Guest Post by Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwellings
About a week ago (July 22), a friend of mine (Kim Langston) had her little house caught up in a large barn fire. The house was in the construction phase, and while it wasn’t quite complete, it was close enough that she felt certain she’d be living in it by September or October. It was completely destroyed in the fire and Kim didn’t have insurance to cover the loss. I’ve attached before and after photos which, if you’re like me, will drop you to your knees.
I’ve been so racked by this incident… so sad. And its brought up a couple of things for me: one is that I’d like to learn more about what sort of insurance options are out there for little hand-built structures. Houses on wheels or built on the ground. I’ve done some searching and it seems there may be some tools but the loopholes are intense; you aren’t insured, for example, if the structure is on the highway or not insured if you don’t personally own the property where it sits.
This post will show you some basics regarding ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible tiny homes in case you or someone that you know has special needs. We recently had this question as a comment on a post about container homes:
“I rather like the ideas for container housing. What I need is a home that is electric wheelchair (and associated medical equipment) friendly. With an inability to use lofts, the need for a handicapped friendly shower and bathroom. Turning radius issues of the chair and widened door/hall openings the housing I need probably won’t fit in the “tiny” range. Shoving a bed into a corner won’t work either as you cannot get the wheelchair between the bed and the corner to make the bed. I’m trying to determine the balance between space enough to move around effectively and comfortably without a lot of unneeded space. Does anyone have any leads on something like this. Those of us needing this type of housing often are trying to live on disability and cannot afford a “full sized” house.”
Alex and I both though this was a worthy topic to discuss here at Tiny House Talk. There is no reason that a small house or other alternative building can’t be modified or designed to fit the needs each individual customer. So I began some research.
Meet and Margy and Wayne Lutz who live in a 675-square-feet small float cabin in a placed called Hole in the Wall in Coastal British Columbia.
It’s completely off-grid with water access only. They used a combination of solar power, wind, and thermo electricity for power.
Their home is the third cabin that their friend John built and they purchased it for approximately $25,000 in USD back in 2001.
Next to the home, is a beautiful docked boat that Wayne enjoys using to write and use his laptop in which has a solar panel on it as well for power.
In the video that you can watch at the bottom of this post he’ll explain the complete set up which uses two golf cart batteries to store power collected from panels, wind turbines, and the heat generated by their fireplace.
One of the latest owners of tiny house on a trailer seems like they purchased it to fix it up and resell it.
They updated the trailer by upgrading the axles, tongue, brakes, springs, some of the framing, and even replaced the tires. This was back in 2010.
Since then they listed it over at Tiny House Listings and put it up for sale for $45,000. It’s no longer available and I’m actually not sure if it actually sold at that price.
This 144-square-foot house on wheels actually has two decks. One by the entrance and the other one for your utilities like propane tanks and such. There are also two lofts in the home, one for you to sleep in and the other for storage.
Now that shower that you’re wondering about- which you’ll see in the photos below- is a beach mural covered in plexiglass. I thought that was a unique way to give the house a vacation-like touch.
It’s interesting because it covers two ways of building and using a tiny home… One as a backyard shelter or granny flat. And the other as a recreational vehicle parked out back. So here it is…
I called the city I live in yesterday, and for us to build a granny house and live in it, (aka Tiny House) our lot needs to be 10,000 sq. ft and it is only 6880 sq ft. So, when I asked about if we had a mobile home (aka your Tiny House on wheels) could we park it in our backyard on our corner lot, and he said, yes, but we could not live in it. In case a nosey neighbor reported us … oh well, this should be the worst of our troubles…
Any suggestions? We are still interested, but don’t want to spend the time and money on a Tiny House if we could get in trouble… ugh so frustrating, because this would be wonderful to have our college grad in a year? son live in it, and he would love the freedom it would offer as well. I would appreciate any suggestions to deal with the permit/city people you might have. I live in the San Jose, Ca area…
Hi Joni, thanks so much for your question. I’m sure this is something that a lot of people considering tiny homes have similar concerns on. And lots of areas around the country might fit into a similar situation.
It’s too bad that you weren’t allowed to build a granny flat because of the size of your lot but interesting that you’re still allowed to park a structure there if it’s on a trailer. I’d be interested in finding out what the rules are for camping in the tiny house while it’s parked in your backyard.
If that’s a possibility, then how many days are you allowed to consecutively camp in it? If anybody else has any ideas, please share them in the comments. Thank you!
One of the most common questions I’m asked about the tiny house movement is “Where can I build or park my tiny home?” You’ll quickly find that most municipalities are not tiny house friendly and you can’t build such a small home on a foundation. Even if you put it on wheels, which cause the regulations to change (RV rather than dwelling), there are still some rules that you need to adhere to. It can be frustrating for someone who just wants to downsize and simplify their lives.
However, there has been buzz for some time about one city that offers a very friendly experience to tiny house owners: Portland.
I reached out to Tiny House community members to learn about their experiences in Portland and I heard back from Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens.