These small, well-designed little backyard houses are actually much better looking and more detail oriented than a basic box, without forsaking the modern, prefab style. Backyard Box, a company based in Seattle, designs and builds small prefab houses that can be used in many ways: as a rental income property, guest house, home office, mother-in-law apartment or a tiny house. The smallest design is the MatchBox, a studio that packs a kitchen, living room and bath into 400 square feet. It can fit into a lot that is 17 by 27 feet and starts at $79,500. A larger design is the SandBox, a one story backyard cottage with kitchen, living room, bathroom and one bedroom. It is 600 square feet and is designed for simple and minimalist living on one level, and will fit on most city lots at just 17 by 37 feet. The SandBox starts at $86,500. Each of these houses are custom architect-designed and you can choose from three finish levels.
Accessories – add these and more to customize your Box:
•Aluminum and glass garage door opening
•Smart Box – Net Zero Energy
•Bega exterior lighting package
•Corten steel backyard firebowl designed by John T. Unger
•Interior LED lighting
•Solar hot water
•Solar electric panels
•Smart Home Energy Dashboard
•Hydronic radiant heated floors
In the United States the average size of new single family homes grew from 1,780 square feet (165 m2) in 1978 to 2,479 square feet (230.3 m2) in 2007, and to 2,662 square feet (247.3 m2) in 2013, despite a decrease in the size of the average family. Reasons for this include increased material wealth and prestige.
The small house movement is a return to houses of less than 1,000 square feet (93 m2). Frequently the distinction is made between small (between 400 square feet (37 m2) and 1,000 square feet (93 m2)), and tiny houses (less than 400 square feet (37 m2)), with some as small as 80 square feet (7.4 m2). Sarah Susanka has been credited with starting the recent counter-movement toward smaller houses when she published The Not So Big House (1997). Earlier pioneers include Lloyd Kahn, author of Shelter (1973) and Lester Walker, author of ″Tiny Houses″ (1987). Henry David Thoreau, and the publication of his book "Walden" is also quoted as early inspiration.
If your tiny house will be on wheels, then in order to be able to live legally on your own land, zoning regulations must allow year round camping. This is rare. Most towns restrict camping on one's own land to 30 days; some towns prohibit it altogether. Even where it is possible to camp on your own land, it's rare to be able to get utilities.
If your tiny house will be on a slab or foundation, then to be a legal residence, it must conform to building codes and most likely, go through the permitting process. If you follow this path and build in accordance with zoning & building regulations, I recommend using a realtor to help find your land. It can be tempting to try to save money by searching for cheap land from eBay or another auction site, but buyer beware! Without a professional involved, you'll need to be extra diligent in researching for issues like back taxes, liens, hazardous waste, former meth labs (especially with burned out buildings), mineral rights, water rights, moratoriums on building due to water scarcity (mostly in CA), depth of well needed to get water (mostly in the desert), minimum lot size required to build, whether there are wetlands on the property, whether there are endangered species there that prevent building (scrub jays in Florida), whether the property is landlocked or otherwise inaccessible, whether the photos are of the actual property or just the area, zoning, what the HOA rules are, etc. This information is rarely disclosed on eBay or Craigslist.
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