Tiny Houses

27 Replies

I have been seriously looking into the Tiny House craze. I am hoping someone knows what I am talking about. Here in CA, esp. SF Bay Area, rental housing is through the roof. (no pun intended). I have looked into these tiny homes and they are very affordable and easy to rent. I was thinking about putting one in the back lot of one of my properties. They easily rent for $800/mo or more. Is there anything I need to be aware of, apparently if they are under 400 sf (in CA) they don't even need a permit. They are considered "mobile homes". They are very cute and one person I discussed this with told me he purchased 10 acres and was building 5 to put on the property. Thank you, Im a newby!

Originally posted by @Gayle Eisner :

Is there anything I need to be aware of, apparently if they are under 400 sf (in CA) they don't even need a permit. They are considered "mobile homes". 

They are very cute and one person I discussed this with told me he purchased 10 acres and was building 5 to put on the property. Thank you, Im a newby

Other than someone putting on a trailer and stealing it? 10 acres for 5 houses sounds like a lot of wasted opportunity to me. I would think putting 10 houses on 1 acre and building a type of garden style community would be quite attractive and extremely profitable. Not sure how you'll deal with sewer/septic, water and utilities though. You're going to pay a connection fee for each house and let me tell you from experience, those ain't cheap.

Sounds like an interesting concept and I'd like to hear more about it if you pursue it.

Gayle,

Welcome to Biggerpockets. @Johnson H. is hosting a monthly meetup in San Jose this coming Thursday 6/18.  It's the tradition that Johnson buys steak nachos for everyone. @Shane Pearlman is also hosting a monthly meetup in Santa Cruz this coming Friday 6/19.  Both meetups are free to attend.  Shane buys dinner while @J. Martin buys the first drink for everyone.  That also has been the tradition.  

That makes two of us that are interested in these small units.  400 sq.ft. in downtown San Jose rents for $1,400/month so $800 is cheap.  Where did your friend buy the 10 acres?  Maybe we should connect and share ideas.  I'll share with you how I have been able to borrow millions of dollars without having a job.  

Before these guys kill me, I was just kidding about the tradition although I'm sure they don't mind buying for everyone though.  Welcome aboard.

Cheers.

As Account Closed mentioned, The challenge tends to be in dealing with sewer electric and zoning etc. tiny houses generally fall under RV laws, and in most communities it isn't technically legal to have someone live in an RV in your back yard. 

But lots of folks are finding ways to do it, and tiny house communities are hot right now.  here's an article featuring 11 tiny house communities. http://www.shareable.net/blog/11-tiny-house-villag...

Cheers

Medium epp logo 1Orion Walker MBA, Eagle Peak Properties

CA city rental ordinances (vary) and scheduled H&S inspections (for registered rentals) could be an issue if your tenant living in a mobile pod turned you in or the scheduled inspector finds out the pod is a rental.  That said, I do know someone that is house hacking by living in a mobile green pod in the backyard and renting his main house, which if fully compliant with rental ordinances.  

Originally posted by @Minh Le :

Gayle,

Welcome to Biggerpockets. @Johnson H. is hosting a monthly meetup in San Jose this coming Thursday 6/18.  It's the tradition that Johnson buys steak nachos for everyone. @Shane Pearlman is also hosting a monthly meetup in Santa Cruz this coming Friday 6/19.  Both meetups are free to attend.  Shane buys dinner while @J. Martin buys the first drink for everyone.  That also has been the tradition.  

That makes two of us that are interested in these small units.  400 sq.ft. in downtown San Jose rents for $1,400/month so $800 is cheap.  Where did your friend buy the 10 acres?  Maybe we should connect and share ideas.  I'll share with you how I have been able to borrow millions of dollars without having a job.  

Before these guys kill me, I was just kidding about the tradition although I'm sure they don't mind buying for everyone though.  Welcome aboard.

Cheers.

@Gayle Eisner,

This is the most active and informed tiny home meetup/community in the Bay Area, IMHO:

http://www.meetup.com/tinyhousebuildeastbay/

Check them out.

Check you local laws. I would never encourage you to break them, but a lot of people just do whatever, keep it quiet, and it's mostly on a complaint basis. So keep it out of sight, make sure the guests/tenants respect your neighbors, and put up some bamboo if you have to! lol

A lot of people in your area are doing yurts and making a killing on Airbnb. I wanted to buy some land down in your area for just this purpose..

As Account Closed said, the hookups can be expensive (let alone very city-oriented), so a lot of people use composting toilets (not smelly like it sounds) and solar so you don't have to deal with the hookup aspect. Get a well dug, or install a water tank. People have been living around the country or off the grid like this for decades. Nothing new there, except some better ways to do it..

