Habitat for Humanity Cabarrus County in Concord, North Carolina, just completed the first tiny house of its kind in the state, possibly nationwide. Weighing in at 488 square feet, the one-bedroom house is handicap compliant with a wheelchair turning radius in every room, and built to high energy efficiency standards.
“It all started a couple of years ago when I started looking for an alternative for myself to the 1750 square foot home I currently own,“ says Shirley Kennerly, Family Services Coordinator for Habitat Cabarrus. While researching smaller homes, she stumbled across the tiny house concept and was intrigued. Not only did she find a dwelling alternative that will suit her needs eventually, but found an answer for an applicant population consisting mostly of older singles and couples on fixed incomes. Shirley had to decline these applicants more often than not, due to very low income.
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Tiny House, Big Impact
And so it began. Shirley and Dene Dawson, Program Manager and contractor for Habitat Cabarrus, teamed up to make a tiny house happen in Cabarrus County. After two years of research, proposals, talking with Kannapolis City officials, the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA), System Vision, sponsors and donors, the project broke ground in February 2015. Volunteers went to work and the house was completed in July 2015.
Barbara, the new homeowner, is delighted! Disabled, she was homeless and in a shelter after a separation. She moved into her brother’s basement for a while, and she applied for a home with Habitat Cabarrus. Barbara qualified for transitional housing and was accepted into the homeownership program a year later.
“I was afraid of having to spend the rest of my life on the fringes,” Barbara told us. “Habitat Cabarrus has given me the opportunity to have a decent home so I can put down some roots!” A smaller home will mean much less maintenance for Barbara, and that’s very important to a disabled individual. Her interest free mortgage, escrow and utilities will be well within her budget.
There is high interest in this house across the state. Many other Habitat affiliates are visiting to tour the house and learn from the experience of Habitat Cabarrus.
Plans for the future? “We hope to build two more tiny houses on the same block” says Shirley. “We’re a small affiliate and are now building six houses each year. The tiny house is a wonderful addition to our portfolio of new houses, repair, and revitalization projects. Being the first, we consider Habitat Cabarrus to be the “pebble in the still pond” and hope other affiliates will be able to follow our example. It is, after all, all about the people we serve.”
Features of the Habitat Cabarrus Tiny House
- Built to SystemVision energy standards with an estimated heating/cooling cost of $16/month using a 15.5 Seer ducted mini-split HVAC unit
- Super-efficient one-story design with using space-saving features such as pocket doors
- Universal design features such as 36” door openings, 60” radius and T-turns for wheel chair access, zero step front and side entrances, ADA shower and toilet grab bars, ADA stove
- Allergy-free flooring throughout the home (Low VOC Laminate and Ceramic Tile)
- Low maintenance exterior – fibrous cement siding, vinyl soffit, metal fascia, gutter guards
- 3rd-party built furniture features scaled to tiny house dimensions
Our big thanks to Shirley Kennerly for sharing!
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