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Tiny House Subdivision within Community

One of my favorite things about doing email is the interesting tiny house ideas that come in while reading and replying to messages. Today I received the following email from a reader:

Have you done anything with Habitat on Tiny Homes. I have worked with people at church that are trying to get back on there feet and are single. They would love to own a home but would have no need for a full house. A tiny home subdivision on a bus route seems to me a viable idea. Big cities needing low income workers that want the respectability of owning a home.

Let me know if you have any input on this idea.

This got me thinking. What about a tiny house subdivision somewhere that is within a bus route for single people? Maybe small patches of tiny home communities can spring up within current communities. In a separate area from the rest of the homes there.

Tiny House Subdivision

Photo Credit Roger W/Flickr

Tiny House Community Solution: Subdivisions?

You know how when you drive into some gated communities there is an area with condominiums, another one with townhouses, and an area for single family homes?

If not, can it be done in other areas instead? I know what you’re thinking. This can’t be done anywhere! Nobody would allow it. Well, let’s go back to what our reader said. Remember he mentioned Habitat for Humanity?

If they’re already connecting with the community and finding places to build homes for folks in need then what if we attempted to work through them to secure a lot for a tiny house subdivision, possibly in one of the very same areas where they’re building Habitat for Humanity Homes? More ideas, too, below…

Tiny House Subdivision Location Ideas:

  • RV Parks
  • Vacant land
  • Empty/unused parking lots
  • Fairgrounds

What if some communities opened up to the idea of an area for tiny houses? Do you even think this is possible? If it was possible, how do you think it could work? Please share what you like best about the idea in the comments. Thanks!

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Jay
    February 24, 2013, 8:26 am

    I have spent the last year working in southern california. A building type there that may be of interest is the courtyard cottages in Pasadena and Glendale (others exist, those are just the ones I have laid eyes on). They take a normal city lot, put 6-8 200-300 sf cottages around a central sidewalk and voila! We have ‘worker’ housing from two generations ago. Unfortunately, all of the examples I have seen are from two generations ago. McFathouse has overpowered the national psyche. But the prototypes are out there, we just need to get government zoning and rewards for an oversized mortgage off the table and we will start to see the trend back to what we really need (note, that does not mean a ‘craft room’ on the third floor for a couple in their 50’s with no kids!)

  • JC
    February 24, 2013, 9:06 am

    As with any low income housing the challenge, it would seem to me, would be keeping crime out once it was done. But maybe the uniqueness of home ownership tied into this concept would be enough to keep crime at bay. Either way interesting concept.

    • Erik Markus
      February 24, 2013, 1:24 pm

      “Keep crime out” ?
      There is crime everywhere. Sprawl based suburbs is where crime is rising fastest.
      I’ve found that close knit communities, like the cottages plan, actually helps to curtail crime. People live closer together and are able to see suspicious activity, next door.
      Just knowing that others are close by, often an overlooked human need, tends to make people happier and less likely to engage in destructive behaviours.

      What gives me the creeps, go to these old fashioned ‘stuck-to-the-ground’ subdivisions, with the 2000, 3000, 4000 + s.f. homes. (they are a dime a dozen). You drive past and wonder, what are they doing in there? What are they stockpiling? Who are they holding hostage? Who are they abusing and getting away with it? What are they hoarding? Especially in these houses that are on lots 2 acre or larger homes where, the people could be doing unnamable things and the sound barrier is such that, no may hear. I think most of us would be shocked if we knew the truth. I’ve been there, it isn’t pretty.
      I remember in 2008 and the credit crisis was hitting big time. In south Sacramento (and other places) they had numerous issues with these sized homes, in these tract subdivisions (again, a dime a dozen), and drug makers, I guess, drug dealers?, (it’s so disgusting) would take these homes, make it look typical from the outside, but on the inside, convert the place into a ‘grow house'(?). Steal electricity, ruin the house, cut up walls, spill toxic chemicals on the floor. These end up having to be torn down because they are so corrupted. Sad and pathethic.

      Yes, crime is an issue we are all concerned with.
      I worry less in my tiny home. I have to admit at first, I was a bit concerned, but I quickly found that my issues were unfounded.

      First, I’m with other Tiny housers and we look out for each other, even if we don’t know each other.
      Second, I have found overwhelming interest in, and approval of the Tiny house format. Like anything else, the more quaint and homey it appears, the better accepted. And I have to tell you, as a shy person, I’ve had to get used to the new publicity. People literally asking if they can see the inside of my home. If you like attention, you will love a Tiny house.

