Tiny Houses were celebrated in Decatur, Georgia, a small city near Atlanta, this weekend. While many cities, states, and neighborhoods have building codes that forbid life in an extremely small house, Decatur has no such laws since 2014, when housing codes were changed to accommodate smaller dwellings. Now, Decatur is welcoming tiny homes in a big way.
A tiny home, by definition, is less than 600 square feet, and many are less than 400 square feet. They can be built either on foundations or wheels to get around older building codes. Building codes are still the greatest obstacle to smaller houses, but gradually the regulations are changing, one city at a time.
The Group, Tiny House Atlanta, is working to spark interest in the smaller house concept in cooperation with the city of Decatur, according to Decaturish. The recent festival featured tours of 10 of the extra cozy homes set up temporarily at the festival site, and expert guest speakers answered questions and discussed sustainability, minimalism, zoning, and urban planning. Decatur plans to make housing inside the city limits very affordable, and really small houses are a big part of that.
Tiny houses enthusiast and Decatur Planning Director Angela Threadgill told Decaturish that before the 2014 legislation, houses were required to have a minimum square footage of 1,500 square feet.
“Decatur learned that if zoning encourages construction of larger houses, we block the chance for affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households.”
Decatur plans to place small houses in groups of five to nine homes called “Cottage Courts,” which will feature a common green space. Homes within these courts can be either tiny homes or larger cottages of up to 1,800 square feet.
Tiny Houses are being considered far across the country in Tempe, Arizona, according to AZCentral. While old building codes still restrict small dwellings, there is momentum to change those laws in order to accommodate low- and middle-income families who want to live in small dwellings.
Tiny homes in Tempe would cost $30,000 to $50,000. Tempe wants to make living in their city more affordable. Arizona State College is currently spearheading the planning for a community called Humble Homes, ahead of necessary zoning and code changes. The houses would vary in size from 300 to 600 square feet.
Tiny houses are being touted as the perfect solution to, or at least an escape from, many problems in today’s society. They are seen as a way to rediscover nature, reduce the carbon footprint, reduce or eliminate utility costs, and avoid a mortgage.
Tiny houses also symbolize freedom from materialism, and perhaps even an escape from society’s expectations. But, will smaller dwellings really bring the homeowners into a minimalistic utopia?
Sustainable house owners are really quite inspiring. They do seem to love their efficient little homes, but will the houses really be that much smaller in the future? Is this trend really increasing? While the average size of new homes is decreasing, tiny home builders are struggling for a foothold in the market.
People are very curious about tiny houses, but the idea takes a bit of getting used to, especially for those who already have homes, and are fearful of what these clusters of small dwellings may bring to their neighborhoods. As Will Johnson from Tiny House Atlanta explained to 11 Alive, people are still skeptical, but the benefits to smaller and less expensive housing are great.
“We get that some people are afraid of these small spaces moving into their area, but look at the benefit and look at the good that it can bring about, You have millennial housing, aging in place, all these other huge social impact needs.”
Tiny houses are hardly new, though. Consider the pioneer cabin, the homes in the White Villages of Spain, and the variety of small thatched roof dwellings all over the world. Mansions have always been the notable exceptions, while most people lived in more modest dwellings. Have the days of the McMansion ended in favor of the idea that maybe less is more? Many people now think so.
Tiny Houses are attracting a lot of attention, and gradually overcoming home building code obstacles.
[Image by Segen/Shutterstock]