I agree with Aaron that his proposal would be a cool community, but I have a feeling this guy is doing his 5 acre deal "below the radar" - so 50 residences with 100 or so tenants is a lot different than 5 residences spread over 5 acres when it comes to people noticing or getting an article written about it..

Good luck Gayle!

Medium logoJ. Martin, SF Bay Summit | [email protected] | 510‑863‑1190 | http://www.sfbaysummit.com

J. M.

  my airplane partner owns about 1000 acres in roseburg Oregon.. in addition to a big mary jane grow he is going to build these tiny homes...

in the city you WOULD defiantly have zoning issues to contend with. its not as easy as just hauling in a park model trailer and start renting it.. most cities would red tag them pretty quickly.

Medium ksqoekox 400x400Jay Hinrichs, TurnKey-Reviews.com | Podcast Guest on Show #222

Thanks for the comments everyone..Im new to the community and Ive been thinking the same thing about tiny houses here in my area.

Okay, here is an update.  I stopped by a tiny home builder when I was  in Eugene OR and he had an "open house". He showed us how they were built (green bldg), how long they took  (3 months to bld) and costs and hookup details.  apparently, there are many types of tiny homes.  These particular ones were about 250 feet long but did not need a permit to move on the freeway. BTW, no SALES TAX if you buy from OR.  Others are larger and need permits, hence "wide loads" status.  I am weighing them over just converting an old shed in my back yard to a in law dwelling. 

 These particular tinys start priced at $60k-90k with upgrades.  250 sf is too small for me.  Now I am looking into the larger ones of appx 400 feet, they seem very roomy in comparison.  My mtn neighbor has 5 varied tiny homes tucked away on her property that is zoned for horses in the Santa Crz Mtns.  I bet she gets at least $1200/mo for them.   My research is continuing...please feel free to chirp in and let me know your thoughts and or experiences with the tiny home movement.  I think I will start small.  I read in Arkansas they have been banned - I think I will drop in on my neighbor and ask her some questions about where she purchased hers...Gayle

Having read rich dad poor dad, the tiny home concept has always appealed to me. Not really an option with a family though in my opinion.

Hi Gayle. Welcome to the community. Where did you get the information that they are banned in Arkansas? If that's true it surprises me. There is a tiny house in my neighborhood and we have at least one fella in the state who makes them. I suppose such legislation might have escaped my attention in the last legislative session but I doubt it. Tell more. I'd like to check it out. 

@Gayle Eisner

Zoning and deed restrictions are obstacles in many area.  Putting on wheel can usually get around minimum sq ft zoning issues, since they are trailers and not fixed structures, but there are other zoning issues like density.  One rural area around here requires only 1 house per 5 acres, and another even less dense.  And in some areas and some zoning mobiles are not permitted at all.

In some zoning only one dwelling is permitted per lot, and there are restrictions and prohibitions on living in an "RV" in the back yard of another house.

Bottom lone check zoning and deed restrictions for the area you want to locate in, before you spend money on a tiny house and find out it is not allowed. 

Hello,

I'm also very interested in the tiny house movement but to make it seem less like a fad I've been calling my idea multi-family small home rentals. My vision is to buy an existing lot and add 300 sq. rental units to it. To test the feasibility of my idea I am trying to find a SFH with appropriate zoning so that I can add one to the lot and figure out how hard it is to get city permits, what the true cost of installation is, and what the break even time on the investment is. I was thinking that I could use a version of the refinancing strategy that folks use when they do flips, only my flip would be the addition of a unit. The unit itself with a kitchen and bathroom costs 75k, there is some financing available from the company, and there is always hard money lending.

This is what I'm thinking I would use: 

http://kithaus.com/modules/k6/

In San Diego I'll need the right zoning at at least a 3000 sf lot for the areas I'm looking at (North Park, Normal Heights, City Heights). Does anyone know how much this house if installed up to code and fully legal with the city would add to a property in San Diego? I'm trying to figure out if my reappraisal with the second unit is a good idea or if the reappraisal value wouldn't be what it would cost to put the unit in. If anyone is interested in this idea in San Diego, especially if you have a property that it would work on, then let's chat. I would love get feedback from others on what you think of the re appraisal idea and if a 300 sq. home adds more value than it costs. 

Thanks in advance for the feedback and I look forward to hearing about other tiny home ideas! 

