Some time ago, we asked why tiny houses haven't become a big thing, zeroing in on some of the big barriers to widespread adoption of tiny homes: most notably, procuring land to build a tiny house on, the lack of loans from the banks to build one, and restrictive municipal zoning laws that require residences to be of a certain minimum square footage.
Five years on, things finally appear to be changing. More and more municipalities are giving tiny homes the legal go-ahead, as well as official tiny home subdivisions popping up all over North America and other places around the world. Recently, there were efforts to rewrite the International Residential Code to include tiny houses, so that safety issues in self-built projects can be addressed in a consistent way.
Of course, all this goes on behind the scenes. Most of the time, we only get to see splashy pictures of beautiful tiny homes and little of the nitty gritty details of the efforts to get them into the mainstream. But sometimes, there are insights, such as the one we previously saw in the first part of the docu-series Living Tiny Legally, a project by American filmmakers and tiny housers Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons of Tiny House Expedition. Here's the second installment of the series:
The saga to get tiny houses mainstream acceptance continues in Part 2, which presents three case studies. We get a look at how one career technical educational (CTE) program at a four-year magnet high school, The Construction Careers Academy of San Antonio, Texas, used tiny houses as a medium to offer their students hands-on experience in design, construction and construction management, engineering, inspection and certification, essentially taking their students through the whole design/construction process, right up to certification through the city. This program has been going on for the last four years, with these tiny houses eventually sold at auctions each year.
Next, the film takes a look at Walsenburg, Colorado, which gave the official go-ahead for tiny house subdivisions back in 2015. In the film, we get the behind-the-scenes interviews of how this became a reality, and more details on how zoning and building codes were adapted.
We also get an insider's look into the historic effort to get a tiny house construction code approved through the International Code Council (ICC), which was spearheaded by Tiny House Build's Andrew Morrison. We know that story ends well, as this code appendix was approved by the ICC to be included in the 2018 version of the International Residential Code (IRC), but the mash-up of the interviews and the footage from the actual hearings themselves nevertheless make for suspenseful viewing -- even if you've never considered building code deliberations exciting.
For people who already live in a tiny house, or are thinking about building or buying one, this docu-series is a must-watch. After all, it's one thing to have a dream, and another to make it a reality or to make it legal! Oftentimes, there are so many factors and issues to consider when building tiny homes, and it's helpful to have resources at hand that can help inform one's decisions and demystify the process. To learn more, or to donate to the making of Part 3, visit Living Tiny Legally.