THIMBY: Richmond Backyard Homes


The Richmond Backyard Homes program is THIMBY’s third iteration, and aims to create affordable, full-amenities Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) housing. These homes will be offered to working unhoused individuals or small families. The team plans to pilot the City of Richmond’s “Tiny House on Wheels” ordinance by placing the first unit, currently under construction, in the backyard of a single family residence.

THIMBY's Goals

  1. Demonstrate that tiny homes can provide affordable in-fill housing for those that are working, but currently unhoused.
  2. Create wealth building opportunities for both the residents of the tiny home and the homeowner that will be hosting it in their backyard. This includes creating pathways to home ownership for the tiny house resident and generating supplemental income for the tiny home’s host.
  3. Through the Tiny House Building Academy (THBA), we will leverage the local construction of these tiny homes to create workforce development/job training opportunities.

The House

Our team is currently constructing an affordable and scalable model of solar-powered, full-amenities ‘tiny houses.’ In collaboration with Richmond-based Community Housing Development Corporation Tentmakers, Inc., this home has the potential to be adopted by local governments and organizations. The house itself has been constructed by student volunteers and members of the Richmond community through the THBA.

The home will be sustainable and resilient by incorporating:

  • Affordable Building Materials: reclaimed lumber, reclaimed fixtures, recycled denim insulation, etc.
  • Energy Independence: 2.4 kW solar array, full electrification, hydronic subfloor heating, optional battery storage
  • Water Efficiency: low flow-rate fixtures, heat pump water heater

We will create a healthy and comfortable living space through:

  • Active Ventilation: PM 2.5 filtration with heat-recovery
  • Full Electrification: hydronic subfloor heating, no hazards associated with natural gas or propane usage
  • Compact Design: lofted bedroom, multi-purpose and built-in furniture

Tiny House Building Academy (THBA)

Tiny homes create a unique opportunity to, in a short period of time, expose someone with some existing training (i.e. through RichmondBUILD) in the trades to all aspects of construction + additional green building technologies which, at this time, are largely limited to high-end construction. Not only would these trainees come out of the program with a better idea of what career they would like to pursue, they’d also have more hours under their belt before entering into a full-time job.

THBA is a pilot program funded by the Richmond ECIA grant, SF Foundation, and RichmondWorks. The program was founded with Tentmakers, Inc. and is supported by Rebuilding Together East Bay North (RTEBN). There are currently two THBA participants and multiple instructors. Our group works on the tiny house at the SOS Richmond site every week. We are using this first build to create a formal construction curriculum that includes the full scope of work for building all parts of the tiny home (i.e. rough framing, electrical/solar, plumbing, dry-in, interior/exterior finish, etc.).


Our Partners

SHAC is an interdisciplinary group of undergraduate and graduate students at UC Berkeley with a shared passion for sustainability in the built environment.

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