Tiny homes a liberating move for some
Tiny homes a liberating move for some
By PAT JOHNSON, LNP newspaper
Feb. 21, 2018
LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — Beth Sterling of Holtwood loves tiny houses. Her Facebook account often has photos of the charming, mini homes, with Sterling's admiring, positive comments about them.
"I have always been drawn to tiny homes," she says. "Tiny homes shout out 'organization, tranquillity, peace, creativity' to me. I am, I have been told, an 'old soul,' so I am truly drawn to rustic-looking tiny homes like log cabins, tiny homes on wheels with wood siding."
She finds the green, less materialistic aspect, as well as the ease of cleaning, appealing. "I really long for a simplistic home."
Sterling currently lives with her husband, Peter, and daughter Hannah, in a 900-square-foot home. "So, not really that big but bigger than a tiny home," she says.
Her family emphatically does not share her interest in small space living, she says with a laugh.
As the owner, with her husband, of PB Sterling WoolNook and Mill LLC, Sterling is surrounded by fiber. She is an avid spinner, weaver and knitter, with spinning wheels, looms and a fiber stash to show for it.
When asked how all this will fit into the tiny home of her dreams, she admits, with a laugh, "Well, it wouldn't fit into my tiny house, but it would fit into my tiny studio right next door. With my raised bed gardens, bird houses and bird feeders in between."
"Most prospective tiny homes clients are looking for a house that they can design to their unique individual lifestyle to maximize efficiency and space for a fair price," says James Stoltzfus, who along with his wife, Rosemary, runs Liberation Tiny Homes in Ephrata.
"I am the founder, and I wear many hats at this point," he says. "My titles are entrepreneur, manager, sales, marketing and anything else that needs to be done."
Rosemary does a lot of the bookkeeping and also helps with "vision oriented details." They launched their business in July 2015.
"We have completed two houses and have four in production, in various stages of construction," Stoltzfus says.
Tiny home owners, he says, "want freedom of debt, freedom to travel, freedom of location, having the option to pursue dreams versus working a thankless 9-to-5 job.
"This is why we named our company Liberation Tiny Homes. Our vision is to guide clients to a more liberating lifestyle."
It's a lifestyle that the Stoltzfuses envision for themselves someday . "a small home in the country in the future."
Tiny homes, he says, have "definitely hit the mainstream and I would think it has to level out at some point as it is growing exponentially right now. I believe this trend will probably continue for a few years."
Stoltzfus predicts the mainstream intrigue will drop off in the near future, but the "true tiny house community" will remain strong for years to come.
"This has been a slow-growing community that started around 15 years ago and it was not until around a year or two ago that it really started picking up steam after TV networks and news sources started reporting stories on them," he says.
Tiny homes are most popular among adventurous younger couples or singles under 30 without children, or older people looking to downsize and simplify their lives, Stoltzfus says.
Stoltzfus says 55 people attended an informational meeting he held in January for anyone interested in owning a tiny home.
He's seen prices range from $20,000 to $90,000, but he estimates the average is between $40,000 and $50,000.
According to thetinylife.com: "The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, while the size of tiny houses is between 100 and 400 square feet."
Intrigued by the idea of a tiny home? "You'll have to get rid of things, be ruthless," says Stoltzfus.
Lisa Ackerman has been ruthless in preparing to move into her tiny home from a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath townhome.
She laughs when she says during a phone interview, "Do you hear that echo? It's because I've gotten rid of almost all my furniture."
Ackerman hopes to move into her tiny home by February, with plans for it to be located in Lancaster (or perhaps Berks) County. Her tiny home, which is being built on a 24-foot wheel base, is being constructed by Liberation Tiny Homes.
"We're customizing it with some reclaimed wood," she says, her excitement evident in her voice.
Ackerman worked in the corporate world for 25 years but was laid off in April 2015. Unlike many who do not know what to do when found jobless, Ackerman just stepped up her passion — a part-time job she'd started a few years earlier.
"I've always loved golden retrievers and grooming them. When my daughter started college, I trained as a groomer and am also a certified canine massage therapist (and equine sports therapist)."
When she compared looking for another job in the corporate world or moving her passion from part time to full time, it was an easy decision.
"I can make people happy with my dog-grooming service, The Golden Touch," Ackerman says. "I don't even call it a job. It makes people happy and me happy."
The dogs are happy, too. Ackerman travels to people's homes and even attends Golden play dates, where owners socialize and the dogs romp, until it's their turn to be groomed.
When she was deciding what else she needed to do with her new life, a friend mentioned the tiny home shows on TV. "What a concept, I thought."
When she told her mother her plans, she said, "Well, if anyone can do it, you can.
"I get two reactions when I tell people," Ackerman says. "One, is this glazed look as they try to contemplate it. The other is 'Oh. My. Gosh. That sounds like fun!' "
The tiny home also will allow her to live closer to her client base, she says.
Ackerman will be living in her tiny home with her two golden retrievers, Kenzee, 13, and Harper, 3. "I'm looking for someplace with land, so they can run a bit," she says.
Now, living in her roomy townhouse, they only get walked on a leash.
Another new concept in tiny home living is a "granny pod." Some offer a one-room living space (giving the family member some "space"); others are equipped like a hospital room, complete with monitors for "discreet" viewing of a family member if there are health issues.
Information from: LNP, http://lancasteronline.com