| November 28, 2012

The Washington Post writes about a new trend happening in the alleyways of DC. Tiny 200 square foot homes are springing up in Northeast DC.

“This is the dream,” says Rin Westcott, 28, who lives in Columbia and came out on a wintry Saturday afternoon bundled in a flower hat to help her friend Lee Pera with a tiny-house raising.

Pera, 35, wore safety goggles as she treated the cedar boards of her “little house in the alleyway,” one of three under construction in what is thought to be one of the country’s first tiny-house model communities.

If these affordable homes — which maximize every inch of interior space and look a little like well-constructed playhouses — are the dream, they represent a radically fresh version of what it takes to make Americans happy.

Yeah, you can imagine what the Post would be saying about these people building tiny houses if there was a Republican President. But, not a peep about the White House being unable to resurrect the economy, just this;

Although the diminutive homes are made of high-quality materials, they are priced for a flagging economy. They sell for $20,000 to $50,000, less than the down payment on a two-bedroom condo in a trendy D.C. neighborhood.

A “flagging economy” is all they squeeze out of their Thesaurus. By the way, that $50k price tag is more than half of what I paid for this three bedroom house on 5 acres, so enjoy yourselves down there with your doll-house sized home in the city that I recently abandoned.

Category: Barack Obama/Joe Biden, Economy

Comments (94)

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  1. 68W58 says:

    Heh-when a Republican was President they talked about “Katrina cottages” http://inhabitat.com/katrina-cottage-follow-up/ .

    Of course they were about 3x as large and nowhere near $50K. M

  2. 68W58 says:

    Got cut off-“Maybe there is an opportunity to make money of gullible bureaucrats…er, I mean decent and hard working government employees.”

  3. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:


  4. CUNextTuesday says:

    Wow. I could probably pack about 500 of them things onto my land. Imagine the income!!!

  5. RunPatRun says:

    Was wondering where all the occupants of McPherson Square went off to…at least the park is clean and trashless again.

  6. JohnG says:

    Would it racist of me point out the similarities to the chattel houses of the old Caribbean plantations?



  7. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    150 to 200 SQUARE feet! The old saying “Never poop where you eat” evidently can’t be obeyed in one of these pretty sheds. Crazy stuff.

  8. OWB says:

    Guess it beats sleeping in a dumpster. But, really? These are repugnant on so many levels.

  9. CUNextTuesday says:


    Yes, but it would be appropriate!!

    BTW, there is a common bathroom down wind. That outta smell good in the summertime.

  10. Roger in Republic says:

    I wonder what the building permit cost. Has the district sold off the alleys? If not these “homes” need to be built on skids so they can be pushed out of the way of the fire engines that need to use the alleys to fight fires in the neighborhood.
    Out where I live a dwelling needs to be inspected during construction and receive a certificate of occupancy. It needs a bath room and a separate kitchen. You can build a cabin without all of the permits and inspections, but you can’t live in it full time. And your cabin is seen as an improvement so you pay property taxes on it. Where is the tax man in all of this?

  11. WOTN says:

    Sheds are cheaper and bigger. There’s about 2k to 5k worth of materials and labor in these Obama homes, so I’m surprised they’re not complaining of price gouging as well.

  12. NHSparky says:

    200 square feet? Yeah, that’ll work out when the Missus pumps out a kid or three.

  13. Reaperman says:

    Frank Lloyd Wright spent years making tiny homes, but unsurprisingly his make thse look more like toolsheds. One thing that struck me is that since these don’t usually qualify for mortgages, how do you get rid of one once you upsize your family? You have to find somebody willing to buy a tiny house for cash, who doesn’t want a new one built to his spec.

  14. CBSenior says:

    Why don’t the just move to 1600 Penn Ave. No one is using that address. Might as well get some good out of it.

