Category Archives: News

12/29 In Rapid City, Tiny houses are a step in right direction

Rapid City Iowa Mayor Steve Allender

Rapid City Iowa Mayor Steve Allender. Photo from his Twitter profile.

Mayor Steve Allender is thinking big and out of the box these days as he begins to tackle Rapid City’s affordable housing shortage.

Allender is looking at tiny houses as part of the solution in a community where jobs that pay even $14 an hour are difficult to find.

But now, the mayor is going from the talking to the doing stage in an unprecedented effort to open more doors for those working-class residents who want to call Rapid City home.

The Journal reported last week that Allender is working with a private developer and Neighborworks Dakota Home Resources to build five tiny townhomes near the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

They would be from 360 to 968 square feet with attached garages. The prices are expected to range from $100,000 to $142,000. Those who seek to purchase a unit could receive help with the down payment and closing costs, assistance that likely would come from Neighborworks, an established nonprofit that helps local residents buy, repair and keep their homes.

If all goes as planned, work could begin in February or March on the townhomes. Mayor Allender hopes the project eventually will pave the way for 100 or more tiny homes in Rapid City, which would be a remarkable achievement.

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12/02 Tiny House Nation Builder Sues Couple for Negative Review

Jared Logan and Vanessa Wesley's tiny house

Jared Logan and Vanessa Wesley ‘s tiny house, from Season 3, Episode 11 of Tiny House Nation

A contractor for “Tiny House Nation” has a big problem — the couple who hired him is talking so much smack, they’re crushing his bottom line … according to the lawsuit he just filed.

Charles Brzezinski built a compact pad for Jared Logan and Vanessa Wesley on season 3 of the FYI reality show, but says they’ve since accused him of being a fraud and doing a shoddy job.

According to the docs … Brzezinski says the couple posted a lengthy negative review on a consumers website accusing him of being an unlicensed contractor and crappy builder.

The contractor also says the couple posted pics that show the home falling apart — but he says the images are of lousy work Jared and Vanessa did by themselves … after construction was complete.

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10/31 Building for the future with new ‘micro-homes’ for young professionals in Ireland

Frustration can take people down many different routes into business, and for one enterprising Derry woman it has led to foundations being laid for 25 new ‘micro-homes’ in Belfast.

Dearbhaile Heaney (30) was so fed up trying to secure a foothold on the property ladder herself that she decided to set up ‘The Holding Project‘ which aims to build low-cost, sustainable housing for people trapped in the prohibitive private rental market in the city.

Last week, along with fellow ‘Holding’ team members, Queen’s University researcher Sean Cullen and student architect Chris Millar, she launched a crowdfunding drive to raise £30,000 to fund the first prototype home.

The project’s bank balance has already been boosted by a ‘Building Futures’ award of £5,000 from UnLtd, the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK, and also by a cheque for £1,000 from the Social Housing Enterprise Award Scheme run by the Housing Executive.

And by last week Dearbhaile – who works with the Prince’s Trust as an enterprise executive – had raised another £2,000 towards her final target.

“The crowdfunding initiative is just the start, although I am delighted we have raised over five per cent of the amount so far,” she said.

“We are determined that the money will be raised by some means, whether through private backers or public grants.

“There is such a groundswell of positivity surrounding this project and such phenomenal feedback from people who want – need – it to succeed, that it keeps us going.”

Frustration also keeps her going, as she is still on the rental loop like many young professionals her age.

“There are so many young professionals, particularly in Belfast, who are currently unable to buy their own home and having to rent in order to work and having to work in order to pay the rent,” she said.

“I was one of them – and still am. I have spent eight years working and renting accommodation in Dublin, Belfast and Derry, wherever I was working at the time, and many others in the 20-40 age bracket are in exactly the same frustrating position.

“At the Holding Project, we are aiming to break that cycle and give people, who don’t have access to the ‘Bank of mum and dad’, the chance to get a ‘leg up’.”

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10/20 Planning Committee Report on Maui Housing Inventory includes Tiny Home Options

Jen Chalupsky sits on the front step of a tiny house

Jen Chalupsky in the entrance of an Island Tiny Home. Photo by Kailea Sonrisa.

A temporary investigative group filed a report with the Planning Committee focused on increasing the County’s housing inventory.

The group was chaired by Councilmember Elle Cochran, with Councilmembers Gladys Baisa and Don Couch serving as members.

The group convened on five meeting dates between Aug.1 and Sept. 22, 2016, and identified five items that if implemented would help to improve housing inventory for Maui County.

The highest priority item was legislation needed to amend the zoning ordinance to allow accessory or affordable accessory dwellings on smaller lots.

