Tiny Houses Roll On

Robert J. Kobet, LEED Faculty (ret)

The world of green building is a dynamic one.  Construction markets react to trends and changing consumer demands.  Materials and equipment are constantly being improved or newly developed.  Architecture, engineering, design and vocational training programs respond.  And a whole host of building rating systems continues to evolve.

Amidst all of this the tiny house movement continues to grow.  TV shows like “Tiny House, Big Living,” “Tiny House Nation” and “Tiny House Hunters” have featured the small-home lifestyle and helped consumers gain a better understanding of the pros and cons of tiny living.  84 Lumber’s tiny hoses were recently featured on a KDKA television segment, something that has become quite common due to the uniqueness of the tiny homes, and the number of benefits they have to communities across the US and other countries.  Despite what some consider a niche appeal, tiny homes are selling.  Architects, real estate agents and developers say while you may not need a tiny house to live minimally and simply; it’s all a matter of good design.  “In 400 square feet we can do everything 1,000 square feet can do if designed right,” says Phoenix-based architect Jason Boyer.  “What we’re seeing at every scale is people that were in 6-to-10,000 square feet are now moving to 3-to-4,000 square feet, and people that were in 3-to-4,000 square feet are now willing to go to 2,000.”  According to Boyer, his clients rarely miss the extra space.  But anyone looking into tiny living has a lot to consider.

In high density, urban areas tiny homes may not be economical because high land costs limit initial purchase and resale potential.  Consequently, if the goal is to save money, tiny home investors may need to go to where land prices are low.  This seldom includes locations along major commuter routes, or access to established mass transit.  http://cnb.cx/2jBWI8M

Tiny houses may also require a cash purchase, as lenders may be hesitant to lend for a home that is small, and not on permanent foundation.  While much of any home construction cost can be attributed to location, tiny homes can also be more expensive to build.  Economy of scale often works against the tiny house builder.  A lot of things about conventional housing are less expensive and less challenging.  Tiny homes often also use more expensive, though more energy efficient, materials and building systems.  However, many of these choices, such as tankless water heaters and high performance windows and doors, contribute to reducing operating costs.

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In response, 84 Lumber has partnered with LightStream, a division of SunTrust Bank, the nation’s premier online consumer lender.  LightStream accepts joint applications for loan amounts from $5,000 to $100,000, and the proceeds can be used to pay for any aspect of the Tiny House project.  84 Lumber also offers tiny homes in various stages of completion, from the trailer + building plans & materials list to a fully completed model, a great benefit to do-it-yourselfers.

Other considerations include zoning regulations and building permits that may prohibit homes of certain sizes or those on wheels.  Utility installation and internet fees will likely be the same as for a conventional house.  Property taxes may be slightly less for a tiny house, but taxes are highly variable and vary with location.

Lastly, many tiny house advocates are attracted to their utility and multiple uses beyond being a primary residence.  Tiny homes can be permanent structures in RV resorts or serve a variety of functions as accessory buildings anywhere they can be properly permitted and sited.  They make excellent artist studios, guest houses, student housing and community housing options.

84 Lumber and GreenEdge Supply share your interest in tiny living.  Visit us online at www.84tinyliving.com or www.greenedgesupply.com and let our staff help you with any of your tiny house, green living questions.

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