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Brunswick mobile home park puts welcome mat out for tiny houses

A Brunswick mobile home park is offering space for rent for up to 40 tiny houses. (Maine State Lottery)

BRUNSWICK (BDN) -- Maine residents looking to downsize into tiny home living have a new option on where to place that home if they don’t own land.

The owner of Linnhaven Mobile Home Center in Brunswick has announced they will allow 40 tiny houses to rent space on their property.

“I basically did this to fill my sites with quality people,” Kitt Scarponi, owner of Linnhaven, said. “There are no regulations covering the tiny homes specifically, but they do have to be built to [match United States Housing and Urban Development] standards.”

Those HUD standards were designed with so-called manufactured or mobile homes in mind, according to Jereon Brown, spokesman with HUD’s public affairs office.

According to Brown, HUD defines a manufactured home as one built according to federally established safety standards in a controlled environment manufacturing plant and are transported in one or more sections.

Each manufactured home, Brown said, must display a red HUD certification label on the exterior of each of the home’s sections.

These regulations, he stressed, have nothing to do with tiny houses.

“We don’t regulate tiny houses which can be built to any standard,” Brown said. “We regulate manufactured houses which are not the same — it’s really apples and oranges.”

Though free of federal regulations, tiny homes in Maine do have state building code regulations approved at the start of the year.

These state standards define a tiny house in Maine as a dwelling less than 400 square feet and allows sleeping lofts, ladder access to the lofts and the use of skylights as points of emergency egress.

At Linnhaven, Scarponi said requiring any tiny home moving onsite to match HUD standards means the homes will be safe and adequate for year round residency.

“A lot of the tiny homes I have seen do not have those thoughts in mind.” Scarponi said. “With HUD homes, for example, the water pipes are under the homes where they are warm and not exposed to cold, winter air.”

Scarponi said he is ready and able to work with any potential tiny home tenant to make the home compliant with those regulations.

Saying he has been watching the tiny house movement in Maine, Scarponi said it reminds him of the mobile home fad of the 1950s.

“If you look back at mobile homes 60 years ago they were the same size as these tiny houses,” he said. “I think in many ways it’s the repeat of the mobile home trend.”

To move on to Linnhaven property, a tiny house can be on wheels and even operate off the power grid if the owners want to go that route.

Since putting out the tiny home welcome mat, Scarponi said he’s had one structure move in and has received inquiries from another half dozen or so people expressing an interest.

“I’m willing to work with anyone who wants to set up alternative housing,” he said. “This will allow people to try tiny house living without having to buy land.”

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