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This 250 sq. ft. tiny guest house in Oakland, California is a guest post by John Olmsted of New Avenue Homes

Travis and Kelly approached New Avenue back in February 2013 to discuss adding an accessory dwelling to the backyard of their Oakland, CA home. This 250 square foot casita is intended as a guesthouse and office.

Construction took about 5 to 6 months and began at the end of 2013. Some challenges to this project included poor access to the backyard, a very sloped lot, and older utilities which lead to a replaced water line. Just as the work came to completion in June 2014, Travis and Kelly adopted a baby. Now they take turns working from home two days a week in their backyard office so they can spend quality time with the newest member of their family.

When family and friends are in town to see the new baby or if Travis and Kelly are entertaining and hosting a get-together, they offer their casita as a small home away from home for overnight guests. It has a fully functioning bathroom and working washer dryer. When the family is away, it serves as a residence for their dog-sitter.

250 Sq. Ft. Tiny House in Oakland, CA Backyard (Guest House)

250 Sq. Ft. Backyard Tiny House by New Avenue Homes

Images © New Avenue Homes

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It’s been a while since I discussed the issues of tiny house zoning, codes, and communities.

And asked the question, “can you actually live tiny legally?”

This post will give you my ideas when it comes to legally living tiny, creating communities, and opportunities in the tiny house world.

You’ll also get to read an email from a reader who asked some really great questions (he’s a land use planner).

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Legally Living in Tiny Houses

“I am curious about the “tiny house” as  a legitimate, full time housing option…do they/can they…meet building codes, be attached to the ground, be connected to public water, sewer, and other public utilities, meet energy code standards, meet zoning codes, etc.”

I urge you to read more about legally living tiny, creating communities and even opportunities below:

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I thought you’d also like this tiny house on a foundation in Paris, France.

To me, it just goes to show how you can design and build tiny in so many ways other than on wheels (see our small houses, tiny cabins and apartment categories).

I’d like to see more and more homes like these being designed and built for people all over the world who prefer not to over-house themselves.

As soon as you walk in through the front door you’re immediately greeted by the living room and corner kitchen.

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215 Sq. Ft. Tiny Home in Paris, France

Tiny house in Paris

In total, we’re talking about 215 square feet of interior space. Let me show you around.

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I had the chance to capture this tiny pink guest cottage in Florida a few days ago and wanted to share it with you here.

The owner didn’t have the exact dimensions but it’s definitely less than 500 sq. ft. and she was nice enough to let me take pictures inside and out for me to share with you.

This is what I call a grandfathered-in tiny cottage here in Florida because you can no longer build this small in this seaside town.

The cottage is also rare because it hasn’t been added onto like most of the ones that are still around in the area. It’s pretty much in its original state besides general upkeep and maintenance throughout the years.

Tiny Cottage in Florida

Tiny Pink Guest Cottage

Photos by Alex Pino

I only wish they still built homes like this today instead of the oversized cookie cutter homes we normally see being developed around here.

Anyway, I encourage you to enjoy touring the rest of this beautiful tiny house on a foundation below:

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I thought you’d like this tiny house that’s in Yport on top of a cliff in Normandy, France. My favorite part about it is not only the location but the rooftop terraces that are accessible on the second floor from the bedroom.

Directly underneath the rooftop terraces are some covered patios. These are available as wings on opposite sides of the home. It was created by architect Franklin Azzi and can actually be finished in a variety of ways which I’ll show you below.

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Tiny House w/ Rooftop Terrace in France

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Last year, in a Podcast conversation with Andrew Odom of Tiny Revolution he asked me why we built our tiny house on a foundation rather than wheels. I chuckled because the answer was actually quite boring and practical. Our tiny house is on a mountain and there is a significant slope to the land. We built it on a post a pier foundation to avoid two things: the house rolling down the mountain and having to bring heavy equipment up the mountain to level a spot and pour a slab.

We chose this location because it is where we wanted our tiny house to be.

I won’t lie – the foundation was the single hardest thing we did during our tiny house build. It was a pain to figure out how to build it in three dimensions. Not only did we need it to be square and level but it also needed to be plumb. We agonized over this process and in the end we have a very well-built house that is pretty solid.

Photo by Laura M. LaVoie

Photo by Laura M. LaVoie

The steps for building our foundation were:

  1. Map the footprint
  2. Figure out the slope (which goes in two directions)
  3. Use a two-man auger to dig the post holes
  4. Place Sonotubes and measure the height and level of each pier
  5. Mix and pour concrete
  6. Set anchor bolts
  7. Measure and cut 4x4s for the highest posts
  8. Assemble the structure and decking
Photo By Laura M. LaVoie

Photo By Laura M. LaVoie

We had a friend help us with the auger because no matter how tough I pretend to be that huge machine was not something I could handle. Once the holes were dug, though, Matt and I were on our own.

Read more about our construction below.

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Meet Matt and Laura. They’re building their own Tiny House in the woods of western North Carolina while they live and work in Atlanta.

That means progress on the house is made on the weekends. And a high five for power tools! They started in April of 2009 and are nearing completion almost two years later.

I wanted to take a moment to publicly congratulate you two (yes you, Matt and Laura!) on your first year of working on Life in 120 Square Feet (click to visit their blog).

You’ll notice that theirs is not built on a trailer and instead they decided to go with a more permanent approach (I’m sure they can move it if they want to later).


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Matt and Laura's Tiny House on a regular Foundation

I like the idea of using a traditional foundation versus building on wheels. It gives these homes way more of that Thoreau feel, you know? And I like that.

If you’re wondering, they used the Tarleton design from Tumbleweed Tiny Houses.

You can learn more about them and their previous progress at the links below.

Life in 120 Square Feet Blog
LiveJournal Archives

Photo Credit: Matt and Laura


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