THE THREE QUESTIONS I MOST OFTEN GET WHILE HOSTING TINY HOUSE-BUILDING WORKSHOPS.... -But where are tiny houses allowed? -Where do you go to the bathroom? (toilet/facility set-ups) -Won't someone steal your tiny house on wheels?
A lot of people always bring up the "won't people steal it" question, but its not as likely to happen as people might think, in fact, I've personally not heard of a case yet. Hopefully this will give some a bit of comfort...as we've talked a bit about it at each of the Tumbleweed Workshops I've hosted, and my own workshops....(again, there's one coming up Nov 2-4 in Boston, where we'll all build a tiny dwelling together). kidcedar at gmail dot com for info.
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES, and the "WHY NOT"....
-First, with a heavy duty chain you can simply lock it (your tiny house) down to a tree or two, making it very time consuming and difficult to steal. One could also self-boot it (perhaps even remove the tire(s) from one side (simple to do) so that it can't be easily transported). Most thieves want the quick steal, and not something that requires an hour or so of tree felling, and multiple people, to acquire.
-Secondly, a thief, unless he/she had ample time to hide something so enormous and strip it, would be driving around sticking out like a sore thumb with any form of tiny house- structures which are still very much so huge novelties in the general scheme of things to those not familiar with the scene. I know of many people who have never even heard of the concept, never mind seen a tiny house on wheels. Anyway, if you stole a tiny house, where are you going to hawk it without being noticed, and remembered, by every person you pass? It'd be like stealing a ferris wheel- the down-low factor is terrible, making it almost impossible to resell.
-Third Tactic....if you plan on leaving it permanently at a site (or for a prolonged period), and have the means, why not just shove a few large boulders in front of, or around it, with a bulldozer? Any tiny-house burglar would now have to have access and the foresight to bring a bulldozer to the scene of the crime, to remove those rocks so as to give the tiny house a free passageway. Thats A LOT of work, and noisy work, to steal ANYTHING. Yeah, a tiny house is very valuable, but this ain't "The Thomas Crown Affair".
-Number Four- When I was in my teens I toured with a pop-punk/rock band by the name of "Rail" from Rochester, NY (Ringing Ear Records). When staying at a motel, especially in a shady area, we'd back the loading doors of a van or U-haul against a wall. Why? The theory is, if they don't have enough room to swing open the doors to steal all the larger gear that can only be unloaded through those very doors, then the gear just can't be removed. Now apply that to a tiny house, but in a slightly different way: If you can't hitch up a tiny house, you can't tow if off the scene. To employ this method, you'd have to unhitch the tiny house, then winch it, tongue-first, into a tight spot (the trailer neck/hitch end). Now, ultimately, its going to take some hard "unwinching" work to get the house into a free and clear spot, where it could then be hitched up tp a vehicle and stolen. Most thieves just aren't going to bother.
Five- Fake cameras- I talk about this in my tiny house design/concept book "Humble Homes, Simple Shacks". Basically, hang a fake camera somewhat near the tiny house, high up on a pole or tree for instance, but somewhere in clear view. This sounds goofy, but beneath it, tack a small, official looking sign that simply reads "#5". In reality you only have one camera hung, and its a cheap fake one (they sell kits- see below), but by having it numbered "#5", any prospective "hooligan" is going to think twice before doing anything stupid or illegal near your site. He or she will be thinking, "If this is camera #5, then there must be at least four others, and how many of these have I been captured on already!?". Again, its simple and goofy, but its not going to hurt. A sign on the door of your cabin reading, "I hope you smiled for our seven cameras" might work too.
And there are a few sample ideas, and some reasoning as to why its just less likely that someone is going to steal your tiny house anyway.
Vandalism is a whole other beast, but any homeowner, or seasonable cabin dweller, has to face this same problem.
When you live in a small living space, it can sometimes be overwhelming to try fitting everything you need while creating a home that is pleasing to look at. Luckily, there are many decorating tricks to help make your small living area appear much larger than it is. Here is some tips to use when decorating with limited space.
Use Multi-Purpose Furniture
The biggest obstacle in a small space can be fitting the furniture you need. One way to combat this is using multi-purpose furniture. For instance, a storage ottoman, is a great item of furniture every small space should utilize. It can serve not only as an ottoman for you- but extra seating for guests, and a place to store those extra blankets and books. Another great piece of multi-purpose furniture is a daybed. Daybeds can be dressed up to look and act like a sofa during the day and in the evening, it easily becomes a guest bed.
Be Smart When Arranging Furniture
Where you place furniture makes a big impact on the overall flow of the living space. In a small area, it's vital that you place furniture in a way that allows you to maximize every square foot. Better Homes and Gardens suggests placing a sofa away from the wall, it's a great way to make your living area seem large. This technique works even better using armless sofas to help open up the room. Console tables are a great item to place behind a floating sofa- they're very narrow, and provide you with a work space.
Occupy Every Space
In a confined area, it's important there is no unused corners or walls- built-in bookshelves is a great way to use empty wall space up. They allow you to easily store all of your things, and they're very easy to build on your own. You can even use floating tables next to your bed instead of nightstands so that you have more available floor space. A great idea from Better Homes and Gardens is using narrow closets as a work space. To cover up your space when not in use- simply hang a curtain in front of the closet.
Whether in the living area or kitchen, it's important to think like the tallest man on earth. Using cabinets or curtains that extend all the way to the ceiling will make the room seem bigger than it is.
