“I believe in the tiny house movement,” says builder Andrew Bennett of Trekker Trailers in Leesburg. Bennett builds his tiny homes to withstand 180-mph hurricane winds and endure up to 300 years. “I believe it’s the answer to a lot of issues in this country as far as people being able to get into a home.” Retirees, college students and recent graduates, the economically disadvantaged, the homeless and natural disaster victims all can benefit, Bennett says. “This can change the world.”
Tiny homes also provide a greater sense of connectedness, he says, as people rely more on community. “As much as people think social media have connected us, they’ve really alienated us more.”
State residential building rules haven’t caught up with tiny houses, which tend to be lumped in with RVs. As a result, tiny houses are equipped with the same utility hookups as a standard mobile home. Today only one metropolitan Orlando RV community—Orlando Lakefront at College Park—welcomes tiny homes. Most of them are on wheels, but a couple are built on foundations. Residents pay lot rent and utilities.
Haley Kalb downsized from a comfortable two-bedroom apartment and moved into a 220-square-foot tiny home in the Orlando Lakefront community in May. In anticipation, she got rid of some of her belongings—clothing, dishes, cookware—and then realized she still had more than she needed. Bench storage and under-stairway cabinetry give her a place to stow necessities. “My philosophy is stuff doesn’t make you happy. Experience and life make you happy. I want to go out and live in the world, not in my house.”