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Construction companies offer 'tiny' alternatives for homebuyers

(AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)

PHOENIX -- Americans who are dreaming of home ownership but don't think they can afford a big house now have some hope.

Builders around the country are offering "tiny homes" that may fit their budget and lifestyle. Some of the homes are stationary and are built on a foundation. For example, Tumbleweed Tiny House Company is offering a 356-square-foot model for $21,000. It has one bedroom, one bath, a full kitchen and a washer and dryer.

Other homes are mobile. They are on two wheels and a have a trailer hitch. Forbes Magazine said that Dee Williams, who is considered the "tiny house" pioneer, is currently touring the country and showing off the 84-square-foot home that she's lived in for the past 10 years.

She's doing it to promote her memoir "The Big Tiny."

A Valley realtor said that any home that is less than 900 square feet in the Phoenix area is considered to be a tiny home.

During an appearance on News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's "Arizona's Morning News Weekend," Sheri Rampey said she has sold some homes as small as 600 square feet. Most of the "tinys" in Phoenix are in the downtown area and were built in the 1920s and 1930s, she said.

Rampey said she recently sold a "tiny" to a couple of newlyweds.

"That was about 700 square feet," she said. "But it also has a guest house that was built behind it, so it was a bit more expensive. We're at $225,000. The house and the guest house are detached; they are on separate electric and water meters and have their own yards, so it's like the couple bought two houses. The couple plans to rent out the guest house and use the money from that to pay their mortgage."

Rampey said that the small homes are bought by people who want a particular lifestyle.

"Many of these places are in downtown and are within walking distance of shopping and entertainment. Having a small place is also about not having to spend all day or all weekend cleaning your house," said Rampey.

Rampey added that the homes are efficient. Many of the homes' designers were able to include more storage space by not having hallways in the houses, even though these are three-bedroom, two-bath units.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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