      Also, like any other home community, it depends on management. If you live in a park, a condo, a mobile home park, a retirement community, for example, you probably have an on site manager, and hopefully they are discerning and helpful.
      If you live in the old, out-dated, ‘stuck-to-the-ground’ type housing developement, you probably don’t have that protection. Some have home owners associations, but often they are nothing more than a dues collecting organization that is only concerned with ridiculous, materialistic standards.

      • JC
        February 24, 2013, 2:21 pm

        Don’t misunderstand. I like the idea, but there are a few hurdles to overcome. Low income projects are awash in crime. This is not to say, of course, that crime is only a poor problem, or that any community could “keep crime out”. Every community should try though and it’s to some degree easier in some communities. One of the things that appeals to Small home living is the economics by choice. However, the same economics that make this an attractive choice for some could make this a holding cell for others who only live there because they no other economic choice.
        The second potential issue such a community could be viewed by some as a “trailer park” and the stigma that comes with it.
        I also agree with your comment that as a whole the “small house community” looks after each other.

        • Erik Markus
          February 24, 2013, 4:10 pm

          Perceptions change.
          I can understand where negative perceptions of mobile home parks came from. When I think of the stuff made in the 1950s and 1960. UGH, I wouldn’t live in one of them, and I LOVE the concept of mobile homes/RVs.
          Yet, MILLIONS of mobile homes sold during those years, so there is interest.

          Soon Tiny Home Parks will be the rage.

          Think about this. There was once a time when it was considered acceptable to smoke, even desirable. OMG.

          There was a time when it was considered cool to be republican. lol, also OMG. Now, because of the corruption associated with that group, fewer than 22% have a positive image (probably the same group that still smokes).

          Did you ever think in your life time (I’m 45) that Gay marriage would be law of the land. It’s just around the corner. Several states have paved the way and heteros, incredibly, haven’t suffered because of it.

          Yes, perceptions change. When you tweak a product it can suddenly go from being a liability, to something everyone wants.

          There was a time, about 100 years ago, when electricity had a shaky start. hmm. Can you imagine the debate: do I put electric in my home, or NO, we really don’t need to take a chance with such a fly-by-night concept. ?

          Mobile housing has been around since the covered wagon of the 1800s and personal train cars, and yachts.

          The concept of stability has also evolved. Who knew that numerous ‘elderly’ would “retire” to life in an rv, traveling from one section of the country to the next.

      • Mary
        February 24, 2013, 2:43 pm

        The reason low-cost projects have crime is that these homes have taken the place of institutions for the cities and counties. Chroniclly anti-social people who are not in jail, and have families of some minor means, buy the houses and as homeowners, those chronically anti-social people are protected in place. The “relative” that finances the home gets the benefit of the investment when the problem finally goes away. The “crime” is usually just under the radar, like petty theft or killing plants, or code violations like illegal hookups and crowding the property line or collecting garbage. Often it is the feeding of wild animals in the city until it becomes a nusiance to the neighborhood, which is against the law everywhere.

        • JC
          February 24, 2013, 2:53 pm

          Can’t say as I disagree Mary.
          I’ve lived in small rural areas, big cities, and a little between. My comments before are a direct reflection of the work I’ve done in section 8 housing in the city.
          I think one of the major pluses to a small town is how people treat one another. (On the whole anyway.) It seems to me that if one were going to try to build this “community” with small home living at the core that the challenge would be to steer it towards the small town mentality and away from the section 8 mentality. Easier done in some areas than others.

        • Mary
          February 24, 2013, 5:30 pm

          Sorry to go off on the subject like that. My home is in a very unique situation. I’m sure there are plenty of lower-priced communities that are quite nice. I need to remind myself of my first tiny home in a cookie-cutter neighborhood built after WWII. It was the mid-seventies and the homes were already reputed to constitute an undesirable neighborhood, but on our street the residents were normal working people. Our kids went to school together. It’s all about getting to know the neighborhood before buying your tiny home, as with any home I believe. My neighborhood now is the result of city enforcement problems and local politics.

  • Cahow
    February 24, 2013, 9:13 am

    Hi Alex! As usual, I LOVE the topics you post!

