The tiny house trend is gaining momentum as environmentalists, homelessness activists, city planners and minimalists get behind the idea. But what is all the hype about? Should we all be rushing to buy Marie Kondo’s book, downsize and buy ourselves a tiny home?
OFF THE GRID, an organization co-founded by Bradley Joseph, President of Silver Spur Marketing, Adam Gordon, founder of The Temple, and Nick Swett, President of Domino Strategies aims to engage larger audiences about the tiny house movement.
Denver’s demand for more available and affordable housing has many considering new ideas and approaches to creative urban infill. Yet, many unknowns and concerns surround these efforts. Joseph, Gordon and Swett’s shared goal is to foster an open dialogue that explores these ideas and creates an opportunity for people to see and experience these options both in person and forums.
Why tiny houses?
Tiny homes are believed to be the answer to several of our city’s problems:
1. Homelessness–Activists assert that a 200 square foot home would be an enormous improvement for those that are currently homeless. The homes are more affordable than most, and would allow the homeless community to remain in the city.
2. Sustainability–The size of tiny homes alone cuts down on the use of building materials, water and energy use. Many of these homes also use solar power and other alternative forms of energy to lessen their environmental footprint.
3. Urban Fill–As Denver continues to grow and rent prices continue to rise, city planners are desperately looking for alternative ways of living that would allow the middle class to remain in the city. Advocates believe that tiny homes are the answer. Often costing around $25,000, these homes would allow for more affordable and densely populated areas.
Sounds great, what’s the holdup?
In 1956, Denver banned the construction of “detached carriage houses,” or those apartments that relatives sometimes live in above your garage. The ban was lifted in 2010, and now accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are legal, but there are a few other details that must be considered:
1. Tiny Homes must be permanently mounted on a structure–that means, they cannot have wheels and must have some sort of foundation.
2. Tiny Homes must have permanent plumbing, including flushing toilets and waste management through the city.
3. Other obstacles include: Property tax, city resources land use (land banking), temporary land use, land ownership zoning — permanent vs. temporary.
So yes, it can be done, but not without the help of organizations like OFF THE GRID, that enable community members to talk through the issues standing between Denver and tiny home communities. OFF THE GRID hosted its first events last month, including a panel discussing the demand for available and affordable housing in Denver and creative ways to approach urban infill, a pop-up dinner, and a summit showcasing six tiny homes at the Denver flea.
For more information on the tiny house movement in Denver, check out the articles below.
Until next time,
Facebook: Silver Spur Marketing
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Confluence Denver: In Search of Density, Denver Developers Look to Backyards and Alleys
Denver Business Journal: Red Hot! Denver’s housing market set various records in 2015
The Gazette: Denver housing market enters danger zone, economists say
Denver Post: Tiny House fad hits wall in Denver
Colorado Independent: Clash over DIY housing pits activists against city of Denver: Here’s what you need to know