02/11 Can Hawaii residents buy into growing ‘tiny home’ trend?

Tiny Pacific House

Tiny Pacific House


As the price of buying a home on Oahu continues to climb, more people are finding themselves priced out of the market.

But there are new alternatives that eschew the whole “bigger is better” concept for “small, with style.”

Step inside what’s known as a tiny home and look around. If you didn’t know any better, you might think you were inside one of the new luxury condominium buildings going up in Honolulu.

Except for the fact that tiny homes range between 175 and 314 square feet of living space.

“We’ve shown it to a few people and everybody who steps inside can’t believe it,” said Brandon Hardin of Tiny Pacific Houses. “They look up at the vaulted ceilings and look up at the lofts and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize there was that much space in here.’”

Hardin is part of a new wave of entrepreneurs looking to provide alternatives in a housing market that has left many on the outside looking in. He sees tiny houses as a perfect solution.

“Living on the mainland and playing a couple years in the NFL, and even though I made good money, even great money by some standards, but I can’t afford to move back home,” said Hardin. “I want to start the conversation about tiny houses, tiny structures, and minimalistic living where people don’t need a 2,000-square-foot house and you’re perfectly comfortable with 300 square feet.”

Mark Elwell couldn’t agree more. His modified containers start at just 160 square feet, but still come complete with kitchen and bath.

“This little home is made out of a container and ships like a container, but it utilizes a small space,” said Elwell. “What you’ve got is double-wall construction for a very well-equipped home inside a 20-foot container, 160 square feet, well-placed.”

Like Hardin’s tiny homes, Elwell says the containers are fully designed to meet most international building codes.

But are setting up these simple homes as easy as it seems?

George Atta, director of the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting, says when the mayor signed the bill on accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to help with the housing shortage, this is exactly what officials had in mind.

“We were hoping the market’s creativity would help us build ADUs,” he said. “Obviously the main objective is to generate affordable rentals, but how do you do that? And some of the creativity is starting to show.”

Atta says as long as the small houses or the containers pass inspection, just like any other structure, they are a welcome addition to the local landscape.

But because they’re not built here, companies must go through a strict process, known as means and methods, to ensure they use approved materials and meet all building codes.

Atta says the city is treating ADUs, whether they are prefabricated or built on site, like any other building. The permit goes into the queue, which right now is running about five to six months long.

Read more and watch the video – http://khon2.com/2016/02/11/can-hawaii-residents-buy-into-growing-tiny-home-trend/

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Elaine Walker