Tiny Houses Make BIG Statement at Innovative Housing Showcase

Tiny Houses Make BIG Statement at Innovative Housing Showcase

Written By Alexis Stephens

The National Association of Home Builders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently co-hosted the inaugural Innovative Housing Showcase. During this free 5-day event, attendees toured new building technologies and housing solutions. Importantly, tiny houses were front and center. The focus of the Showcase: ways to make housing more affordable for American families and homes more resilient during natural disasters.

Inclusion meant tiny houses further legitimized as a quality, affordable housing solution to a wide range of needs— a big step forward for greater acceptance. The Showcase provided an incredible opportunity for advocates to speak directly to elected officials and policymakers to give them a greater understanding of tiny house benefits for community development, and the barriers to legal placement.

The two movable tiny houses on display came showcased the diversity of building materials and construction techniques within the movement. Core Housing Solutions brought their Firefly model, a 200 square foot tiny home weighing with a downstairs bedroom. At 25′ long, it weighs a mere 5,500 lbs. To achieve this and below-average cost, the builders use innovative materials, including metal SIP panels, NASA engineered for high tolerances—stronger pound for pound than reinforced concrete.

The Build Us Hope nonprofit and their for-profit partner, Tiny House Developers, brought their Big Blue model. It is a 32′ three-bedroom tiny home. They build using three framing types: light gauge injected steel panels, SIPs framing, and traditional studs framing. Their exhibit also featured a visuals V13, their first veterans’ micro home village in Phoenix. Their second community is currently in the works.

Other event displays included a reimagined shipping container house and an expandable, stackable building system. For example, exhibitor IndieDwell builds steel modular housing with a high durability, healthy, and sustainability focus. They showcased their largest model, 960 square feet made from three recycled out-of-service containers. Additionally, they offer one and two container models. Their smallest is 320 square feet. To learn more about what modular means, read this.

To my delight, the movable tiny houses were incredibly well-received with bi-partisan support, as demonstrated by in-person feedback and numerous mentions during the event’s talks. Additionally, as a general public crowd-pleaser, they clearly had the longest lines all five days.

On day one, Zack Giffin, Tiny House Nation co-host and THIA board member, led a thought-provoking panel discussion on tiny homes, titled “Many Problems, Mini Solutions.” Participants included me, Core Housing’s Andrew Bennett and Build Us Hope’s Elizabeth Singelton. It provided an excellent overview of the nationwide opportunities and obstacles facing tiny house development.

All tiny house reps enjoyed many brief one-on-one opportunities to discuss outdated restrictive regulations and financing opportunities with HUD representatives, from the Innovation Office to Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Follow-up communications are in the works to discuss lending opportunities, as well as a potential HUD tiny house workgroup.  Something American Tiny House Association chapter leaders, Todd McKellips and Hannah Rose Crabtree helping to promote. Of note, they also head up the Washington Tiny House Association.

They were in attendance, in part, to share the news about the new Washington State Bill addressing tiny house building standards, placement, and anti-discrimination protections. While imperfect like all legislation, it shows how states can help legitimize tiny houses as housing, which in turn, hopefully, will expedite local approvals.

A vital event objective was productive conversation on how to facilitate more acceptance of non-traditional yet practical housing options, regardless of political affiliation. A hot topic was the role of the federal government to apply pressure locally to ease out-of-date, overly restrictive regulations.

To that end, HUD outlined one of their goals as trying to educate  state and local governments on options they should review and ways to work together to overcome obstacles, with help from the private sector.

It was heartwarming to see a mix of policymakers, congress members (on both sides of the aisle), financial regulators, industry professionals, etc., come together over the common ground of providing more Americans with homeownership opportunities. Ultimately the Showcase generated numerous worthwhile exposure for tiny houses, as both a fill-in-the-gaps housing solution and as a flexible emergency housing option.

