Hey guys, I have been so hesitant to write out this blog post because it's a long update-but, as I promised I wanted to share our full story while trying to build our Tiny House on our newly purchases 2.1 acre lot in Findlay, Ohio.
If you need a refresh on our tiny house plans, checkout the link below to learn more about it!
Well, the last we left off on our tiny house adventure, we were preparing for our zoning hearing to see what our fate would be. This was so hard on all of us because we had already purchased the land and now we had to fight for our conditional use, which in zoning terms means that we first needed to have a hearing to decide if we were even ALLOWED to build on, or live on, the land in general. This is because our land is agricultural zoned meaning, our land is only zoned for farming purposes, not for living. The second hearing was only about our Tiny house build. This means that our first hearing had to pass in order for our second hearing to even be considered. The great news is, we were doing both hearings back to back on the same day so we wouldn't have to wait any longer.
In order to prepare for the meeting questions during our hearing, Christoph and I created a question and answer cheat sheet for our hearing date. We were both so nervous, especially when it came to the possibility of our dream being crushed- but we knew that we had done all we could to prepare ourselves.
On the date of our hearing, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, we already knew we had a lot of support coming to the meeting for us. The best thing we could do was to encourage any friends, family or neighbors in the area in to come out and support our Tiny House Dream and come and speak on our behalf. With that being said, due to COVID- 19 regulations we were only allowed 20 people total in the meeting room, including the board members. As you can imagine Christoph and I were very nervous and I was even shaking a little bit to know that this could possibly not go in our favor.
Meeting 1- The Conditional use hearing. This hearing was all about if we were allowed to even build and live on the property it'self. Once the meeting began, we quickly discovered that the board members themselves were new to the concept of how the meetings ran in the first place. Honestly, it was just all over the place, half of the members knew what we were discussing and asked us questions directly, strictly about the land and what we would use it for, and they other half kept asking about the tiny home- which wasn't even the topic of this first hearing. So we were all a little confused and honestly most board members were very rude and pressured me in ways that were unacceptable. It was almost like they were calling me uneducated in the matters and they kept using terms like "do your due diligence" and "NO- that's not what we are talking about" (even when they would ask me direction questions about things). All in all there was one member in particular who was the first to shut the whole thing down. She was the first member to say she was not in favor of even the conditional use (ex: building or living on the property) and she was the only member to vote no on this round- so we got passed for our conditional use! That made me very happy, but I was also dreading meeting number 2.
Meeting 2- The Tiny House build. After the first meeting I really felt a wave of relief, but also something in me knew that they were not going to approve the Tiny House build. The second hearing was filled with questions about our build, why we want to build something of this size, and why they aren't okay with "mobile homes"- Yes, that's what they kept calling our house- acting as if we were going to start building a trailer park in that area. I understand their hesitations when it comes to allowing one person to do something in this nature, yet I also think it was completely close-minded of them to call the tiny house movement- "mobile homes"- Unfortunately, they would not allow this to be built. As strong as I am, and as much as I kept myself together- once they ruled against the build I couldn't help but break down into tears. I just felt like after working on this project for over 6 months- I had no options left.
This being said, the big win is that our property for the first time ever, had been approved for conditional use! That is an amazing win and even though my dreams were paused, I tried to look at the positive side in this. We were allowed to live and use the land for a home as long as the house was over 1,100 square foot in size. This was also great because we later found out that the conditional use could be transferred to the next land owners, should we decide to sell the land instead. Christoph and I took a week or two to really think about what to do next. The way we looked at it, we had 3 options.
Option 1: Tiny House Dream: Sell the land, and buy land somewhere with NO ZONING laws outside of where we want to live, or move somewhere like Colorado that is known for having zoning for such things.
Option 2: Sell the land, and use our profit towards buying a home in Findlay
Option 3: Keep the land that we fell in love with, and build a home on it.
After careful consideration, and weighing all of our options, we decided we are going to build a house on the land! Here's why: after days of looking at Findlay's housing market, we discovered that everything for sale that was within our budget would still be a MAJOR fixer upper- the exact reason why we didn't want to buy a home in the first place was that we wanted to ensure that we could use our money towards things like traveling instead of constantly having to fix up an older home. Our Tiny House dream is still alive, we WILL one day, build a tiny home, whether that be as a vacation option down the road, or retirement SOMEDAY I will own a tiny house.
We looked into building a new home, and wondered what the costs for something like this would be. Katie Logsdon, a good friend of mine, works for a company called Wayne homes and recommended I call the Bowling Green, Ohio office to talk to an old childhood friend of mine, Abigail Mahnke. The funny thing is, Abigail messaged me the day of our hearing and mentioned she could help price some things out for me, and that she truly felt so sad about the results of our hearing. Wayne homes is a company which builds model houses, they are all completely customizable and they have TONS of options. We went with the Summerville farmhouse elevation and worked with Abigail to make the floor plan exactly what we wanted. Abigail was so easy to work with, and really caught on to the style I had in mind. She even helped with the pricing, and got us the price that fit perfectly into our budget! The price for a fresh build, completely customized without a garage was perfect for our budget and we signed the contract a couple weeks ago officially! It's happening people!!!
I am so beyond excited to build something on our land, and although it's not exactly what I envisioned as far as a Tiny Home goes, it will still be perfect for us to grow into down the road, and I think this turned out to be exactly what was supposed to happen. Our house will be 2 stories and around 1,300 square foot. So still small enough but large enough to have 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and an open floor plan concept! Look at our plans below!
The build will be on site, and only takes between 4.5-6 months to finish once they break ground! I can't wait to share more of our design process with you all and I will continue to update you on what goes on during our build- (I'm working on the video update as well!). Our next meeting for the house build is in July and that will be our 3 hour design meeting which I can't wait for! We do have some small bumps to sort out with zoning before we can start to dig, but I can't wait to finally be on our land as official first time, home owners!
Until our next update,