With one already up, Habitat for Humanity wants to build more tiny houses in Durham


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — More and more, people looking to buy a home are turning to tiny houses.

It’s a movement gaining ground across the country.

In East Durham, Wanda Stuart moved into her house that she purchased Friday. The home is a little more than 500 square feet.

“It’s just a great dream come true for me,” said Stuart.

Stuart bought the house from Durham Habitat for Humanity. Durham Habitat made it small for a reason.

“Durham is changing so dramatically, so rapidly,” said Blake Strayhorn, Habitat for Humanity of Durham Executive Director. “There’s not enough affordable housing.”

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Durham Habitat wants to build more smaller homes to provide more affordable housing.

But that requires space. The Durham Planning Department said lots to build a single-family home typically requires a minimum lot space of 5,000 square feet, although it can vary by zoning district. Also, the minimum size allowed for a single-family home is 400 square feet.

Then, there’s the question of property value. Some in this East Durham neighborhood think too many small homes might drive down the property value of other homes.

“If it escalates and they start building more small houses like that, then it will really affect the property value,” said Larry Bell, a Durham homeowner.

“We’re seeing a very rapidly appreciating property value situation right now so I don’t think it would have any kind of negative impact,” said Strayhorn.

Stuart is just glad to call this home her home.

“This was the goal all along,” she said.

Durham Planning Director Patrick Young said the city is working with Habitat to identify any impediments to affordable housing in the city’s development ordinances.

“We are committed to identifying possible solutions,” he said.

We checked with the City of Raleigh and there are regulations about lot size there, as well. They also vary by zoning district. In mixed use districts, the minimum size lot for a single-family home is 4,000 square feet.

A memo about tiny homes from the Office of the State Fire Marshal is available here.

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