Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Want Affordable Housing? Permit Tiny Homes

How much does it cost to live in the Lehigh Valley?  Pretty much, In 2016, the median price for a single-family detached dwelling was $211,000, according to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. If you wanted to buy a home at that price, you would need a 20% down payment and then would pay a $855.28 mortgage if you go the 30-year fixed rate route.That means you would need at least $41,000 in take home pay per annum to be able to meet all your other expenses. If you go for the row home, the bank will jack up the interest rate, and your monthly mortgage will be $629. That means your annual take-home pay must be at least $30,200. For many people, home ownership is simply the impossible dream. People have turned to rentals, and the increased demand has caused rentals to go up. So yes, there is a lack of affordable housing here in the Lehigh Valley, just as  CACLV's Alan Jennings laments in a recent Morning Call op-ed.

I have a solution. It's becoming more popular, too. Tiny houses. I am not speaking about some modest row home but an actual tiny house, sometimes on wheels, usually about 400 sq ft or less. The problem with them is that most fail standard building codes. What a responsive local government does is to simplify building codes for these smaller homes.

Lancaster County has done just that, with a planning tool for municipalities that are considering a tiny house. One primary concern is making sure homes have addresses so that emergency responders know where to go if needed. Nationwide, in 2017, the International Code Council adopted new building regulations specifically for tiny homes.

Tiny homes can be expensive, or can go as low as $15,000.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Affordable rents are a huge problem for everyone not just Alan Jennings constituency. I doubt if anyone if the county government even realizes that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they realize it, they talked about it this thirsday night, where were you? Sleeping like the vampire you are? Hi Trish

Anonymous said...

New York, NY residents who also worked there began to find housing too expensive. What did many do? They moved to another area (HERE) where life is more affordable. Where they could afford to have a home.

Allentown area families who are struggling with living expenses should consider moving. Seriously, much cheaper homes and rents are available North and West of here.

We can't all live in Manhattan, nor should we expect to.

Anonymous said...

May be too small for an Owner and his pig !

Moomtrance said...

AJ doesn't have a problem with his "affordable housing".

Anonymous said...

While those tiny homes seem to be popular in some parts of the country not likely to happen in this area. Some of the problem is the cost of the lot and the sewage system, many zoning rules also require a minimum square footage. Permitting is also become expensive often $5000. just for permits and inspections. Building a home of any size has become a great cost, particularly in the Northeast. As for Rents, they are definitely increasingly out of touch with many peoples income. Much of these increases are connected to property taxes. Landlords must pay taxes, interest on their financing, insurance, maintenance, conforming to zoning costs etc. Then they must allow for damage and non-payers who may cost them more money. It is not a simple equation to deal with. A shortage of commercial space and high rents have made it difficult for small business to start. Zoning rules often forbid any commercial activity in residences. The simple answer is to move south and west, where rules and taxes are not that oppressive. That is why most of the northeast is losing population and representation in Congress. In 1980 Pennsylvania had 30 representatives now 17 and going to lose another in 2020. High government pensions and benefits have far outpaced the private sector. If the governments of the northeast states do not reform their policies they will look like Detroit in the future.

Anonymous said...

Great story however I found this a bit disingenuous.

"One primary concern is making sure homes have addresses so that emergency responders know where to go if needed."

Address are important to get something from you, not so much to get help to you.
It's primarily for assessments for taxation.

Even when you are reduced to taking rest in a shed you will pay taxes.

Charlie Sc said...

https://widenerenvironment.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/tiny-homes2017.pdf

I was not able to find a 2017 UCC revision to allow tiny homes. PA uses the 2009 code, for the most part.

Most of the units marketed as "tiny homes" are built to recreational vehicle standards, and do not meet the UCC or the HUD manufactured housing code. Units built to RV standards are not designed for year-round occupancy - which is clearly stated in those standards. Among other hazards, the electrical system could easily become overloaded, and the heating systems and insulation are not designed for winter conditions. Therefore, PA. municipalities cannot allow those units that do not meet the UCC or the manufactured home code.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Charlie, I am no electrician or engineer, and saferty obviously should be the paramount concern. But we are not talking about RVs, butnhomes in which someone lives year round. I believe electrical systems can be installed quite safely.
https://thetinylife.com/electricity-for-tiny-houses/

Bernie O'Hare said...

Here’s some safety ideas for a tiny house.these would be part of a building code for them.
https://tiny-project.com/tiny-house-safety-20-tips-from-a-safety-expert/

Bernie O'Hare said...

Here’s some safety ideas for a tiny house.these would be part of a building code for them.
https://tiny-project.com/tiny-house-safety-20-tips-from-a-safety-expert/

Anonymous said...

If broom closets are to be the "new" affordable housing, why not use shipping containers as well ? They are larger and can be staked on top of each other.

Anonymous said...

8:40am Outhouses and perhaps a well would work just fine. Or a standpipe from the public water supply.

Unknown said...

First of all, there are plenty of mortgages available that do no require 20% down. Outside of the government programs like FHA and VA, there are even Conventional mortgages that only require the buyer to put down 5%. Yes, there are some slightly higher fees associated with those programs, but they do make housing much more affordable. And mortgages are not more expensive for 'row homes' than for other types of houses. This is an out and out whopper of a lie. In 14 years in the real estate business I have never heard anybody tell a tale like this one! WOW!