As much as I’d like to build a tiny house community, like Noodle Soup Village, zoning and legal definitions of what is habitable are going to inhibit that dream. A large scale endeavor like that is also wildly expensive, due to infrastructure needs on an empty lot. This is why I propose a “lite” version, which would have many of the communal opportunities, albeit on a smaller scale, without the legal hurdles which would need jumped, and the exorbitant costs.
As I see it, there are three options:
- Purchase an existing RV park, and convert it into a tiny house community. This might overcome some of the zoning and legal problems, and save money on infrastructure. — Problem is, the purchase price would be high, and the location in a city would not be ideal.
- Purchase an empty lot, and build from scratch. — Very high costs, with battles over infrastructure and zoning from the city are problems.
- Purchase a medium sized lot with a home on it, and live in the back yard. — Quasi-legal, less ambitious, doesn’t change the outdated laws, and fewer homes could be placed on the lot.
I favor the third option for a few reasons:
- The up front costs are lower
- Fewer questions from the community since the house looks lived in
- Much of the infrastructure needs are met.
- Fresh water, sewer, electricity, gas, shower facilities, toilet, washing machine
- Mailing address / mailbox
- Some privacy (even though we want to be open about it!)
- Communal spaces for cooking, craft work, entertainment, maintenance and repair
- Guest rooms
- A place for food storage
Parking a few tiny houses in the back yard of an existing home, would offer much more protection from possible zoning violations, than simply setting them up on an empty lot. If anyone asks, we’re just living in our RVs temporarily while we remodel the big house, a remodel that never ends. As long as we don’t bother anybody, be respectful to the neighbors, and address any concerns they may have, such as a visual complaints resolved with a fence or green barrier, I don’t see the problem with this.
I see the lite version being an experiment in tiny house living and communal responsibility. Granted, it won’t be a large village, or one I would advertise workshops in necessarily, but it can be done. I’m sure of it.