Published on March 10th, 2016 |6
Tiny House Atlanta trying to gain footing in city’s lifestyle, zoning
of city planning and zoning officials and the public through a grassroots campaign.
Former Atlanta Journal-Constitution Manager for Community and Customer Engagement, Will Johnston is working to get zoning ordinances adopted that will allow homes from 96 square feet to 1,000 square feet. Some of those homes might be on wheels, but others would be on permanent foundations.
Johnston spoke March 8 to the monthly meeting of the Buckhead 50 Club, Buckhead’s oldest civic organization with a membership of men mostly on the high side of 50 years old. But it could have been a perfect audience for his message.
Two of the key target groups for these homes—which have all of the amenities of a regular home only downsized in scale—are the young millennial generation single (and the less common married) folk and the older generation who could move into a “small home” as they aged.
The small homes all have a kitchen area, usually a loft sleeping area, toilet, a small living/seating area and storage space. They seem to be available fully constructed and with appliances or also available as kits for do-it-yourselfers.
Johnston came upon the “small home” concept while in his mid-30s and while spending three months traveling in New Zealand. He had left his corporate job with the AJC coordinating events such as the AJC Peachtree Road Race and was looking for a new life and lifestyle.
Johnston feels the small homes are a perfect outgrowth of the “less is more” movement that ignites a spark with some individuals. “It speaks to what you need as opposed to what you want,” he told the Buckhead 50 Club audience.
Asked who is doing this smaller sustainable footprint concept, Johnston explained, “Do it yourselfers are at the heart of the movement,” but he said tiny home builders are popping up all over the country. He said the movement is beginning to gain interest in Georgia.
One thing that is helping the popularity of the movement are several popular TV series, including “Tiny House, Big Living” on HGTV.
Johnston said the average tiny home is in the 500 square feet range and tiny homes on wheels are very popular. They range from 90 square feet to 500 square feet. Even on a 50-foot residential lot, that would not cast a large footprint.
Johnston said he is working with the city of Atlanta to determine how these small homes can be implanted into the city—as regular single-family residences, maybe clustered rental units or possibly as a means of dealing with homeless families.
The challenges are with the zoning codes and dealing with special hidden societal issues. Johnston said he is focused on the concept “It takes a Village.”