With little - literally - to recommend them, Sebastopol, Calif., builder Jay Shafer's Tumbleweed Tiny House designs delight similarly small-minded clients. The diminutive dwellings have been used for everything from country getaways to backyard studios and part-time in-law apartments.

Shafer's own residence gives new meaning to the term "model home" (top photo, left). Measuring all of 70 square feet, it features metal roofing and siding; maintenance is next-to-nil. His previous home, a cedar-sided, Gothic-glazed cottage, tucked a kitchen, sleeping loft, composting toilet, and 200 cubic feet of storage space into a...

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