Published on March 10th, 2016 |


Tiny House Atlanta trying to gain footing in city’s lifestyle, zoning

It is highly unlikely that one of the new trends in housing will ever gain a real footing among the mega-million-dollar mansions of Buckhead, but Tiny House Atlanta is trying to catch the attention

Will Johnson explains Tiny ouse Atlanta to the Buckhead 50 Club.

Will Johnston explains Tiny House Atlanta to the Buckhead 50 Club.

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.

Anexample of a Tiny Home placed on a residential lot.

An example of a Tiny Home placed on a residential lot.

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.”

An example of a mobile Tiny Home on wheels.

An example of a mobile Tiny Home on wheels.

To find out more about the trend to live with less to enjoy life more, contact Will Johnston at: or

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    6 Responses to Tiny House Atlanta trying to gain footing in city’s lifestyle, zoning

    1. Sergio Loera says:

      High freakin’ five for you!! I am so pleased to read about this and can’t wait for what the future holds. I live in Peoples town and see SO many lots this type of home would be a perfect home for!

    2. Goldie says:

      I’d read this if it weren’t for the fact that this guy is myopic and unwilling to help or reach out to others despite 8 attempts at contacting him (at least on my part). I can’t appreciate a business man that only acts in his best interest. That’s not what these are about and I won’t support someone like that even with my own business.

    3. Eddie says:

      The preeminent authority on tiny houses and zoning and codes is Atlanta attorney Elizabeth M. Roberts. She is a regular speaker on the tiny house circuit. If they haven’t talked to her, they’re not all that focused on getting it done.

    4. Dave Rades says:

      I have found Mr.Johnston always available within a reasonable amount of time. Elizabeth M Roberts spoke at a recent Tiny House Atlanta function, join and see what is (in process) As soon as county/city find the correct regulatory tone, and see it will improve Tax base, Tiny house can exist in harmony with existing zoning. Similar to townhomes, R1,R2, R3 ect.

    5. Craig Race says:

      I am just starting to research the tiny house market. I just bought over a hundred triple layer green glass panels and would like to build many mini homes using the glass. The next step is to find out where the best location to build will be.

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