Living in 500 square feet | Big ambitions to build tiny houses in NE Kansas

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TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- For many, the goal in life is to make some money, move into a big house, and live comfortably.

But a recent movement making its way into NE Kansas is encouraging homeowners to think big by going small.

"You don't need a lot to live well. What you need is simple," Topekan Beth Cain tells 13 News.

Beth and her husband Richard already live in a modest 1,000 square foot home in Highland Park. But they, like thousands of other families across the country, want to go tiny.

Really tiny.

"When I say tiny, I mean a house 500 square feet or less," Beth says with a smile.

The Cains have their sights set on a section of land down the street from their current home, where they plan to build four tiny homes for themselves and their friends.

"The tiny house movement is about paring down, getting rid of the extraneous stuff that seems to overtake our lives."

It's about reducing their carbon footprint too. She has the blueprints, and plans to implement energy efficient methods to slash their bills to a fraction of the cost.

"Simplicity is easy. It's catching on and it's spreading like wildfire," Beth said.

And it really is.

In rural Ozawkie, the TV show Tiny House Nation on the FYI Network is helping one family with their dream. It's a gorgeous house, and it does qualify as a tiny house, although you wouldn't think so. It' s just over 500 square feet.

"We were just really tired of throwing money at our mortgage," soon-to-be tiny house homeowner Blaine Moore said.

That's the main reason he and his wife, and his three kids still living at home, decided to go tiny about a year ago.

His wife applied on a whim to be on Tiny House Nation, and here they are. The show is filming the process and helped them with some of the materials.

The finished product will be "revealed" to the Moore family on Sunday, September 20, so the crews wouldn't let 13 News film inside.

The house will have everything a regular house has, just scaled down a bit. That makes it easier on the family, and their bank account, to do the things that matter most.

"Your life isn't about collecting stuff, it's about collecting experiences," Moore says.

The experience has been a bit stressful, from constantly throwing away their possessions for the past year, to figuring out how to fit a fridge in the kitchen, and keeping their king-sized bed in the master bedroom.

"It's probably not a decision that everyone can make, but it's a good decision, and it's been good for us."

While the Moore's tiny dream comes to life in front of their eyes, the Cains have a bit of a setback.

They haven't had much luck with getting a loan at the bank.

"They want the McMansions and the big projects so they can make big money," Beth said. "We're not into the big bucks thing. We want a house that costs $5 a month to run. And it's within our sights."

All houses built in Topeka have to abide by coding requirements. Because tiny houses are so small, sometimes they don't meet code, Architect of Special Projects Fran Hug said.

Development Services Manager Richard Faulkner said the city is aware that there are structures being built that classify as tiny houses, and will consider that the structures may be built in the community.

Faulkner said the city must ensure that they are constructed to meet the International Residential Code.

"The city is willing to review plans and/or discuss the code requirements as they apply to the designs for these tiny homes," Faulkner said. "We are willing to look at third-party inspection."

Topeka has its own Tiny House Facebook page. To see it click here.