Local News

Company brings big tiny home craze to Chapel Hill

Posted November 28, 2017 11:27 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 9:55 a.m. EDT

— Many North Carolinians want to cut costs, but some are taking more drastic measures by squeezing into smaller homes.

The tiny home movement offers ownership at about half the cost — brand new tiny homes typically sell for $40,000 to $60,000, and some can be even cheaper.

But the cost savings come at a price. Many of the diminutive homes top out around 400 square feet, meaning families are in for a tight squeeze.

The affordability and simplicity have become the subject of reality TV shows, but Free Spirit Tiny Homes in Chapel Hill is bringing the show to real life.

"There has been a lot of demand for the tiny houses," said Free Spirit Project Manager Rebecca Marlow.

Marlow said the volume of calls and emails about the little houses is growing as people focus on a small lifestyle. But the moving in can mean giving up some other comforts.

“Obviously, you are limited in space," Marlow said. "So, when you decide to buy or live in a tiny house, it comes down to what you need, not necessarily what you want."

Some of the homes come as small as 196 square feet. The downsized homes also come with smaller closets, kitchens and bathrooms. The kitchens, though, can come fully loaded with pantry space and appliances.

To cram as much as possible into the space, many of the features have more than one purpose, like a dining room table that folds into a bed.

Tiny homes might come at a cheaper total price, but they aren't cheaper by square foot than full-size homes. According to real estate website Zillow, the median list price per square foot for a home in Chapel Hill is $179—making the median price of a home $478,888. At $50,000 for a 196-square-foot tiny home from Free Spirit, each square foot costs $255.