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Tiny House regulations vary by community

Northwest Guardian

Published: 05:45PM June 26th, 2014

When couple Zach and Heather Morgan decided they wanted to purge their belongings and simplify their lives by moving into a Tiny House, they had a lot of questions on where to start.

Captain Heather Morgan, with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment and her husband Capt. Zach Morgan, of the Army Reservice 47th Military History Detachment, turned to the Tiny-House-living experts online by reading blogs and message boards to find out the “do’s” and “don’ts” of minimalist living.

The couple learned the key aspects of Tiny-House living: space and layout design, downsizing, and building and zoning laws.

When it came to finding the perfect space, they needed a place big enough for them and their two girls — Gwyn, 3, and Lorraine, 2 months. Their dream of raising their daughters in a Tiny House for at least seven years forced them to seriously consider the size and layout of the home.

“The rule of thumb is 75 square feet per person,” Zach said.

That’s how they settled on a 350 square-foot home. They were also cognizant about the layout; making sure each section felt like a different sector of the home.

“Tiny Houses are a really good solution for one person, and that’s where you’ll find the small sheds ... but if you’ve got a family you have to have distinct, different spaces so when you move from one room to the next there is a transition,” Zach said.

He added that the transition from room to room is often subliminal, but is vital in tiny-house living.

“You may have to get away from each other, not that there is any conflict, but people need to be able to be on their own a little bit,” he said.

To help reduce their belongings, the Morgans spent a year donating, selling, gifting and throwing away their possessions. They also rented a storage unit to keep some items they weren’t ready to part with.

“It helps with that sentimental value and it’s way cheaper to rent a storage unit for $100 a month than to pay several hundred more for all that square footage you don’t end up using,” Heather said.

When they first moved into their home, they were living at the Travel Camp by the Northwest Adventure Center on JBLM. The park only allows renters to stay for a maximum of one month. That’s how they settled on Riverbend Campground in Olympia.

“Anyone interested in living in a Tiny House should be sure to know the laws about where you can park a Tiny House,” Zach said. “They vary from community to community.”

Tiny Houses can be parked on private property or at RV and mobile home parks; however, laws for house construction and parking are different. Many Tiny-House builders construct their homes on wheels to avoid having to obey home-construction laws.