Other Triangle Cities Move Forward on Tiny Homes, Leaving Raleigh Behind

From the Durham Herald-Sun...

Millennials are the fastest-growing tiny home population, experts say, in part because rising college debt has left them wary, but also because it reduces their environmental footprint and leaves them free to go where their passions take them.

That resonated with Nathan Huening and his wife, who have lived in their moveable, 250-square-foot, two-loft tiny home in Orange County since 2016. Their lot rent and utility fees are modest, he said, but their life is rich, allowing them to save money, volunteer and do other things that make them happy.

They are “relatively privileged in that we are college-educated and have pretty good jobs,” the Carrboro web designer said, but tiny homes also could benefit others who lack their options.

“From a personal standpoint, we thought it was important, but also from this larger standpoint of how we build our communities, how we live and our carbon impact, that we thought it was a worthy endeavor,” he said Monday at a Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town discussion.

Tiny homes are defined as less 400 square feet, but most are between 170 and 300 square feet, said April Kemper, with the Chapel Hill Tiny Home Initiative. They are built similarly to traditional homes and also meet residents’ daily needs, including areas for sleeping, cooking and sanitation. They cost $17,000 to $95,000 each to build, much less than Chapel Hill’s median home value of $362,000, she said.

Although tiny homes can be built on a permanent foundation, more traditional models are built on a trailer that can be moved with a pickup truck. That model is self-sustainable, eliminating the cost of buying land and hooking up to water and sewer utilities, Kemper said. ...

However, North Carolina building codes and local zoning, lot size, parking and setback rules make it hard to build tiny homes and even more difficult to build one that’s moveable, because it’s considered a recreational vehicle. Chapel Hill limits RV living to 180 consecutive days.

That also makes it impossible to get a bank loan to build a tiny home, Carrboro Alderwoman Bethany Chaney said.

But a recent International Residential Code change has opened the way for local and state governments to allow tiny homes built on foundations. The Chapel Hill Tiny Home Initiative asked the Town Council to adopt those tiny home standards with a petition Wednesday. The council will discuss the petition at a future meeting.

Other N.C. towns are forging ahead, including Flat Rock, which petitioned the N.C. Building Code Council for an exemption to create the Village of Wildflowers, a community of tiny homes on trailers that replaced an aging mobile home park. The village was sold last year and renamed The Village at Flat Rock, NC. The buyer, Simple Life Hendersonville, is planning another community across the street.

Greensboro and Asheville also have made changes to their local codes that support the tiny home movement, Kemper said. ...
— Tammy Grubb - Durham Herald-Sun
Brent Woodcox