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Living Large in Small Spaces

Several years ago, film student Christopher Smith saw a magazine cover that caught his eye. The auspicious image — a smiling Washingtonian named Dee Williams, relaxing in her 84-square-foot house — was filed away in his mental Rolodex. At the time, he never imagined it would resurface to shape the two largest projects of his life: a house and a movie. Something of a romantic vagabond, Christopher, with partner and wordsmith Merete Mueller, harbored a dream of building his own cabin from scratch in the Rocky Mountains. On an impulse in February 2011, he purchased five acres in a remote area of Colorado, near the Rocky Mountain National Park. As the pair moved toward the dream, they learned that the minimum house size requirement in their county was 600 square feet — substantially more than what they’d budgeted or had the building skills to tackle. Surprisingly, minimum house size constraints are in effect in most counties in the United States to help maintain taxes and home values and to comply with health and safety codes. One way of getting around the code is to add wheels to your structure, which is c …

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