Chrissy Bellmyer is one of many Vermont tiny home owners forced to live ‘under the radar.’
Bellmyer built her Chittenden County home in the summer of 2015 and moved in the following January. Her home is near Essex, she said, but declined to say where exactly because she’s worried about zoning and building code complaints.
Tiny houses, which are often considered to be 400 square feet or less, are rapidly growing in popularity around the country as an alternative to traditional housing. The average American home is 2,600 square feet, according to the Census Bureau.
When tiny houses are placed on the ground they are expected to follow the normal city requirements for a house, said David White, the Burlington director of planning and zoning. This includes being connected attached to municipal services, as well as having an attached driveway and parking area.
Bellmyer, 27, made the switch after learning about the movement through blogs and social media. She now has her own blog, littleloutinyhouse.com, where she documents her tiny lifestyle and provides tips for those interested in doing the same.
“I was just kind of drawn to that idea of simple living,” she said.
Cost was another selling-point. The median sale price for a Chittenden County home is $250,000.
“The housing market is really expensive in Vermont,” Bellmyer said.
“I couldn’t afford a traditional home, so building a tiny house was a good alternative option.”
Bellmyer built the home in Crown Point, New York, with the help of friends, family and a contractor. The 240-square-foot house is built on an 8-foot-by-24-foot trailer from Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. and took six months to complete.
The home was constructed almost entirely with repurposed materials, many from the ReSource Store in Burlington. She found kitchen cabinets from friends and repurposed wood for siding.
“It’s just kind of a more simple lifestyle,” Bellmyer said of living small. “You have a lot more freedom, but at the same time, a lot more restrictions because your living space is so small.”
The environmental benefits of a tiny house are often a draw for prospective owners.