    Okay, here’s my thoughts on your question. But first I need to say, “I’m NOT a negative person, but I AM a pragmatic person with decades of hard-core inner city living.” Both my husband and I and 80% of our friends work in some sort of construction/architecture, so we’re beyond knowledgeable about codes. Okay, ’nuff said. 😉

    IF the idea of “tiny houses” was turned into “tiny TOWNHOUSES”, I could certainly see the idea fly, much like that revamping of the Arcade in Rhode Island that you recently posted. When you compare C.P.S.F. of a building that is 50-100 years old that has stood the test of time vs. new construction, retrofitting an existing, empty building is much more cost effective. Plus, the sewer lines and electric are already IN the building, you just need to expand off of them. Having a locked-in floor plan that can NOT be added onto prevents expansion and keeps the Tiny Townhouse concept intact. Plus, 100% of these empty buildins are ALWAYS on major bus routes/El Stops and could even have the first floor rented out to a major grocery store, dry cleaner, Starbuck’s, etc. There could also be a Community Room for larger get-togethers, Meet & Greets, a library, etc. And of course, there would be shared laundry facilities, too.

    This is the MAJOR problem with tiny, independent, free-standing homes in an urban area: cost per square foot or C.P.S.F. When you figure that you’d have to finish off the sides and roof of each.tiny.house., plus run independent sewer/electric/water to each single unit, the cost of the tiny house would skyrocket and be completely unaffordable to buy. Same goes if you try to rent them out: the cost IS what the cost IS, so if a home owner can’t afford it, HOW could a renter afford the cost?

    Then, you have the governing body question: do you have a HOA or not? Well, as much as I hate a HOA, you better have one for THIS scenario! Why? Let’s say each tiny home is 225 sq. ft., like the Arcade floor plans. And, you own it outright. WHAT in the world is there to stop someone from adding a second floor or third or an extention off of the back, etc.? You would have to have a limit as to the amount of people allowed to live, per house, if pets of a certain weight were allowed, could sheds/storage be built in back, etc. If you did NOT have these provisos, your quaint and sweet Tiny Town would quickly turn into a Shanty Town and be shut down by the city!

    Even in rural areas, you need rules. Ever drive past an older trailer park? THAT is where the derogatory words “Trailer Trash” come from! Substandard add-ons, lean-tos, sheds, tarps and all manner of crap seem to collect in lower income trailer parks and the same thing would happen to a collection of tiny homes, if not regulated.

    Do I like HOA’s? HELL NO!!!! I’d never live anywhere where they existed! But, that’s what owning your own acreage is all about. If you live in a collective community, then you must pay the price.

    • Alex
      February 24, 2013, 12:27 pm

      Cahow, you speak the truth. Well said.. I agree that some kind of HOA is required for this to succeed. There MUST be rules and people have to apply, etc.

      I really liked your point on creating communities based on existing structures because of the cost savings. Really good point. I guess another scenario that can still work pretty well though is buying up a distressed RV park and converting it into a tiny home community w/ HOA. Even though we all hate HOA’s, we know we need them. Lol.

    • Erik Markus
      February 24, 2013, 3:47 pm

      Converting the stockpile of Dead shopping malls and big box stores into eco-friendly housing, has its possibilities. The few times I’ve gone to a mall, mainly back in the 80s, I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to have living units above the store, looking out on the pedestrians. But, because of the abuse of square footage in these aweful places, you couldn’t not economically and SAFELY get a 250 s.f unit in where it would have window. Volume wise, the plan might work, but then most units would not have windows.
      Malls, like 1950s rvs, were designed to flatter automobiles. They never should have been built, need to be dozed, and the acreage turned into something desirable (after all the cement and asbestos is cleaned up)

      When I think of the acreage that was paved over, just for one of these places, aohh.

      On-site management is always key, it doesn’t matter what type housing it is. HOA are not on-site management.

      I can’t understand why any invester would want to do anything other than a Tiny home park. It’s so simple. Acquire empty land, install utility lines under ground, install minimal roads, fencing, and landscaping, bring in a mobile office and rent spots to Tiny housers and people wishing to have Tiny businesses(on wheels, like a coffee shop) toward the road or entrance.

      Compare this to:
      Constructing an apartment building or commercial space(OK, already a glutted market). Much MORE expensive. Management is a head-ache.
      Maintenance Big-time expensive (replacing carpet isn’t cheap). Staying up to date with the ‘latest look’, which is subjective, blah, blah, blah.

      As a Tiny home (on wheels) park owner, all you do is rent spots to qualified Tiny Home owners (not RVers), make sure utilities are working (easy enough), maintain roads and lawns (also easy), and collect rents.
      I think in larger parks, a community center with kitchen, meeting room, library, and taxi service would be a great option.

      I understand why some people have a problems with the older style mobile home parks.
      As much of a fan of RVs and mobile homes as I am, I look at the stuff made in 1950s and 1960s and say ‘What were they thinking’? Aweful. The average person, that is what they think of. I wouldn’t live in units like those from the 1950s and 1960s.

