Category Archives: Colorado

Walsenburg, Colorado modifies building code to be tiny house friendly

Walsenburg, Colorado passed amendments to the 2015 IRC to be more tiny house friendly for homes on foundations. They waived minimum room areas and stairway regulations and reduced the requirement for exit door width: Walsenburg Colorado Ordinance No. 1092

Zoning regulations were made tiny house friendly in 2014:

08/24 Walsenburg, CO welcomes tiny houses on foundations

photo of Walsenburg, CO with mountains in the background

Walsenburg, CO

Message from Jack Dody, Walsenburg representative:

We would like to invite all of your readers to Walsenburg!

The cost of hooking up your tiny house at this time should be less than $4000 for all utilities combined – water, sewage, electricity. Natural gas may be available, or propane may be the only option.

Land prices are very reasonable. Some lots are only $2000! Some are up to $10,000, depending on size and desirability. Prices are going to go up quickly when people start coming to Walsenburg. After the Jamboree, we have had many visitors.

Misc notes: Tiny houses are legal in residential areas of the town of Walsenburg. Homes are to be placed on permanent foundations and built to a modified International Building Code of 2015.

You can thank Mr. David Roesch and the city council of Walsenburg for the three years of frustrating, expensive work required to make tiny houses legal in Walsenburg. They are making copies of their legal documents related to tiny houses available to anyone who wants to bring tiny houses to their communities.

Regulations available here:

07/16 Tiny homes helping to make housing affordable in La Plata County, Colorado

This tiny house, built by Bayfield High School students under Curtis Gillespie, Career and technology teacher, was constructed with wood milled from Vallecito Reservoir. It’s for sale for $10,000.

This tiny house, built by Bayfield High School students under Curtis Gillespie, Career and technology teacher, was constructed with wood milled from Vallecito Reservoir. It’s for sale for $10,000. Photo by Jerry McBride

Over the past few years, communities across Colorado have emerged as leaders of the tiny house movement, a campaign that surfaced in the 1990s and has been propelled over the past 15 years by economic slumps and a trend toward sustainable building practices.Environmental consciousness, widening disparities between household income and home prices, and a trend toward minimalist values have converged to inspire some to live Hobbit-like in custom-built dwellings only a few hundred square feet in size.

Recently, Bayfield High School students finished building a 160-square-foot house. Listed for $10,000 (proceeds will fund the school’s next project), the house is similar to one underway at Animas High School.

“We started by building sheds and playhouses, and we’ve progressed to a tiny house,” Bayfield High School teacher Curtis Gillespie said of his construction class. “I think tiny houses are popular for a lot of different reasons but probably mainly because of the price of real estate.”

Greg Parham, owner of Durango-based Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses, said business has increased “three-fold” since he incorporated his company in 2013.

Parham has built an average of 10 homes each year. His clients come from all over the country but mostly from the Front Range in Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs.

“The business is completely market-dependent,” Parham said. “In Durango, it makes a lot of sense, but in Albuquerque, it makes very little sense because you can still affordably buy a big house with land there…

Over a year ago, local developer Gregg Donaldson approached Durango city staff about building a tiny house village; the project didn’t materialize because existing zoning codes are silent on such projects, and the homes would have to have permanent foundations.

“If someone wants to do a tiny home development, we’ll obviously meet with them and tell them what our requirements are,” said City Planner Mark Williams. “But like any other development, land is very expensive. It’s hard to make a new development work here because of the costs.”

The hurdles for living in a tiny house while complying with local law can be financially difficult or defeat the purpose of mobility, which is why some fly under the radar.

Read more –

Park County, CO allows tiny houses of about 250 sq ft

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22. What is the smallest cabin/house I can build?

Recent changes to the Park County Land Use Regulations eliminate the previous minimum dwelling size of 600 square feet. The Building Department has been approached by a number of people inquiring as to the minimum square footage required by the adopted building code.

Our current codes do not specify a minimum square footage. However, the 2006 International Building Code does address “efficiency dwelling units” in section 1208.4. This section of the adopted code states that the dwelling shall have the following:

1) Living room of not less than 220 square feet with an additional 100 square feet for every occupant in excess of two people.
2) Separate closet.
3) Kitchen sink, cooking appliance and a refrigeration unit, each having a clear working space of not less than 30 inches.
4) Separate bathroom with a water closet, lavatory, shower and/or bathtub.
5) All light, ventilation and life safety requirements must be met regardless of dwelling size.

