Big demand for tiny homes in Tampa Bay area

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Brian Zmich is sold on tiny houses. The former house flipper’s best sellers were small bungalows, which led him and his business partner to build a career crafting tiny homes in the Tampa Bay area. Their company is aptly named, Tampa Bay Tiny Homes.

“I think that what people are realizing is stuff is taking control of them and people want to take back control of their lives, so they’re going tiny,” Zmich says, in between text messages and phone calls. These days, he’s pretty busy with demand for tiny house models rolling in.

Fortunately, a personalized tour of his model home doesn’t take long.

Within 240 square feet, built on a 24-foot-long trailer, is a living space with seating area and wall-mounted television, a galley-style kitchen, a bathroom with a shower and a lofted bed.

“When you really start thinking about how we live it’s efficient and it makes sense,” says Zmich.

The model, furnished, would sell for about $43,000. A tiny home built on a 35-foot-long trailer would start around $80,000.

The custom built homes are made-to-order in St. Petersburg and generally take two or three months to complete.

Once the home is completed, the builders will get to work on a series of houses that will be displayed at the 2018 Valspar Championship golf tournament at Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor.

Events like the popular tournament help the company get exposure, but Tampa Bay Tiny Homes doesn’t really need it. Every day, someone stops by the company’s headquarters to see what it might be like to live in pint-sized properties.

Despite the growing popularity of extreme downsizing and tiny living there’s a big hurdle in Tampa Bay, where do you put a tiny home?

Some tiny homes are finding a place in RV parks, others on private property. But currently, there aren’t many convenient neighborhoods to call home. Debbie Caneen wants to change that.

The Sun City woman and director of admissions at Sun Towers at Sun City Center, purchased a 210-square-foot tiny home created by University of South Florida architecture graduate Stephanie Henschen. The tiny home was featured on HGTV and resulted in Henschen landing a job on the West Coast. Caneen now uses it to drum up interest in tiny living.

Earlier this year, Caneen purchased an old trailer park in Ruskin, near the Hillsborough County Community college and Amazon fulfillment center and is developing the 4.5-acre property into what she’s calling Circle Pond Tiny Community. Her vision is a neighborhood with space for 24 tiny homes, with amenities including utilities and WiFi service included.

“I’d like to keep the rent around $400 a month,” says Caneen, adding that she hopes to use the neighborhood to not only welcome tiny homes, but also to encourage others to build similar communities.

Caneen hopes to showcase tiny homes as an affordable option for the working class, millennials, and even older couples who’ve decided to downsize to the extreme.

Land clearing is underway, and when Circle Pond opens— by the end of 2017, she hopes —she’s planning to become a resident herself. Ready to downsize, she and her husband, who is 6 ‘5″ tall by the way, are already designing their perfectly petite living space.

“When you look at all of the clutter in your home, you think ‘all that stuff used to be money.’ And here I am spending time cleaning and dusting stuff. I don’t want any more stuff!” she says.

Circle Pond Tiny Community and Tampa Bay Tiny Homes have teamed up to put on a tiny home show, Saturday, November 11th, at Hillsborough Community College — SouthShore, 551 24th Street N.E., Ruskin, Florida 33570. Caneen’s tiny home, Tampa Bay Tiny Homes’ model, and several other tiny homes, including several that have been featured on HGTV programs, will be featured at the event, and there are several speakers and presentations lined up to cover a number of aspects of tiny living. Learn more about the event here.

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