Tiny House Petition

Brittany Le Tendre contacted me yesterday to tell me about a problem they are having as tiny house dwellers on their own private land. I will let Brittany tell you all about it.

My name is Brittany LeTendre, my profession involves protecting the land and natural resources. I’ve lived in Steamboat Springs for about 6 years now with my boyfriend Dalton Reed who was born and raised in the county. Dalton has built up a reputation over his 30 years of life in Routt County as “the guy who can fix and repair anything” and save it from the landfill.

We were actively looking for property in the community that was affordable and would allow us to create an off the grid organic hobby farm and we were fortunate enough to find a 5 acre parcel zoned “Agricultural Forestry” in Routt County. We bought this land knowing it is an “unbuildable lot” due to it being under 35 acres. Dalton and I had done our research before we bought this property knowing that things were going to be done a little differently. We asked Routt County planning director, Chad Phillips if we could have goats and chickens on the property and he confirmed that we can and that we can build a structure for these animals. Agricultural Forestry is a very open ended zoning in Routt County and allows many “uses by right”.

The zoning states that you are allowed to camp on any property zoned AF with no time limit as well as build structures that are related to an agriculture application. Routt County camping definition: The use of temporary living accommodations such as tents, teepees, yurts, motorhomes, and trailers.

Before we purchased this property we bought a 1964 International school bus that had already been converted into a motorhome in hopes of using it as a simple and unobtrusive way to enjoy our property.

On our property we have, a beautiful garden with potatoes, onions, and rhubard growing (use by right), chickens (use by right), a motorhome (which is stated as a use by right) and we plan on getting goats for milk and cheese . Our farm is completely off the grid. We are using solar panels (use by right), we’re hauling water, we’re using a composting toilet, and we’re hoping to build a wind generator (use by right). We’ve been abiding completely by the County’s standards.

One week after we drove the bus onto the property, Routt County sent us a letter in the mail. Therefore we called them and invited them to do a site visit so that they could see that we weren’t doing anything wrong. They visited and within a few hours they called us and informed us that we were in violation of the county regulations. They said that our motorhome needed to be moved everytime that we were not staying in it. They then proceeded to say that if we leave the motorhome on our property that it’s considered motor vehicle storage. We have other places to keep the motorhome in town, but this is where we will be using it – therefore, why would we need to remove it. They also stated that camping is “what any normal person would define as camping”.

I know that we’re not all real estate lawyers and county planning directors, but Routt County is asserting non-applicable regulations even though we’re in compliance. If the County’s intentions are now different from what is outlined in the purchase agreement, then who is at fault? We are simply trying to enjoy our new property under the terms of the purchase agreement.

I’ve started the petition “Routt County Planning Department: Stop the Routt to Elitism: Ask Routt County, Colorado to stop harassing Dalton Reed and other Pine Springs property owners” and need your help to get it off the ground.

Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here’s the link:

http://www.change.org/petitions/routt-county-planning-department-stop-the-routt-to-elitism-ask-routt-county-colorado-to-stop-harassing-dalton-reed-and-other-pine-springs-property-owners

bus

Vlad’s Tiny House

by Lynne Hopwood

A couple that I freelanced for, designing ads and catalogs, had been remodeling a tiny house, so I just had to get over there and get a tour. Wow, they took a 12 x 24 ft. building with a loft and parked it on their property, added a front porch and two permanent overhangs that are used as a cook out area on one side and a place to park on the other. The little house has a stunning view of the valley below it.

view from the road

View from the road.

road view

loft and bed

Once you open the front door, you see the kitchen and loft stairs ahead, futon couch to the right. The open door is the door to the bathroom. An armoire sits to the left. I believe it stores clothes and the TV. The kitchen has a bar where two stools are placed.

futon

Another view of the futon just inside the front door. It is used as a second bed when not used as a couch.

entry and kitchen

View of armoire just to the left of the entry.

kitchen

The kitchen is super classy with recessed lighting, a full sized double sink, a small fridge and a four burner cook top which is raised up above the wooden counter top by about 3 inches. It looks like it was to make room for the mini fridge below.

mini fridge

sink

The bathroom below consists of a regular toilet and a built-in stall shower, mirror, and no sink. Shower to the left and toilet to the right.

bathroom

The loft ladder stands permanently on an angle, out of the way of traffic. I love the design.

loft ladder

There are only two wall windows and one skylight in this tiny house. It is very bright inside! Below is the view of the skylight from the loft.

loft

And next, a view of the front door from the loft. Nice use of paint and hard wood.

view below

There are no lights in the sleeping loft. A through-the-wall AC unit cools the entire house in the summer. Sorry that the picture is so bad, I must have been trembling with delight over this tiny place!

loft

The loft railing made from local bamboo and painted dark green.

green bamboo

Below a view of the porch. Note the bamboo shade that keeps out the intense sun when needed.

porch

A view from their valley. My friends sometimes rent this tiny house to employees that work at their herb/supplement business (MoreThanAlive.com). They have two other tiny buildings that comprise their office and small warehouse and could easily be turned into living spaces in the future.

road view

This story would not be complete until I give a shout out to the couple that did the remodeling, a husband and wife team, Marcus and Ester!

Tiny House Dating Part 2: We Didn’t See That Coming!

On March 28, 2014 we posted about the new Tiny House Dating website under the title “Tiny House Dating? Really?” It turns out that the answer to our main question – whether the Tiny House Community actually wants or needs its own dating site – was a resounding YES!

