Tens of thousands of people will descend on Brighton this weekend for the not-so-tiny Colorado Tiny House Festival.
At this third annual festival, visitors will get the chance to view 52 different tiny homes of various shapes and sizes (ranging from ultra-tiny to kinda tiny). And they can also talk with some of the folks who have chosen to embrace "the lifestyle," as proponents call it. "Colorado is ideal for people living the tiny lifestyle," says Art Laubach, the festival's organizer and founder of the Colorado Tiny House Association.
According to Laubach, Colorado is home to a fast-growing tiny-lifestyle community because tiny houses give people the chance to save money on their living situations and then spend that money on the outdoor activities that so many Coloradans love, like skiing.
Raymond Kessler-Ison is one such individual.
"The best part is that no matter where I go, my house stays the same, but the view changes," says the 34-year-old, who lives with his wife and two dogs in their tiny home in Lochbuie. They plan on moving to Montrose in the near future.
Kessler-Ison's home, on display at the festival grounds in Riverdale Regional Park, is tiny, yet has all basic necessities. There's a small kitchen, a toilet and shower, a loft with a bed, and even a couch, TV and Xbox. The home weighs 12,200 pounds. Kessler-Ison is able to disconnect the water and electricity and have it hooked up to a truck, ready for hauling, in a half-hour.
It took him 27 months to build, plus three years of design beforehand. Excluding all the labor that he and his wife put into it, Kessler-Ison spent only $35,000. "We own it 100 percent. We saved a lot of money doing it ourselves," says Kessler-Ison. He has no mortgage; the only regular house costs are utilities and the $400 a month he pays a friend to rent some land.
Finding a place to park the tiny home can be tricky.
Across Colorado, municipal zoning codes don't have specific sections that address tiny homes, says Laubach. Without a zoning code fit for them, most tiny home owners find that their abodes are out of compliance.
Denver is currently working on a zoning code update to make it easier for organizations to build tiny home villages. These projects, like the Beloved Community Village in Globeville, are designed to house homeless individuals. But the Colorado Tiny House Festival is more focused on people living in tiny homes as a permanent housing option rather than a short- to medium-term one.
With his newly formed association, Laubach plans to push for legislation at the state level in the coming year to help make living in tiny homes an easier process. "There are people who want to live in communities, but it's too difficult right now with zoning," says Laubach.
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He wants the Colorado Legislature to pass a bill that legalizes accessory dwelling units (also known as "Granny Flats") in Denver, categorizes tiny homes on wheels as legal accessory dwelling units and allows for tiny homes to be legal primary residences for individuals in unincorporated counties.
If legislation like that passes, it would be a happy occasion for Katrina Christensen, who lives with her husband and three young sons in their tiny home in Wheat Ridge, on display this weekend in Brighton.
In the meantime, Christensen just wants more landowners to open their minds, and property, to tiny homes: "I would love for more people with space on their property to be willing to host us people."
The Colorado Tiny House Festival runs from noon to 5 p.m. June 21, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 22 and 23. Single-day tickets are $15, and weekend tickets are $30. Get tickets and more information here.