About two weeks before we found out that our architect was moving to Alabama for a job (congratulations to him), our county passed new regulations for tiny homes. These new regulations essentially eased some of the restrictions on how ingress and egress function as well as allowing for ladders to loft spaces. This was allowed for any building under 400 square feet. My husband and I quickly decided that since we both work and are not exceptionally gifted in construction that a tiny house would be the way to go. Since we had a great experience buying our shed from Tuff Shed, that was the first place we looked. They were able to draft a 14 x 28 building on a permanent foundation that we really liked.
I’m sure the first question you will have for me is: why did you decide on a house with a foundation vs a towable house or a manufactured home? The answer to this is simple. In our zoning, those homes simply are not allowed. Based on experience, I do not think that this type of home could fly under the radar for very long without major issues with the county and a couple of or neighbors. Additionally, a foundation allows for a wider building. As it is, we will have a sturdy home with concrete floors, a metal roof and 2″x6″ construction.
Knowing that we are in a six inch sheet flood zone, the representative at Tuff Shed recommended a company as a “permit expediter.” Basically, this company knows how to do the necessary drawings and regulations to keep the permit project moving along. The permit expediter sent our initial sketch to the county building department who said that since our loft was larger than one third of the overall floor space, it counted as living space and pushed our house over the tiny house limit of 400 square feet. Bummer. Chris and I discussed the ramifications of modifying our plans and decided the extra living space (which will eventually include a second bedroom) will be worth the additional expense and regulations.
The next step was financing. Financing our new home has been the hardest thing to do over the last year. We tried numerous banks before we finally found someone to lend us enough money to get started. This leads to question number two: why didn’t we go with a construction loan?
The answer is: we really wanted to. However, we needed to get a down payment on the house and needed cash to do it. Additionally, we found construction loans difficult because they prefer you to use a contractor (which adds a lot of cost) and want to have full drawings, budget, etc. These of course are good to have, but full drawings were going to take time, and I was going to need the cash before then. Finally, many construction loans only loan 70-80% of the total project cost or value (depending on the loan). His includes paying off the note on the land and would have made our budget very tight. Many loans also require large payments upfront (we were looking at one that had four points which added up to thousands of dollars). Additionally, the size of house and construction by Tuff Shed for the shell was likely to be an issue. Be forewarned all those wanting to follow in our footsteps!
Needless to say, we were approved for a personal loan last Friday and will deposit the check in the bank soon! Last week, we also made the payment to get our water meter installed. This week, we are working on findin someone to install the septic. Tonight, the permit expediter sent us preliminary drawings, and I finally get to say: Our house is FINALLY on the way!