Jay Austin’s Beautiful, Illegal Tiny House

Transcript

Demand for housing in Washington, DC is going through the roof. Over a thousand people move to the nation’s capital every month, driving up the cost of housing, and turning the city into a construction zone. Tower cranes rising high above the city streets have become so common, they’re just part of the background.

But as fast as the cranes can rise, demand for housing has shot up even faster, making DC among the most expensive cities in the United States. With average home prices at $453 per square foot, it’s every bit as expensive as New York City. And the struggles of one homebuilder shows just why the city’s shortage looks to continue for a long time.

“I got driven down the tiny house road because of affordability, simplicity, sustainability, and then mobility,” says Jay Austin, who designed a custom 140-square-foot house in Washington, DC. Despite the miniscule size, his “Matchbox” house is stylish, well-built, and it includes all the necessities (if not the luxuries) of life: a bathroom, a shower, a modest kitchen, office space, and a bedroom loft. There’s even a hot tub outside.

Clever design elements make the most of minimalism. The Matchbox’s high ceilings, skylight, and wide windows make the small space feel modern, uncluttered, and open.

At a cost that ranges from $10,000 to $50,000, tiny homes like the Matchbox could help to ease the shortage of affordable housing in the capital city. Heating and cooling costs are negligible. Rainwater catchment systems help to make the homes self-sustaining. They’re an attractive option to the very sort of residents who the city attracts in abundance: single, young professionals without a lot of stuff, who aren’t ready to take on a large mortgage.

But tiny houses come with one enormous catch: they’re illegal, in violation of several codes in Washington DC’s Zoning Ordinance. Among the many requirements in the 34 chapters and 600 pages of code are mandates defining minimum lot size, room sizes, alleyway widths, and “accessory dwelling units” that prevent tiny houses from being anything more than a part-time residence.

That’s why Austin and his tiny house-dwelling neighbors at Boneyard Studios don’t actually live in their own homes much of the time. To skirt some of the zoning regulations, they’ve added wheels to their homes, which reclassifies them as trailers – and subjects them to regulation by the Department of Motor Vehicles. But current law still requires them to either move their homes from time to time, or keep permanent residences elsewhere.

The DC Office of Zoning, the Zoning Commission, the Zoning Administrator, the Board of Zoning Adjustment, and the Office of Planning all declined to comment on the laws that prevent citizens from living in tiny houses. But their website offers a clue:

Outdated terms like telegraph office and tenement house still reside in our regulations. Concepts like parking standards and antenna regulations are based on 1950s technology, and new concepts like sustainable development had not even been envisioned.

Complex as it is, the Zoning Ordinance of the District of Columbia was approved in 1958. That’s over five decades of cultural change and building innovations, like tiny houses, that the code wasn’t designed to address.

Exemptions and alterations to the code are possible – many are granted every year – but they don’t come cheaply. Lisa Sturtevant of the National Housing Conference estimates that typical approvals add up to $50,000 to the cost of a new single-family unit. That’s why large, wealthy developers enjoy greater flexibility to build in the city, but tiny house dwellers… not so much.

Fortunately, a comprehensive rewrite of the zoning code has been in the works for much of the last decade. Efforts to allow more affordable housing are underway, although many of these solutions favor large developers. Future plans still forbid tiny houses. Austin estimates that, given the current glacial pace of change among the city’s many zoning committees, tiny houses are “many years, if not decades out” from being allowed in the city.

For now, Jay Austin is allowed to build the home of his dreams – he just can’t live there. The Matchbox has become a part-time residence and a full-time showpiece. The community of tiny houses at Boneyard Studios are periodically displayed to the public in the hopes of changing a zoning authority that hasn’t updated a zoning code in 56 years.

Runs about 10:30

Produced, shot, written, narrated, and edited by Todd Krainin.

Additional music by Lee Rosevere.

Learn More at Reason.com

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Small House Society News 201407

Small House Society – News 201401 | 31 July 2014 |  Thursday

Dear Friend,

20110201tu-gregory-johnson-mobile-hermitage-small-house-photo-by-makur-jain-IMG_6311-450x630-70percent-214x300We’ve had a busy summer here at the Small House Society. Here’s the latest news.

Tiny House Nation. In case you’ve not heard yet, the small house movement is now a television show on A&E called Tiny House Nation. It’s free advertising for our movement, so we should do all we can to help promote it. The show airs live on A&E, and can be viewed online by those with an approved television service provider login.

