Thursday, October 8, 2015

Tiny Homes Tour Showcases Teton Valley’s Housing Alternatives

From and article in the Teton Valley News

Thirty valley residents braved rain, chilly temperatures and an afternoon devoid of college football to check out Idaho’s Teton Valley’s most diminutive domiciles.

Saturday’s sold-out Big Tour of Tiny Homes event, presented by Valley Advocates for Responsible Development (VARD), featured five area houses for a selection that ranged from the traditional to the uniquely transformed.
“We don’t move to the middle of nowhere to live in big-city apartment buildings,” said VARD’s executive director, Shawn Hill.

“I’m very interested in what’s going on in the valley,” said Lynn Sandmann, a 15-year Teton Valley resident who participated in the tour. “If this is becoming a popular form of housing, how is the valley going to plan for it and prepare?”
“I was here during the big crash and there wasn’t sensible housing,” Sandmann said. “I’m concerned about another boom and people being left with houses they can’t move or sell.”
She said she thinks the tiny home movement is “a wonderful thing.”
The first stop on the tour was the Christensen home in Driggs. Owner August Christensen shared with the group the process of converting the garage-turned-woodshop-turned-preschool into a long-term rental unit.
A major hurdle the Christensens faced in making the structure livable was connecting the unit to the city water and sewer line. She said the Driggs city sewer line is located in the middle of the block, which makes connecting new structures a challenge to renovators and their neighbors.
Christensen, who is a city council member, revealed that a project to move the sewer line to the border of the road for easier access is in the research stages.
The Growhuts/Cabin Works headquarters, out of which Alternative Building Solutions, LLC operates, was the next stop on the tour. Meghan Hanson discussed the design and construction of her prefab tiny home, which features a live-work space that is energy efficient, environmentally conscious and affordable — at around $150,000, lot included. The prefab home will serve as the model for other similar units to be established in Victor’s Mountainside Village.
Larry Thal, developer of Mountainside Village, presented his vision of the master-planned neighborhood on site of the growing community. The demand for affordable, sustainable housing has Thal and his construction team busy with the establishment of small, “smart houses.”
Ash and Katie Alexander’s home, a custom-built log cabin located in Fox Creek, provided an example of how a tiny rural structure can function as a revenue generator. The Alexanders have been able to profit from their tiny home on vrbo.com by providing vacationers with a simple, cozy, hotel alternative. The romantic setting has also been the site of quite a few marriage proposals.
The tour concluded with a stop at Eric Spitzer’s property in Victor to discuss the concept of tiny hotels. To keep the region’s pleasing aesthetic while providing a real lodging option for visitors to Victor, Spitzer has in mind a series of prefab tiny homes that have the look and feel of a secluded getaway.
Spitzer also floated the ideas of establishing a tiny home community for retirees who want a manageable place to live within walking distance to downtown Victor, or of creating an opportunity for investors to rent the tiny properties.


The cost of construction in Teton Valley, where the price of labor and the transportation cost of materials can make building projects expensive, was a topic of discussion throughout the day. VARD and other community organizations are hopeful that smaller, cost-efficient homes will help solve the housing shortage and ultimately stimulate the valley’s economy.
John Greenwood, who has lived in the valley for 13 years and who joined the tour to get ideas about converting his garage, remarked about the close quarters of most of the homes featured in the tour.
“What you need is a guy who designs boats.”

1 comment:

Jamie Coffey said...

A sewer tie-in primer before a packed Town Hall auditorium Tuesday.The betterment fee seemed to be uppermost on the minds of residents in attendance.If you want to learn more the you can see more here-sewer tie in Massachusetts