      Tiny homes, on the other hand, are designed as Houses, small houses, on wheels. With traditional styling, insulation, mod cons, and in a park that has good management and people paying their fair share in community fees, these are an asset to any community. It’s not difficult. Hey, if the idea of paving over a large swath of land and building a energy sucking building like a Mall can be “accomplished”, a modest Small home park is certainly possible.

      Oh, one other thing, Tiny Home Parks are not to be located next to the freeway, by the power plant, next to the railroad line, or hidden behind a factory where no one would want to live. Another nice thing about Tiny homes is they are small and can fit in tight spaces and awkward sized lots where the outdated ‘stuck-to-the-ground’ homes won’t fit. Lots also don’t need to be perfectly flat or highly processed to make ready for sprawl type housing.

      We evolved from living in caves, we will evolve from living in sprawling, toxic, energy wasting, immobile ‘stuck-to-the-ground’ housing as well.

      • February 24, 2013, 6:36 pm

        Well said! I think we can do this!

  • Edueck
    February 24, 2013, 11:14 am

    Hello: I want to share My 2 cents, The tiny houses or trailers they would need to have some rules set in place. The are to RV parks where you can come and go at any time. If you wanted to stay for any length of time you would have to have a foundation of some kind as well. You may have a signed lease for (lets say a month) to ensure that you wouldn’t be gone over night.

    In MY opinion and it’s only mine, if you owned the land and supplied the power, sewage and the lot the you could do it. Like a tiny home park, for the most part I don’t think any large city would let you do this. The state would want tax for the building. I can’t say for most areas but I know in some places you can’t be charged tax if your house has wheels. You need a foundation to be taxed. For this reason you may have a problem with the subdivision. This would cause a problem with transportation for people with our a means of travel. I could see it if you had a country property and you had a section that you devoted to this kind of living then you would still be taxed on your property. Would you be taxed on trailers and /or on small houses I don’t know.

    There is a 55 plus mobile park not far from my place and this is just for people 55 and over. They don’t want any families with kids living there as it is for the older who want quit. They have it set up that you set your trailer on there property on a footing and the wheels come off. But then it’s harder to move a 70 x 16 foot trailer then a 8×16 foot. It’s harder to put the wheels back on when you want to move.

    I thought about it myself but I couldn’t do it in town because the RM would not let me do it even tho I own the lot. So my next thought was to get a spot by a lake and go there when I want peace and quit. Of course there would have to be fishing as well.

    • Alex
      February 24, 2013, 12:31 pm

      Thanks for sharing Edueck. I know of many in my area that are for 55+ too. And I guess the city doesn’t mind mobile homes if they’re sitting on a lot that’s taxed, right?

    • Erik Markus
      February 24, 2013, 2:08 pm

      You bring up some good points about taxes.

      I live in my 34′ Tiny house on wheels. I’m renting my spot at the moment and I’m sure a percentage of my rent actually makes into the fund for the police, library, etc. However, the percentage is probably not the same as another single person living in some other type of housing. Which really isn’t fair. I mean these type taxes should be allocated based on the number of people in a household, not on property value. If I call for Police or Fire, or go to the library, go to the voting booth, I’m using community services.
      I would happily pay for community fees say in the form of a surcharge of $500- $1000 a year. I expect the same services as anyone else. I should pay, just like anyone else.

      Also, I noticed you doing something I’ve done in the past. I’m sure your well meaning in your terms, and I’m not saying anything about you.

      When we say “they”, we have to remember that “they” are not some overbearing body to whom which we collectively are underneath.
      “They” work for ALL of us as civil servants, LITERALLY.
      “They” are not kings, though usually don’t assume they are, but often WE, in the U.S., act as if they are. It’s human nature to want to work together. “They” are there to help, and most of the time, they do a good job. When our public policies have been corrupted by a handful of un-special interests looking to profit financially, as is the case with using health and safety codes to imply that a certain size home is a standard, than WE have to be sure and remind the “they” that they work for ALL of us.

      I remember building my 2nd ‘stuck-to-the-ground’ house, on a 2 acre lot. I would have been fine with 1500 s.f. home, but the minimum requirements were 2400 s.f. I was never happy there, I over spent, and I lost money on the place. I never questioned, going into that purchase the building “restrictions”. I was too young and nieve.

      Having a place with good fishing. That is a true valued asset and one of lifes joys. I hope you find the right spot for you.

      • Edueck
        February 24, 2013, 8:29 pm

        I understand the need for emergency personnel but some times you wonder if they are there for you or they are there for the Mayor. In the case of our capital city it seems to be for our Mayor’s personal money grab. There have been cases where the policing service worked over time JUST to hand out tickets. This isn’t just in our city where they try this and when they get caught then they explain it away as a need.