Given the site’s unexpected success, we invited Kai Rostcheck back for a follow-up conversation.

Tiny House Blog: Welcome back. The last time we spoke your site had a couple dozen members. What’s happened since then?

Kai: Well, the site blew up, so there was that…

Tiny House Blog: Blew up? How so?

Kai: As you know, Tiny House Blog has a pretty big following. After your article ran we saw an immediate surge in registrations (about a hundred or so within a couple of days). But what happened next was totally out of control. Your audience includes editors from Treehugger, Outside Magazine and other related publications. They picked up the story and ran with it. Within 7 days Tiny House Dating had been mentioned by a dozen major outlets. We ramped to 650 members and generated nearly 1.4 million hits – the tipping point was when Yahoo! Finance mentioned us on their homepage – and our infrastructure broke.

Tiny House Blog: Ouch.

Kai: Pretty much, yeah. I think it’s like buying a crappy trailer for your Tiny House build. You are all excited until you go to move it for the first time and the wheels fall off. Not a great feeling.

tiny house dating

Tiny House Blog: Needless to say, you didn’t see that coming…

Kai: Not in the least. You and I had discussed in very real terms whether anyone would ever want to sign up. I had no idea Tiny House Dating would be so popular, so I built it on an off-the-shelf WordPress theme and $5/month hosting. Whoops.

Tiny House Blog: How did the community respond?

Kai: Unbelievably. I mean honestly, after the first few days the user experience just sucked. People couldn’t complete their registrations, uploads weren’t saving, sessions were timing out…it was a mess. So I did the best I could to communicate with people through email and Social Media. Their responses were so encouraging…I can’t tell you how many people said “Thank you,” “Keep at it,” and “It’s worth the wait.” I imagine that it’s like your own Tiny House build…when you get halfway through and realize you are in way over your head. At that point you might be ready to quit, but you’ve become part of a community that’s pulling for your success. They keep you going.

Tiny House Blog: And the Tiny House Dating community contributed financially too, right?

Kai: I don’t even know what to say…it chokes me up. The truth is that this site would never have come back online if early members – and people who wanted to join but hadn’t had the chance – had not stepped up and crowdfunded our re-development.

Tiny House Blog: So let’s talk about them. Who are your members? Where are they from? What are they looking for? Are they all Tiny House people?

Kai: In reverse order – no, they are not all Tiny House people…yet. Our site is is a community of people who care about their values more than their stuff. They might already live in a Tiny House. Perhaps they plan to at some point. Or maybe they just think that Tiny Houses (along with the kind of people who celebrate right-sizing and quality-of-life) are cool. This expands our community into related groups like Minimalists and Socially and/or Environmentally-friendly people. It’s an organic mix and they seem to get along really well! The actual demographics amaze me. Our members range from 18-70 years old. About 58% are women and 42% are men. The really thrilling thing is geographic dispersion – it’s primarily U.S. so far, but we also have community members from Canada, U.K., Ireland, Turkey, Croatia, Australia, Brazil, Chile, the Middle East…even Bhutan (she’s looking for an online romance for now). I guess it’s true that It’s a Tiny World After All (did I really just say that?)!

Tiny House Blog: The relaunched site includes some differences, right? What’s new?

Kai: The main difference is the membership levels. When I had time (during redevelopment) to reflect, I began to understand how word about our site was going to continue expanding in a way that I can’t control. I mean, Yahoo! Finance? Really? I even heard from CNN and a Reality TV production company. I’m flattered by the attention, but first things first – I don’t want this site to lose the authenticity that is (in my mind) the hallmark of the Tiny House Movement. I recognized that many people would see a free dating site as an opportunity to exploit…and I don’t want “spam” profiles polluting the member experience. So we put paid membership plans in place as a filter.

Tiny House Blog: Paradoxically, are you worried that people are going to see this as exploitative?

Kai: I was, definitely. But I think we’re figured it out. Our new plans include a “Scholarship” option. It’s a full-featured 1-month membership for free. And it can be renewed as necessary without limits.

Tiny House Blog: Scholarship plan? That sounds like an interesting idea. How does it work?

Kai: It’s simple; if someone wants a free membership, all they have to do is ask for it and tell us why they want to join the community. We are never going to exclude people who really want to belong, based of their inability to pay. Period.

Tiny House Blog: So I presume that the flip side of that is what you call the “Pay-it-Forward” plan?

Kai: Exactly. That’s a 6-month plan (for $9.99/month). It helps offset the costs for scholarships. Our goal was to provide a way for the community to give and receive. Let’s face it – sometimes life lifts us up and sometimes it knocks us down a rung. I just think it’s good karma to give when you can and be open to receiving when you need to.

Tiny House Blog: We do, too. So what’s next for you, and for Tiny House Dating?

Kai: We’re working on additional feature enhancements while listening very carefully to user feedback. Besides Tiny House Dating, I am also building out Tiny House Lending. We are committed to finding low-cost, short-term solutions for tiny house financing. I’ve talked with dozens of potential lenders so far, and have a few promising leads already but I think it’s kind of like Edison inventing the lightbulb – I’ll find 1,000 ways not to do it before discovering the right formula. But there is a light at the end of it.

Kai Rostcheck is the founder of www.tinyhousedating.com, www.tinyhouselending.com and www.ilovetinyhouses.com. He considers himself exceptionally fortunate to have Tiny House friends all over the world. To make Tiny House friends (or maybe even meet a romantic partner!) join Tiny House Dating.