• John L Painter

Tiny/small homes for ME

With the passage of LD 873, an "Act To Adopt Tiny House Standards in the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code" Maine citizens finally have the opportunity and freedom to build and live in safe, environmentally sensitive, and affordable housing that fits their needs. Historically, American's typically lived in considerably smaller homes than we do now, for example Holly Izard in her article "Small but not forgotten" describes the home of the blacksmith in Sturbridge Village Mass by the towns Blacksmith Jesse Rice in 1782. The home is roughly the size of my family's log cabin in Lincolnville, at 21x20. Rice and his wife raised five children in their home.

Most of my family and friends are aware that Kati and I built a "small" cottage in Owls Head, with the intent to one day retire to. The cottage is actually the basic shell of one of HillView Mini Barns camps, that we rearranged the layout and windows and doorway. At just 616sq/ft it is not technically a "tiny" home, but for us at the time, it was something we knew was in the size direction we wanted to go, while avoiding the conflicts of Maine's tight building codes when it comes to tiny homes.

The cottage, which we lovingly refer to as the "Black Owl" because of its distinctive color and location, is slightly less than half of the square footage of our home in Lewiston, however for how we actually live our lives, we realized this past year that the Black Owl was much closer to the actual living space we use. In fact, after thinking about how much space is in the loft due to having a 12/12 pitch roof, we realized that if we had built a more traditional albeit steep staircase, we could have easily reduced the size to 14x34 and still had two bedrooms, a 10x10 on the first floor with a large master in the loft with the same size kitchen/living/dining/room and full bath.

We also started to notice just how affordable the heating would be in such a small space with a heat pump coupled with something like a Castle pellet stove for when it gets below 0 and can handle the high ceiling space. We also have a new found respect for on demand hot water heaters since installing the EcoSmart tankless heater which has worked excellent.

All in all, from experience we know it's possible to build a high quality, high efficiency, small home, that easily holds a family of three with space for a couple guests, at or under, $50k if one is thoughtful about sourcing materials, does their own sub-contracting and work where possible.


​© 2020 by John L. Painter

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