Tiny Estates

Dwilyn Flaud prepares Monday to move the "Adventurer" model tiny house at Tiny Estates in Elizabethtown. The local tiny house community recently surpassed Colorado's WeeCasa as the nation's largest. 

Less than a year after it opened, Tiny Estates in Elizabethtown has hit a milestone.

It’s officially the largest tiny house community in America.

Colorado, which has several tiny house communities, is home to WeeCasa, a group of 22 tiny houses on 10 acres.

But Tiny Estates, built around ponds on the Schwanger Road site of the former Ridge Run Campground, has surpassed it with 23 units.

The local community, which allows for a combination of full-time residents and nightly rentals, “has exceeded our projections every month for occupancy and revenue” after opening earlier this year, says Abby Hobson of Tiny Estates.

“Many full-timers in tiny homes have campgrounds or parks they reside at,” she says, “but they are next to campers or RVs.”

First-year growth

There isn’t a set standard for how “tiny” a tiny house needs to be. Typically, it maxes out at 400 square feet — loft space not included — and is built on a wheeled trailer so it can be moved.

When Tiny Estates was establishing itself earlier this year, Mount Joy Township’s manager and zoning officer, Justin Evans, said the tiny houses could be grandfathered under rules that governed the campground it was replacing.

That removed a major hurdle facing many tiny house communities. Zoning wasn’t an issue the way it is in many areas, both here and in other states, where big plans for tiny houses often are thwarted by zoning restrictions.

Tiny Estates’ primary challenge was getting off the property’s existing well water.

Hobson said Tiny Estates was limited to 15 units while it relied on well water. Switching to a public water system removed that restriction.

There now are nearly 20 units available for rent; several permanent leases; and signed leases for eight more tiny houses, with construction underway.

One tiny house was built as a fundraiser and auctioned off by HGTV; another was constructed by a career and technology class in Kentucky; and the largest was built by a 21-year-old in South Carolina. And several, in various styles, have been built by Leola-based Liberation Tiny Homes.

All in all, nine different builders are represented in the tiny house community.

A major draw, Hobson says, has been Tiny Estates’ willingness not only to give tours to visitors, but also its willingness to act as a liaison between potential customers and builders.

“You can stay for a night in what you think you’d like,” Hobson says, “then go around to (check out things like) cabinet styles and appliances. Then, we can send out the information to builders to get quotes and timelines.”

Hobson hopes to refine the process to a boilerplate procedure, she says, to help remove the intimidation factor and guesswork for prospective tiny homeowners.

“We planned to be the biggest (in) year one,” Hobson says. Establishing that step-by-step procedure, she says, would boost Tiny Estates’ bottom line no matter who pays for or builds the tiny houses.

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