Tiny Houses in California Real Estate

Tiny Houses for Big Lives

Imagine living in a room the size of a one-car garage. That’s about 200 square feet. Now imagine there were an entire movement around the idea of houses that size. “Simplify, simplify,” Thoreau said. And people are. The tiny house movement is taking off in a big way — there are television shows, magazines, websites, builder blogs, and more catering to those who want to simplify their lives (and expand in other ways) by going smaller.

If you haven’t heard of tiny houses, they’re exactly what they sound like. They’re houses, typically between 200 and 500 square feet, that make creative use of space. Some people construct their tiny homes from plans, others from their own designs, and others even live in sturdy, modified sheds!

For anyone who wants to know more about tiny houses, who better to talk to than someone getting ready to build one?

Juliette Ricci Lagman is a fine artist based in Tacoma, Washington, where she lives with her husband Ron. Her creative work is, in her own words, “mixed media painting, very diaristic, with lots of writing (original prose), images, and paint.” You might have seen her work at the Tacoma Art Museum’s 10th Annual Biennial. You can visit her website to see her work, shop for pieces, and learn more about hiring her for private and group instruction, or for interior design consultations.

She and Ron are also preparing to build a tiny house.

Juliette was kind enough to share her thoughts about tiny houses — from the perspective of a soon-to-be builder-owner. So if you’ve ever thought about getting one for yourself, here’s some inside information!

They were also featured in an interview with KIROTV recently, talking about their plans to build a new house.

Juliette, tell me a little about the work you do.

“I do mixed media painting, very diaristic, with lots of writing (original prose), images, and paint.”

In addition to art, Juliette is owner of an interior design business that offers organization, design, art and photo hanging, and decluttering for homes and offices. You could hardly ask for a better background when building a unique new house!

Why do you want to live in a tiny house?

“I would like financial freedom, and freedom to move anywhere. It would be wonderful to not have the cost of rent or a mortgage. To also have less stuff, and more time and finances to go on adventures, and have experiences. We would like to travel.”

When did you know this was right for you and your family?

“As soon as we saw the documentary Tiny, November 2014.  We kept talking about it and dreaming about it, writing back and forth in a daily notebook we keep on the kitchen table, used for daily notes.”

TINY: a story about living small,” is a documentary by Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith about one couple’s experience building a tiny house.

What do you think caused the increasing interest in tiny houses?

“The housing/financial crisis of 2008. Loss of jobs, not enough pay to cover the cost of housing.”

Juliette and Ron plan to spend between $20,000 and $30,000 to build their new home. And they estimate utilities will cost less than $10 per month, so they’ll have plenty left over to pay for their travels and adventures.

Do you anticipate being involved professionally with tiny houses in the future (or are you now)?

“I would love to be involved in the community, at some level — after we build our own. Another thing we are really interested in is homesteading, living off the land. We would like to grow our own food, have solar power, etc…”

How do you think living in a tiny house will change your lifestyle, if at all?

“We will have a lot less stuff, and feel lighter. To be mobile, and have less stress, and less things.  We will have to cooperate more, to get things done, like making dinner, pulling out the dinner table, etc…”

In the KIROTV interview, they discussed building a house about 200 square feet but are now considering going bigger — 400 to 500 square feet. Obviously, this size would be challenging for someone uncomfortable in tight spaces; however, tiny houses can feel surprisingly spacious inside. It’s worth walking around in a few even if you think it might not be for you.

What’s aspects of tiny houses are important to you (e.g. design, insulation, manufacturer, other)?

“That it be our own, and eco-friendly. We like tiny houses because you can customize them, and they feel like a home, instead of a recreational vehicle.”

Where do you go for inspiration when thinking about your future tiny house?

“Pinterest and Facebook, mostly.”

Other sources you might explore for inspiration and information include the Small House Society, Tiny House Magazine, and this fun list of tiny house pictures. And of course there’s always Thoreau’s Walden.

What’s your process been so far for preparing to live in a tiny house? Have you researched or visited manufacturers? Or been to friends’ tiny houses?

“Getting rid of things, watching YouTube videos, and TV shows about tiny houses (such as Tiny House Nation on FYI network).”

What’s one thing you learned about tiny houses and living in them that really surprised you?

“That you can do lots of things in a small space, and you can make it any way you want. Add a hot tub, a studio, a big kitchen, etc…”

According to many online resources for tiny house building, zoning requirements are one of the challenges to achieving this dream. From minimum home sizes (often around 500 square feet) to location (some people place their tiny house on property that already has a main house, then rent the main house and live in the tiny house), several requirements need to be addressed before moving in. Here’s a helpful introduction to zoning for tiny houses, from Tiny House Build.

Thank you to Juliette for sharing her thoughts. And good luck!

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