Recent reports suggest that Charlottesville, VA could be the next city to embrace tiny homes if local regulations were slightly changed. Many residents approve of the idea, seeing how much of a positive impact it has on solving affordable housing and proven in other communities to help the homeless population. However, others are skeptical of the idea. Fred Oesch of Oesch Environmental Design told Charlottesville Tomorrow, “Some communities welcome them with open arms, and others are so restrictive that, for all practical purposes, you can’t do it.”
Brian Haluska is a neighborhood planner for Charlottesville and confirms that tiny homes are permissible in the city as long as they meet certain regulations, but notes some issues tiny home owners may encounter along the way.
“The main concern is more a question of the market, not necessarily do our zoning rules prohibit this, but do our zoning rules through minimum lot sizes, minimum frontage requirements for new lots," Haluska told Charlottesville Tomorrow.
Small enough lots to build a tiny home are not in abundance in Charlottesville. As of now, the minimum requirements for a single-family detached unit throughout the city range from 6,000 to 8,125 square feet. Homes on wheels are not allowed (including tiny homes, RVs, etc.) and any living space must have a concrete foundation. Manufactured homes must comply with HUD standards and with the minimum requirements, as previously stated.
Haluska noted that the most effective way to create a tiny home community would be to form an LLC and buy enough land to divide 21 spaces of 6,000 square feet of land into lots for each tiny home.
Some people are getting around the regulations by renting out tiny homes sitting on properties with larger homes, such as Zach Snider and Aly Buchanan. This is because accessory buildings (or accessory dwellings) are allowed on properties if they're not used as permanent dwellings. Sinder and Buchanan simply rent their home through Airbnb. The couple is very satisfied with tiny life and have surprised their guests by how a small space could provide everything needed for everyday living. For now, this seems to be the only method for residents and local government to observe the benefits of tiny homes.