YYSC to host panel discussion on tiny homes | SteamboatToday.com

YYSC to host panel discussion on tiny homes

Yampa Valley Sustainability Council to host discussion about tiny house movement

Suzie Romig/For Steamboat Today

Steamboat Springs High School teacher Dusty Dike and his industrial arts students have built seven tiny homes, which are sold at the end of each school year.

— The city of Steamboat Springs planning director Tyler Gibbs believes tiny homes could be an important part of the city's affordable housing equation mixed with everything from dorms to entry-level homes.

Steamboat Sotheby's Realtor Darrin Fryer thinks if 200 tiny homes, or homes on foundations less than 600 square feet, were to magically appear in the city tomorrow, there would still be a waiting list of potential residents.

The two men agree that while the development code could accommodate tiny homes, existing lot sizes do not allow tiny home developments to be financially feasible.

Current zoning would need to be changed to allow smaller lot sizes or multiple tiny homes on one lot once a location is selected, Gibbs said. Prebuilt homes added to existing lots as accessory dwelling units in some zone districts is another viable option for local tiny homes.

Fueled by interest in tiny homes across the country, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council will host a Talking Green panel discussion on the topic at 5:30 p.m. May 24 at the Steamboat Springs High School library. Attendees will have an opportunity for a quick tour of a tiny home on wheels constructed by teacher Dusty Dike and his high school industrial arts students.

"It's just about time where tiny homes need to be addressed," Fryer said, who has been retained to study the feasibility of a local tiny home development by manufacturing company Sprout Tiny Homes in La Junta. "We know we need more housing. And this is a great way to provide a kind of hybrid product that is low cost compared to a single family home, but residents would get their own space."

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The real estate agent said tiny houses would be a new way for residents "to live the dream" of home ownership in Steamboat. He said his favorite Sprout Tiny Homes model has a modern design with 493 square feet and a loft bedroom. It costs $92,000 and does not include costs for shipping, installation, utility connections and land.

Local interest in tiny homes also is fueled by the increase in condo rental prices, which have increased 15 percent each year for the past three years, Fryer said.

YVSC Executive Director Sarah Jones said tiny homes constructed with energy efficiency in mind have an energy savings advantage over thin-walled trailer homes, the other local popular single-family form of affordable housing.

In addition to the high school class construction projects, other local residents have already built or are in the process of building tiny homes of various styles including those built on moveable trailers.

"The problem is, where are we able to put them when these are done?" asked local and business owner Barry Smith, who is building a tiny home with his son and friend Steve Evans on Evans' property in Routt County.

"It's a really great alternative for people to live this way,” Smith said. “It's exciting to see the conversation coming to the forefront," Smith said.

Dike said he has built and sold multiple tiny homes so far including to homeowners in places such as Marble.

"There is nothing in the city code that would restrict a small home, but the challenge is in identifying a piece of land," said Gibbs, who has given two well-attended presentations on "micro-units," or multi-family housing versions of tiny homes, at professional conferences in Colorado within the past year.

"Existing city zoning has minimum lot sizes that are too big to make financial sense for a tiny home," Gibbs said. "It's going to require creativity both on the part of the developer and the city, but we are certainly open-minded and interested in working with people if they have a proposal."

If you go:

What: Yampa Valley Sustainability Council Talking Green panel discussion on tiny homes

When: 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 24

Where: Steamboat Springs High School library, 45 E. Maple St.