The biggest new trend in home design shows is one of the smallest to implement.
Tiny houses — showcased on popular HGTV shows “Tiny House Builders,” “Tiny House Hunters” and “Tiny House, Big Living” — have taken the internet by storm, with people clamoring to downsize their living spaces.
84 Lumber, an international building supply company with a location in Riverhead, has taken notice of the trend and is beginning to sell its own versions of the small living quarters.
The company offers four different styles — ranging from 150 to 200 square feet and all atop wheels — that give homeowners “financial freedom and a greener environmental footprint,” according to its website.
Each of the designs — The Roving, The Shonsie, The Degsy and The Countryside — offer three options and price points: build it yourself, for just over $6,800; semi-DIY, which ranges from $19,000 to $25,000; or move-in ready, which costs between $49,000 and $80,000. Prices do not include taxes or delivery costs. Interested residents can purchase blueprints for three of the styles (blueprints for The Countryside aren’t available) from 84 Lumber’s website, 84tinyliving.com.
Despite their recent unveiling there, the West Main Street location hasn’t yet sold any of the tiny homes.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know much about it yet; it’s not really out this way,” said Robert Eissler, co-manager of the Riverhead store. “We had one on display for our grand opening, but we haven’t really kicked it all off yet.”
While the parent company has yet to fully implement the new product at the East End location, there’s no immediate rush.
The building departments in both Southold and Riverhead towns said they’ve received calls from people inquiring about building tiny homes, but the tiny home plans don’t meet either town’s minimum size requirements for residential homes.
In Southold Town, residential homes must be at least 850 square feet. In Riverhead, the minimum is 1,200 square feet, meaning the tiny homes are nearly five times smaller than allowed.
“You want to preserve the property values of your neighborhood,” said Brad Hammond, Riverhead’s senior building inspector. “If you have a house and your neighbor has a house and then on the vacant lot someone puts a tiny house on there, I don’t know what that does to the neighborhood.”
The fact that the tiny houses are on wheels is another factor that makes it difficult to legalize them as residences on the North Fork. According to Mr. Hammond, county health standards don’t allow for something mobile to stay at a location permanently.
He added that a interested buyer could potentially work something out with the state to get a tiny home on wheels approved for use as a mobile travel trailer that can be taken to parks, for example, but not approved for use as a permanent residence.
Additionally, he said, the homes would be difficult to tax because of their mobile nature.
“If someone parks [a tiny home] on a lot, you don’t have a sanitation system, or maybe you do, but how do you know what people are pumping into the ground?” he said. “How do you tax it? And there’s permanence to the definition of a family.
You want to know someone’s making a commitment to the community, too.”