While I am not naive that this event will directly solve local issues. Inclusion itself gave tiny housing a new level of legitimization. Though talk can be cheap, the national level education and PR opportunities were exceedingly valuable.

Additionally, I am grateful that a diverse group of tiny home dwellers, builders, and grassroots advocates were able to participate in sharing a realistic look at what’s happening around the country within the tiny house movement.

While there, my partner Christian and I asked event attendees, from HUD reps to the general public, “What’s your first impression of the tiny house?” Watch the below video to hear their responses. And no, we did not cut out negative feedback. We received thoughtful responses from all who spoke with us.

-Alexis Stephens, THIA board member and Tiny House Expedition co-founder

Related Affordable Housing


HUD News

Manufactured Home Procedural and Enforcement Regulations

 Clarifying the Exemption for Manufacture of Recreational Vehicles Summary

Effective Date January 19th, 2019

This rulemaking revises the exemption for the manufacture of recreational vehicles to clarify which recreational vehicles qualify for an exemption from HUD’s Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards and Manufactured Home Procedural and Enforcement regulations. HUD is adopting a recommendation of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) but expanding the definition of recreational vehicle and modifying it to require certification with the updated ANSI standard, A119.5-15.

A General Misunderstanding of the Proposed Rule

Comments: Commenters stated that the rule would prohibit full-time RV living. Other commenters stated that the rule implied that HUD would regulate consumer use of RVs. Commenters may have based this conclusion on the proposed definition of “recreational vehicle” that includes a criterion that a RV be designed only for recreational use. The commenters stated that the criterion would deter full-time RV and tiny home living while yielding no safety improvements.

HUD Response: HUD respectfully disagrees with the various fundamental premises and conclusions of these commenters about secondary effects.

Regulation And Use Of Occupancy Of RVs Is In The Purview Of State And Local Authorities

Initially, as stated in this preamble, HUD is not regulating use of manufactured homes or RVs. More specifically, how individuals decide to use their manufactured home or RV unit after purchase—and, in some cases, after receiving a Manufacturer’s Notice about the unit’s compliance with RV standards—is beyond the scope of this final rule. The regulation of use and occupancy of RVs is the purview of state and local authorities, not HUD.

Because this rule does not prohibit or regulate the use of manufactured homes or RVs, including tiny homes, the secondary consequences described by certain commenters are moot, and HUD does not believe that there exists a need to address them individually. HUD also states that this rule does not dictate the minimum square footage of a home, nor does it require modular homes to be “as stable” as foundation-built homes. It also does not require manufacturers to obtain RVIA certification to claim the RV exemption. HUD reiterates that when it first codified the RV exemption in 1976, it unequivocally stated that RVs were not designed to be used as permanent dwellings. This final rule does not alter that underlying rationale for the exemption. Moreover, as noted above, both the ANSI and NFPA standard descriptions underscore the need to distinguish RVs from permanent housing.

Article Source Regulations.Gov

The RV Industry

Three Things You Need To Know About The New HUD Rule

On November 16, 2018, HUD released a final rule which updates the definition of RV to definitively exempt RV from HUD’s regulation. While this is a huge win for the RV industry, this new rule includes two provisions that have prompted the RV Industry Association to raise concerns: Requiring PMRV manufacturers to display a “Manufacturer’s Notice” and tying the rule specifically to the 2015 versions of the NFPA and ANSI standards.

HUD Does not Regulate RVs, including PMRVs and Fifth-Wheels

Most importantly, the newly finalized rule clearly establishes that HUD does not regulate RVs, including PMRVs and fifth-wheels, which provides much-needed regulatory certainty to RV manufacturers. Earlier RV exemptions did not establish a bright line between RVs, which are designed for temporary, seasonal or recreational use, and manufactured housing which is designed to be a permanent, year-round dwelling. The blurry distinction began to cause confusion in recent years as RVs have become larger and park model RVs have risen in popularity.

Article Source RV Industry Association