Micromansions in Orange County: Exploring the Rise of Tiny Home Developments

Spur, Texas, a community of less than 1,200 about 70 miles east of Lubbock, became the nation’s first official tiny house-friendly community when the city council passed a unanimous declaration in 2014.

Spur, Texas, a community of less than 1,200 about 70 miles east of Lubbock, became the nation’s first official tiny house-friendly community when the city council passed a unanimous declaration in 2014.

Over the past 50 years, new American homes have been getting larger, even as household size has decreased. In 2015, the average size of new homes built in the United States reached a record 2,687 square feet. But some housing developments, including a proposed community in Anaheim, are moving in the opposite extreme, constructing tiny homes that offer affordability and minimalist living.

A mile south of Knott’s Berry Farm in West Anaheim, Newport Beach developer AML Family LLC is proposing a new infill housing development of upscale single-family detached homes of about 600 square feet each. Each of the 10 units would feature a single bedroom, kitchen facilities and a small living area, with a shared courtyard.

While such small houses might resonate with Orange County residents seeking homeownership despite soaring costs, developments with tiny homes are a small but growing movement in American real estate.

The Diverse Residents of Tiny Homes: From the Homeless to CEOs

From housing the homeless to providing chic accommodations for singles, young couples, empty-nesters and others seeking environmental and financial efficiency, homes of as little as 400 square feet have the potential to transform communities, create a novel way of filling vacant land in urban areas, and provide an alternative to large new constructions, smaller older homes in need of repair and apartment living.

San Diego is currently considering changes to that city’s municipal code that would encourage residents to construct “granny flats” on their properties, providing a housing option for college students, singles, seniors and small families hoping to live in one of the world’s most beautiful and dynamic cities.

Even the high and mighty are funding the tiny home movement.

This trailer park in Las Vegas includes Zappos CEO Tony Heish among its two dozen residents.

This trailer park in Las Vegas includes Zappos CEO Tony Heish among its two dozen residents.

Zappos CEO Tony Heish has led a revitalization effort in Downtown Las Vegas that turned an abandoned parking lot into Airstream Village, providing attractively designed mobile homes for 24 residents, including himself and his two pet llamas, in a hip and artsy setting.

Ford Motor Company has contributed $400,000 to a 25-unit community of miniature homes ranging from 250 to 400 square feet in size, providing comfortable and cozy living for the city’s low-income residents, with a rent-to-own model for as little $300 per month, offering full ownership in seven years.

Small vs. Tiny Homes

While definitions vary, small homes are generally defined as 1,000 square feet or less, but tiny homes are even smaller.

Minnesota’s Department of Labor and Industry, for instance, refers to “tiny homes” as being 100 to 400 square feet in size.

This author lived in a detached home of 726 square feet in rural Michigan as a young child in the early 1990s. It was tight quarters, but perhaps too large to be considered a truly tiny dwelling. Interestingly, while the home was small, the property was anything but, encompassing a large area on the banks of the Shiawassee River.

For More Information

For more on the tiny home phenomenon, tune in to “Tiny House Nation,” a reality television show on the FYI network airing at 9 p.m. on Saturdays. Now in its fourth season, episodes follow would-be homeowners on their quest for the perfect micromansion.

Want to build your own tiny house – or start your own miniature home entrepreneurial venture? Check out the construction plans and e-workshop on Tiny Home Builders. Or buy your own, in Southern California or around the world, at Tiny House Listings.

While currently a small percentage of homes on the market, micro-sized houses could play a significant role in affordable housing options in Orange County and contribute to gentrification in older neighborhoods.

What are your thoughts on the impact of tiny homes on the real estate market? Would you live in such a dwelling? Do you think it is a viable option in Orange County? We’d love to hear from you.

For more on trends in real estate, visit Mihaylo’s Real Estate and Land Use Institute (RELUI) at SGMH 5163 or online.

About dcoats

I'm Daniel Coats, a CSU Fullerton Communications graduate student
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