The California Tiny Houses Guide
California is known for its innovative thinking, but does this mean they’re ahead of the game when it comes to the tiny house movement? Well, One things for sure, California is huge! We’ve broken it down into bite sized chunks and hand pick some of the best bits for you.
The Tiny House Community in California
In today’s modern world we lead such busy lives where social media is the easiest and most effective way of bringing people together. Most of our interaction is done on the the net so we had a look around to see where the tiny home folks of California were going online.
Although LA is the second biggest city in the US its online presence is surprisingly small. The Exodus Tiny Community page is an open page that anyone can view, the members here share a load of web articles, and the admins update the page with local meet ups and events.
Next stop San Diego, with a Facebook page that was inspired by Elvis Summers’ effort housing the homeless (more on this later). This page was started by a women named Lisa Kogan who wants tackle homelessness by building tiny houses for people living on the street. The Tiny House San Diego public group shares pictures and videos’ of the little homeless huts being built and owners share there experiences too. It’s an open group so anyone can join.
Lyles College of Engineering are designing micro homes and you can follow the construction and design process every step of the way. Its called the Frenso State Tiny House Project and its been organised to encourage engineering students to work together making sustainable, low energy, affordable homes. The page shares positive feedback from some of the students as well as articles and videos. In October 2016 they’ll showcase the final product in Sacramento where they’ll be competing in the SMUD Tiny House Competition. Good luck guys!
Our final page tells a story of a man following his dream, the dream of starting a tiny community in Bakersfield. The Bakersfield Tiny Homes page has 344 followers with videos and articles about tiny homes all over the US. You do”t have to live in Bakersfield to like this group. It’s simply a common interest page that lets all the enthusiasts share their passion for little living.
Meetup.com is a fairly new place designed with the sole purpose of creating online communities. We took a look for the local online meetup you can join for free.
East Bay Tiny House Enthusiasts was started by a local woman who’s currently mid-build on her project. A lively group who gather online to discuss managing manure, building with recycled materials, budgeting, rain catchment, solar power and alternative building methods. Anyone can join this group and anyone is welcome to schedule or join a meetup. All in all a very open and friendly environment where anyone’s accepted
Southern California Tiny Homes Meetup is a closed group with 273 member. This group was started by a tiny homeowner who wanted to meet like-minded people. The group is used to put the word out about physical meet ups plus events like house viewings and tours of members homes.
Based in Southern California is the Thousand Oaks Tiny House Enthusiasts group. This one has 320 members and its very busy. There’s tons of events and activities to get on board with here including a movie screening about living with minimalism which was made by a local documentary maker, open home viewings, homes for sale and trailer talks.
Sometimes members even ask each other for help with building works which is a fantastic way to meet people face to face and see the tiny build process first hand. The page is super friendly, articles are open to anyone and anyone can join.
San Francisco based group the Tiny House Bay Area has the biggest following hitting 635 members . It’s mostly used for social catch ups centered around viewing plans and discussing builds. Past socials have involved screenings of common interest documentaries and advice from professional builders. This group doesn’t look as active as some others but it has a huge following so there’s an opportunity there to connect with a lot of people.
Len Marsh in nearby Bay area hayward started a meet up to create a village of small homes in the Bay Area, Len has already build two homes using containers he plans to purchase land and spread the word. More container homes are available and anyone can sign up. His meet up events involve tours of the container homes and social gatherings.
Topanga Tiny Home Enthusiast Meetup is all about sustainable living. They meet to discuss eco-friendly materials, gardening, off grid living and even feng shui. This groups got 55 members and events include a tiny living workshop, sustainable living talks and dinner and discussion nights.
Tiny House Events in California
Tiny Mountain Houses in conjunction with leading cable network Magnila productions have set an interesting challenge to anyone who thinks they’re cut out for the tiny life. They’re inviting families with children to take a down-size challenge for 21 days, the contestants will star in documentary series designed to capture the excitement and fears of the family as they adapt to a new style of living. Click here to and scroll to the bottom of the page to enter.
