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Tiny House Open House May 24

If good things come in small packages, then a new Habitat for Humanity house on Kalamazoo’s Eastside is a very good thing, indeed. Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity (Habitat) completed the first legally permitted tiny house in the city of Kalamazoo this spring. The modest home provides 232 square feet of living space for a single homeowner.

Habitat will host an informational open house at the tiny house on Wednesday, May 24, 4:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. of the tiny house at 1835 Charles Avenue, Kalamazoo. Educational displays and informal tours will highlight the special features of the tiny home. The public is welcome to attend.

Habitat designed and built the house in partnership with 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 Tishler. “We build affordable housing and this home will be very affordable to buy and maintain.”

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.

This is also the fourth Zero Energy Ready Home® (ZERH) built in Michigan. A Zero Energy Ready Home® is built to U.S. Department of Energy high performance standards to be so energy efficient that a small renewable energy system, like solar panels, can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption.

“Habitat did not install a renewable energy system, but the home is pre-wired for future solar energy with panel racks in place on the south wall so Ben could easily add solar panels later,” explained Tishler. “Even if a renewable system is never added, it's still an extremely efficient and healthy home. The ZERH certification is the gold standard in home building.”

The permanent structure was built 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. The home will meet or exceed standards for Energy Star®, Indoor airPlus®, and Zero Energy Ready Home® certifications and will be visit-able 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 project,” Tishler said. “From zoning to construction, they were very supportive of our efforts to develop a plan for a house that would meet or exceed building codes but be as small as possible.”

Affordable homeownership is Habitat’s mission. The non-profit organization builds homes in partnership with future homeowners who invest 300-500 hours of sweat equity in the program. Habitat homeowners must meet a number of criteria and earn 30-60 percent of the median income for their county of residence to qualify for the program. Habitat sells the homes without profit and provides an affordable mortgage.

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