  15. While I built myself quite a nice place in 220 Sq. Ft. I was used to truck sleepers of 8ft X 10ft. Mine is more than adequate for one person and a large dog, and is actually nicer in many ways than a big ol’ house,(How many of you have a shower with varnished wood walls?). I doubt that theirs are as easy on the eye inside as my “little log house on the prairie”: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4038576197901.2147935.1086639350&type=3
    If you can’t get in because of my settings, maybe I would “Friend” you.

  16. Joe says:

    You guys really are out of touch, aren’t you? Pretty lame attempt to politicize a noble idea. It’s a nationwide trend, many are being built in urban and rural areas by people who could well afford go larger but choose not to. There are a lot of reasons to downsize, McMansions are so yesterday, many people prefer a smaller footprint, and monthly payment. Freeing yourself of a lot of superflous “stuff” can be liberating. Some self-aggrandizing people seem to need McMansions, and all the wasted resources therein, to feel good about themselves.

  17. Twist says:

    Reminds me of something that I built as a child with scrap lumber, except I called it a clubhouse/fort.

    @15, that is nice.

  18. Mr. Blue says:

    I thought shipping containers were the small, low cost housing of the future. Heck, a 20′ container gives you at least 160 square feet, and you can stack them if you want a second story.

  19. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @10. They can’t get permits because the buildings as living places are undersized per code. So what are they gonna do? Why change the code, of course!

  20. Mr. Blue says:

    #16- because it’s kind of difficult to have a proper jam session in a 200 square foot house. Or a good party.

  21. Curt says:

    Seriously, Joe? Noble? $20,000 for a goddam garden shed is noble? Dumbass…

  22. Twist says:

    It is not nice to plagiarize, joe. Are you so unoriginal you had to steal your little rant from the first link?

  23. Thanks Twist. That small one that I built is far from a garden shed, having a “tin roof” and so well insulated that I could not hear the rainfall from inside. Code level +25% insulation under floors, in walls n ceilings, e-glass windows, etc. made it very much more than a garden shed.
    Yes to shipping container(s). Best storm shelter material on the market, and they needn’t be sunk to subterranean level, (just sink deep anchors and tie them in at the lockpoints in the corners of the containers). they can be insulated, sided with siding from vinyl to brick, and would last forever.

  24. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @15 Frank: There is something romantic (NOT THAT WAY!) in what you described but these folks aren’t about rustic living or choosing tiny. They are in the District of Columbia and I’ll bet dollars to donuts not one of them is self sufficient.

  25. NHSparky says:

    @16 Joe — a noble idea

    I notice you’re not living in one.


  26. CBSenior says:

    Joe thank you for correcting me. I will now proceed to the nearest re-education camp so I too will know that tiny is the NEW BIG. What a concept, down size the American Dream because of someone else’ failures to lead, and then call it noble.

  27. Twist says:

    Joe kinda reminds me of Al Gore who tells everyone to lessen their footprint and then burns thousands of gallons of jet fuel to fly home to his mansion and it’s $20,000 electric bill.

  28. PowerPoint Ranger says:


    Nice attempt at a strawman. Well, not really. It was a crappy one but I was trying to be charitable. As the hamster wheel turns in your head, apparently anything that isn’t hobbit-sized is automatically a “McMansion”. That includes a staggeringly wide range of perfectly modest and reasonable house/condo/townhouse sizes that most of these people could probably afford to live in with the application of an equally modest amount of common sense.

    I’m all about free choice, so I don’t even care if someone chooses to live in the square footage of a small mini-warehouse unit. When I consider where most of these are being built, however, I also think that the owners better damn well adhere to every single dotted I and crossed T of the zoning, building, public health and tax codes in their localities.

    These new “homeowners” should experience every single drop of joy that can be found in obtaining the proper permits.

