Home & Garden

Welcome signs not yet up for tiny houses

Charlotte writer Jennifer Baxter expects her 144-square-foot tiny house to be delivered on May 31.
Charlotte writer Jennifer Baxter expects her 144-square-foot tiny house to be delivered on May 31. Courtesy of Jennifer Baxter

There’s one not-so-tiny problem for Jennifer Baxter as she stands at the threshold of her new life in a 144-square-foot home that is to be delivered to her May 31.

Baxter still needs a place to lawfully park the dwelling built on a 20-foot trailer. So she’ll hang out at a church member’s property temporarily.

Others who see “living tiny” as a way to cut housing debt and weekend chores are surely watching with curiosity.

Zoning rules for alternative housing haven’t really caught up with the tiny house movement in many communities, including Mecklenburg County.

It’s not that local officials want to prevent anyone from having the house of their dreams, but changing or expanding the rules is a process.

“There’s a place for it somewhere,” said Shad Spencer, zoning administrator in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department. “We’ve just got to figure out where.”

There are at least two main categories of tiny houses, homes that are mostly 500 square feet or less.

Some are built on a foundation, as are many traditional homes, and must comply with state building codes. Rules for modular homes could apply for structures built in one place and moved to another.

Baxter says her house is more like a recreational vehicle. RVs are not considered permanent residences, Spencer said, and that makes it tricky to park one for long in Mecklenburg.

“That’s why most people end up in the yards of friends or family members,” Baxter said.

Karen’s blog: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/home-garden/smarter-living/homelife-blog/; on Twitter @sullivan_kms. See earlier Homelife columns at http://homelifeclt.blogspot.com.

  Comments