Tiny House Extravaganza!

img_0706I do not think SMUD or the other organizers of the Tiny House competition open house (Saturday, November 15, 2016 at Cosumnes River College) expected such an enthusiastic response. Even with rain threatening, the 5,000 brochures they printed up were snapped up by 11:30 a.m. When I left at 1:15 there was a steady stream of people still arriving.

There were 10 tiny houses entered by various college and universities and each of them had at least a 20 minute wait in line to see the inside. If you arrived at 9:00 a.m. when it opened you’d be challenged to see them all by 4:00 p.m. Fortunately there were food trucks and information tables to help you gather information about saving energy or water, or how to become an advocate for tiny homes.

I only had a couple of hours so I took lots of photos and waited in line to see the Laney College entry, “The Wedge” winner of the architecture award. Overhearing conversations around me, the people in line were curious to see if a tiny home will work for a mother-in-law suite, an affordable way to live off the grid in Idaho, a guest home, or a home for themselves.This home cost $55,000 to build. The college plans to sell it and then using the same program to build homes for the homeless.

The overall winner was Santa Clara University’s entry. Entries had to be moved to Cosumnes River College by Friday for judging. Homes were rated on design, energy efficiency, home utility and communications. Modeled after the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, the program asks teams to use modern building techniques and technology to maximize energy efficiency in a home not to exceed 400 square feet.

Entrants included:
1. California State University, Fresno
2. Laney College
3. College of the Sequoias
4. University of California, Berkeley
5. Cosumnes River College
6. Santa Clara University
7. San Jose City College
8. UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College
9. CSU Sacramento
10. CSU Chico
If you are a city councilmember or a County supervisor in the NorCal area, take note of the level of interest. Many localities have vague guidance about permitting or using tiny homes. Tiny homes can be mobile more like a travel trailer, but tend to be built more like a custom home than a manufactured home.  The American Tiny House Association offers sample zoning regulations.