84 Lumber showcased one of its tiny home models at the 2017 International Builders Show.

An important inflection point in the tiny home, micro-living movement happened last December when the International Code Council (ICC) reported that a tiny house specific appendix will be part of the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC), allowing people to receive a Certificate of Occupancy (COO) for their tiny house when built to meet the provisions of the adopted code appendix. A lack of recognition of tiny houses in the IRC had been a major hindrance to the creation of legal tiny houses in communities across the United States, the council noted.

The approval of RB168-16 was driven in part by the efforts of Andrew Morrison (TinyHouseBuild.com) and a team of architects, builders, designers, and educators.

Inside of the 84 Lumber tiny home model displayed at 2017 International Builders Show.

According to the group, tiny houses have gained popularity in the last few years as a result of several factors, including high housing costs, flat-lined wages, and a grassroots movement towards minimalism. A tiny house specific code helps not only those wanting to build small, but also local building officials overwhelmed with applications for tiny house projects.

“RB168-16 brings much needed safety standards to tiny house construction,” says BA Norrgard, volunteer coordinator at Habitat for Humanity and a founding member of the Tiny House Collaborative. “This is a huge breakthrough that holds incredible potential for positive change in the housing sector.”

Inside of the 84 Lumber tiny home model displayed at 2017 International Builders Show.

Although the approval of RB168-16 may be historic, the group also notes that each jurisdiction currently enforcing the IRC must adopt the appendix for it to become law.
And it seems to be picking up momentum, as more and more cities and municipalities across the country are approving tiny home structures within their communities.

A few examples since the beginning of the year include:
Tiny Homes of Oklahoma announced a partnership to bring tiny homes to the Wheeler District of Oklahoma City. According to the group’s website “You will be able to choose from a selection of approved tiny home designs with exteriors that meet the Wheeler District’s design guidelines and standards.”
Eagle County School District in Colorado is considering tiny home construction as an incentive in its efforts to recruit and retain teachers.

Adoption by high-profile influencers

Not only is the implementation of safety codes and regulations making micro-living more “credible,” but the adoption of the lifestyle by high-profile influencers is also a major growth key.
One example is B.J. Siegel, Apple’s Director of Store Design, who designed his own customized, prefab weeHouse from Alchemy in collaboration with the company’s founder and principal architect, Geoffrey Warner. Although designed in Minnesota, the house was shipped to Santa Rosa, California, approximately 90 percent complete.

Photo: Alchemy/weeHouse

According to Alchemy’s web site, “this small, ultra-minimal, high-end home is based on Alchemy’s weeHouse, but customized to meet the luxe finishing requirements the client requested. The prefab house is composed of two minimalist open-sided boxes set on a concrete plinth, nestled on the edge of gnarled oaks and an expansive view. Both structures feature steel frames, 9-foot-tall sliding glass walls set into custom corrugated weathering steel boxes and ipe interiors with oiled oak cabinetry. The boxes are offset on board-formed concrete plinths connected by a set of Alchemy-designed steel stairs and railings fabricated in Minnesota.

Photo: Alchemy/weeHouse

“The 16-foot by 40-foot, 640-square-foot primary box features a whitewashed oak bed box in the middle of the volume, creates a kitchen-dining-living room space on one side, and a bath space on the other side. For shipping, the primary box was composed of two modules, with the 10-foot by 40-foot porch arriving 90 percent complete, bolted onto the main module on-site, and cantilevered into the site’s landscape.”

Photo: Alchemy/weeHouse

“The accompanying 330-square-foot guest house is an abridged version of the larger module with a large whitewashed oak wardrobe forming the bathroom wall.”

The project has been featured in Dwell magazine as well as numerous online publications, further increasing the exposure of the concept of tiny home living and with various options, including ultra-luxury designs, now available.

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