        If your trying to get this past the government, talk to there WALLET. What I mean by that is, if you talk where this will make them money they’ll listen. A few years ago I drove truck for this company and my employer didn’t like to spend money if he didn’t have to. I needed some work done on my truck so I told him about it and like always he didn’t want to. Because I’m a Canadian I told him about the exchange rate (which was high) and the call out fee. I told him that the costs would be high if I broke down and had to call for repairs. It was a mater of minutes till my truck was in the shop for the repairs. So this is what I mean by talking to their WALLET, it might work.

        By the way, the ice is about 4 feet thick or I would have gone fishing already. An 8 inch ice auger is about 600.00 and it’s a bit pricy right now so I would have to get a hand one OUCH it takes to long.

        • Erik Markus
          February 24, 2013, 9:29 pm

          “What I mean by that is, if you talk where this will make them money they’ll listen”
          Yes, someone looking to develope a Tiny Home park would be smart to propose collecting community use fees, in addition to taxes, from it’s new occupants, to prove to neighbors that they are serious about be Good neighbors.

          As for the ice, oww. I used to live in Minnesota. In fact I designed my home to be comfortable in sub-zero environment.

          How about this. If you have have a tiny house on wheels, a tiny house boat ADAPTER. Sort of like a pontoon. Just roll your tiny house onto the this boat structure.
          Now you have a house boat. In the winter park your home right out on the ice. When the ice melts, no biggee.
          You go from fishing off your back porch in winter, to diving off it, in summer. lol.

  • Charito
    February 24, 2013, 11:51 am

    I lived in a trailer park in Florida. It was mostly very old and very new trailers. It was in a transition phase. They were only accepting brand new trailers from a certain manufactor, The majority were owned but neccesitated a lot fee for the communal areas and upkeep. The park ended up with 8 wood sided park models 12 by 28 ft. after a hurricane somewhere. They were so cute, painted yellow, lilac,soft green, bright blue. They looked like key west bungalows. The floor plans were brilliant ! At different times I lived in a two bedroom with a loft and the other was totally open with a loft. The rent was $500 a month, it included water and your first tank of gas. There was no lot fee.They had dishwashers, centeral heat and airconditioning, and a front deck/ porch that equaled the interior sq. footage. My units were well insulated. My electric eas $28 in winter to $48 in summer. I kept the air on 80 for the whole summer, due to the hummidity. My little gas tank lasted 8 mo (I mostly ate out as there were MANY restaurants within walking distance. The public library (we had one on site) the grocery store, the mall, the bus stop all within easy walking even for old disabled ladies! It was heaven to me. The problem was the community. They HATED us, shunned us, forbid us to use the community ammenities, that part was hell. The people who lived in these lovely cottages were NOT low income. For the most part we were aging single women who liked the idea of not being in an apartment. We paid our own money to jazz up the cottages. I put in an awesome spiral staircase and ammended the deck and put in a very breathtaking garden that I took care of myself. It was my most favorite home I had ever lived in. I ended up leaving because we were being slowly and methodically shut out of the community. The managers caved in. They wanted us to pay lot rent too. When they couldn’t make that work, we were told we could buy the units but had to remove them from the community. I now live in Mexico, I own my own land in a farm community. The pop is just under 2000 people. There are no building codes or regulations except leave space for the roads. I am building a castle out of rock and within my compound I will have little vardo like cottages. I will have a huge garden and a huge Harvest kitchen that will be our central location. It will be an active farm and all my family and workers will live on site. Thats my solution! We will also be off grid. I found a place where I can live the way I want! Good luck in your search for a community. I think it will have to be an RV park that only allows a limited square footage with a HOA to take care of the infrastructure. My only advice is please put some space between the dwellings so the residents feel they have some privacy.

    • Nancy K
      February 24, 2013, 1:16 pm

      Charito, I live in South Florida…just wondering what city and what was the name of the Park that was in…just courious….

  • David Gridley
    February 24, 2013, 12:30 pm

    There is a huge pasture area in back of my apartment complex just ripe for this kind of development.. but if I were to build this sort of community, I’d also build some storage container retail convenience stores on the property as well, such as a small grocery for items like milk, bread, eggs.. dvd rental kiosk like Redbox.

    • Nancy K
      February 24, 2013, 1:10 pm

      I agree..I like the idea of a small store, but I hope that they would not be one that would charge outrageous prices…as well as a small laundry area..a nice community vegetable garden would also be a good idea. A way to help out each other, especially when folks get a little older and can’t do as much for themselves, or women who are out there by themselves. I think these small homes and communities could be a great idea, I do worry about low income and the problems that can come from that. I just think that so many people are realizing that helping each other out is the best thing for everyone and I hope that I can one day live in a community like this, and be happy.

