Is coronavirus driving Atlanta tiny home sales?

As Atlantans with large families or several roommates continue to adjust to the state’s “shelter in place” order by working from home, they may naturally find themselves longing for the peace and quiet of their regular offices.

As a result, some local homeowners are looking to add to their current space, as permitting data show. But instead of waiting for a time-consuming addition that may carry a high cost, the go-to choice, in some cases, is putting a tiny house in the backyard.

“I think people are just now starting to feel the realities and constraints of working from home,” says Frank Golley, founder of Golley Houses, a Decatur tiny home manufacturer.

“Since working from home will be a reality for many people for the foreseeable future, we expect to see a greater interest in people building an accessory dwelling unit to use as a home office space.”

In addition, Golley also expects an increased interest from families who want to use a tiny house as a homeschool room.

White tiny house with pink door and covered porch. Families could install their own one-room schoolhouse in backyards, manufacturers say. Timothy S. Allen/Shutterstock

Thus far, there have been seven permits created in Atlanta in the first three months of 2020 for an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), or tiny home, according to Golley.

While that number doesn’t seem like much, consider that a total of 26 AUD permits were filed for in 2019.

“Three permits were created on December 27, 2019, so they are obviously planned for construction in 2020,” Golley says. “Using that shift of information, 10 in the first three months of 2020 and 23 in 2019, there is going to be a significant increase in the number of ADU permits created in 2020: almost a 150 percent increase.”

Of course, just how much space Atlantans can add with a tiny house is limited. Currently, City of Atlanta regulations limit the maximum size of a tiny house to 750 square feet.

One’s ability to install a tiny house also hinges on budget. While some units start in the high four figures, the average is in the low- to mid-five figures. A basic Golley House kit is $17,000, plus an average of $8,000 in finishing costs, Golley says.

“The level of finish and type of foundation would vary the final cost,” Golley says.

The real question for Atlanta homeowners: Is adding a tiny home worth the time and investment if “shelter in place” restrictions are lifted within the next 60 to 90 days? And, if the answer is “yes,” how quickly will the City of Atlanta be able to process and approve a permit?

Once homeowners are able to get out and about again, it could be interesting to see what becomes of any tiny home purchase.

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