Small House Workshop & Build in Iowa City on 9 August 2014

We’re really excited to have Dee Williams coming to Iowa City for a small house workshop and build. She’ll be joined by her brother, an Iowa City native, for what promises to be an amazing event. Here’s the announcement from Doug:

Join us in Iowa for a one day workshop, kicking off the construction of a 12-foot tiny house on wheels. During this day-long intensive you will frame the floor and walls, anchoring them to a utility trailer. PAD is partnering with a local volunteer group, TINY HOUSE IOWA CITY, and Dee will teach the workshop along side her brother, Doug, a long time builder and teacher. The workshop will be held at Coralville United Methodist Church, 806 13th Ave, Coralville, IA 52241, and will include a meet-up social on Saturday night in Iowa City. To register visit Dee’s website (here). To help spread the word, click here for the Facebook event page.

Free Road Trip! Check out this all expense paid road trip from Portland to Austin + free little house vacation stay. This is a great opportunity for the right person to enjoy a road trip and vacation all paid.

Small House Competition. The Sing Core group is having a small folding house competition. Check it out.

Annual Fundraiser. At the start of each new year, we focus on fundraising for only a few weeks. Donations help us have greater impact throughout the year ahead in promoting and supporting the small house movement. This year, we had only one brief mention of the fundraiser, and as a result, we’ve had only 12 donations come in. So, if you feel inclined, consider donating to our cause. You can give using PayPalFundly, or by sending a check to: Small House Society, PO Box 2717, Iowa City, IA 52244-2717. Thanks!

Media Requests. Click here to view the recent media requests and help as you’re able. Thanks!

Local Small House Society Chapters. Our Directory of Local Contacts is growing. We want to welcome those who joined us this past month. With support requests pouring in from all over the world, it’s important to establish local chapter offices for the Small House Society in various countries, regions, states, and cities. Please let me know if you’re interested in being a local representative and contact. We’ve now added a Google map showing small house representatives in various regions.

Thanks. I want to thank the global team of volunteers and contributors “behind the scenes” who help make all this possible. I’m very grateful to the many people who continue to uphold and advance the mission of the Small House Society. Thanks again for your support. Please let me know if there is any way that the Small House Society can serve you better.

Regards,
Gregory Johnson, Facilitator, President, Co-Founder
Small House Society

Internet: http://www.smallhousesociety.org
E-Mail: shs @ resourcesforlife.com (without spaces)
Postal: c/o Resources for Life, PO Box 2717, Iowa City, IA 52244-2717
Phone: (319) 621-4911
Subscribe. Enter your email address below and click the Join Now button to be notified when the latest Small House Society newsletter is available.

* * *

Global Reach. During a typical week, we have thousands of visitors from over 120 countries visiting our website. The map below is just a snapshot of just a few hours. So, the need for additional helpers is great. We have over 8000 people that we communicate each month through email, phone, or these updates. Click for a larger image.

20130331su-small-house-society-website-visitors-1024x651

Tiny House Nation Television Show on A&E FYI Lifestyle Network

“I’ve been involved with the small house movement since its beginnings, for almost 14 years now, and the Tiny House Nation television series is one of the biggest media events to happen to the movement in more than a decade.” ~ Greg Johnson

Summary

On 9 July 2014, the premiere of the Tiny House Nation television show was broadcast and promoted through the new A&E lifestyle network FYI. The show hosts are John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin.

Watch Episodes Online

Here are links to the episodes from the Tiny House Nation videos page.

Global Availability. Please note that viewing is not available in all countries such as Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and maybe others (we’re receiving reports from members).

In the Media

Synopsis

In “Tiny House Nation,” renovation experts and hosts, John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin, travel across America to show off ingenious small spaces and the inventive people who live in them, as well as help new families design and construct their own mini-dream home in a space no larger than 500 square feet. From a micro-apartment in New York City to a caboose car turned home in Montana to a micro-sized mobile home for road tripping – this is a series that celebrates the exploding movement of tiny homes. From pricey to budget friendly, “Tiny House Nation” is not a typical design show, but one that proves size doesn’t always matter – it’s creativity that counts.

Graphics to Promote the Show

Here are some graphics obtained from the web that you can use to promote the show through your blogs, websites, emails, and social networks. When possible, link to the official show URL at this address http://www.fyi.tv/shows/tiny-house-nation. Square images work well with Twitter. Remember to use the hashtag #TinyHouseNation.

Page Visits

The maps below show recent visitors to this page. Click a map for a larger gallery view.

