By Andy Sheehan


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – They’ve become a national phenomenon — the answer for people who want to live simply, cheaply and environmentally-friendly — they’ve even spawned their own cable television show.

The gaudy excess of the McMansion has given way to its polar opposite — the stripped down, base essentials of the tiny house.

The tiny house is posing the question: could you manage to live in 350 square feet or less?

You have to change the way you live.

“You can’t have too much stuff, you just can’t have too much stuff,” pioneering urban developer Eve Picker said.

Picker is bringing the first tiny house to Pittsburgh and is in the process of getting approval to build it on a vacant lot in Garfield.

“And right around here, you’re standing on the deck and you open the door and the living area is right here,” Picker said.

If city house-seekers are being priced out of the hot neighborhoods of Lawrenceville and the South Side, the tiny houses may draw them to places like Garfield that have not yet taken off.

“For people who want to live economically in a place they really want to be in, this may be one solution,” Picker said.

The first advantage is price. Picker would like to sell the house for less than $100,000, meaning mortgage payments could be as low $520 a month, while electricity and gas bills would be a fraction of yours.

“I know there’s a lot of people in their 20s. This is the perfect model of housing they’re looking for,” Mayor Bill Peduto said.

Peduto said tiny houses could bring hundreds of young, first-time homebuyers to the city.

Picker would like to accommodate them by building a tiny house village of a dozen adjacent homes in Garfield. So far, she’s hit a roadblock of getting zoning approval and buying city-owned land.

The mayor says he means to pave the way by streamlining the approval process and establishing a land bank.

“So that projects like small houses won’t get the red tape of city government, but will get the red carpet treatment of city government,” Peduto said.

The only question then is what the neighbors might think about something this sprouting up in the side lot next door.

KDKA-TV’s Andy Sheehan: “It kind of looks like the ‘Three Little Pigs’’ house.”

Picker: “It does.”

Sheehan: “And I guess you can just blow them down.”

Picker: “No, you can’t blow them down. They’re going to be very solid.”

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