Guerilla Housing

Posted July 1st, 2009 by Tyson and filed in Issue 8: Bureaucracy/Regs.
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As we have all no doubt seen, the state seems to frown on simple living. So the simplest way to bypass the hurdles is to have a house that qualifies as a mobile dwelling, i.e., has wheels.

Of course, that puts some pretty strict constraints on your dwelling. If you can’t, or are unwilling to accommodate those constraints, you’re probably going to have to think of something else.

In an ideal situation, you live somewhere that has lenient rules about the sort of structures you can build. According to Peter King, in the part of Vermont where he lives he can basically build whatever he wants, wherever, whenever. But most of us aren’t that fortunate.

In my own situation, the county I live in has the standard strict regulations. I’ve periodically looked into working with the county to subdivide the property, or get permits and go the legal route on everything pertaining to my house. Realistically, it all comes down to money – if you have money, you can just start throwing it at problems until the problems disappear, because with enough money someone will be happy to show you how the rules will bend to accommodate you. Unfortunately for me, money is something I never seem to have much of.

So, barring a benevolent municipality or the ready cash to make the problems go away, the final option is to just go guerilla.

The feasibility of this will of course depend on your situation. One fly by night small house story I’ve heard involved building a small house out of reclaimed barn materials which wound up looking like an old shack from the outside, and then moving it into it’s location overnight. The building looked so old and wasn’t placed in a prominent location, so the county just assumed it had been sitting there forever. Now it’s a bed-and-breakfast.

In my own case, I looked into what it would take to build a tiny house by going through the proper channels, and, like I mentioned, discovered that there really was no feasible way for me to do it, so I kinda tabled the whole idea. Then a tiny building came along at a great price, and seemed to cry out to be converted into a tiny house. I sprung on it with the help of my father, and hauled it out to Aromas. Then we got down to picking out a spot for it where it wouldn’t be too obvious, and just dragged the thing into position.

Because it was already built and all we had to do was relocate the structure, there wasn’t a great deal of construction commotion associated with the genesis of the building itself. Also, in my county, the officials doesn’t get involved with these things unless somebody complains, so unless I give my neighbors reason for complaint there shouldn’t be a problem. Like they say, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and my family has been here for thirty years, so hopefully we won’t have an issue.

Of course, when you take the guerilla path, you’ve gotta content yourself with hoping, and there are a lot of people who won’t be comfortable living like that.

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