BY NANCY HILLER
When Deryl Dale describes the emotional impetus behind his decision to build a tiny home, he voices a sentiment that’s widely shared, if rarely expressed. “It’s make-believe, like playing house.” The burgeoning popularity of these structures, which are typically built on an RV trailer and sometimes left permanently mobile, owes much to the childlike delight many of us feel in response to the idea of living or working in a space that’s less than 250 square feet.
But aside from the charm of almost any object rendered in miniature — from the lusciously frosted birthday cupcake to the 1:48 electric train set — things are simpler, especially in a tiny home. Living in minimal quarters forces you to focus on what’s truly important and authorizes you to jettison the rest.
Tiny homes also offer financial accessibility compared to traditional forms of housing. As well, their extreme compactness and simplicity in terms of layout and construction suggest that almost anybody could build one, given the necessary tools, a set of plans, and some basic building skills. (Of course, things are not always that simple.) And the flexibility offered by the typical tiny house assembled on a trailer platform allows its owners to enjoy the comforts of home even if they have to relocate.
For all of their charms, tiny homes come with their own demands, which go well beyond the need to cull possessions. City and county codes limit where it is legal to park tiny houses and whether they may be used for residential or business purposes. Most Bloomington neighborhoods prohibit siting a tiny house on a lot with an existing residential structure, even if the lot is quite substantial. And when it is legal to place a tiny home in a particular location, there may be requirements concerning driveways and utilities. Clearly, anyone who is considering building or buying a tiny home or workplace should consult the appropriate municipal authority early in the process.
Three residents who succeeded in realizing their dreams of creating tiny buildings — two in which to live and one in which to work — share their stories and their spaces.