Small House Society News 201402

Small House Society – News 201402 | 28 February 2014 | Friday

Dear Friend,

20110201tu-gregory-johnson-mobile-hermitage-small-house-photo-by-makur-jain-IMG_6311-450x630-70percent-214x300February was a busy month at the SHS headquarters. Here’s the latest news.

Website Upgrade. We’ve updated the website with a new design and some enhancements.

Annual Fundraiser. At the start of each new year, we focus on fundraising for only a few weeks.

Donations help us have greater impact throughout the year ahead in promoting and supporting the small house movement.

You can give using PayPalFundly, or by sending a check to: Small House Society, PO Box 2717, Iowa City, IA 52244-2717.

Media Requests. I’m really encouraged by the increase in media requests we’re receiving. Yet, small house enthusiasts are really needed at this time. Click here to view the recent media requests and please help as you’re able. Thanks!

* * *

For those who have been reading these newsletters each month, the rest of what’s below will be mostly a repeat of previous news, but still current and relevant.

Local Small House Society Chapters. Our Directory of Local Contacts is growing. We want to welcome those who joined us this past month. With support requests pouring in from all over the world, it’s important to establish local chapter offices for the Small House Society in various countries, regions, states, and cities. Please let me know if you’re interested in being a local representative and contact. We’ve now added a Google map showing small house representatives in various regions.

Tiny House Conference 2014. If you’re interested in small  houses, you’ll want to consider attending The first annual tiny house conference is scheduled in Charlotte, North Carolina. Many of the well known builders and presenters will be there.

Thanks. I want to thank the global team of volunteers and contributors “behind the scenes” who help make all this possible. I’m very grateful to the many people who continue to uphold and advance the mission of the Small House Society. Thanks again for your support. Please let me know if there is any way that the Small House Society can serve you better.

Regards,
Gregory Johnson, Facilitator, President, Co-Founder
Small House Society

Internet: http://www.smallhousesociety.org
E-Mail: shs @ resourcesforlife.com (without spaces)
Postal: c/o Resources for Life, PO Box 2717, Iowa City, IA 52244-2717
Phone: (319) 621-4911
Subscribe. Enter your email address below and click the Join Now button to be notified when the latest Small House Society newsletter is available.

* * *

Global Reach. During a typical week, we have thousands of visitors from over 120 countries visiting our website. The map below is just a snapshot of just a few hours. So, the need for additional helpers is great. We have over 8000 people that we communicate each month through email, phone, or these updates. Click for a larger image.

20130331su-small-house-society-website-visitors-1024x651

Small House Society News 201401

Small House Society – News 201401 | 31 January 2014 | Friday

Dear Friend,

20110201tu-gregory-johnson-mobile-hermitage-small-house-photo-by-makur-jain-IMG_6311-450x630-70percent-214x300January was a busy month at the SHS headquarters. Here’s the latest news.

Annual Fundraiser. At the start of each new year, we focus on fundraising for only a few weeks. Donations help us have greater impact throughout the year ahead in promoting and supporting the small house movement. You can give using PayPalFundly, or by sending a check to: Small House Society, PO Box 2717, Iowa City, IA 52244-2717.

Crowdsourced Tiny Houses. Our local group of small house enthusiasts will be planning upcoming meetings with a focus on service projects. Click here to read more.

Media Requests. Click here to view the recent media requests and help as you’re able. Thanks!

* * *

For those who have been reading these newsletters each month, the rest of what’s below will be mostly a repeat of previous news, but still current and relevant.

Local Small House Society Chapters. Our Directory of Local Contacts is growing. We want to welcome those who joined us this past month. With support requests pouring in from all over the world, it’s important to establish local chapter offices for the Small House Society in various countries, regions, states, and cities. Please let me know if you’re interested in being a local representative and contact. We’ve now added a Google map showing small house representatives in various regions.

Tiny House Conference 2014. If you’re interested in small  houses, you’ll want to consider attending The first annual tiny house conference is scheduled in Charlotte, North Carolina. Many of the well known builders and presenters will be there.

Thanks. I want to thank the global team of volunteers and contributors “behind the scenes” who help make all this possible. I’m very grateful to the many people who continue to uphold and advance the mission of the Small House Society. Thanks again for your support. Please let me know if there is any way that the Small House Society can serve you better.

Regards,
Gregory Johnson, Facilitator, President, Co-Founder
Small House Society

Internet: http://www.smallhousesociety.org
E-Mail: shs @ resourcesforlife.com (without spaces)
Postal: c/o Resources for Life, PO Box 2717, Iowa City, IA 52244-2717
Phone: (319) 621-4911
Subscribe. Enter your email address below and click the Join Now button to be notified when the latest Small House Society newsletter is available.

