Newport home to dozens of new tiny homes

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NEWPORT, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Have you seen tiny homes on TV or while on vacation?

One city is embracing them, and a builder who's building a tiny house empire after losing it all in the recession.

It's all happening off a side road in Newport, Tennessee. Now people are moving to a Cocke County and jobs are being created.

"Now we're up to about 25 employees in our company," Jones said.

"We've got 68 people moving to Cocke County from all over the United States. From New Mexico. From Washington. From Arizona."

And Boston by way of Thailand. Amy Latessa teaches English to kids in China from her Tennessee tiny pad. All she needs is wi-fi.

So I came down here to this tiny house workshop and saw what Randy had going on here. And I was just floored. I thought it was awesome," Latessa said.

Randy Jones starts by building on site.

"In the last six weeks, we've probably turned out 35-40 homes that we sold," Jones said.

But he's also building this community, seen from our WVLT drone. He turned this unused city woodland into 'The Forest.' That will soon be home to dozens in the neighborhood.

"It's got the natural resources. Smoky Mountains," Jones said.

And a low cost of entry.

"You wouldn't believe the tears that people come here and say oh my God! I have a home now," Jones said. "I don't have to struggle anymore."

Models start at a modest $15,000, and top out around $90,000.

They're not RVs and they're not trailers but they are under 400 square feet.

"And that way it doesn't take up all the room," Jones said.

Or all the budget. Plus there's peace of mind.

"There's just so much to worry about. and so much to take care of," Latessa said. "And you spend your free time worrying about the house instead of doing fun things."

"People live in these full time. They don't travel in them. They're not a weekend home," Jones said.

Tiny homes can be delivered or can be set up on-site, a stone's throw from the National Forest.

Yes, there were questions from Amy's family:

'Think they I'm crazy. They think that I'm absolutely nuts," Latessa said.

But for Amy and the thousands in tiny house nation, less is more.

Randy says his typical customer is a woman, typically over the age of 50. People buy them to free up cash, to travel more, or just to reduce possessions.

While this may have you itching to invest in a tiny home, be mindful of strict local regulations and coding. Cocke County has embraced them but regulations on what defines 'a house' haven't caught up everywhere.

"The county is open to tiny homes. There's no restrictions," Jones said.

"Like Knox county, Hamblen county, all of em. Blount county and the surrounding counties of Knox county do not allow tiny homes," Jones said.

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