The tiny home trend is taking off in downtown Clovis.
Last year, the city launched an incentive program aimed at encouraging builders, homeowners and do-it-yourselfers to build compact cottages in the city's downtown core. And so far, it's worked.
Since August, 10 permits have been issued with seven of those under construction. One project is nearly complete.
"The response to the program has really been tremendous," said Maria Spera, a city planning technician who is overseeing the project. "The citizens in Old Town have been very welcoming of the project."
As part of the program, the city provides, for free, a choice of three building plans, saving the homeowner nearly $10,000. The homes vary in square footage from 374 to 498.
Dwight Kroll, the city's planning director, said the city is working toward adding much-needed housing as well as making downtown's alley's more attractive and pedestrian friendly. To qualify, the cottage home must have alley access and be within a specific downtown boundary. The city has identified more than 300 sites where the homes can be built.
"Not only is Clovis responding, but we are also getting attention from other cities, including Modesto, Chico and Santa Barbara," Kroll said.
Also enticed by the program are Fresno City College and Clovis Unified. The schools may be using the program as an outdoor classroom by allowing students to participate in building the home.
The first cottage home to be constructed belongs to Scott January, who built his 374-square-foot home on his property on Baron Avenue just east of downtown Clovis.
January didn't hesitate when he heard about the program. He said it will serve two purposes by providing additional rental income but also be a place for a caregiver to stay. He built the cottage next door to his father's home.
"This has worked out really well," he said. "And even if there are a few hiccups here and there, the city is easy to work with."
He is nearly finished with the cozy home. Three columns hold up a low roof that provides shade for the front door. Inside is the living area and kitchen. There is space for a stackable washer and dyer and a bedroom with a bathroom.
January handled most of the construction himself. He's a high school wood shop and auto shop teacher, so skills and tools were not an issue for him.
"If you have the space, it really is a win-win situation," he said. "And from a dollars and cents perspective, if the city is letting you put another house on your property, you can't go wrong."
January plans to rent the tiny house for about $700 to $800 until he needs it for his father. January said his dad is adamant about not moving to a rest home, so when the time comes that his father needs extra help, the small house will be used by a caregiver.
"I've had a lot of people drive by and ask me about renting the home, so I know there is a demand out there," he said.
For more information about the Cottage Home Program, email Clovis city planning technician Maria Spera at firstname.lastname@example.org.