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Tiny Home Models Project
Monroe County Constructs Pilot Code Compliant Tiny Homes in Key Largo and Big Pine Key
In 2018, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the construction of pilot tiny homes to serve as code-compliant models for residents who are rebuilding after losing their homes during Hurricane Irma. The commissioners sought creative solutions for housing construction products that are affordable, code compliance, wind, and flood-resistant. The County solicited vendor proposals to design and build different resilient code-compliant prototype tiny homes on County-owned land. Originally, the Commission sought proposals for 4 prototypes; however, only one delivered a finished product.
The first pilot home was constructed in 2020 by Cornerstone Tiny Homes and is located on Jenny Lane in Key Largo. This tiny home has one bedroom and one bathroom, is a little less than 400 square feet, is code-compliant, and has a starting cost of $85,000. Cornerstone owners Kim and Brett Hiltbrand had a vision to create safe, small footprint homes that would be a viable option for those struggling to own or rebuild their home. They provide their clients several floorplan options, which are all Florida Building Code compliant and can withstand winds up to 180 mph. John Gallant, Broker at Engel & Völkers Islamorada, provided support during the permitting process.
"More than 4,000 homes throughout the Keys were destroyed or majorly damaged by Hurricane Irma, and these tiny home prototypes are code-compliant, more resilient alternatives to mobile homes," said Monroe County Assistant Administrator Christine Hurley.
In January 2021, the BOCC approved the release of an additional Request for Proposal to construct a second pilot code-compliant tiny home on Sands Road on Big Pine Key. This tiny home will again serve as an affordable single-family residence and is anticipated to complete construction by the end of 2021. For a temporary period of one year or less after construction is completed, Monroe County will use the tiny home model home as a demonstration project for public viewing. Upon completion of the demonstration period, this property will serve as affordable, workforce housing for County employees.
“The officials in Monroe County are forward-thinking and we appreciate how proactively they’re working to solve the affordable housing dilemma,” said Cornerstone's Kim Hiltbrand.
CONTAINER HOMES NEED TO BE CODE COMPLIANT IN MONROE COUNTY
In light of social media marketing paid advertisements regarding container homes targeting Florida Keys residents, the Monroe County Planning Department and Building Department review all engineered plans regarding container housing for permanent or temporary housing.
With “tiny home” living in the mainstream, many people ask whether “tiny homes” are permitted in the Keys. Container homes need to go through the same permitting and inspection procedure as site-built homes, which includes a requirement of a State of Florida registered contractor doing the permitting and installation.
The permits require reviews from the Planning Department, Biology Department, Building Department, and if a commercial property, the Fire Marshal. Signed and sealed plans by an engineer or architect would need to be submitted and any off-site assembly would need to be inspected by a third-party engineer.
At the moment, container homes are not approved for temporary housing. Permanently installed container homes would require an engineered foundation elevated to the design flood elevation and must meet Monroe County wind loads.
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners is sponsoring a pilot program to determine whether tiny homes can be built in the Keys for an affordable price and still meet the building safety codes. There are currently two code-compliant tiny home buildings being permitted now, one of which is a storage container type home.