Rachel Ford works two jobs, putting in 70 to 80 hours a week in administration and as a waitress. She has struggled with finances and events in her personal life and decided to make the switch to a simpler life.
"I have all this stuff, and I found I have to find places to put all this stuff, and I don't really need it. I don't use it," Ford told WTAE news. "I figured why not give it away or sell it and lessen my footprint a little bit?"
Her solution was to invest in a tiny home. According to her interview by local news station WTAE, she ordered one to be custom-built for her in Michigan for $25,000 at 320 square feet, excited for a change. That is until she found out the Pittsburgh area wouldn't allow her to live in her tiny home.
In the Borough of West View area, which is 15 minutes north of Pittsburgh, has a requirement much larger than Ford's tiny home at 320 square feet. Even though Pittsburgh had just unveiled their first tiny home at 350 square feet to the public in February, there were still very limited options for Ford regardless of how close in proximity she was to Pittsburgh. Economy Borough alone required at least 700 square feet for . This left Ford scrambling to find a legal place to place her tiny home.
WTAE's report discovered lots in Avalon, Bellevue and Ben Avon that would be an excellent fit for tiny homes, and a vote is supposed to take place later this summer on a new plan and zoning for the area to allow tiny homes. So far in regards to mobile homes, Avalon requires they must be 5,000 square feet and 40 square feet wide if it is a 10 to 12 foot home and 10,000 square feet and 80 square feet wide should the mobile home have closed projections or is a double mobile home. Needless to say, many tiny homes tend to be much smaller than this.
Ford had until March to find a space for her tiny home. On February 24, she reported that she had purchased a piece of land with an abandoned home and was working to clear off the messy property and waiting for her home to be finished before starting her tiny life.
Ford chronicled her tiny home journey in her blog tinyhouseBIGDREAMS. Updates could be found on her blog, at least as of March, where it seems Rachel successfully purchased the land and the builder, Mark Boyer of Tiny House Squared, made significant progress on her home. As of July 2016, it does not seem a vote on zoning and accessory dwellings in neighboring towns have occured yet.