  • February 24, 2013, 1:16 pm

    Have a look at this concept being pursued by one of the pioneers of the Tiny House movement. http://www.fourlightshouses.com/pages/the-napoleon-complex. Need to find a falling down trailer park (don’t want to kick out of the residents) which is served by sufficient infrastructure. There is one up the road from where the developer of the subdividion being planned.

  • February 24, 2013, 1:37 pm

    I agree with all that has been stated especially “Cashow”….there is no question we need affordable housing…if it is to be inner city….the more units per square foot of the lot size …the less cost per unit….this is for permanent structures fully connected to the grid …water, sewer, power, phone, and natural gas….I for one do not see individual small houses inner city….meeting all reasonable building codes will be cost effective…multiple floors with individual apartments have proven to be the least cost per square foot….IE all the housing projects through out the countries cities…..how they are taken care of …..is the issue…I can say I understand this very very well…..being from the Bronx and Manhattan….now if you are trying to address the “Tiny Houses” on wheels this is a completely different issue….the only model that fits this is an “Elite” campground type set up …like they do at these all ” Airstreams” only type campgrounds only this time you are limiting it towards tiny houses on wheels….either way the owner of the campground or the HOA….will be paying taxes accordingly…I do not see this going any other way for “legal” portable tiny house communities…..now this is not to say a group could not get together and “wing it”….get by……..fly under the radar….but if you want to charge as a real business….Dept of Health….will want to see engineered septics….treated water, the town will want to see fire and EMS access with adequate roads etc….thanks…Bill Rockhill…owner ..Bear Creek Carpentry Company….

  • February 24, 2013, 2:09 pm

    Tom Merle…..this is a great idea….it is definetly “build able” the unfortunate part is it will not be affordable…..I have seen no actual hard core numbers ….but an individual tiny house community set on a city lot of say ….one full acre 208″x208″……lets do the math…lets say for arguments sake we squeezed 40 tiny houses on one acre…with public space, parking, utilities access….what cost would you put on the raw land? 500,000.00? This is cheap that’s over 12,000.00 per unit raw land cost……now you excavate and install all up to date state of the art utilities…..water, power, sewer, steam or not, natural gas, telephone , television and Internet, roads , landscaping, and sidewalks…..plus a laundry….public house….group house…garden space…lets say this is another 15,000.00 per unit yes these are rough but very reasonable numbers…now sell them the built in unit…..from the foundation on up…..at least 70 to 80,000.00 per unit…..with out profit you are well over 110 to 125,000 per unit……this is a luxury…..then each unit must pay to an individual land owner or the HOA….for maintenance for all…besides their tiny house……..sorry to ramble……oh by the way ….we built all those buildings you put the link up for…thanks…Bill Rockhill….

    • February 24, 2013, 6:59 pm

      While people tend to lowball costs, I think your numbers are too high. Jay is looking at Forestville because he can get an acre or two close to town for less than half a million. You make it a coop and you get the city/county to subsidize the hookup charges which are usually the deal killer (see Santa Cruz, Portland, etc.). You also get ‘off the shelf’ modular housing– no not a company like Blu or Living Homes which is costly–built near a site like the Silvercrest factory in Woodland, though it may have closed. Golden West has no frill one bedroom units for $31,000 and a 2 bedroom for 40,000.

      You also left out the part about taking over a dilapitated trailer park with virtually no occupany and zoned for mobile homes. Or not such a run down park, where the owners might take something higher to walk away with cash. Go to Google Maps and type in Wine Country RV Park, 7450 Cristobal Way, Rohnert Park, CA and zoom in using satellite.

    • February 24, 2013, 6:59 pm

      While people tend to lowball costs, I think your numbers are too high. Jay is looking at Forestville because he can get an acre or two close to town for less than half a million. You make it a coop and you get the city/county to subsidize the hookup charges which are usually the deal killer (see Santa Cruz, Portland, etc.). You also get ‘off the shelf’ modular housing– no not a company like Blu or Living Homes which is costly–built near a site like the Silvercrest factory in Woodland, though it may have closed. Golden West has no frill one bedroom units for $31,000 and a 2 bedroom for 40,000.

      You also left out the part about taking over a dilapitated trailer park with virtually no occupany and zoned for mobile homes. Or not such a run down park, where the owners might take something higher to walk away with cash. Go to Google Maps and type in Wine Country RV Park, 7450 Cristobal Way, Rohnert Park, CA and zoom in using satellite.

