Barriers to Creating a Tiny Home Community

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Tiny homes are gaining in popularity with wide groups of people. Enthusiasts want to downsize from a traditional home, live simply and inexpensively with few possessions, and spend more time outdoors and in their communities. Homeless advocates see the tiny home as an affordable solution to getting people off the streets. Others see a small, portable, livable structure as a way to combat building regulations in urban areas. Tiny homes are make effective and affordable housing after a natural disaster.

Some people think of tiny homes as glorified travel trailers, and in a sense, they are. They are built on trailer chassis’, so they are mobile. You can travel in them or park them in a trailer or RV park for an extended stay.

The difference between a tiny home and a travel trailer is in the construction. A tiny home is built of typical home construction materials, so it looks like a home inside and out. It has better insulation than a travel trailer does, and therefore it’s more energy efficient.

Some DIYers build them of recycled and scavenged materials to create an inexpensive, one-of-a-kind abode. You can’t say that about travel trailers! They tend to all look the same!

Obstacles and solutions

Because tiny homes and the tiny home lifestyle are unique and fairly new to our society, many enthusiasts would like to live among people like themselves. In their attempts to create communities or villages, they are running into major obstacles.

If someone chooses to put a tiny home on a permanent foundation on land they own, they will find there is usually a minimum building size of 800-1000 square feet. A tiny home is typically less than 500 sq ft. If a tiny home is to remain portable, there are sometimes regs or covenants against mobile homes or temporary housing. Building regulations need to be amended to create tiny home communities with mobile and permanent homes. Minimum home size must come down.

Zoning

Zoning regs also influence how communities can be built. A series of mobile tiny homes grouped together on a piece of land with electricity and water hook-ups sounds like an RV park to me! Zoning is already in place for RV parks. Why not apply that to a tiny home community? It could also be zoned as a campground or cabin resort, which would allow for permanent installations.

Tiny homes are seen as RVs when they are registered with the motor vehicle department. Why not overlook what they look like (which is way more attractive than a travel trailer!) and consider the construction of them. If we weren’t so afraid of change and creative thinkers, this wouldn’t be a problem! If a tiny home is seen as a glorified travel trailer, then a community must be considered and zoned as a glorified RV park!

Tiny home leafy neighbourhood

Buying land

The cost of land to start a tiny home community can be prohibitive. Once the land is procured, infrastructure must be installed – road, septic, electric and outbuildings.

A group of tiny home enthusiasts could pool their resources to buy a piece of land and create a community. This would take quite a commitment from each participant, but it offers a sense of community and family while cutting costs.

This is not unlike the communes of the 1960s. Cheap land is usually in rural areas where there is little to no zoning and few building regs and covenants. There would be more freedom to build.

The drawback to rural living is the distance from conveniences, jobs and a social life. It does foster self-sufficiency, though, with everyone working together to make sure everyone is comfortable and has what they need.

Getting creative

There are many obstacles to building a tiny home community, but there are work-arounds. One thing tiny home dwellers are is creative. These may be seen as small challenges to these natural problem solvers that are not afraid to question the status quo. When a few of these communities/villages get established, they will surely set a precedent for others to move forward with this very modern style of living.

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.