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Habitat for Humanity Builds Kalamazoo’s First “Tiny House”

Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity (Habitat) is building the first legally permitted tiny house in the city of Kalamazoo. Construction began Tuesday, August 23, on the innovative house i n Kalamazoo’s Eastside neighborhood. When finished, the home will provide 230 square feet of living space for a single homeowner.

Habitat designed the house at the request of the future homeowner, Ben Brown, an environmentalist who seeks to live as simply and as affordably as possible.

“Ben’s desire for affordable homeownership, his passion for tiny houses, and his commitment to simple, ecological living, inspired us to design and build this home,” said Tom Tishler, Habitat’s construction manager. “We build affordable housing and this home will be very affordable.”

According to Tishler, the tiny house is “nearly the same as any Habitat house we build super energy efficient and durable -- just smaller.” The average Habitat home is approximately four times the size of the tiny house.

Habitat is building the one-story, permanent structure on a concrete slab using insulated concrete forms for the foundation and advanced wood framing for the house itself. The floor plan is simple one great room that includes kitchen, dining, and living spaces and a separate bathroom. Habitat designed the home to use only electricity and with passive solar principles in mind. A small heat pump will heat and cool the house. In the future, the homeowner could add solar panels to reduce or eliminate any dependence on an outside power source. The home will meet or exceed standards for Energy Star®, Indoor airPlus®, and Zero Energy Ready Home® certifications and will be visitable for people with mobility issues. A metal roof on the house will aid rainwater collection to irrigate the garden Ben plans.

“We are very grateful to the city of Kalamazoo staff for their cooperation on this pilot project,” Tishler said. “From zoning to construction, they have been very supportive of our efforts to develop a plan for a house that will meet or exceed building codes but be as small as possible.”

The home should be complete by the end of the year.

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