By Victoria Reviel • 2018 President
Tiny is the new buzzword in any discussion about affordable housing. We all are happy that home values in Central Texas are on the rise, but along with that comes other issues; increased property taxes, lack of affordable re-sale homes and the cost of new home construction has also risen substantially in the last several months, making it more difficult for those first-time home buyers.
Within this changing landscape a few alternative solutions are becoming available and that brings us to the option of tiny homes. These are usually homes under 900 square feet. Some are portable and others are permanent structures, but they all have the common denominator of being small. Those looking at tiny homes aren’t always just looking because of the price factor. One draw to tiny homes is the simplicity; buyers want to make their lives easier and provide time to be with family. Many buyers love that they are free from a large mortgage payment, as tiny homes are certainly priced in the affordable category.
Many tiny homes are mobile and can be driven around to other areas. There are those who have them parked during the week in their hometown area and go off to somewhere else for the weekend! Now that this has become a popular choice for so many people, various campgrounds exist across the country with spaces specifically for portable tiny homes.
Many Central Texas city planners are dealing with the question about tiny homes and zoning. How many homes can be put on a lot and what size lots can be sold for tiny homes, what about water, sewer and other usual home issues connected to these small homes? Consequently, all these unanswered questions have kept many cities from adopting any type of policy with regards to including tiny homes in their city planning. In Williamson County, Cedar Park does not have an ordinance for tiny homes but does require a minimum residential square footage of 1,100. The City of Leander did pass a city ordinance regarding tiny homes. According to Tom Yantis, assistant city manager, tiny homes can be built in Leander. They are required to be a minimum of 140 square feet, no more than 700 square feet and on a foundation. Each house needs its own driveway and street address. Zoning is available for both individual lots and multiple units on a lot. This is related to the utility capacity of the individual lot. They also need to be permanent structures and not on wheels. There are several other guidelines within their ordinance, so it’s always good to check before moving forward with a project. At this time, several developers have inquired about tiny homes but to this date, no permitting has been done to indicate that any are being or considered being built in Leander.
So in conclusion, there are several things you need to consider before building or purchasing a tiny home;
- Where will you put your tiny home? Acreage, lot or existing tiny home community?
- Should the home have a foundation or be on wheels?
- Will a tiny home fit your lifestyle and family requirements? Consider the number of rooms, bathrooms and living areas.
- What utilities will you require? Electricity, internet service, solar panels, city water or well water, city sewage system or septic system and let’s not forget the composting toilet.
- And lastly, consider what your financial and life goal is. Are you going to live in the home for a few months, years or decades?
As long as you are informed about pros and cons about tiny house living then you can embrace and enjoy your tiny home. RL