Is a "Tiny Home" right for you?

The 'Tiny Home' movement

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Jewel Pearson gets a lot of attention for her home.

It isn't the biggest on the block, it doesn't have a crazy paint scheme or a funny-looking mailbox.

Her house gets attention because it is so small.

"360 square feet if I include the two lofts.  That doesn't include my screened in porch," Pearson told us, proudly, as she gave us a tour of her home that sits on wheels on a piece of property in Mecklenburg County.

She lives in a "tiny home", a trend that is growing as more people chose to downsize their lives.

"It isn't for everyone, but I do think people have a lot more than they really need," she said.

Ten years ago she had a four-bedroom traditional home and knew once her daughter left the nest she'd need less space.  Over time she reduced her need for space to a one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte's South End.

"I say I have a gypsy soul," Pearson said.

She didn't want to feel like she was giving anything up so she spent time looking at how she used her space before designing her tiny home.

She wanted to enjoy her shower, have a comfortable couch, keep her walk-in closet, have room in her bathroom for all of her "girly" things and she wanted a lot of light to come in.

The home she has reflects those needs.  What she couldn't fit, went into a storage space.

The only thing she wishes were a little different is where she can place her home.  She liked living in the South End but there isn't a spot the City of Charlotte will allow her home on wheels.

We reached out to the city to ask the rules.

A zoning office representative told us the following:

"Tiny homes" are permitted in Charlotte today.  However, the same Subdivision and Zoning regulations that apply to other homes would apply to "tiny homes".  This would include a minimum lot width along a public street, minimum lot size, setback/yards, and other development standards depending the zoning designation of the subject property.  There are urban zoning districts and conditional zoning districts that would allow for reduced lot sizes that may enable a "tiny home" community.
 Zoning has no minimum square footage requirement for "tiny homes".  The main question in determining if a "tiny home" is allowed is "to what standard is the home constructed?".  If they are a stick built or a modular home built to state building code standards, they are allowed in any district that allows residential uses.  If they are only constructed to HUD standards and are considered a manufactured or mobile home, they would only be allowed in a mobile home zoning district.  If they are considered an RV and required licensing through DMV, they would not be allowed as a dwelling unit on a parcel.
 Another option in Charlotte for a "tiny home" is to have an accessory dwelling unit (ADU).  An ADU is defined as a second dwelling unit created on a lot with an existing principal single family dwelling unit.  There are prescribed conditions found in Section 12.407 of the Zoning Ordinance that must be met in order to construct an ADU.   I have attached this section below for your reference.  These dwelling units are required to be built to state building code. "

The city is considering discussing tiny homes in an upcoming rewrite of the zoning ordinance.  Until then Jewel says she's enjoying the benefits.

"The lot rental, the utilities and expenses, they are definitely a fraction of what I was paying in the South End for sure," she said.

While small, she says her space fits her just right.

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