      • Bill Rockhill
        February 24, 2013, 8:39 pm

        Tom Merle…..if you can put a 300 to 500 sf house up …on a foundation with all the services installed heat, electric, plumbing, ac, sewage….complete for 31 to 40 g that’s a great deal….you could not build something up north here for that…..would like to see it happen….thanks..Bill…

  • Dan Garnitz
    February 24, 2013, 2:40 pm

    This something I was thinking about here for awhile. Problem I had here was city codes. Part of the picture deals with if we are talking about tiny houses on trailer or foundation. I have been looking at some of the vacated trailer parks here locally, thinking that they already have utility feeds, and set up for individual small lots. I have been looking to make sure public transport is close by, as well as convience items such as grocery, fast food, etc. I was thinking for empty nesters and college students or those just starting out. One of the problems with older people, such as myself, it is difficult to use a ladder to a loft, which can rule out a lot of trailer built plans. For those people you probably need a foundation based unit, though lately we are seeing stair cases and ground floor bedroom options. If you build it, RV park style, then you just charge a monthly rent for lot and hookups, and as the property owner you manage it and set rules and regs as you wish. If foundation built, which I think is a better way to do it, then you set up some sort of HOA who establish basic guidelines for the betterment of the community. Building a tiny house on a trailer and setting it in a RV park type environment gets you around some of the local building codes, depending where you live, which can be a plus. It’s size more or less dictates what can be done to it. Hard to add-on to an 8 X 20 trailer and still keep it portable. I have had “artist rendering” done of what I was thinking, based on foundation built homes, using some of Tumble Weeds cottage and larger plans, so I could explain it to local people and local building department. The idea looks good on paper, getting it to meet local building code is another thing. Several models that Tumble Weed has would work with minor changes, most just a matter of widing the plan by 3-4′ to comply with room sizes in the code. Set up like a nice subdivision, with perhaps some community amenities, it could work, if local building planners recognize the concept of down sizing, and lenders recognize them as a residental dwelling, so loans may be given on them. Lot of possibilties and related problems. I think once one such community is established and can be shown how it functions, local planners and such may give in some. Would love to see tiny house sub division communities popping up all over the country. I think tiny houses is a better option than say a hotel converted to condos. Who wants to pay $ 80K for a hotel room, plus condo fees and utilities (they are doing one here and that is what the developer has said he thinks they will sell for.)

  • TomLeeM
    February 24, 2013, 8:09 pm

    I think a tiny house community is a great idea for those who are single, those who need less due to lower income, and others who just like small dwelling places.

    Usually small means senior housing and sometimes more than what I think seniors could afford.

    • Erik Markus
      February 24, 2013, 9:11 pm

      I’m glad you brought that up, TomLee.

      I kind of feel like I’m chatting a bit today, I hope it doesn’t appear as dominating. Just say so.

      My thoughts are that a couple living in a Tiny home, they have children, they get another Tiny house or Tiny bedroom wing, to park right next door on the same lot, probably share a deck so its all on one level. Or there could be modules that connect together Maybe this new wing is just a bedroom and bath (no kitchen), maybe it has 2 or 3 “bedrooms”. I think of the example of the teenager Austin Hay, who lives near me, who just finished his Tiny home at the age of 17. When he leaves, he takes his home with him. It gets rid of the empty nest syndrome.

      Another extension of that is, Grandmother or Auntie. If she is living 3 states away, for example, she doesn’t need to sell her home and “stuff” in Cleveland, she just hooks up and moves her home right next door to her kids. Perhaps into the spot where the teen who just left for college was parked.

      Now, what parent wouldn’t appreciate having that degree of separation once in a while?

      Then there are those who have a home business, and need the space of an office/production unit. Here, I think of the couple who have done that very thing, I believe they’re in Arkansas (?) It’s a family of 3 with a Tiny house, and they added a separate office unit, on the same lot. Very nice set up.

      In developing properties for Tiny homes, some lots would need to take into consideration that some parties may have say, 5 units, on one large lot that are linked/connected together,
      maybe they would just rent 2 or more lots that are next to each other and the park would set certain lots aside for people who would need/want to rent more than one space.

      I think that Tiny home communities need to be just for Tiny homes. Certainly NOT Mobile homes or Park models, and if can be avoided, RVs. If someone needed to rent spaces, I could see going to RVs.