Lee

Medium l1traLee Ripma, Paprika Partners LLC | https://www.paprikapartners.com/

If you're looking at tiny houses with a family, even a larger one, it is still possible. Tiny houses aren't just about size. They are about size per person. Most people use250sf rule. If you are one person family, 250 sf is max. If 5 in your family, 1000 sf and so on. So even a large family can live tiny. For our daughter, who is a teenager, we will build a separate tiny house to connect with ours when she turns 16. We're still in the early stages of building our <300 sf tiny home tho.

I know some investors that have thought about doing this in Texas.  It would be both tiny house and high density.  I do not know of a city that would allow it but there is plenty of land outside of cities in Texas where it could happen.

They are considering stick built on site and rent situation.

I recently converted a sfr into a duplex with a "tiny apartment" (172 sq feet). It sold relatively quickly. I also did a lot split and now own a vacant parcel next to it where I will build two more units in the very small or tiny house category. I am also looking at some California properties in Imperial County for "snow bird" construction. Us empty nesters frequently don't need the space or want the upkeep. (We also don't want to climb skinny ladders and scoot around low height lofts on our knees so my designs take that into consideration). Go tiny house @Gayle Eisner ! and keep us posted...

Teri S., Rejuvenation Homes Inc

Hi @Gayle Eisner , Did you ever figure this out?

Depending on where your property is located in Los Gatos, it could be Santa Cruz or Santa Clara Counties. Depending on which one you'll want to look up the zoning on the property, and read the rules and exceptions for that zoning in the county's General Plan.

Right now, my understanding is that Tiny Homes are illegal to move onto a residential zoned property in every county in California except Fresno with some very strict exceptions. There is also a way around this if the property is a designated  mobile home or RV park by the State of California, and this use is approved by the county.
I am in the process of working toward this designation for land outside Los Gatos to build a Tiny Home Village. Its a lot of work and very expensive. Luckily I dont have to pay the legal fees because I'm a lawyer. Otherwise it would be cost prohibitive.

After I get the first one under way, I have plans for others throughout the State, because as you mentioned, housing is in tight supply and very expensive. @Lee Ripma , our third village will be in San Diego County. We are looking at North County area. And would love feedback and ideas!!

Please join my Meetup group if youre interested in any way.

http://www.meetup.com/We-are-developing-a-tiny-hom...

Jen

I'd be really careful trying to "hide" a house in a backyard somewhere. You could put in a lot of investment and then one day somebody with a clip board will come out and say "no more!".

I had a neighbor at one of my industrial properties convert a 250sq ft garage into a "house". She was stupid enough to complain about the noise my tenants legally make, in their heavy industrial zoning. "It's bothering my renters!" she yelled very rudely. I thought...what renters?

Two days later I complained to the county about her illegal unit, 30 days after that, no more renters to worry about. The building sits dark and empty now.

Anyone planning to put a tiny home on any property in California should be aware of the latest clarification issued by the State which include very strict definitions of what a tiny house is, its size, how its manufactured, building standards, maintenance, location...

The state plans to enforce and prosecute "pursuing the appropriate legal remedies to terminate sales, rentals or occupancies."

I'm looking into developing a tiny home garden community here in Ontario, Canada.  I'm doing the research right now.

Mario, I'm curious what you have found with your research.  The idea of building a tiny home community appeals to me as well.  I really like the idea of owning maybe 10 tiny homes on one shared lot and having them as rentals.  I'm picturing a hip, diverse, clientele interacting in a fun, social, shared community setting. 

Know what is better than a 'Tiny houses'? 'Earth Integrated' houses. You could have a 'Tiny House Park' for all the people who eventually want to 'upgrade' the whole concept. All those people in tiny house will drool over one of these 'earth ships'. What you get is a much more solid structure with MUCH less work and expense. These are not 'caves' either..No, no. They can be made to feel very open. Even more open than a conventional house because the natural cooling allows for more windows without the expense to cool them down. They are the same temperature inside all year round. Cool in the summer, warm in the winter. I think this could be a better opportunity if you can get the right property.

These are neat but look to 'cavey' to me.

https://cdn.niftyhomestead.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/vetscharchitektur-earthhouse.jpeg

But on the inside they feel very open:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-JJgPFa8dff0/UdE9JUIC5AI/AAAAAAAAALQ/gLulIt6-TfU/s1600/Earth+House+-+Lostorf,+Switzerland+(1).jpg

http://www.arquitecturaorganica.com/uploads/6/3/3/9/6339824/1682949_orig.jpg

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@Jenifer Levini  

How can I find the regs? 

I'm involved with this in Central Texas and would like to know what is happening there. 

Thanks!

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