Construction has begun on the second and third tiny houses on Rock Spring Road in Bel Air, as the developer works to put finishing touches on the first tiny house, which he began building in 2017.
All three houses under construction near the intersection of Vale and Moores Mill roads just outside town limits are a side project for builder and developer Craig Falanga, owner of Pinnacle Design Development Inc., and he hopes to have all three finished in about 90 days.
Falanga, who typically builds 10 or so 2,500- to 6,000-square-foot homes a year, became fascinated in 2015 with the “tiny home” concept — a minimalistic approach to a home with just the basic living space — and drew up his own plans to try building a different type of home, one not previously seen in Harford County.
The 560-square-foot houses on lots a third of an acre will be basically the same, a loft master bedroom, a full bath, a kitchen and family room. The first house has a wrap-around porch, the two new ones will only have front porches, he said.
Once all three are finished, Falanga intends to keep them and rent them for about $1,200 a month, he said. As the landlord, his company would be responsible for all exterior maintenance — mowing, trimming, mulching, gardening, and probably even snow removal, he said.
He anticipates renting to someone 60 or older, he said, since that was the majority of the demographic that contacted him when he started building the first tiny house.
“They were the most passionate, too,” he said.
When Falanga bought the lane on Rock Spring Road, he thought it was a 100-foot wide lot, only to discover the property was actually four 25-foot wide parcels that had been combined.
He and the county found the stretch of property along Rock Spring Road between Vale and James roads was platted for 25-foot lots when it was developed in the late 1920s, Falanga said. When zoning codes went into affect, they became non-conforming lots, but the building rights couldn’t be taken away from them.
Falanga decided to combine the four parcels into three 33 1/3-foot wide lots to build this three tiny houses.
Now, he wants to try to change a Harford County zoning law regarding minimum lot size, and it would be better to have an example in making his case, he said.
He would like to have the minimum lot size to build a house on reduced from 8,750-square feet to 6,000-square feet.
“There are a lot of properties around, older, in town and right outside, if I bought one house and tore it down, the lot could be divided in half,” Falanga said.
Cindy Mumby, a spokeswoman for Harford County government, said it would take legislation from either the county executive or a county council representative to create a zoning classification for a tiny house which, which doesn’t exist under existing zoning laws.
“A single-family house is the closest thing to a tiny house,” Mumby said. “A tiny house could be proposed as its own zoning classification.”
If he built two tiny houses, Falanga said he could adhere to all other zoning laws but not have enough square feet left on the lot.
“Even though I can fit two of them, I can’t put two there,” he said. “It’s easier to make a good argument when you have the real thing in front of you.”
Micro-apartments and other plans
Falanga’s other project, at the corner of Churchville Road and Bond Street in Bel Air, has been delayed, too.