the city leases the front plaza of the property to a neighborhood farming guild, which in turn subleases a small plot to Austin.

If you dislike your town, city or county’s zoning laws, you might be able to petition to have them changed.

Here are 10 tips for building tiny houses that meet the zoning laws of your region.

If your tiny home is portable, living in it on an employer’s land is another way to use accessory dwelling unit laws to your advantage.

Additionally, tiny home builders can rent out their accessory dwelling units to earn extra income. Said Walker, buying a tiny home to rent out is “a good investment and a legal route” to joining the tiny house movement.

During that time, Macy fell in love, got married, gave…MORE birth and adopted a 150-pound Great Dane named Denver. Properly planned and executed, a tiny house can be perfectly comfortable home for a family.  The MIllers, now with two children and the dog, have lived in this home full-time since 2013, 

He’s the founder of Pin Up Houses, a company that creates and sells building plans for tiny homes. The Cheryl Cabin shown above is a 107-square foot vacation retreat with a 47-square foot porch. The estimated construction costs for this beauty is $2,900. The plans cost $29, and they come with a money-back guarantee.

If strict zoning laws have you feeling left out of the small house movement, you might want to opt for a house that’s slightly larger than tiny. Walker suggests looking for homes that are smaller than traditional houses but not quite as minute as those found in tiny home communities.

Once your tiny home is on wheels, you can have it certified as a recreational vehicle, provided that it meets RV standards. However, because some codes prohibit RV owners from living in the vehicles permanently, having your home certified could work against you.

According to Walker, many cities allow individuals to live in tiny houses temporarily but not permanently. Hence, a tiny home can serve as a great vacation property, if it’s located in a place you like to visit.

Finally, here is a fantastic custom tiny home built by Scott Brooks for a mere $500. Although it’s only 83 square feet, it is remarkably cozy and comfortable. To slash building costs, he constructed this cozy Pacific Northwest abode out of salvaged materials, such as the large reclaimed picture window looking out on the Northwest forest. Currently, Brooks is working on another residence, a cabin in Shaw, Washington. We cannot wait to see what he builds next.

Macy Miller purchased an old recreational vehicle for $500 and then spent the following two years transforming it into the beautiful 196 square foot home shown above. Most of the home is made of upcycled materials. For instance, the siding incorporates wood from upcycled shipping pallets. The house is also loaded with resource-saving features, such as a composting toilet. For comfort, the tiny abode is tricked out with radiant floor heating.

Related: 9 Candy-Colored Tiny Houses That are Almost too Adorable

The average cost spent by a do-it-yourselfer building their own tiny dwelling is around $23,000, according to a recent survey. But you can build one for less–a lot less.

“I think that originally those laws were there to protect people, and then they grew to be more about keeping the neighborhoods standard and keeping property values high,” said Elaine Walker, founder of the American Tiny House Association. “But I think we’re seeing a bit of pullback on that idea.”

Still, going the ADU route isn’t ideal for every tiny home builder.

“A lot of people who come to the tiny house movement are specifically looking for that community experience,” said LaVoie, “so going to an actual community is perfect.”

The tiny house movement is all about downsizing your lifestyle so you can live a more fulfilling life without a lot of debt or a huge mortgage hanging over your head. While you can buy a prefabricated dwelling or a customized small house on wheels, you can save a bundle if you make your tiny house yourself. 

Originally used for emergency shelters and temporary structures such as auxiliary school classrooms,…MORE recent years have seen Binishells adopted by the tiny-house crowd. Construction costs start at around $3,500.

So, where exactly can tiny house enthusiasts put their little homes, and how can they comply with zoning laws that differ from place to place?

“That is the million-dollar question,” said Pat Clancy, a tiny home specialist with Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

If you’re building a tiny home on wheels rather than a permanent foundation, consider participating in what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development calls “temporary urbanism” by planting your tiny house on urban property that’s otherwise not useful.

Dave’s tiny house is nestled on a wooded hillside. The home features a raised deck…MORE overlooking the woods. Low-maintenance, natural wood siding covers the home, with aluminum roofing completing the cabin-like mood.  Herrle says, “It is the ultimate getaway that fuels our creativity.”

If land ownership isn’t your primary objective, consider building your tiny house on someone else’s lot as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). According to the Federal Housing Administration, ADUs are habitable living units located on properties with single-family homes. So, if your friend or family member has land to spare, you could share it under ADU regulations in many states.

This article, 10 Loopholes to Build a Tiny Home Legally, originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com.

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