The reports states that the change would immediately result in the potential for building additional homes without the need for other land use entitlements or applications. The down side is the potential to increase the density of development in already crowded or compact residential areas…

Item #4 would explore zoning and permitting issues relating to the establishment of “tiny house” communities and tiny houses on existing lots. The group recommended investigating the use of tiny homes in the County including how to define the term “tiny home,” whether tiny homes could be clustered and where, what services (roadways, water, sanitation, etc.) would be required, and in what zoning districts tiny homes would be allowed.

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10/18 Sac State wins best bathroom award at Tiny House Competition

bathroom of tiny house

The award-winning bathroom inside of Sacramento State’s tiny house, built for the Tiny House Competition at Cosumnes River College. (Photo by Bryce Fraser)

Sacramento State won the award for best bathroom on the final day of the SMUD Tiny House Competition on Oct. 15 at Cosumnes River College, where despite the looming threat of storm conditions, thousands of people filled parking lot E to tour the small living spaces.

Among the winners were Santa Clara University, which won the overall competition along with eight other awards, and the event’s hosting campus CRC, which won the SMUD Excellence Award and for best sleeping area.

“Because it was designed to have two people live in it, we wanted to have the bathroom space be the most accommodating because that’s where you spend a lot of your time,” said Rustin Vogt, a professor of mechanical engineering and the Sac State team’s adviser, who added that the Sac State house was the only one to have a full-size bathtub. “I’m incredibly proud of the students. Myself and 20 students, we built this.”

Vogt said that the tiny house took about four months to build. In addition to the full-size bathroom, it includes a bay window, French doors, high windows for a passive cooling system, full-electric solar panels, a solar thermal hot water collector, efficient LED lighting, a recycled sink and accents that were made from recycled wood.

The Tiny Houses Competition was put on by SMUD and several other groups, including Intel, the U.S. Department of Energy, the American Society of Landscape Architects and Raley’s Supermarkets — which gave out free apples and water at the event.

“We put on events just like this in order to educate the youth and our leaders of tomorrow about new, sustainable technologies,” said Daniel Gehringer, a project manager with SMUD. “We’ve been planning this for over a year. This is the first Tiny House Competition in the nation, so it was a big undertaking for a public utility.”

According to the official rules, each team was given a stipend of between $3,000 and $8,000 and was able to raise additional funds through donations and other outlets up to $25,000.

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10/11 Woman Reunited with her Tiny Home after Thieves Drove Away with it

Police Officer taking photos of Malinda Crighton's recovered tiny house

Police Officer taking photos of Malinda Crighton’s recovered tiny house

Malinda Crighton was just finishing up building her dream, a tiny home parked in her West Sacramento driveway.

But Monday morning she was facing a big problem.

“I came out this morning a little before 7 a.m. and it was gone,” Crighton said.

The tiny house on wheels she’d been building for the last three years had vanished.

“Somebody stole my tiny house!” Crighton said.

At 33-feet long, over 13-feet tall and weighing a whopping 6000 pounds, all that was left were what appear to be large divots in the pavement.

“It’s got an overhang with a window, the siding is white, the roofing is blue paper,” Crighton said.

A musician, Crighton says the tiny house was a chance at a more secure future.

“It’s going to allow me to be financially stable,” Crighton said.

Her initial budget was $15,000, but it soon reached $40,000. Work, she says, was almost complete

“I was planning on living in it in just a few months,” Crighton said.

But then, a break in the case. During our interview, a neighbor said he spotted the tiny home at a nearby shopping center.

Malinda notified police, who met her there.

“I’m so glad it’s here and not farther away,” Crighton said to a police officer. “Can I hug you? Thank you!”

“Somebody hooked up to it and dragged it away,” said Sgt. Roger Kinney with the West Sacramento Police Department. “I’m not sure what happened when they got over here. This was as probably far as they were going to go.”

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10/03 Can tiny houses help solve Ventura County’s woes?

Vina Lustado coming out of her tiny house

Vina Lustado coming out of her tiny house

As Ventura County, California struggles with high home prices, expensive rentals and little room to build, some advocates are proposing a solution: tiny homes that fit living essentials into less than 400 square feet of space.

Last week, about 50 people gathered at the Ventura County Government Center for a workshop about the benefits of tiny homes, ways they can be incorporated into a community’s housing stock and regulatory changes that can help make that happen.

Dan Fitzpatrick, California Chapter Leader of the American Tiny House Association, led the workshop along with members of The Tiny House Collaborative, a coalition of tiny house enthusiasts. The presenters said tiny homes are one solution to the affordable housing crisis in Ventura and elsewhere, particularly for single people and couples.

“Tiny is the next big thing,” said Fitzpatrick, who indicated tiny homes are a popular option for millennials struggling to afford traditional housing, and also baby boomers looking to downsize. “It is sweeping across the country.”

