Tiny House, Tiny Expenses

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by Laurie Lawless
photos by Alec Jordan

Jay King's in-progress tiny house.

More and more people are turning to tiny houses as an economical way to live.  Tiny houses are houses built with the least amount of square footage necessary.  They can range anywhere from 85 to 1000 square feet depending on the needs of the owner.  Many of them conserve space by utilizing loft beds, hidden cabinets, fold out tables and condensed bathrooms.

Jay King, of the Danbury area, came up with the idea of building tiny houses two years ago as the economy continued to drag.

by Laurie Lawless
photos by Alec Jordan

 


 

For many Americans it’s a constant struggle to afford a mortgage or rent in this downturned economy.  Since Fairfield County is one of the most expensive places in the country to live, it makes it that much harder for young, single, disabled and retired people to survive with the standard of living here.

That’s why more and more people are turning to tiny houses as an economical way to live.  Tiny houses are houses built with the least amount of square footage necessary.  They can range anywhere from 85 to 1000 square feet depending on the needs of the owner.  Many of them conserve space by utilizing loft beds, hidden cabinets, fold out tables and condensed bathrooms.

Jay King, of the Danbury area, came up with the idea of building tiny houses two years ago as the economy continued to drag.  He realized how much money he was wasting in his own home and felt that downsizing would be an ample opportunity to improve his life.

“I’m never home,” said King in a phone interview.  “So to be there and spend a huge mortgage, that was my problem.  What’s the point if I have a half a million-dollar house and I’m never there.  I don’t get to enjoy it and use it.”

Instead, living in a tiny house could save King money and resources, but still let him to continue building equity.  The houses are also nearly self-sustained and don’t need much for electricity or heating.  King thought he was onto something.

“So you have this little house, and it’s paid for.  Say it costs $30,000 to build one of these tiny houses, and that would have it completely maxed out, beautiful, and was capable of putting in on a small piece of property, and now you’re into it at $60,000.  I mean, you can’t buy anything for that now-a-days,” he says.


Connecticut zoning laws are much stricter than other states, therefore making it difficult to live in something other than the stereotypical two-and-half bath and three-bedroom house on an acre of property.

 

Loft up top, bed at left slides out on track.  Back area will be kitchen space, bathroom complete with shower will be off the kitchen, behind the ladder.King, who has a knack for building things, is also the creator of the K1 Attack customized car, which became famous in 2007 for it’s sleek design reminiscent of a Lamborghini and an upgraded Honda engine boasting 400 horsepower.  He continues to build super cars at his garage in Bethel, where he is also building his tiny house.    

“I have a variety of different talents.  I have building talents; I have the ability to see outside of the box.  It’s important when you’re this kind of a builder,” explained King.  “Just because I didn’t go to school for designing, doesn’t mean I’m incapable of being able to see outside of the box when I build things.”

King says his major concern in the tiny house project is finding a property to put the house on when it’s completed.  Connecticut zoning laws are much stricter than other states, therefore making it difficult to live in something other than the stereotypical two-and-half bath and three-bedroom house on an acre of property.  Currently, tiny houses cannot be set down on foundations; they have to be transportable.

“We have to proceed in getting some of these zoning laws changed, so that you don’t have to put up a half a million dollar house to have a piece of property in the state,” explains King.  “Some of that is going to have to change here really quickly because it’s just not feasible for everyone to do that anymore.”

King has held off on attaining a piece of property or approaching a zoning board because he wants to finish building a small neighborhood of tiny houses first.  He likes the idea of having a block of tiny houses for young adults or retired folks to own affordable property.

“My goal is to build four or five of these and put them on a little cul-de-sac or something,” said King.  “They each have their own property and are able to be on the property themselves.”

King hopes to finish his tiny house in the next six to eight months, find suitable property, move in and continue his next project.  He is hoping that his tiny houses will change the way homeowners in Connecticut think about living.

“The basic goal is that I wanted to design it as a stepping stone for somebody who wants to move onto the next thing, but doesn’t want to live in a trailer park,” says King.  “You can still actually own a house, and it may be a little different than everyone else’s, but it’s livable and it’s something that can get you by and you can actually enjoy life in.”

 

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