  29. Mr. Blue says:

    Do you know what would be cool? Make one of these tiny houses with wheels so you can tow it to different sites. Or build one into a truck so you could drive it. And what if they had places where you could plug the electric, sewage, and water in, some kind of park…

  30. NHSparky says:

    Twist–don’t forget that the ocean levels are rising and that the earth has a fever, and sells that shit so well that he can afford to buy an $8.5 million mansion on the beach in Montecito.

    Liberal hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  31. Joe says:

    Yeah PP Ranger, I’m all for rational zoning, codes, and enforcement. So we agree on that. Zoning that madates conspicuous consumption, not so much.

  32. Joe says:

    I didn’t know I had an $8.5 million dollar mansion NHS. Could you direct me to my mansion?

  33. NHSparky says:

    Nah, let’s just shove 3-4 people into each one of these tool sheds (ahem…ecologically sensitive housing units) and see how well the water, sewer, and electrical systems can handle a population density worse than Hong Kong.

    You start, Joe.

  34. NHSparky says:

    Joe–I’m talking about your hero, ManBearPig.



    Now move into your tool shed and unplug your fucking meter.

  35. Mr. Blue says:

    Here’s another idea for micro housing. Building them in place is inefficient, and customization leads to that nasty conspicuous consumption Joe is going on about. So, let’s build these mini-homes in factories, then tow them to where they’re needed.

  36. Joe says:

    It’s funny to see how hard and traumatic it is for you guys to wrap your ossified brains around a pretty benign new idea, and how your own cognitive dissonance makes you go off in all sorts of irrational directions. I needed a good laugh today.

  37. PowerPoint Ranger says:

    Mr. Blue’s really on to something here. Once they are built and towed to their final locations, we’ll need to designate them somehow, and why not give them a name that gives off a nice open and neighborly feeling.

    It should be called a something “Park”.

  38. Twist says:

    Joe found a thesaurus.

  39. PowerPoint Ranger says:


    You missed my point entirely. But, I knew that was about 105% likely to happen. The people who undoubtedly voted for onerous layers of bureaucracy and arbitrary, patronage based permit systems should get to experience all of the misery and stupidity that resides within.

  40. Spade says:

    I’m always amused at the DC residents who’d rather live in a box then learn that the VRE and MARC exist.

  41. USMCE8Ret says:

    And this is why I keep coming back. This is all very entertaining and hysterical – and I thank you.

    @Joe – If you haven’t learned already, those of us who are regulars on this blog “all hate for a living… we hate everybody and everything.” (Who said this?)

  42. PintoNag says:

    Like it or not, we equate structures with class. Big structure, lots of class. Little structure, no class. Shack, shed, etc.

    What’s wrong with living in a micro-house, if that’s what you want to live in?

    It’s not a new idea. I believe the original term for this was “cabin.” Miners and trappers used them all the time…and still do!

  43. Sgt Awesome says:

    Who in their right mind would buy that for 50 grand???

  44. Joe says:

    USMCE8Ret, it’s definitely no love fest.

  45. Ex-PH2 says:

    What’s wrong with small houses? My little house is 1056 square feet. 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, laundry room, lots of closets, and it’s mine, all mine, ooh-oh mine all mine.

  46. Joe says:

    “Like it or not, we equate structures with class. Big structure, lots of class. Little structure, no class. Shack, shed, etc.”

    With all due respect Pinto, I don’t like it, and I don’t buy into it.

  47. Mr. Blue says:

    #39: I like that idea. For the sake of efficiency during the winter months, let’s put these “parks” in places like Florida and Arizona. And let’s be hyped efficient with land use by putting them on really tiny lots.
    Hey Joe, I think you’re on to something here…

  48. PintoNag says:

    I don’t like it either, Joe. I’m a minimalist at heart.

  49. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    Yeah, let’s all get Mao suits too. And hows about a Yugo for each? Then let’s storm some Georgetown burgeoisie townhomes and pile the fruits of those capitalist pigs in the street and light it up! Then we can march on the utility companies and chant “Free Power to the People.” Yep. Sounds like a good time.