Furthermore, in cases where the efficiency dwelling unit is not a component of a multi-unit structure, provisions for mechanical equipment (heat, hot water, pressure tank, etc) will be required as well.

As there are many ways to approach the design of a dwelling there is not a hard and fast rule on the minimum dwelling size. Please keep in mind the above requirements if attempting a minimal sized dwelling. Please note: this only applies to stick built dwellings. Modular and Manufactured dwelling still require a 600 sq. foot footprint at grade level per the Park County Land Use Regulations.


Information provided by DuWayne Langseth: We sell land of all sizes in Park County including these remote properties that would be perfect for tiny homes –

Contact:  719-481-3279

05/17 Relaxing rules on “Accessory Dwelling Units” drastically increased affordable housing in Durango

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Planners call them Accessory Dwelling Units—plus the inevitable acronym, ADUs. What they mean are the granny flats and in-law apartments sprinkled throughout cities and towns across the land, the finished basements, above-garage studios, rehabbed carriage houses, and other outbuildings on parcels generally zoned for single-family homes.

But here’s what they really are: an instant source of affordable housing, if only they could be freed from extensive restrictions that cities and towns have in place that tightly limit who can live there.

When I was at the Office for Commonwealth Development under Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, we tried to increase the supply of new multi-family housing at smart growth locations, in town centers or by transit stations. Yet it quickly became apparent that there were thousands of existing homes already, in the form of Accessory Dwelling Units. The trick was just to open them up.

This was no small task, as it turned out. Fueled by NIMBYism and concerns about density and school enrollment and parking and congestion, cities and towns wrote reams of codes requiring that property owners prove any occupants of ADUs were actually related. If not, owners could expect to be visited by inspectors checking out separate entrances and working kitchens and evidence of occupation, and brace for a fine. Eagle-eyed neighbors spotting a second mailbox or satellite dish were more than happy to alert the authorities.

In the face of this kind of code paralysis and regulatory over-reach, it’s understandable that reformers would just give up, and try to change policy in other ways. But in recent years, a sensible program of disentanglement has emerged from an unlikely place—the small city of Durango, Colorado, just north of the New Mexico border…

Durango overhauled its Land Use and Development Code, which called out Accessory Dwelling Units as an acceptable component of housing stock…

The big problem, however, was what to do with existing ADUs.

Since many of these homes were technically illegal, a form of “ADU Amnesty” was launched. Starting with two neighborhoods as a pilot program, the city asked owners to come forward about ADUs on their property. Residents could fess up in three categories—pre-1941, when there were essentially no rules about ADUs; 1941 to 1989, when ADUs could be considered legal but non-conforming use; and 1989 to the present, when tighter zoning was in place.

If somebody established an ADU completely under the radar, they were asked to pay the fee they were supposed to pay, ranging from $2,000 to $9,000, and the property got logged into the city’s inventory database. Owners signed affidavits on basic structural safety, and filled out forms on the number of occupants, age of the structure, and the utilities in place, and furnished a photo.

Getting the transactional details on the record was basically a process of regularizing what was a robust informal economy. And with the existing ADUs thus inventoried, and the rules in place for new ADUs, the city was all set, right? Not exactly. Opposition was fierce, and clever.

Read more –

Costilla County, Colorado – long term camping on private land is no longer allowed

In Costilla County, Colorado, there has been a major influx of off-grid residents to the San Luis Valley. The combination of lax zoning regulations, cheap property, and an already thriving community of self-reliant off-grid homesteaders has led to many new residents.

The off-grid lifestyle, enjoyed by an estimated 800 people, is now being threatened as county officials have recently made moves to essentially regulate and license the lifestyle into oblivion.

The county, which requires residents to have a camping permit to live in an RV, “small house” or other camp style home, has started to simply refuse the renewal of these permits.

This is obviously a major problem for homesteaders, who often live in such accommodations while building their permanent residents.

“They started enforcing the changes before they were actually made,” resident Chloe Everhart said.

Everhart said she performed due diligence prior to buying her land, with one of the most important aspects of the plan being a 90-day camping permit. Without a 90-day permit, camping on residential plots is only allowed for 14 days per every three months.

But just as Everhart was arriving, the board of commissioners instructed the planning and zoning commission to no longer issue camping permits.

Read more –

12/21 Finally! Tiny home subdivisions and developments are becoming a reality.

