Overview of Tiny Living
Essentially, Tiny Living refers to residential spaces that are way smaller than average units.
In the land of Tiny Living, an average 1700 sqft three bedroom apartment becomes 900 sqft, an average 900-sqft one bedroom apartment would shrink to 450 sqft, and a typical 500-sqft studio apartment might be under 250 sqft!
Tiny Living encompasses both Tiny Houses (standalone structures on their own lots) and ADUs (tiny houses built in the backyard of larger single/multifamily homes). Labels get confusing, but the overarching theme of this Tiny Life NHV project is to put more housing units wherever they’ll fit. So, this project will cover both Tiny Houses and ADUs in New Haven.
Tiny Living is a promising model of development, particularly in dense urban areas with high living costs and expected population growth (…err, like New Haven!). The Tiny Living model offers a cost-efficient, space-efficient, and increasingly energy-efficient way to build residential dwelling units.
Because let’s face it, New Haven in 2019, like many cities, faces some real challenges. Key among them include–
- There aren’t enough units to house all the people who need places to live, so someone’s got to build more housing;
- The residential units that do exist are way out of most people’s price ranges (including this author’s);
- More and more young professionals and students want to live in cities because the suburbs are too far from the fun;
- Fewer people in New Haven have cars because said young professionals and students either don’t want them, or (honestly) can’t afford them;
- And, oh yeah, we’re worried about climate change. Climate change is real enough that even if you’re lucky enough to live in a place you can afford, heating and cooling costs are probably making the total cost of living just about unsustainable.
(If none of the above applies to you, you must have figured out something that 99.9% of the rest of us haven’t.)
Cities have changed, but so have people. In 2019, we have smaller families, want fewer things, we’re increasingly open to sharing things with strangers from car rides, to spare bedrooms, to communal kitchens.
The concept of Tiny Living just applies 2019’s disruptive spirit to the residential home building industry. We’re rejecting our parents’ 8,000 sqft McMansions and, instead, we’re dreaming of making our homes in intelligently-designed, environmentally-sustainable, communal-private, affordable spaces. (Can you tell that the author is a 27-year old millennial?)
Actually, joking aside, this brings up a good point: Tiny Living is for anyone and everyone.
It is not just for students, young-professionals, and angsty millenials like myself. Tiny Living is ideal for empty nesters, retirees, older adults living on their own, and people with small families.
If you’re into the idea of efficient use of space, shared amenities, and community, then maybe the Tiny Living is for you too!
So, this is happening in New Haven?
Yep! Says who? Says Team Tiny Life NHV! Team Tiny Life NHV is going to be a collaboration between the City Plan Department, myself (I’m Katherine McComic, by the way), and hopefully YOU, reader/New Haven resident! From now, October 16, 2019, until Tiny Living is a reality in New Haven (hopefully by early next year).
To repeat, the Tiny Life NHV initiative is trying to promote the construction of compact Tiny Living spaces of all unit sizes, from micro studios to tiny three-bedroom apartments. The idea is just to make the concept of Tiny Living, in general, possible in New Haven (since it’s technically prohibited by the Zoning Code). The only guiding principles for the Tiny Life NHV project are (1) that tiny units are made possible, and (2) that tiny rental units be made be deeply affordable. The rest of the rules, we will have to fill in together.
So, with our combined efforts, we, Team Tiny Life NHV, are totally going to make Tiny Living a thing in New Haven by 2020!
But First, we have to write the rules.
At this time, this Tiny Life NHV project needs the community’s help to write the rules. Now. Literally, right now. We haven’t started drafting anything yet because we wanted to get you–the community–involved in the process from the very start.
So, please come to our community meetings over the next few months and/or send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This tiny train is moving!
And we have room for everyone to get onboard! But you have to hop on now if you want to have a voice in determining where we’re going with Tiny Living in New Haven.
Everything is open for consideration. Except nimbyism and negativity and naysaying. Sorry, there’s no time for that noise.
Need more convincing?
If you’re saying to yourself, “Whoah, Tiny Train, pump the breaks. Where else are there Tiny Houses and ADUs? Can I see some more examples?,” don’t worry, we’ve got you!
Here’s a tiny glimpse of how Tiny Living is making a BIG impression on communities across the nation!
Detroit, MI: Cass Community Homes
- Cass Community Social Services is in the process of building 25 different Tiny Homes (250-400sf) in Detroit, MI.
- Each home will be on its own lot (roughly 30 x 100 feet) and everyone will be on a foundation. Most will have a front porch or rear deck to increase the living space.
- The residents will have a combination of experiences (formerly homeless people, senior citizens, college students and a few Cass staff members) but all will qualify as low-income.
- At first, the residents will rent the homes. Anyone who remains for seven years will be given the opportunity to own the home and property.
- Watch the PBS Special: https://youtu.be/FxWpMrbg5lk
Madison, WI: Occupy Madison Village
- The Occupy Madison (OM) Village features a Village Store, which is just one of several of the micro-enterprises at OM Village. It first opened on an experimental basis in the summer of 2015. In 2016, sales from the store covered the Village overhead.
Austin, TX: Community First! Village
- A 27-acre tiny house community designed for those transitioning of out of homelessness.
- Residents can learn new skills and crafts, like metal- or woodworking, and can tend vegetables and raise animals onsite.
- The community breaks down stigma, too, by welcoming in the greater Austin community in for outdoor movie nights.
Boston, MA: Compact Living Pilot
Portland, OR: Dweller Company Prefab ADUs
- Dweller specializes in producing ADUs in an affordable, efficient manner to allow as many homeowners as possible to benefit from this source of extra income and housing.
- Their model is unique because we build all of our ADUs offsite which saves substantial time and money compared to ADUs built onsite.
- Instead of requiring the homeowner to manage a lengthy design, permitting and construction process, Dweller handles the entire process at a fixed, affordable cost to the homeowner.
Hartford, CT: Zoning Regulations Permit Micro Units
- Permits Micro Units with floor areas between 300 and 500 sqft, a small but meaningful step for Connecticut!
Sonoma County, CA: Microtopia
- Tiny House Manufacturer: https://www.tinyhomebuilders.com/tiny-houses
- Jay Shaffer is often cited as the leader of the recent tiny house movement. He built his first tiny house in 1999 and moved in shortly thereafter.
- The featured box bungalow here is 120sqft
Washington D.C.: Boneyard Studio on an Infill Lot
- Exterior features Shou Suyi Ban, or Japanese-style charred cedar wood, a wood treating technique that acts as a natural fire proofing, weather proofing, and inspect proofing.
- Interior: 150 sqft
- Pro-tip: space-saving magnets and energy-efficient induction stoves
- Drawback: his unit wasn’t designed to hook up to the city sewage system, which most other tiny house models are designed to do.