James Polk: Living the Tiny House Life

John Cougar Mellencamp sang about Little Pink Houses for you and me. 

While the houses being built in an old warehouse in Prentiss are little, they aren’t pink. But they can be customized. Just ask James Polk of Tiny House Life Space. 

With his factory an hour out of the Hub City, Polk, a Hattiesburg native and resident, first dreamed of tiny houses back  in the 1990s. The architect drew out plans and went out to manufactured home builders touting them as the way of the future and trying to get them to jump on his tiny house bandwagon. 

“At the time, they were more interested in building triple wides,” he said.

His plans for tiny houses were shelved until as most things do, they came back around. Polk believes the comeback started in earnest in 2008 when the economy took a dive as did square footage. 

Fast forward to 2018 when many people have decided to truly downsize and have found tiny houses the way to go. In this day and time, a tiny house is defined as between 100 and 400 square feet. 

According to Polk, the main interest now is from singles, who don’t want to tie themselves down to the house commitment with a down payment and big monthly house notes or people of a charismatic ilk, who like to pick up and move on a whim. It’s possible with a tiny house on wheels, although he says those only work realistically for people about 10 percent of the time. 

Many have found other uses for them such as man caves, offices, workshops, deer camps, vacation homes or getaways out in the woods. And Polk has started promoting them for tailgating purposes. “The mobility makes it possible; they are basically just the same as an RV,” he said.

Another beauty of these structures is they can be taken off grid using solar panels or generators and an RV plumbing system.

Polk said solar power has its limits. “You’re very limited to what you can use,” he said. “In a home, the two biggest draws on electricity are the air conditioner and refrigerator. Once you get a refrigerator hooked up to solar, there’s not much left. Solar is great for lighting, charging computers and things like that. In order to have air conditioning, you’ve got to plug in somewhere or have a generator.

For traveling down the road with your home on your back, homeowners face a pretty strict envelope. In this instance, the house can only be 8.5-feet wide by 13.5-feet tall, ground to top, which includes the wheels. According to Polk, length is really not an issue. 

The houses feature a living room/kitchen combo, a bath complete with a 5-foot tub/shower, a toilet and vanity lavatory. Sleeping space comes in the form of two lofts, one which accommodates a queen-size bed and a smaller double bed on the opposite end. Another design features a “bedroom” downstairs, as well as the two lofts. 

The kitchen features a sink, stove and refrigerator. 

And for outdoor living, Polk can construct “front porches,” which consist of 4’ x 5’ panels, which will stack in the bed of a pickup.

Intrigued by these tiny homes? Visit the Tiny House Life Space Facebook.


Beth Bunch is managing editor of Signature Magazine. While she thinks the tiny houses are really cute, she and her treasures most definitely could not live in a tiny house.