Reflect On Artwork
According to HGTV, mirrors are a great way to make your room seem bigger. Place the mirror across from a gorgeous piece of artwork, you will create a unique view to enjoy from any angle. It's also a good idea to place mirrors across from windows to help bounce light around the room.
Assign Everything A Place
One of the quickest ways to make a small room look smaller is by having clutter everywhere. For this reason, you should make sure everything in the house has a place to go. You can use baskets or fabric-covered boxes to make shelves seem less cluttered. Just because you live in a small space doesn't mean you have to feel like you live in a small space. Using the tips above will help you feel like you're living in a home much bigger than it actually is- what other ways have you found make your small space seem larger?
Bethany studied culinary arts and later received a Master's Degree in English Literature. She loves blogging about her adventures in food, and is quick to correct both your tablespoon measurement and your grammar.
There comes a time when anyone who dreams of living in a small house has to ask the question, “Where will I put my tiny house?” When choosing to site build a little house, this becomes an ever bigger question since zoning codes and neighborhood association rules are often at odds with small house goals. As a result, many tiny house people look to rural areas where restrictions may be less stringent. However, not everyone prefers country living, and site development costs for utilities can be prohibitive on undeveloped land.
For those that would rather live within more established areas, close to walkable stores and with sociable neighbors, older and historic neighborhoods may be a good choice for building a new small home. The average size of an American single-family home has grown exponentially over the years, but most of our ancestors managed to live in much less square footage, often with much larger families. Therefore, there are many established neighborhoods with precedent for small homes. Historically laid out with small lots (for example, much of the historic core of Lake Worth, FL was platted with 25′ wide lots), local zoning in designated historic districts is often tailored so that new construction within the district remains in scale with the historically smaller homes in the neighborhood. In addition, many historic neighborhoods also allow accessory structures behind the main home that can be even tinier than the main home.
Some historic neighborhoods have few available empty lots, while others have many vacant lots available due to fires, demolitions, or never having been fully developed. It may take some diligence on your part to find the right spot, but with careful consideration you will likely find an affordable lot in an up-and-coming older neighborhood that suits you perfectly.
Benefits of building a small house within a historic district:
Site utilities are already in place, saving on development costs
Established neighborhoods have sidewalks and mature trees
Zoning laws are commonly adapted to lot sizes and the scale of surrounding properties, allowing for smaller footprints
Historic neighborhoods are often within walking distance to stores and restaurants reducing or eliminating the need for a car
Neighbors to look out for you and socialize with; many historic preservation proponents have similar mindsets to tiny house people
Historic District design standards direct the area’s future development which often helps to maintain economic stability
Many historic districts allow for accessory dwellings behind the main residence that can be even smaller than the main house, allowing for rental income or a co-op living arrangement
Property values are based on livability, aesthetics and historic character rather than a “bigger is better” mentality
When looking for a lot for your small house, you may find the perfect little house already in existence waiting for your loving touch – historic preservation is the ultimate recycling project
When looking for an appropriate historic neighborhood to build in consider the following:
Look for a neighborhood of predominantly smaller homes; neighborhoods with shotgun style or bungalows are generally suitable
Neighborhoods platted from the 1890s to 1930s developed for working class residents often have small lots suited for smaller homes
Irregular or previously subdivided lots, often called “non-conforming” by zoning standards, may be perfect for construction of a small house and very affordable
Look for an “up and coming” neighborhood, preferably with an activeneighborhood association for more affordable property
Avoid neighborhoods where the trend has been to demolish the older small homes and replace them with “McMansions”
Avoid neighborhoods where new additions to existing homes are equal to or bigger than the original historic home
Look at the architectural style of surrounding homes; you will likely be required to build a home with similar scale and shape (i.e. if most of the homes have gable roofs, yours will more likely meet design requirements if it also has a gable roof)
Talk to local Zoning officials to find out minimum and maximum lot coverage, setbacks, parking requirements and other site development regulations before you buy
Talk to the local Historic Preservation office to learn about design guidelines for infill construction within the neighborhood before you design your small home
Consider buying a lot with an existing home and build a tiny house behind to provide rental income if zoning allows
For those interested in living more economically in a smaller footprint without having to build from scratch, looking for a house in a historic district may be a great opportunity to both live in an attractive home and neighborhood and to recycle an entire house. If the perfect house doesn’t already exist, or is not within budget, building a new small house within a historic district may be just the right combination.
Greg Johnson of the Small House Society published a video on how city housing codes influence tiny house living. In a 4 minute video he covers a viewers question, “where can you legally put a tiny house on wheels?” Greg does a great job of explaining the problems we face in addition to different ways you can get around them. He also briefly discusses cities that are beginning to allow this type of housing as completely legal accessory dwelling units. Greg talks about the challenges faced by code enforcement to catch folks sleeping in recreational vehicles, campers, and tiny houses.
I’ll let him do the talking, Hope you enjoy and be sure to visit the Small House Society for more information related to the tiny house movement.
If you want to listen to Greg’s tips on how to get around building codes and city zoning, I encourage you to watch his 4-minute video below:
Alex Pino promotes tiny houses and other small spaces through Tiny House Talk. He currently lives in a 600 square foot apartment and has been downsizing since 2007. In the summer of 2012, he’s going to be traveling through the United States after paring down to what fits in a backpack