* * *

Global Reach. During a typical week, we have thousands of visitors from over 120 countries visiting our website. The map below is just a snapshot of just a few hours. So, the need for additional helpers is great. We have over 8000 people that we communicate each month through email, phone, or these updates. Click for a larger image.

20130331su-small-house-society-website-visitors-1024x651

Small House Society News 201312

Small House Society – News 201312 | 31 December 2013 | Tuesday

Dear Friend,

20110201tu-gregory-johnson-mobile-hermitage-small-house-photo-by-makur-jain-IMG_6311-450x630-70percent-214x300December was a busy month at the SHS headquarters. Here’s the latest news.

Crowdsourced Tiny Houses. Our local group of small house enthusiasts will be planning upcoming meetings with service projects in mind. Click here to read more.

For those who have been reading these newsletters each month, the rest of what’s below will be mostly a repeat of previous news, but still current and relevant.

Media Inquiries. We’re continuing to receive emails and phone calls from members of the media who are writing stories and producing documentaries about the small house movement. If you’re interested in being interviewed, let us know.

Education Resources. There are an increasing number of undergraduate and graduate programs focusing on urban development that include the small house movement as part of the curriculum. Because of this, we regularly get requests from students wanting assistance with class projects and thesis work. If you’re interested in helping with these academic disciplines and research, let us know.

Local Small House Society Chapters. Our Directory of Local Contacts is growing. We want to welcome those who joined us this past month. With support requests pouring in from all over the world, it’s important to establish local chapter offices for the Small House Society in various countries, regions, states, and cities. Please let me know if you’re interested in being a local representative and contact. We’ve now added a Google map showing small house representatives in various regions.

Tiny House Conference 2014. If you’re interested in small  houses, you’ll want to consider attending The first annual tiny house conference is scheduled in Charlotte, North Carolina. Many of the well known builders and presenters will be there.

Thanks. I want to thank the global team of volunteers and contributors “behind the scenes” who help make all this possible. I’m very grateful to the many people who continue to uphold and advance the mission of the Small House Society. Thanks again for your support. Please let me know if there is any way that the Small House Society can serve you better.

Regards,
Gregory Johnson, Facilitator, President, Co-Founder
Small House Society

Internet: http://www.smallhousesociety.org
E-Mail: shs @ resourcesforlife.com (without spaces)
Postal: c/o Resources for Life, PO Box 2717, Iowa City, IA 52244-2717
Phone: (319) 621-4911
Subscribe. Enter your email address below and click the Join Now button to be notified when the latest Small House Society newsletter is available.

* * *

Global Reach. During a typical week, we have thousands of visitors from over 120 countries visiting our website. The map below is just a snapshot of just a few hours. So, the need for additional helpers is great. We have over 8000 people that we communicate each month through email, phone, or these updates. Click for a larger image.

20130331su-small-house-society-website-visitors-1024x651

Iowa City Small House Alliance to Plan Crowdsourced Service Project Charity Action Community Events

20110201tu-gregory-johnson-mobile-hermitage-small-house-photo-by-makur-jain-IMG_6311-450x630-70percent-214x300The Iowa City Small House Alliance is planning to organize “crowdsourced service project charity action community events.”

Of course, the idea of crowdsourcing isn’t new. In fact, it might be fair to say that the Amish concept of a barn raising was an early form of crowd sourcing.

Applied to the Small House Movement, one of the greatest benefits of a service event would be the more economical creation of tiny homes by bringing together people with resources, tools, experience, and skills.

Just as repurposing of materials is a great way to keep costs down, using locally sourced volunteer labor can help speed up the process of building a home while brining the cost down.

Service projects are also a great way for people to meet and build relationships.

As our local Iowa City chapter of the Small House Society plans future meetings, we hope that those can take place as local build events. Or, perhaps in some other way help advance the local small house community. We hope this can be an inspiration for other communities.

Regards,
Greg Johnson

Small House Society News 201311

Small House Society – News 201311 | 8 December 2013 | Sunday

Dear Friend,

20110201tu-gregory-johnson-mobile-hermitage-small-house-photo-by-makur-jain-IMG_6311-450x630-70percent-214x300November was a busy month at the SHS headquarters. Sorry for the delay in getting this newsletter sent out. Here’s a recap of what’s been going on.

Media Inquiries. We’re continuing to receive emails and phone calls from members of the media who are writing stories and producing documentaries about the small house movement. If you’re interested in being interviewed, let us know.