Topanga hosts the Tiny House and Green Living Weekend Workshop this event has and art show, guest speakers and vendors. It takes place at the Topanga Community House June 25th and 26th, check out the web page for the schedule.
Tumbleweed homes offer a workshop in Los Angeles called “Dream Big Go Tiny”. Its presented by others who have already built their own micro homes.
Dream Big Go Tiny lasts two days and covers tons of topics including:
- RV design
- Framing and sheathing
- Interior finish
- Siding and trim
It’s also a great place to socialize and meet like minded people. Click here for the exact dates if you’d like to book a workshop.
Who Builds Tiny Houses in California?
What with California being such a huge state its was hard fr us to find every tiny home builder. We’ve gone ahead and listed a few here for you but if you know anyone you’d like to recommend please drop us a line.
Based in the micro loving state Fresno The California Tiny House company’s philosophy is that “tiny is the next big thing”. These guys make it look easy, their tiny houses on wheels are made from one simple design but can be custom built allowing you to add extras such as wood burning stoves, porch deck kits, holding tanks, stairwells and much more.
Tiny Mountain Homes have a showroom in Sacramento, there’s around 15 models for you to choose from so your bound to find something you’ll like. The websites user friendly and professional and the FAQ page has heaps of info about financing, codes and warranties.
The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company is one of the countries leading builders an suppliers and lucky for you they have a showroom in Sonoma CA where they currently have the original Tumbleweed Epu available to tour. The website has tonnes of resources, the offer design tips, workshops and so much more.
Tiny Housing Laws in California
When it comes to building codes knowing the law is important. We advise anyone building a tiny home in California to talk to their local authority before starting any projects.
The Counties of California have strict building code regulations so you can’t just turn up and pitch up. Generally speaking in California it costs a lot of money to buy land, so that’s another factor to consider. We gave some creative ways to finance a tiny house on our blog here.
This in mind if your heart lies in The Golden State there are a couple of counties that have a “Limited Density Rural Dwelling Program”. This program allows members of the public to build a home without using a licensed contractor. For public health and safety reasons you still have to submit plans but otherwise the building work can be done independently.
So, what counties allow the Limited Density Rural Dwelling Program? Well… rural ones. Mendocino is one of them. Their laws state that an owner can build his own home as long as he plans to live in it and not rent it to tenants. Visit Mendocino Counties Online Government Resource to get more information.
Humboldt has a very similar set up as Mendocino their Owner Built Rural Dwellings Regulationswill tell you everything you need to know.
Another state that’s owner build friendly is Nevada. Like Mendocino and Humboldt it hosts the Limited Density Rural Dwelling Program however this state has a board of members that govern the program, there are 7 people on the board in total and they decide who gets a permit. It might be a little harder than other counties but still totally worth checking out.
Fresno’s been getting a lot of press about its eco-friendly housing rules. While other states in the US treat tiny houses on wheels with the same laws as an ordinary RV, Mayor Ashley Swearingen has changed the codes to allow them to locate permanently.
This means you can put a tiny house on your property and live there permanently, no questions asked. As one of the first states nationwide to enforce a zoning code making tiny homes legal Fresno’s setting the path for the tiny housing movement.
Tiny House Charity Organizations in California
I struggling musician and pioneer for the homeless called Elvis Summers started building tiny houses to keep people off the streets of LA in 2014. The houses were 6 by 10 foot (about the size of a garden shed) ran on solar power and waved the American flag.
Unfortunately city officials saw the so-called shanty towns of the homeless spread across Northeast LA and they began to rip down the homeless huts. The government told worried residents that the homes would be replaced with a $2 billion plan for shelters and hospices.
Unfortunately the governments had trouble funding the new plan and this leaves us questioning if Tiny Housing is the most economical solution to the homeless crisis after all.
Since starting his project Elvis Summers has raised nearly $100,000 on his fundraising website. He calls the project “Tiny House Huge Purpose” and having lived on the streets himself once believes that giving these people their own space can make them feel normal again.