Tiny house projects proposed in Hayden, Oak Creek | SteamboatToday.com

Tiny house projects proposed in Hayden, Oak Creek

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Big changes may be coming to the tiny house movement in Routt County.

Two Steamboat Springs men, Darrin Fryer and Ryan Cox, principals in a company called SmartPads, described their tentative plans Tuesday night to develop a 10-unit tiny home neighborhood in the Town of Hayden.

Fryer said the site is a parcel of land to the south of the existing Redstone Apartments on Hayden's east side. They plan to have the project underway by late spring, but Cox, who will take primary responsibility for home sales, said they hope to bring a model home to Hayden on a flatbed truck sooner than that.

"These (pre-fabricated) homes would cost around $70,000 to $75,000 (not including an estimated $50,000 for the lot, foundation and utilities)," Cox said.

The two men, who are also real estate brokers at Sotheby's Steamboat International Realty, spoke before an audience of more than 70 people who squeezed into the community room at St. Paul's Episcopal Church for a "Talking Green" event hosted by the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

At the same meeting, Chief Building Official Todd Carr confirmed the Routt County Regional Building Department is prepared to begin evaluating building permits and plans for tiny homes in January 2018. That's when a national tiny home initiative, known as "Appendix Q," will go into effect in every state in the country after approval by the International Code Council.

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Appendix Q contains language that officially defines a tiny house and creates a construction code specific to the needs of tiny houses, according to tinyhousebuild.com.

Carr said that under Appendix Q, the definition of a tiny house is no bigger that 400 square feet, excluding loft space. The code contains precise measurements on the design of ladders leading to lofts and measurements between bathroom fixtures for example.

One of the most important sections of Appendix Q contains the detailed information on affixing the structure to its foundation and the installation of utilities, Carr added.

However, Oak Creek town manager Mary Alice Page-Allen said her community has already defined tiny homes as no bigger than 500 feet. And she added, that Oak Creek, too, is in discussions with a prospective developer of tiny homes.

One thing that's certain, Carr said, is that Appendix Q does not look favorably on tiny homes mounted on wheels. 

"If it's on wheels, it's a camper, " Carr said.

Cox said his company has been exploring its options with prefabricated home builders in Utah and Idaho, and he has been impressed with the quality of workmanship that can be achieved when small homes are built in an enclosed environment.

According to a schematic drawing provided by Fryer, the exterior measurements of each home will be 36 feet long by 11 feet, 8 inches wide.

The tiny homes SmartPads intends to build in Hayden will be paired in a duplex townhome arrangement, with a party wall between them.

"That lets us create parking adjacent to the home," he said.

Yampa Valley Sustainability Council Executive Director Sarah Jones said  her organization has compared tiny homes to the closest housing project currently common in Northwest Colorado – mobile homes  – and concluded the former are far more sustainable. They require the use of fewer building materials, and are much more energy efficient, she said.

County Planning Director Chad Phillips reminded the gathering that the primary goal of the Routt County Master Plan is to "preserve  Routt County's rural Western character." And currently, new residential expansion is limited to designated growth areas outside the existing municipalities and pre-existing unincorporated areas like Milner.

Still, he said, his staff is enamored with the tiny house concept.

"We need the public to bring us proposals," Phillips said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

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