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Tiny homes grow in popularity nationwide

A tiny house in Portland, Ore. on July

A tiny house in Portland, Ore. on July 31, 2012, can be ready to roll. The tiny house movement is, well, tiny, but beginning to fill a need for some. Credit: AP

Joe Everson was a cop for about 10 years, but it wasn't what he expected. Plus, he said, "I hated writing tickets."

Nowadays, the western Tennessee resident has set his sights on a smaller goal. Much smaller, actually.

The 33-year-old Everson's new venture: Tennessee Tiny Homes.

The business aims to capitalize on a trend that embraces living in extremely small spaces.

New York City and San Francisco, for example, are experimenting with guidelines that allow for tiny apartments, while a Sebastopol, Calif., firm called Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. has blazed a trail in the sort of free-standing homes that Everson builds.

Tennessee Tiny Homes specializes in dwellings that range from a cozy 120 square feet to a more spacious 200 square feet, and can be purchased for as little as $15,000.

Despite his background in law enforcement, the enthusiastic Everson is clearly a born salesman. While acknowledging that a tiny home isn't for everyone, the entrepreneur cited his own experience in making a sales pitch.

Everson said he bought a traditional home 10 years ago for $125,000, but still owes $125,000 on it.

"If I would have known about these when I was 21, I would have bought one ... and put it on some land instead of buying a little house in a neighborhood and still owing the same amount," he said.

Alternatively, he said parents who are sending their children to the University of Tennessee could buy a tiny home and put it in a campground.

As a bonus, he noted that if Junior doesn't get a job immediately upon graduation, at least he won't be moving back home.

If nothing else, Everson, who took a weeklong, three-state tour to drum up business, has at least been attracting curiosity-seekers, such as Knoxville apartment-dwellers Seth and Jenn Houston, and their 3-year-old daughter, Sami.

Seth Houston said he's been following the tiny-home movement online for a while.

Houston said he wouldn't buy a tiny home to live in -- his wife wouldn't put up with it, he said -- but "once we get land and a house someday, definitely [for a] backyard office/trailerable vacation home." 

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