Simply Home Community

Inventing Tiny House Community

Simply Home Community, the first tiny cohousing community It’s always fun for me to ask people at a tiny house workshop (like our recent Tiny House 101 Workshop in DC) or events (like the Tiny House Conference last weekend) whether they are interested in living in a Tiny House Community someday. Typically, about half of them enthusiastically agree. And when I ask those folks if they’re pretty sure they invented the concept of tiny house communities, most of them nod and laugh.

Yeah, me, too. For years I was certain I invented the idea of tiny house community.

And I’ll admit I was downright proud of myself for this particular invention. I come up with wild ideas all day long, but this one was a brilliant idea.

For tiny house lovers, the only thing better than a tiny house is putting a bunch of them together!

Simply Home Community, the tiny cohousing community I live in, has been a twinkle in my eye for a decade. You can read all about my initial concept in Lina's Vision for Tiny Cohousing and learn more about My Journey to Cohousing.

Boneyard Studios in Washington DC is the first showcase for tiny house community

When Lee Pera and I spoke at the Tiny House Jamboree in 2015, we bantered about which one of us invented the concept of a tiny house community. In the end, we decided we both invented the idea independently. Although I may have come up with the idea before she did, Lee's tiny house community, Boneyard Studios, was created first. The Boneyard folks became my heros the moment I realized they were actually doing it!

If we focus just on tiny houses on wheels, Boneyard Studios may have been the first tiny house community. And Simply Home Community is the only tiny cohousing community we know of. But we certainly weren't the only ones to create tiny house community. If we include recreational vehicle parks, canal boat communities, liveaboards in the marina, wagon trains, tipis, yurts, and many other collections of small, portable dwellings, it becomes evident that community-minded nomads throughout time and all over the world have located their little homes close to each other so they can share food, time, energy, materials, and fun.

Orlando Lakefront is an RV park that welcomes tiny houses, too

Still, I think it’s okay for all of us to be proud of inventing the idea. It is a great idea. And there are many more tiny house communities still to be created. So let’s not worry about who invented the tiny house community concept. Instead, let's high-five about how great minds think alike and then get on with the important work of creating more fabulous communities!

I've now had the pleasure of Visiting Orlando Lakefront Tiny House and RV Park, where my pal James Taylor lives. They have begun welcoming tiny houses into a 1950s RV park. Earlier this week on my Tiny Tours near Asheville, I visited High Cove, an intentional community that intends to add tiny houses on wheels. And I keep hearing of others that are working on similar projects. You can find a list of tiny house communities at If you know of anyone else who is inventing tiny house community, please tell us about it in the comments!

Small Home Weekend Wrap Up


tiny house on Portland's Park Blocks during Build Small, Live Large Summit What an action-packed weekend it was for little houses!

On Friday I enjoyed visiting with other small home advocates and enthusiasts from all across the country at the Build Small, Live Large Summit. Alan Durning of the Sightline Institute and Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwellings laid the scene perfectly in their Keynote Address: The Power of Small. I especially appreciated that Alan’s point that small housing is so often illegal and his encouragement to think really BIG about how we can move forward housing options that are better for people, communities, and natural environments. It was hard to pick between the concurrent sessions, but I’m glad I went to the one about demographic shifts and housing trends because it was really interesting learning about how certain trends (towards smaller households, larger homes, longer lives, delayed marriage and childbearing, increased desire for walkability, etc.) are impacting housing choices.

The five panelists for the Space-Efficient Housing Policy Round Table (Eli Spevak, Jean-Pierre Veillet, Danell Norby, Liz Getty, and Rachel Ginis) did an excellent job describing the regulatory challenges they face in their daily work as they attempt to create small homes. They also presented clever solutions to address or work around these challenges and we left the audience with Tangible Ways You Can Support Space-Efficient Housing.

The Courtyard Clusters session with my heroes Ross Chapin, Mark Lakeman, and Eli Spevak was full of incredible ideas and images. I tried frantically (and failed miserably) to capture the poetry of how smart land use creates sustainable community. I also learned new words like “pre-legal” which I have already begun employing. (Thanks, Mark!)

