Questions about our project? Check out some of our commonly asked questions below.
THE TINY HOUSE MOVEMENT
- What are tiny houses? Tiny houses on wheels provide an affordable, attractive, environmentally-friendly housing option. Nationally the tiny house movement is growing and wonderfully varied. Tiny houses can be as small as a square meter or as large as 300, 400, or 700 feet; the key isn’t really size itself, but careful and deliberate attention to space efficiency and simplicity. Some tiny houses are foundation-built while others are on wheels (like those at Boneyard Studios).
- Why build small? Today in America, 1 in 4 homeowners owe more money than what their home is worth, with over 5 million homes being foreclosed upon in 2010 and 2011 alone. At an average of $244,000 for a used home, McMansion living simply isn’t affordable—it’s bankrupting our neighbors financially and taxing them emotionally and mentally. Meanwhile, by building the typical American home to excess, the environment also feels the burden: the average new home constructed consumes three-quarters an acre of forest, produces 7 tons of construction waste, and emits 18 tons of greenhouse gases per year.
- Why build on wheels? Due to their small size, most tiny houses are inherently not up to the minimum size requirements of building code. Building tiny houses on trailers reclassifies them as travel trailers, doing away with such requirements and offering the added advantage of mobility. Of course, tiny homes should be (and typically are) built to code as much as possible.
- How do the systems work—water, electric, septic? The tiny house movement has experimented with a broad range of systems solutions, with most homes providing electric, water, and commonly expected amenities. At Boneyard Studios, we’ve attempted to rethink and improve upon these solutions, including greywater management, incinerating toilets, rain catchment, air conditioning, insulation, and overall air quality, along with a more deliberate approach to space and design.
- Are tiny houses really that affordable? A tiny house can be built for between $5,000 and $50,000 in materials, with labor adding another $10,000 or more to the project. So compared to a new SUV, about $40,000 for a new home seems tremendously inexpensive. That said, tiny homes don’t come with the same liberal financing options SUVs do, meaning that most tiny home builders must pay for construction entirely out of pocket.
- Wouldn’t it be more space-efficient to build a multifamily structure? Certainly, microapartments and microcondos make more sense, from a purely space perspective, in most situations. However, tiny homes offer a balance of space efficiency with proximity to the outdoors, and those windows do wonders in making a tight space feel a lot more open. In our case, we’re sited on an alley lot that couldn’t be developed anyway, so putting the plot of land to use as a place for three tiny houses and a community garden is great use of the space.
THE BONEYARD STUDIOS PROJECT & TINY HOUSING IN DC
- Where are you located? Out of respect for the privacy of our neighbors, we don’t publish the location of our lot. Sorry!
- What’s your zoning situation like? What about building permits? The alley lot is zoned Residential-3 (R-3). Current DC code doesn’t permit the construction of habitable foundation-built dwellings on an alley lot unless the alley is more than 30 feet wide. However, private parking of vehicles and trailers (which tiny houses on wheels are classified as) on private property is permitted under R-3. Prior to beginning construction on the houses and the lot, we worked extensively with DCRA and a City Councilmember to receive a street address, which would then allow us to secure the appropriate DCRA permits for excavation work, siting of the storage container, fence construction, and the electrical hookup. Again, because the tiny houses are classified as trailers, they didn’t require building permits. For more on our support of progressive zoning, head here.