Education Resources. There are an increasing number of undergraduate and graduate programs focusing on urban development that include the small house movement as part of the curriculum. Because of this, we regularly get requests from students wanting assistance with class projects and thesis work. If you’re interested in helping with these academic disciplines and research, let us know.

Local Small House Society Chapters. Our Directory of Local Contacts is growing. We want to welcome those who joined us this past month. With support requests pouring in from all over the world, it’s important to establish local chapter offices for the Small House Society in various countries, regions, states, and cities. Please let me know if you’re interested in being a local representative and contact. We’ve now added a Google map showing small house representatives in various regions.

Tiny House Conference 2014. If you’re interested in small  houses, you’ll want to consider attending The first annual tiny house conference is scheduled in Charlotte, North Carolina. Many of the well known builders and presenters will be there.

Tiny House Community. There’s an inspiring small house community being developed that I think you’ll be interested in. Click here to learn more.

Thanks. I want to thank the global team of volunteers and contributors “behind the scenes” who help make all this possible. I’m very grateful to the many people who continue to uphold and advance the mission of the Small House Society. Thanks again for your support. Please let me know if there is any way that the Small House Society can serve you better.

Regards,
Gregory Johnson, Facilitator, President, Co-Founder
Small House Society

Internet: http://www.smallhousesociety.org
E-Mail: shs @ resourcesforlife.com (without spaces)
Postal: c/o Resources for Life, PO Box 2717, Iowa City, IA 52244-2717
Phone: (319) 621-4911
Subscribe. Enter your email address below and click the Join Now button to be notified when the latest Small House Society newsletter is available.

* * *

Global Reach. During a typical week, we have thousands of visitors from over 120 countries visiting our website. The map below is just a snapshot of just a few hours. So, the need for additional helpers is great. We have over 8000 people that we communicate each month through email, phone, or these updates. Click for a larger image.

20130331su-small-house-society-website-visitors-1024x651

Small House Society News 201310

Small House Society – News 201310 | 31 October 2013 | Thursday

Dear Friend,

20110201tu-gregory-johnson-mobile-hermitage-small-house-photo-by-makur-jain-IMG_6311-450x630-70percent-214x300It’s been a busy month at the SHS headquarters. Here’s a recap of what’s been going on.

Local Small House Society Chapters. Our Directory of Local Contacts is growing. We want to welcome those who joined us this past month. With support requests pouring in from all over the world, it’s important to establish local chapter offices for the Small House Society in various countries, regions, states, and cities. Please let me know if you’re interested in being a local representative and contact.

Green Builders. Polly Bart, the founder of GreenBuilders.com, joined our list of local contacts this month. We’re pleased to have this team of over 50 sustainability and smaller living experts joining with us. Watch the video below to learn more.

Tiny House Conference 2013. If you’re interested in small  houses, you’ll want to consider attending The first annual tiny house conference is scheduled in Charlotte, North Carolina. Many of the well known builders and presenters will be there.

Thanks. I want to thank the global team of volunteers and contributors “behind the scenes” who help make all this possible. I’m very grateful to the many people who continue to uphold and advance the mission of the Small House Society. Thanks again for your support. Please let me know if there is any way that the Small House Society can serve you better.

Regards,
Gregory Johnson, Facilitator, President, Co-Founder
Small House Society

Internet: http://www.smallhousesociety.org
E-Mail: shs @ resourcesforlife.com (without spaces)
Postal: c/o Resources for Life, PO Box 2717, Iowa City, IA 52244-2717
Phone: (319) 621-4911
Subscribe. Enter your email address below and click the Join Now button to be notified when the latest Small House Society newsletter is available.

* * *

Global Reach. During a typical week, we have thousands of visitors from over 120 countries visiting our website. The map below is just a snapshot of just a few hours. So, the need for additional helpers is great. We have over 8000 people that we communicate each month through email, phone, or these updates. Click for a larger image.

20130331su-small-house-society-website-visitors-1024x651

Small House Interview on CJBK 1290 News Talk Radio London, Ontario, Canada – 7 October 2013 at 12:15 ET

20131007mo-small-house-interview-cjbk-london-ontario-canada-640x360

Click here for the recorded interview on Soundcloud.

Summary. Small House Society President, Greg Johnson speaks with Don Landy of CJBK in London, Ontario, Canada about the Small House Movement.

Listen to the Recorded Interview


__________

About. This interview was recorded Live at 1:15 PM Eastern Time (12:15 CT, 11:15 MT, 10:15 PT) on 7 October 2013