Skip to main content

The Allure of Tiny Houses

Nov 16, 2015 11:52AM ● Published by Erica Shames

Gallery: Tiny Homes Winter 2015 [14 Images] Click any image to expand.

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends 
Of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare,
sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat:
it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfortThe Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

As tiny houses go, Bilbo Baggins’ hobbit-hole house may have been small in size, but it was big on comfort—much like the houses that are part of the tiny house trend that took roots in the Pacific Northwest. While Oregon and Washington both have thriving tiny house communities, the idea is spreading across the country.

“The tiny house movement has been around for decades but the up-swell happened around 2008 when the economy took a dive,” said Tennessee Edwards, executive producer of the FYI Television Network’s series Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Hunting. “People realized that they did not want to have the stress of large mortgages, and some people gravitated towards tiny houses. It gave folks some financial freedom and some people just loved the idea of less is more.”

Full time occupation

James Stoltzfus, owner of Liberation Tiny Homes, Lancaster, recently completed his first tiny house, which he is using as a sales model. Stoltzfus worked as a contractor with his brother Ray’s Lancaster-based company, Quality Decks and Additions, for the past 10 years, prior to forming his own company.

“There is not another tiny house contractor in the immediate area or in the state that I am aware of,” Stoltzfus said.

After talking with a friend, who attended the Colorado Springs tiny house builder Tumbleweed’s Dream Big, Live Tiny workshop in Philadelphia, Stoltzfus began researching tiny house construction plans. Shortly afterwards, Stoltzfus decided to use his spare time to build his first tiny house in his downtown Lancaster backyard.

“In the meantime, I saw the need and the demand for it—especially for affordable ones,” Stoltzfus said. “Everything, for the most part, out there is pretty high priced. I saw a gap between the quality and the price. I decided there was a potential market to meet the demand.”

Last August, Stoltzfus attended the three-day Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs. “There is a lot of interest in the tiny house trend,” Stoltzfus said, noting that about 40,000 people attended the event. Shortly after, he quit his job to become a full-time tiny house contractor.

After collecting a number of tiny house floor plans, Stoltzfus designed his own floor plan. The completed house has 160-square-feet of living space on the main floor; and a 70-square-foot, second-level sleeping loft.

“It’s made to travel,” Stoltzfus said of the tiny structure. He built his model, which weigns about 10,000 pounds, on a travel trailer-sized chassis and wheels to make it easy to move.

Average prices for tiny houses range from $80,000-$130,000; average cost of materials is about $20,000. Some people, Stoltzfus said, have built tiny houses for as little as $10,000 to $15,000.

On their own

In 2014, after searching for a tiny home to buy (their search was documented on HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters), Adam and Karen Freedgood decided to design and build a 280-square-foot home on 12 acres of undeveloped property in Equinunk, PA, in Wayne County. Located between the Catskill and Pocono Mountain ranges, the home is perched on a mountainside a few miles from the Delaware River.

Karen is an elementary school art teacher, and Adam is co-founder of a sustainability consultancy that helps companies run more responsibly through green business strategies. “We do not consider ourselves to be part of the tiny house ‘movement’ where the goal is often small for the sake of small,” said Adam. “For us, building tiny is an adventure in long-term sustainability that includes comfort, affordability and style. Our design prioritizes off-grid living with a strong connection to the land.”

 “We built much of this house with our own hands and with no prior construction experience,” added Adam. “Every step of the way we are learning new skills. Online DIY resources have been key.”

The cabin is off-grid, solar-powered and uses less than 1,800 kilowatt hours of electricity per year (over 80 percent less than the 12,000 kWh used by the average home in the northeastern U.S.). They documented the home-building experienced in their blog EquinunkCabin.blogspot.com.

In Garrett County, in western Maryland, a company known as Hobbitat has been constructing and selling tiny houses since 2012. Located at Blue Moon Rising on the shores of Deep Creek Lake, in McHenry, Md., the company’s first major project involved building 13 tiny houses or “Hobs” as the company calls them.

Rules and regulations

Stoltzfus said municipal building codes are just starting to be amended to allow tiny houses to be built on foundations. For now, Stoltzfus is building the tiny homes in compliance with the standard housing codes used by the majority of municipalities in Pennsylvania.

“My house is wood-frame construction,” Stoltzfus said. “Some people are using metal to build—it’s lighter and stronger. It took me eight months, about 350 hours of my spare time, to complete. There are a ton of options.”

“Home buyers can choose from half-baths to full-baths,” Stoltzfus said. Many tiny home owners prefer to use composting or chemical toilets. Some reuse the “gray water” to irrigate their gardens.

“This one uses an RV toilet, with a 45-gallon tank built into the floor,” Stoltzfus said of his prototype. “They have electric systems similar to those used in RVs. I plan to specialize in custom designs to fit people’s lifestyles.”

Written by Jeffrey B. Roth, a correspondent for Thomson-Reuters. Roth writes for magazines in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Susquehanna Life's free newsletter to stay informed

Home+Garden, Today In This Issue winter 2015 tiny houses lifestyles
  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/14/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/14/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • iMAKE

    12/14/2017
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    This a-la-carte class series offers both art and science projects for children ages 6-12. LED Cop...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/15/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/15/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/18/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/18/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/19/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/19/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • $2 Tuesday

    12/19/2017
    10:00AM

    TWO-DOLLAR TUESDAYS Third Tuesday of the month, $2 admission all day! The Exchange will host ha...


  • Story Time with Author Lindsay Barry

    12/19/2017
    10:00AM — 12:30PM

    Climb aboard, readers. Next stop: Constellation Station! Join author Lindsay Barry as she shares ...


