Woman planning tiny house runs into big problems

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OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — An Oregon woman has run into some housing issues after her plans to move into a tiny house were put on hold by state and county regulations.

Silver Diamond lived in a 1,650 square foot house in Beaverton, which she owned. She sold it after deciding she had too much space.

“I didn’t need it,” she said. “I only lived in 300 square feet of it.”

She planned on moving into something a little more cozy: a tiny house, which she helped designed with Tiny SMART House in Albany, that was approximately 250 square feet.

Silver had Tiny SMART House beginning the construction process, and she found what she believed was the perfect plot of land in Bay City.

“(I) went to the title company, handed them the check,” Silver said, describing the process of buying the land. “City Hall told me there was no way I could put a tiny house on that property.”

It was then that Silver learned Oregon has regulations in place for tiny houses that often prevent them from being permanently placed. She rushed back to the title company, which thankfully hadn’t processed the paperwork. Now she’s stuck in a mobile home until her situation is resolved.

A few weeks after she learned she couldn’t place her tiny home on the land she wanted, Tiny SMART House owner Nathan Watson called with a possible solution.

The plans for Silver Diamond's tiny house, designed with Tiny SMART House in Albany, August 8, 2016 (KOIN)

Watson says the state had contacted him, and said his company could build permanent tiny houses, so long as they were up to residential code.

Under those regulations, the houses have to be inspected continuously throughout the construction process instead of simply when it’s completed. There are also several upgrades required, such larger fire escapes and higher value insulation.

“This whole tiny house movement has changed things for the state and they’re looking at it a little bit differently,” Watson said. “There’s a lot of hoops that I’m jumping through to make this happen, but that’s kind how business is, especially working with state regulations.”

Because she’s the first tiny house owner to go through residential regulations with Tiny SMART House, Silver’s house is taking more time to complete. At this rate, she’s hoping to move into her tiny house in December. Watson says future tiny house projects will go much more quickly.

“We’re actually super excited on this end that we’re going to be able to offer this to our clients,” Watson said. “I think that they’ve been demanding it for the last 5 years.”

Silver says she’s hoping more people join the tiny house craze, but urges them to do their research beforehand.

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