Tiny house development planned by Sprout Tiny Homes for Salida, CO

Tiny house development planned by Sprout Tiny Homes for Salida, CO

The problem with the tiny house movement has always been- where do you put them? Because for most people, living is more than just a roof over your head, however small, but it’s important to be part of a community. If you are going to live in such a small space, it’s nice to have some shared resources, like a meeting room or a laundry. Everybody in the industry knows this; tiny home pioneer Jay Shafer calls it ” a contagious model for responsible, affordable, desirable housing.” But zoning codes across America prohibit them, concerned about property values and identifying them with trailer parks.

Now it appears that it is finally happening. Rod Stambaugh, founder and president of Sprout Tiny Homes, has a plan “to build the world’s first tiny-home subdivision and revolutionize the rural economy in the process…Tiny homes are the only solution that can save some of these declining rural communities or provide quality affordable housing in…the mountain communities that are booming.”

He convinced the town of Waldenburg, Colorado to remove their zoning code restrictions on houses less than 600 square feet to permit tiny homes. But where most tiny homes are built on chassis with wheels so that they can be legally classed as trailers, these will be on real foundations and connected to municipal services…

Sprout is also working on a much larger community in Salida, Colorado with 200 tiny homes, storage units and a restaurant overlooking the river. I must say that the site plan looks dreadfully trailer park-like with everyone lined up in rows, and streets lined with parking. This is such a missed opportunity to do something far more creative. But at least it appears to be finally happening. And there might even be a place to work; they are planning a marijuana greenhouse facility, a cannabis campus, just down the road in Walsenburg.

Read more here –

And here –

11/17 Telluride, Colorado Council nixes tiny house permit

Telluride, Colorado Youth Link Skatepark

Telluride, Colorado Youth Link Skatepark

After roughly two hours of deliberation and public comment, the Telluride Town Council on Tuesday denied a request from the Telluride Area Creative Team for a permit for up to five tiny home units to be placed at the current site of the Youth Link skate park.

Mayor Sean Murphy, Mayor Pro Tem Ann Brady and council members Lars Carlson and Jenny Patterson voted against granting the temporary use and structures permit, which would have allowed up to five tiny homes on the site of the Youth Link skate park. Council members Todd Brown, Bob Saunders and DeLanie Young voted in favor.

The application, prepared by town staff and Kris Holstrom of TACT, proposed that tiny homes purchased by the town be placed at the site through April 30, 2016. The residents would have used the existing Youth Link building, which would have been upgraded to include showers, a kitchen and a washer and dryer.

Council members both in favor of and opposed to the idea took issue with several elements of the proposal, including the nebulous costs of the project, increased noise and traffic in the area (233/235 E. Pacific Ave.) and the long-term fate of the homes.

“We’re trying to make decisions based on very incomplete information,” Murphy said. “That doesn’t mean we’re opposed to doing creative projects [to address affordable housing].”

Read more

11/09 Plans for tiny home community stopped by Boulder County, builder receives death threats

Craig Lyons building a tiny house for the community  he plans for Builder, CO

Craig Lyons building a tiny house for the community he plans for Builder, CO

Tiny houses are creating huge controversy in Boulder County. A property developer wants to put several tiny homes on a 2-acre parcel. Denver7 reporter Kristen Skovira discovered, neighbors are complaining and Boulder County has issued a stop work order, but the tiny home enthusiast still has big plans.

“Colorado, especially Boulder, what a beautiful spot for a tiny home area and to put several on a piece of property was a great idea,” said tiny house developer, Craig Lyons.

Lyons is the tiny home enthusiast who first came up with that ‘great idea’ and a Craigslist ad that generated hundreds of responses from people excited to put their own tiny home on the property and live ‘off the grid.’

“The biggest issue with tiny homes is people build a tiny home and the county or the city won’t allow them to put it anywhere,” Lyons said.

The ad, promising 30 by 40 foot plots, finished sidewalks, a composting area and communal parking lot has since been taken down. Richard Hackett with Boulder County’s Land Use Department says the property is not zoned for such a large-scale project and no permits have been approved.

Read more and watch the video

11/05 Tiny houses one idea for ski town crunch

Telluride, CO

TINY HOUSES Officials in Telluride, Colo., pictured, have green-lit five miniature houses on a vacant lot to help combat the town’s current housing shortage over the winter.

Can tiny houses provide a tiny bit of relief to the affordable housing in ski towns?

That’s the argument made in Telluride, CO, where the town council has authorized the first steps to place five tiny houses on a vacant lot for the six months of winter. A tiny house by some definitions must be 37 square metres or less, notes the Telluride Daily Planet.

Read more