Tiny homes are typically built on wheels so they can be moved, and they come in a variety of designs. They are different from mobile homes and recreational vehicles because of their size, and because they’re designed to look like regular houses, only smaller, Fitzpatrick explained. The design flexibility means communities can require tiny homes to look like other houses in the neighborhood, he noted.

Affordability is a key advantage of tiny homes, advocates said. While the average home price in Ventura County is around $500,000, a tiny home would cost between $85,000 and $90,000 to build and connect to utilities if located on the same property as a regular house, Fitzpatrick said. The homes could also be rented out for about $725 a month, he said, much lower than the county’s average apartment rental price of more than $1,700 a month.

Fitzpatrick outlined how local governments can make it legal for property owners to have tiny homes in their backyards as second dwelling units. For the most part, that’s currently not possible in Ventura County, although the city of Ojai is studying how it might change that. It’s up to local governments to make those adjustments, Fitzpatrick said.

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09/29 Kalamazoo’s first Tiny Home: a three-decade long dream in the making

Ben Brown works on his Tiny House.

Ben Brown works on his Tiny House.

Well before simplicity and downsizing were in vogue, Ben Brown had a core conviction – a drawing down into what he calls his farmer-parents’ “ethos for caring for creation.” For three decades, Brown has been on a quest for affordable, sustainable housing that leaves the smallest ecological footprint possible. And his tenacity has finally paid off. By year’s end, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and with support from the City of Kalamazoo, Brown will own and occupy the first legal, permanently constructed Tiny Home in Kalamazoo–230 square feet of Tiny, to be exact…

Brown’s favorite features are the portable, Japanese soaking tub (useful for treating his chronic health issues), the window views of his gardens, and the way that this home will enable him to live out his values and core convictions.

“I’m very concerned about my great nieces and nephews and the next generation and their children,” Brown says. “You shorten their lives by how I live today. And this house and the property–if anything, I want it to help reverse our climate change, our impact… I don’t want to live to consume this planet or their future.”

Timeless, sensible, and practical housing

Brown’s values of simplicity and sustainability were born out of the way he was raised. As a child, growing up on a sustainable farm, Brown says he learned early on that “simplicity really springs from an awareness of relationship to nature–that you don’t take more from the soil than I can put back into it.”

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09/27 Work wrapping up on tiny duplex for homeless in Pittsburg, Kansas

volunteers continue to work on a tiny transportable duplex

YouthBuild KCK staff and trainees along with volunteers continue to work Tuesday on the tiny transportable duplex that will be shipped to Pittsburg, Kan., where it will serve as temporary shelter for the homeless. Photo by Joe Ledford. For video, click on link at bottom of post.

It’s crunch time for members of YouthBuild KCK, which is racing against the clock to finish a duplex on a 20-foot trailer by Friday.

“It’s coming down to the wire,” said Jana Loflin, a director with Kim Wilson Housing Inc. of Kansas City, Kan. “We’ll get it done.”

Friday is the deadline because on Monday, the tiny house will be towed to Pittsburg, Kan., where it will serve as transitional housing for homeless people.

Kim Wilson Housing partnered with YouthBuild KCK, which provides an opportunity for at-risk youth to complete their high school education while earning a construction certification, to build the house.

Although work still remained, they held an open house Tuesday in Kansas City, Kan., to celebrate its impending send-off.

Construction on the tiny duplex on wheels began last month as part of the Bring Kansas Home Kansas Housing Conference in Overland Park.

Members of YouthBuild KCK still have to lay the floor, install the pocket doors on the shared bathroom and wrap up most of the inside of the units. Loflin is optimistic that it will be completed by the end of the week.

The tiny duplex, which was funded by the Kansas Housing Resources Corp. and private donors, will have two separate 64-square-foot units, each with a platform bed and storage underneath. There will be a refrigerator and microwave. The residents will share a bathroom with a dry-flush toilet.

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09/20 Aiken, SC now allows tiny houses on wheels on their own land

Aiken County Administrator Brian Sanders

Aiken County Administrator Brian Sanders

Aiken County Council passed on third and final reading Tuesday night an ordinance involving tiny homes, which conditionally allows those not built on site in certain County zoning districts.

The small dwellings, classified by the state of South Carolina as RVs, drew a large crowd during a July public hearing, but the measure Tuesday was met with little discussion or opposition by Council at its regularly-scheduled meeting. The ordinance passed 8-1, with Council member Willar Hightower opposed.

The ordinance makes campgrounds and RV parks allowed wherever mobile homes are also allowed, though the new zoning districts are limited to a single camp site on a minimum of 2 acres and certain conditions must be met.

Hightower voted against the ordinance, saying he believes 2 acres for a tiny home “is a bit much.”

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