West Virginia Tiny Homes are Classic and Beautiful


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Kanawha City has always been known as both a place of Mansions and Bungalows. The Libby Owens Ford glass plant brought many workers to Kanawha City, especially from Belgium. Add to that mix the many others who decided to call Kanawha City home, and you have a very eclectic bunch of houses from the very fine to the very modest. One of the odd things about Kanawah City is how many of the lots were laid out: These were only 20 feet wide. The homes that were built on these narrow lots sometimes were only 13 feet wide themselves! Over the years, many people added to the backs of these houses, since they couldn't add to the sides. One former city official, knowing that property codes were about to change, bought up all the remaining 20 foot lots and built tiny houses on them in the 50s. Here are some of these interesting little houses.....

Kanawha City is a neighborhood of the city of Charleston in Kanawha County, West Virginia, United States. It is in the southeastern part of the city, and located along WV 61 (MacCorkle Ave.) It officially starts at the 35th Street bridge, where there is a sign welcoming visitors and B&D Gastropub is located. It comprises mostly small stores and neighborhood/residential on both sides. The stores, malls, and restaurants are mostly located in the southern part of the neighborhood. The Charleston city limits end, where the small community called Kanawha Estates begins.

The increase in popularity of tiny houses, and particularly the rapid increase in the number of both amateur and professional builders, has led to concerns regarding safety among tiny house professionals. In 2013, an Alliance of tiny house builders was formed to promote ethical business practices and offer guidelines for construction of tiny houses on wheels. This effort was carried on in 2015 by the American Tiny House Association. In 2015, the nonprofit American Tiny House Association was formed to promote the tiny house as a viable, formally acceptable dwelling option and to work with local government agencies to discuss zoning and coding regulations that can reduce the obstacles to tiny living.

One of the biggest obstacles to growth of the tiny house movement is the difficulty in finding a place to live in one. Zoning regulations typically specify minimum square footage for new construction on a foundation, and for tiny houses on wheels, parking on one's own land may be prohibited by local regulations against "camping." In addition, RV parks do not always welcome tiny houses. DIYers may be turned away, as many RV parks require RVs be manufactured by a member of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association "(RVIA)".

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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