Tiny homes, cottages and pocket neighborhoods.

Real Estate Development & New Home Construction 10.5K Posts 1.3K Discussions

Recently I have become excited with finding affordable options for comfortable and practical living. Tumbleweed Tiny Homes jumped out as did designers like Ross Chapin Architect. I think the growing demographic of older Americans, empty nesters and other individuals and couples would be thrilled to not have to rent, share space, or pay larger utility bills and maintain a space larger than needed. I am coming at this as a land owner. I have lots all over the U S - my question is this , how truly affordable are they? How do they compare to top end mobile homes for example?

Stu, I've taken a hard look at < 800 sq.ft. affordable housing. First, demographics of the location play a huge part in costing out a project. From my research, I've found this sort of housing is best for 1-2 people max. Next, is the local building codes. Some are so restrictive development is not possible. What I have found is about $30k is avg. for the structure. Plumbing, septic systems increase the sq.ft. cost.
It's a great concept. Look at TinyTexas Houses.com this is an example of the high end unit.

Thanks Mike, I took a look, Tiny Texas designs remind me of the old Frontierland at Disneyland, a real wild west feel with the corrugated metal roofs and the interiors. I think the Tumbleweed Tiny Homes have a wider appeal. Since my last post I looked into cottage design via architects, <1300 sq ft, contractors given latitude will render the project over priced it seems. The kit homes seem to be about 25% the total cost in materials and labor. Still looking for feedback regarding manufactured/mobile homes.

I have been interested in this type of project for several years and trying to put a small development together in Asheville, NC. I have great property with seller finiancing, the zoning works, and the market is there - but I haven't been able to but the initial cash together for building the first house.

As far as manufactured homes - I don't think there is any comparison and the market is completely different.

Did either of you move forward with your tiny home dreams?  I've been enamored with the concept for years, and I'm just starting to think about how to make it a reality.  Portland and Seattle are incredibly friendly toward it, but over here in PA, I'm not so sure.  Ross Chapin is my idol, and I see a lot of potential for empty-nester communities.  Just thought I'd check and see what you found!

It definitely depends on the area, and how receptive they are to the concept. One of the major hurdles is finding land that is zoned for a high enough density that it can make sense. Also, the cost of permits, utilities, and other infrastructure required. Many areas also require attached garages, etc. which starts pushing costs out of control. 

I too love the Ross Chapin designs. I looked at them for a property I own in Redding, when I was thinking of doing a Vacation rental type use, but the County wouldn't allow it (even though I have 20 acres) 

There's so many different types of manufactured housing these days, from the simple manufactured to the more upscale Stillwater Dwellings, etc. 

Medium tmg  1 Karen Margrave, The Margrave Group #00636992 | [email protected] | 949‑933‑3955 | http://www.themargravegroup.com

There is definitely a proliferation of tiny homes on the West coast. Can't say about other areas. We were looking into them and the "models" we were leaning towards were between $30k and $60k.

Pocket neighborhoods are great though. Definitely some of the better planned community models. As others have mentioned, zoning is the prohibitive aspect. There are some great pocket neighborhoods that I've seen out in the country that retirees built as a co-op, but haven't seen a successful tiny house + pocket neighborhood concept executed personally. Apparently Portland has a tiny house neighborhood for low income population but could be wrong about that.

For the Portland folk you might check out the tiny home hotel/motel kinda thing on Alberta right being the grilled cheese grill bus. It's rather cool, they are in kind of in a circle not on foundations and rented per night. I've been wanting to stay a night and check out what it would be like to stay in a space that small. Seems like a fun and profitable concept just waiting for the masses. Might be a great way to help the Portland low income citizens as well as making a buck.

I got my project off the ground but it is more of a small house pocket neighborhood with 11 houses planned between 800 and 1500 sq. ft. The second house is under construction, the third went to permitting today and the fourth is in the planning stage. The project is rated high in green building certifications and I am also focused on the relational aspects of an "intentional neighborhood".

There are many issues to consider for smaller houses. As mentioned, building and zoning codes are difficult to get around, high density is required to make financial sense and, practically, I think interest is more around peoples desire to simplify their life than to live in a very small space.

That said, I would like to try a project with houses in the 400 to 700 range, and maybe a few tiny's included. I am in Asheville, NC with a fairly progressive and reasonable planning department. They put together a "cottage development" ordinance 5 or 6 years ago to encourage more sustainable development.

I have always thought a community with tiny homes that has their own convenience store and only can be accessed by golf carts would be neat. Something with a community center including, pool, exercise room, etc.

I am new to the Bigger Pockets community and developing a pocket neighborhood is one of the reasons I  joined. I also found Ross Chapin and love his concepts of building small communities. 

I am in SW Florida and believe it's an ideal area for these homes. Finding information on feasibility has been difficult however. But, there is a town in the Florida east coast that is in the beginning stages of one! Rockledge has just approved a pocket community that will also include a small amount of THOW's. Here is their Facebook page with contact information. 

The way one person got this done is interesting and shows how a little imagination and thinking outside of the box might be able to make it happen.

What would you like to know Sarah? We have a great core group of people and things are moving forward steadily. I don't post much but you can find more info on my website.

I have been very intrigued about Tiny homes but have really failed to understand those that are set on wheels. For me there is little or no difference   between a tiny house on wheels and a mobile home/camper. I have been actively searching for a site that we could develop and put 800 to 1200 sq. ft homes. I realize that these do not truly tiny homes  but its hard to get permitting for much smaller. the  issue of cost is that plumbing and electrical infrastructure co the same regardless of the size home so that the  difference between >400 sqft. and  800sqft. is not that much proportionally. We have been quoted $50K for 400sqft while an 800sqft house would end up around $75K. for the $25K difference. I think most people would pay for the extra sqft. Additionally, the financing for the larger home is easier also. 

Nicolas Paez, AHC Capital | 214‑744‑3075 | http://www.ahccapital.com

That's the reason for the wheels. They are rated as RVs--these tiny homes that have to remain under 400 square feet--so the wheel remain too.

At 800 to 1200 square feet you are talking about a HUD rated home, just prior to them going to mobile or manufactured in rating.

Cost for these homes are dictated by the owner putting in more higher end options into the home--which, remember, are built custom for these homes because they are smaller.

I actually heard of a guy who focuses almost exclusively on 1 bedroom homes and rents them out to the elderly (mostly) and does very well. We've done just fine with our smaller homes especially since a lot of people love their pets here in KC and so they have a hard time finding an apartment. I think it's a great niche and they're usually quite a bit cheaper (although it varies by the market, so it's hard to give any exact numbers). The one big downfall I think is that they aren't very liquid as almost the only ones who want to buy such properties are investors.

Medium apartment logoAndrew Syrios, Stewardship Investments | http://www.StewardshipProperties.com