LAKE DALLAS — The acre of land in a neighborhood near Lake Dallas City Hall was just grass, dirt and pecan trees, but soon it will be filled with tiny homes for more than a dozen North Texas residents.
After two years of advocacy and planning, Lake Dallas City Council members, and supporters and future residents of the new tiny homes village gathered around a campfire Saturday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village.
The village at 206 Gotcher Ave. will be the first tiny-home community in the nation within city limits, land developer Terry Lantrip said in an email.
The village will be ready by April for tenants to move in.
“It’s a unique concept, so I can understand why [people were] apprehensive,” Lantrip said. “[I want to] set the precedence for future tiny home villages where people can see that they shouldn’t have a fear of having a tiny village in their town.”
The 2018 International Residential Code defines tiny homes as “a dwelling that is 400 square feet or less in floor area excluding lofts.”
The Lake Dallas community will house 13 lots that residents will be leasing for their tiny homes. Residents will have about 800 square feet of land with most of their homes ranging from 200 to 300 square feet.
Tenants can rent 800 square feet of land for their homes for $500 a month. Five 900-square-foot lots go for $550.
The tiny homes will be on wheels. Tenants can build their homes, but they aren’t allowed to build on-site.
The tiny home movement received more attention during the 2008 housing crisis. Since then, tiny houses have popped up around the country.
However, tiny homeowners and tenants have received pushback — including in Denton County — due to minimum square feet requirements and zoning codes.
Future resident Jet Regan said the legality of the community in Lake Dallas is the main reason she plans on moving in.
“This [village will give] you the security and community [without] people calling code [enforcement] on you,” Regan said.
Another future resident, Jenn Bergreen, also said the Lake Dallas community is appealing because she won’t have to move out due to codes. Bergreen was a homeowner for 17 years in McKinney.
“I can be with a group of like-minded people who have the same vision in a safe environment,” Bergreen said.
That vision includes reducing their carbon footprint, taking up less space and saving money, said a few future residents.
Bergreen said she noticed most of her time and money in her traditional home was spent on upkeep.
“I wasn’t getting to spend as much time as I wanted to being outside, traveling, seeing my family, my friends,” Bergreen said. “[Now] I can spend more time doing things I really want to do. I’d rather live more life.”
Madelyn and Casey Johnson, both teachers in Lewisville, said having a smaller home was appealing to them because they like to travel a lot during the summer. Saving money by living in a tiny home will give the couple the ability to travel more, Madelyn said.
“We’re both really outdoors-y people, and a lot of houses now are taking up so much space outside as opposed to only [using] what you need,” Casey said. “And then spend your time in nature — that’s what we really enjoy doing.”
The acre of land Lantrip bought is the site of a 1910 farmhouse. The farmhouse is still there and is now home to a couple, Steve and Bridget Radke, who said they are excited for their neighbors to move in.
“We think it’s cool there’s going to be an outdoor community we get to be a part of here,” Steve said.
Bridget said they’ve both learned a lot about tiny homes since moving into the farmhouse. The research and seeing it all come together has made them interested in moving into a tiny home, they said. Nothing is certain yet, but Bridget said they’re open to the idea.
B.A. Norrgard, who founded the DFW Tiny House Enthusiasts Facebook group, attended the groundbreaking on Saturday. She has lived in a tiny home since 2014 and helped Lantrip with the Lake Dallas project.
Norrgard said she wanted to establish a tiny home village in Dallas but wasn’t able to do so.
“I’m very glad that [Lantrip] has made it a reality,” Norrgard said. “I just really hope [this village serves as] a bright light on the movement and shows other cities it is possible. I think it’s going to bring change they won’t expect but they’re really going to love.”