      Mobile homes and the smaller version, Park models need special trucks and permits to be moved, which cuts their flexibility. In the event, say, of an eviction, how would you easily remove the person?
      They also need extra wide and thick roads, that can sustain the weight. That adds to the cost of developement. Also, those are not designed for frequent moves, if one so choses. Anything with drywall or other building materials that aren’t eco-friendly, aren’t what I would call a Tiny house. Mobile homes are just as bad as ‘stuck-to-the-ground’ homes.

      These days, Mobile home dealers are trying not to use that term, and are currently doing the ‘bigger is better’ thing. You might find a few single wides at manufacturers, but they have ridiculous 16x80s, 32x80s, triple wides, and bigger. Just awful. Some aren’t even mobile homes. They are built as modules that require a crane to lift the units into place. The formaldehyde, and cheap plastic formed to look like fluted columns and radio-active granite counters. They are as bad as the ‘stuck-to-the-ground’ tract homes. In fact, they advertise and aspire to that. Isn’t that just ridiculous, lol.

      These days, there is little difference between a typical new mobile home and the site built garbage, compared to say 1955.
      Back then, mobile homes looked like a space ship and were cheap, cheap, but convenient and fun. While site built homes were made with SOLID WOOD, were small, small, & not convenient, and not always safe. It is interesting to see how they each have merged into each other.
      Ah, you can have my share of the OSB, TJI joists, radio active counter tops, and the ‘bigger is better’ attitude that Madison Avenue is selling.

      Anyway, I’m rambling, I’m sorry, guys. I’ll make a movie with my ideas in visual form.

  • Cottage CC
    March 2, 2013, 1:57 pm

    500K for an acre of real estate? That’s prime commercial property in most of flyover country. We have infill lots that sell for 5-10K, even less if it is in a rough neighborhood. The key is to look in a “non trendy” city. I’ve seen an acre with half of it buildable for under 60K. And that’s with a (fixxer upper) house!

    Also – with current insulation standards there’s not much energy savings from attaching the buildings. People want a little space. This country already has tons of attached apartments, it is time for something different.

  • george and pattie
    July 6, 2013, 10:53 am

    There is a lot of information about park models and tiny houses BUT Where are these communities? Very Frustrated. Please do respond if you have any information.

  • Chris
    November 5, 2013, 6:56 pm

    U should think about Detroit or city’s wiped out by storms u can but a lot of land For cheap or there’s land by me 30 archers for 44 grand in the mountains

  • Brian J. Wimmer
    November 6, 2013, 10:08 am

    I am a construction manager for a Habitat for Humanity affiliate and I question the validity of digging in whole foundations for the size houses we build with all the “typical” construction practices. It seems to me that, indeed, the government zoning and any other market drivers be changed to allow for houses that are modest, efficient, affordable. But, of course, the banking system would hate that. They love 30-year mortgages! So it remains a challenge to move into a whole other way of thinking and providing “Simple, Decent, Affordable Housing.


  • September 5, 2015, 9:04 pm

    I have so wanted a tiny home for so long. I have a Idea of a tiny home community for people over 50 where most or retired and content to stay but like the tiny life. I will be selling my home soon to down size.
    I have looked into some land that is not restricted in two different areas in SC. My idea is to get people together that want to live tiny and want a place where people look out for each other and will welcome their neighbors, I have a plan of sorts. Purchase the land
    get it divided into lots big enough for larger tiny homes but nothing
    bigger than 500 square feet max. all would be perm to stay in, no covenants other than keeping it pretty, but as a artist each resident could bring their individuality to the community. I had the idea about
    within the community having someone who owns a golf cart showing potiental neighbors around, later have a tiny store a tiny post office,
    I do like the idea about one big house to be like a club house or recreational. I would like to have a park area with grills and and picnic tables for events, I would love for it to remind us of days gone by, a place to be proud of but not full of our selves . the ones who can help others do. and so on. I will be able to get the land I believe within the next two years I was thinking if I could find a tiny home builder to help me build or complete my tiny home, I could give them a spot for their tiny home it would be theirs like a trade off. just in Idea stages

  • Linda
    January 27, 2016, 1:29 am

    How do I contact a tiny community, join, build, be an active participant and friend?

  • William
    July 27, 2018, 6:44 am

    Been there done that.
    We used to call tiny home communities, trailer parks.
    Seen some good ones and seen some bad ones.
    The small ones work best.

  • Kim
    July 19, 2019, 7:52 pm

    I think of this often. I lost my job and my home because of illness. I now live with my daughter and son in law. I would love to live in a community like your talking about. You could have a community garden for those able to work in it. Everyone could help each other with whatever talent they have-trade off. It’s a wonderful dream but I think that it would be expensive just like everything is now. I would absolutely love it.
    Thanks for your idea, Kim

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