While they may be adorable, a lot of tiny houses are just not very practical. Most are built on trailer bases so you have to find someplace to park them, and hook them up to utilities, and many cities don't allow them, due to minimum size restrictions. Plus, there's often the hassle of climbing up a ladder to get into bed. But in the town of Ozark, Alabama, one local businessman has built a set of five tiny houses that manage to avoid all those pitfalls—while, admittedly, still being very cute.
Each house in Mr. Blakenship's row of five tiny houses measures just 500 square feet, which is on the large side for a tiny house but quite petite compared to the average American home (nearly 2,500 square feet according to this report on AEI). The houses all have one bedroom, one bath, a kitchen, living room, and utility room with stacked washer and dryer, in addition to a front porch that's big enough for a table and chairs. Out front, each house has parking spots for two cars. They're also close to Ozark's downtown area, so residents can walk to restaurants and a grocery store.
Apparently Ozark does not have the same restrictions on smaller structures that larger cities do, since the owner had no problem getting the houses approved with the planning commission. Pouring the foundations took just one day, and framing, drywalling and painting the houses another three weeks. Within three weeks of completion, all of the houses were leased for the year.
Depending on where you live, the price per month for these charming cottages will either seem reasonable, or absurdly low. The houses rent for just $500 per month, and within three weeks of completion, all of the houses were leased for the year. People, it seems, want more compact, affordable living spaces—but they also like the idea of having their own home, with the privacy and dignity that affords. The owner (who has also built a set of 1,000-square-foot shotgun houses that rent for $750 a month) is already thinking about building more.
These houses aren't just cute, and tiny (and ridiculously affordable)—they're also a potential way forward for the American city. Living in their own home continues to be a dream for many people, but with the size of the average household shrinking and the number of singles living on their own on the rise, requiring houses to meet a certain minimum square footage makes less and less sense. Maybe other cities could take a page from the Ozark, Alabama, book, and start making it easier to build homes that make sense for everyone.
You can read more about the project (and see interior photos of one of the houses) on the Tiny House Blog.