  • Holiday Music Camp

    12/19/2017
    10:15AM — 11:00AM

    December 19th - 22nd: Holiday Music Camp 10:15 & 11:15 Come sing, dance, make crafts, spread che...


  • Holiday Music Camp

    12/19/2017
    11:15AM — 12:00PM

    December 19th - 22nd: Holiday Music Camp 10:15 & 11:15 Come sing, dance, make crafts, spread che...


  • Exploring Club

    12/19/2017
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    What is Exploring Club? The Exploring Club is for boys and girls between 10 and 14 years old who ...


  • Explorer Club

    12/19/2017
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    What is an Exploring Club? Clubs are for boys and girls between 10 and 14 years old who are inter...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/20/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/20/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • Holiday Music Camp

    12/20/2017
    10:15AM — 11:00AM

    December 19th - 22nd: Holiday Music Camp 10:15 & 11:15 Come sing, dance, make crafts, spread che...


  • Novice Longsword Class

    12/20/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    This eight-week Novice Longsword Course will be for folks who have always had an interest in swor...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/14/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/14/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • iMAKE

    12/14/2017
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    This a-la-carte class series offers both art and science projects for children ages 6-12. LED Cop...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/15/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/15/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/16/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • Get ready Brownies, Juniors and Cadets: December 16nd, 1-2:30, Trick Photography: Using “green sc...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/17/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/18/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/18/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/19/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/19/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • $2 Tuesday

    12/19/2017
    10:00AM

    TWO-DOLLAR TUESDAYS Third Tuesday of the month, $2 admission all day! The Exchange will host ha...


  • Story Time with Author Lindsay Barry

    12/19/2017
    10:00AM — 12:30PM

    Climb aboard, readers. Next stop: Constellation Station! Join author Lindsay Barry as she shares ...


  • Holiday Music Camp

    12/19/2017
    10:15AM — 11:00AM

    December 19th - 22nd: Holiday Music Camp 10:15 & 11:15 Come sing, dance, make crafts, spread che...


  • Holiday Music Camp

    12/19/2017
    11:15AM — 12:00PM

    December 19th - 22nd: Holiday Music Camp 10:15 & 11:15 Come sing, dance, make crafts, spread che...


  • Exploring Club

    12/19/2017
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    What is Exploring Club? The Exploring Club is for boys and girls between 10 and 14 years old who ...


  • Explorer Club

    12/19/2017
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    What is an Exploring Club? Clubs are for boys and girls between 10 and 14 years old who are inter...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/20/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/20/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • Holiday Music Camp

    12/20/2017
    10:15AM — 11:00AM

    December 19th - 22nd: Holiday Music Camp 10:15 & 11:15 Come sing, dance, make crafts, spread che...


  • Novice Longsword Class

    12/20/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    This eight-week Novice Longsword Course will be for folks who have always had an interest in swor...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/21/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/21/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • Holiday Music Camp

    12/21/2017
    10:15AM — 11:00AM

    December 19th - 22nd: Holiday Music Camp 10:15 & 11:15 Come sing, dance, make crafts, spread che...


  • iMAKE

    12/21/2017
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    This a-la-carte class series offers both art and science projects for children ages 6-12. LED Cop...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/22/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • Holiday Music Camp

    12/22/2017
    10:15AM — 11:00AM

    December 19th - 22nd: Holiday Music Camp 10:15 & 11:15 Come sing, dance, make crafts, spread che...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/23/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • SPARK LAB: Santa Circuits

    12/23/2017
    11:00AM — 01:00PM

    December 23rd: SPARK LAB: Santa Circuits 11-1 Invent, experiment, and explore at this monthly la...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/24/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/25/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/25/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/26/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/26/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/27/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/27/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/28/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/28/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    12/29/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    12/29/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • KidPower Self Defense

    12/30/2017
    10:00AM — 11:40AM

    December 30th: KidPower Self Defense 10-10:40 (ages 6-10) & 11-11:40 (ages 11-14) In this 40 min...


  • Saturday, December 30, 2017 2:00pm & 7:00pm Rick and Phyllis Webb have ministered through mus...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    01/01/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    01/02/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    01/03/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    01/04/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • "Cash & Carry IV"

    01/05/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Once again we'll give away panels for you to make artwork on, every one roughly 7" x 9": You can ...


  • Music Together Family Classes

    01/05/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Runs for 8 weeks on Fridays Session A: 10-11am Session B: 11:15-12:15pm Music Together® is a f...


  • Lego Animations Workshop with Box of Light

    01/06/2018
    11:00AM — 12:00PM

    Lego Animations Workshop with Box of Light – Saturday, January 6th Ages 5-7 11am-Noon, Ages 8+ 1-...


  • Lego Animations Workshop with Box of Light

    01/06/2018
    01:00PM — 02:30PM

    Lego Animations Workshop with Box of Light – Saturday, January 6th Ages 5-7 11am-Noon, Ages 8+ 1-...


  • Please join us in the Main Gallery for a 45 minute concert by Keith Cheng and Steve Rudolph on a ...


  • Animation Workshop for Teens with Rand Whipple!

    01/10/2018
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Animation Workshop for Teens with Rand Whipple! – January 10, 11 & 12 6-8 pm. – Join Box of Light...


  • Books Undone

    01/11/2018
    11:00AM — 07:00PM

    Books become the canvas for contemporary artists in this national juried exhibition. Exhibition i...


  • Animation Workshop for Teens with Rand Whipple!

    01/11/2018
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Animation Workshop for Teens with Rand Whipple! – January 10, 11 & 12 6-8 pm. – Join Box of Light...



PROUDLY BROUGHT TO YOU BY THESE COMMUNITY SPONSORS


Weis Center for the Perfoming Arts
Albright Care-Services
Geisinger Medical Center