Big trend: Tiny homes

6:21 PM, Nov 13, 2012   |    comments
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By Steve Patterson

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) -- Buying a home can be expensive and nerve-wracking. At the very least, it's a serious investment.

People are hoping to alleviate those fears are jumping on a new trend: Really ridiculously small housing.

'Tiny Homes' are hitting the market. Generally under 300 square feet, under $30,000 and without reason for a mortgage; they're affordable, sustainable and hassle free, sort of.

The trend was born out of the housing crisis late in the last decade. People started building and buying smaller homes, then smaller, and smaller. 

Eventually, a culture developed out of the practice. Websites and blogs started sprouting up and people got into cultivating development. Tiny houses became cool.

The Midwest Market

We like things big in the Midwest. Tiny homes haven't quite caught on as well as in areas like the east and west coasts, but there are people trying to get it started.

Tuesday morning, Johnny Spires with MorningView Homes and Cabins drove 400 miles to show us his custom built, 165 square foot home.

Spires and his mother started developing miniature housing some five years ago. The 165 sq ft house is there smallest with units up to 400 sq ft. and pricing from about $10,000 to $50,000 for the larger units (The one today goes for about $25,000, but he'll negotiate).

They market some of the units as sustainable housing, but others as hunting cabins or temporary shacks. Everything is furnished, insulated and built just like a normal home.

Because they found there was no local market, they literally bet the farm on this. Years ago, they mortgaged the family farm for collateral and have dumped savings into the project. It's been tough going, but they don't plan to leave Missouri.

Owning a Tiny Home

It's tricky. Most centralized metropolitan areas and municipalities have zoning laws and building codes that would prohibit something so small. Some may welcome the trend and relax their ordinances or provide special exemptions, but most won't.

However, there is no state zoning law in Missouri. Meaning, while that dense 30-40% of the state will have enforced code regulation, some 60-70% of the rural areas won't.

If you're comfortable living "off the grid," a tiny house might work.

Others find more liberal communities or ways to either ignore the codes or subvert the laws. Adding wheels or specialized lots may give the home another status which make enforcement irrelevant or difficult.

Just remember: Every single municipality is different. And because this is so new, there are no set rules. Some places will be friendly, some won't.


Again, the only guy we found locally is Johnny. He runs the website If you want to learn more, he's the guy to talk to.


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