The Best of Small Design Slam was fabulous, too. As he was ducking out at the end of Mark Lakeman’s presentation, Mayor Charlie Hales leaned over to me and said: “I know a vacancy coming up soon and that guy would be a good candidate to fill it!” I completely agree, Mayor Hales.

On Saturday Eli and I both lead Guided ADU Tours with 14 participants, showing them a great line-up of accessory dwellings. Many of the people in my group are considering creating an ADU on their own property so they had lots of questions about the ins and outs of the upcoming Accessory Structures Zoning Code Amendments and the impacts of Multnomah County’s new method for assessing property values on properties with detached ADUs. It poured down rain all day, so we ended up soaked, but morale remained high as we went to as many ADUs as we could fit in.

That evening we celebrated Simply Home Community’s 1 Year Anniversary with a party at our place. It’s always fun to get our friends together to mix and mingle. We hosted little parties in our tiny houses (at one point I had 17 people in The Lucky Penny!) as well as activities in the Big House. And, of course, we had singing and s’mores around the bonfire to wrap up the night.

Yesterday during our Simply Home Work Party we donned our rain coats and put our garden to bed. (Amazing how much we can get done quickly when working together!) Then Jake, Isha and I hunkered down at Bison Coffeehouse in the rainstorm to work through our Tiny House Considerations Lesson & Challenge for Week 2. (Since I've fallen in love with The Guy Next Door, I'm going through the same process of scheming a tiny house as the other participants in the E-Course!) We had a great conference call for Week 2 of the Tiny House Considerations E-Course and I look forward to sharing the Lesson and Challenge for Week 3 because it’s full of fun design exercises so participants can consider what’s most important to them. The bell rang for Community Dinner just as the conference call wrapped up, so we trooped inside for one of Lindsey’s fabulous meals. Our Heart Meeting after supper focused on capturing our Values in preparation for upcoming conversations about Vision and Mission.

If my weekends are going to be so full, I'm glad that they're full of great things and wonderful people! With a good breakfast in my belly (fried green tomatoes from yesterday’s garden harvest) I’m ready for a brand new week! Happy Monday, everyone!

Move In Day & Housewarming

Window Seat Six months ago I started building myself a tiny house called The Lucky Penny. And last night our Tiny Cohousing community, Simply Home Community, hosted a housewarming party. It was good timing, too. Portland has had the first wintry weather of the year this week, so it was awfully nice to have people warming the place up with compliments and congratulations. (Having the space heater running on an extension cord probably helped, too!)

It was great fun to share my little house with friends whom I've neglected because... well, I've been building my little house. I'm looking forward to wrapping up the last few absolutely necessary things so that I can start Settling Into My Tiny House AND resume my social life!

(Speaking of socializing, it was also neat last night to share tours of my house with friends of my landies and to discover mutual connections we already have. It's a tiny world after all! And of course, it doesn't hurt to have strangers say "Your house is gorgeous!" or "It's like a cathedral in here!")

When I My Tiny House Build Began, my work plan indicated that by mid-summer I would complete the first two phases: Get it Dried In and Make it Functional. I figured I'd give myself some extra time for the unforeseen and I'd begin Phase 3: Make it Home by the end of summer. But, of course, it's a construction project, so it's taking twice as long as I originally estimated.

Copper Canisters, Copper Sink & Faucet

It's now mid-November and my house is just now functional (if you consider that my house doesn't have to be fully independent because I have access to the kitchen and bathroom in the Big House). My friend Benn Kovko (who built Kangablue at Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel) has been working with me on the plumbing and we're about 1/3 of the way done. We'll be working on it again today. Still on the list after plumbing: electrical, trim, and The Punch List.

But for the sake of the housewarming party I've already shifted into Phase 3: Make it Home. Yesterday I moved most of my possessions into The Lucky Penny and started the process of putting Everything in its Place. I can't tell you how satisfying it was to hang decorations yesterday morning!

I'm looking forward to Settling into My Tiny House! Stay tuned for catch up blog posts this winter sharing more information and photos about the build process.