07/08 Tiny house trend grows as people focus on essentials

A model tiny house by Richard Brown of Michigan Tiny House,  on a lot in a mobile home park in Whitmore Lake, Michigan. Photo by Daniel Mears, The Detroit News

A model tiny house by Richard Brown of Michigan Tiny House, on a lot in a mobile home park in Whitmore Lake, Michigan. Photo by Daniel Mears, The Detroit News

Tiny house living is about getting back to basics, says Debbie Rossman, the founder of Ferndale-based Tiny and Smart LLC.

Rossman says it’s not just that people want to live in a smaller environment, but “they want to live more abundantly with less things to take with them.”

“It’s just a different mindset,” says Rossman, who worked on the tiny house at the Designers’ Show House with J.D. Engle Construction of Livonia.

But for a type of house that is so popular its now the subject of countless TV shows such as “Tiny House Nation,” the big question may be, why aren’t there more of them in Metro Detroit?

Jaime Bellos, a history and social studies teacher at Center Line High School who is building a tiny house with his students to auction off, says there are restrictions when it comes to tiny houses, such as setbacks.

Many are built on trailers so they’re portable, but “you can’t just park these things,” says Bellos.

That’s why Brown of Michigan Tiny House says doing your homework is so important. Some cities have minimum building requirements, meaning houses have to be a certain size.

“Every municipality has different ordinances on the books,” says Brown, who has been living in a tiny house since October 2015. “And if you really want to do something, you (may) have to approach the zoning board.”

A destination place

Bellos, the history teacher, first got into tiny houses about three years ago when he saw one on Pinterest. A builder on the side, Bellos went to a seminar hosted by Jay Shafer of the Four Lights Tiny House Company. Shafer is the author of “The Small House Book” and his company sells plans for different styles of tiny houses.

Eventually, Bellos came up with an idea: He wanted to build a tiny house and auction it off to raise money for veterans. To build it, he asked administrators if he could teach an elective class on tiny houses. He and his students researched different plans and this spring they built the frame.

“My dad was in World War II and I have always wanted to help veterans in some way,” says Bellos, who is now raising money through a crowd-funding campaign to finish the project. “When researching tiny houses I learned that there are a lot of veterans that are homeless. I figured this could be one possible solution.”

Down the road, Bellos has an even bigger idea: He wants to create a village of tiny homes in Detroit with a community garden in the middle.

“My vision is to create a destination place,” says Bellos, whose already started a business that’s still getting started called Tiny House Experience Detroit. “I want people to say, ‘Let’s go see that cool tiny house village.’ People can stay there and get a different perspective on Detroit.”

Read more – http://www.detroitnews.com/story/life/home-garden/2016/07/07/tiny-houses-growing-popularity/86823782/

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Elaine Walker