By Matthew Bruce
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS
Debbie Stansfield relocated to a "tiny house" community in Greer four weeks ago. She says the purchase of the 400-square foot wood-frame home changed her life.
“Here I can still dig in the dirt and play with my flowers, but I don’t have any lawn to maintain," Stansfield, 64, said of her home at Lake Walk Tiny Home Community. "I don’t have two bathrooms to clean. I don’t have a big 1,800-square foot house to keep up and maintain. I have this small space here and it’s just enough space for me.”
Stansfield is part of a small but growing population of people who are downsizing and simplifying by dramatically reducing the size of their homes. Inspired in part by the HGTV show "Tiny Houses, Big Living," Stansfield found a dream home a fraction of the size of her former home.
The television show has raised the profile of tiny homes. Lesia Kudelka, a spokesman for the S.C. Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation, said it is difficult to say how many South Carolinians have bought into the radical downsizing because tiny houses are not regulated. She said they are not classified as mobile homes.
For Stansfield, her tiny house not only takes less work to upkeep, but it’s energy efficient as well.
Clayton Tiny Homes manufactured her $75,000 house. The homes are built in Alabama and shipped to the buyer's destination. Stanfield's home includes all the essentials a regular-size house would have, such as a bedroom, a bathroom, and full-size appliances.
She pays $450 to lease the property and access utilities in the community of homes that range in size from 250 to 450 square feet. A spacious deck attached to the house provides her more space to relax. The deck overlooks multiple picnic tables, hammocks, swing sets for the children and a fire pit, where residents can enjoy each other's company. There are currently seven tiny homes in the Lake Walk community which has room for 50 of the small houses.
While she is near retirement, Stansfield sees tiny homes as a good investment for young people starting out on their careers.
“The tiny house is the perfect situation as far as I’m concerned because you have your home. If your job transfers you to another city, your home can go with you," Stansfield said.
The low house upkeep provides her with more free time. “I have a daughter that’s a missionary in Haiti and I do things for the Haitian children over there. That gives me more time to do more for them," she said.
According to South Carolina zoning laws, residents need to get approval by a locality before they can move their tiny homes onto a new property.
Columbia realtor Adrian La Fosse said while there is a trend of tiny houses in the Upstate, he doesn't believe Columbia will see them in the near future unless changes are made to local zoning laws.
“The local governments won’t actually address doing any changes to zoning until we start getting people who, as citizens, actually demand it," La Fosse said.
As popularity grows, Stansfield hopes the tiny house movement will increase over the years. To view tiny houses for sale around the country, go to tinyhouselistings.com.