the deal is done!

 

After a month of searching and two months of negotiation, we just closed on the lot today!  Thanks to the transfer the DC government received over $3000 in back taxes owed by the seller.  We hope to be much better stewards of this space than the previous owner, and engage neighbors on the project.  The April priorities are to:
  • reach out to the local ANC Commissioner and the neighborhood association
  • stop illegal parking on the lot, which has been an annoyance to adjoining neighbors
  • get a DCRA permit to remove broken concrete around the lot to decrease rainfall runoff and improve the lot appearance
  • stake out the initial site layout based on the site plan
  • get 10+ large fruit trees in the ground before spring is over
  • complete the Pepco power hookup

the urban land search

We cruise bikes through forlorn alleys, compulsively search redfin land listings, eye every empty parking lot. The goal: land we can own for less than $30K, park 4-5 tiny homes on wheels on temporarily, and still walk to downtown DC in half an hour.  Could we lease something? Perhaps, but any investments we make are lost, and we risk landlessness at any time.  Could we go farther afield? Yes, but then we become increasingly suburban, and distant from all the amenities we city dwellers love: cafe around the corner, laundry across the street, 930 club a quick bike ride away.

After much scouting there is only one lot that meets the criteria: less than a 20-minute bike ride from the Capitol, 1/11th of an acre triangular parking lot in a quiet alley that abuts a historic graveyard.  It has full sun exposure for a garden and fruit trees, enough space for at least 4 tiny houses, and a lovely view of rowhouses, oaks and tombstones. Currently it is a rather rough mix of cars, broken concrete and scrubby grass.  Welcome to the boneyard! 

*Disclosure: while legal to park our tiny houses on wheels on the lot, it is not technically legal to live in them full time.  We own houses and have apartments that are our full-time residences.  We hope DC’s alley code will eventually change to allow development of habitable structures (as is currently being debated and considered) and allow us to create a full-time tiny house village somewhere in the District.  Until then, we will build and park our tiny houses on this alley lot on a temporary basis while still living in our permanent residences.

lot design, take II

A revised site plan for the showcase, with 4 tiny studios on wheels, shipping container storage, south-facing garden area, limited parking, and fruit trees.