Duane Duggan, Realtor and Author RE/MAX of Boulder

Duane Duggan, Realtor and Author RE/MAX of Boulder

The tiny home craze is sweeping the nation and is becoming a lifestyle movement that promotes “tiny living,” that is, downsizing to a smaller financial and environmental footprint – or living with less, but with more freedom, time, and simplicity. The concept originated as small homes built on wheels, but in many cases, has evolved into tiny homes built on foundations. Generally, these houses only have 250 to 400 square feet of living quarters designed with a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and living area.

Colorado is a great place to be for tiny homes because more people build and live in tiny homes in Colorado than in almost any other state, according to the Denver Post. In Lyons, you’ll find WeeCasa, the world’s largest tiny home resort. After the 2013 flood demolished a mobile home park on the lot, which is located on a floodplain and does not allow for permanent residences to be built on it, the property owners had a vision for tiny houses on wheels to be parked on it. Lyons neighbors and builders partnered to share the huge variety of tiny houses they’ve built to be part of WeeCasa. If you’re interested in the possibility of buying or building a tiny home, book a stay there and see if tiny home living might be right for you. WeeCasa is not meant for full-time, year-round residences.

How feasible is it to build and live in a tiny home in Boulder County? 

Tiny homes are certainly a possibility in creating more affordable housing in Boulder County. The main reason many people are turning to tiny homes are the sheer economics of a more affordable home.  However, in Boulder County, by the time you purchase a lot, get permits, and install the utilities and foundation, you might already have spent $200,000 before you buy the tiny home itself. Those numbers are quite high just to get started so that pretty much defeats the goal of spending a great deal less on an affordable tiny home. Tiny homes also do not qualify for mortgage loans so you may need to look into alternative financing options such as personal loan, RV loan, or loans from family and friends.

On top of that, there is likely to be a minimum square footage requirement for a home in many subdivisions, which would automatically eliminate the ability to place a tiny home on the lot. For wider adoption of tiny homes to work in Boulder County, there would need to be some zoning changes to adapt to what the tiny home concept has become.

Tiny home projects in Colorado

In Durango, there is a tiny home project called Escalante Village with 22 tiny home spaces. Each space is 20 feet wide and 40 feet deep. Escalante Village leases space and provides water, sewer, solar, electric, trash, recycling, internet, and community amenities. In this development, the tiny homes are on wheels and foundations are not required. There is an architectural control approval process that ensures that each tiny home has its own character. There are also 6 tiny homes for rent.

In Woodland Park, just northwest of Colorado Springs is a tiny home community called Peak View Park.  These tiny homes are on wheels and the development has over 50 wooded, hillside sites. Residents pay a monthly space to rent. Tiny homeowners can bring their own tiny home or order a new one through Peak View Park.  They also sell tiny homes as the authorized dealer for Athens Park Homes.

In Milner, about 10 miles west of Steamboat Springs, the Routt County Planning Commission approved a tiny home project in February 2019. The tiny homes will be built on foundations so that they can be bought and sold just like any other home.

In Salida, the largest tiny home community in the U.S. is being built. Along the Arkansas River in Salida, Sprout Tiny Homes has purchased 19.5 acres where it plans to build 200 tiny homes that will rent for $750 to $1,400 a month, including utilities.

These are just four examples of tiny home projects in Colorado. The concept is certainly popular, but land use and zoning laws will need to be adapted across the state to create the fullest potential for providing this type of affordable housing. Right now, it seems like the greatest success for tiny homes has been in resort areas where there is a short-term rental market.

If you want to see more examples of tiny homes, one of the biggest tiny house festivals is held here in Colorado: the Colorado Tiny House Festival held in Brighton every June. In its third year, it’s attracting more and more people. Over 20,000 people came this year to see 52 different tiny homes on display. Learn more at: https://bit.ly/2kfkfy0

Consult your Realtor to see if a tiny home would work for you.

By Duane Duggan. Duane has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder in Colorado since 1982 and has facilitated over 2,500 transactions over his career, the vast majority from repeat and referred clients. He has been awarded two of the highest honors bestowed by RE/MAX International: The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Circle of Legends Award. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, Realtor for Life. For questions, e-mail DuaneDuggan@boulderco.com,
call 303.441.5611 or visit boulderco.com.

1 Denver Post article, July 5, 2019, entitled “Tiny homes as affordable and alternative housing gain in popularity. Colorado is at forefront of the movement”: https://dpo.st/2ka9vAN