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A Tiny Column on Tiny Houses


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Tiny House | Photo courtesy of Cali Cottages

About 2,500 tiny homes dot San Diego County, according to Spencer Large of Santa Ana–based builder Cali Cottages. He credits TV shows like Tiny House Nation for their growing popularity. Units range in size from about 170 to 350 square feet and cost anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000.

Never seen a tiny house? A person would have to look hard—or trespass. San Diego’s strict regulations keep the tiny house community underground. “We often deliver [homes to customers] on Saturdays,” says Large, whose company tries not to draw attention from city officials. Many of the existing homes sit on properties of a half acre or more in places like El Cajon and Chula Vista, where owners either rent them out, rent out their own house and move into the diminutive one, or list them on Airbnb. Others offer a corner of their backyard for $200–300 per month, since most tiny homes are on wheels and have RV-style hookups for sewage, water, and electrical. This is also leading local RV parks to become more “tiny house friendly.”

One caveat: These Lilliputian abodes aren’t classified as RVs or homes and can’t be financed the same way. Buyers must either get a personal loan with a higher interest rate, or pay cash. Just one small price to pay for cheap livin’.

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