We just had a new video go live over at our Youtube channel, check out this tour of the Indigo Tiny House!
With growing uncertainty in the nation, global strife, the fall of the American currency, and a host of other scenarios, the rise of the Prepper is growing as well. And for each prepper seems to come an idea of what housing for an emergency situation might look like. That coupled with the discontentment of RVers for where they have to stay may very well be the incentive for folks like Bill Southworth of Hybrid Propulsion for building what is now becoming known as the stealth camper or travel trailer. His particular build ended up being one of the slickest 80 sq. ft. transforming cargo trailers to date.
Turns out the precipice behind Bill’s build was – as he puts it – “Traveling with a Rottweiler means you stay either in really awful roadside motels or very high end hotels that treat the dog as a guest. He “decided that we needed a way to carry our hotel with us on our journeys. I checked out all the obvious travel trailer options and decided that they were either too large, too ugly, too inefficient, or too poorly constructed. I decided that I could do better.” And better he did. At just 16′ long this former horse trailer nicknamed “Son of a Buggy” is a solar powered gem that features some of the most clever and multi-faceted interior options one could imagine.
The walls, at first site, seem blank and sterile even. But interior designers would call them Scandanavian-inspired in that they are minimalist with high function yet little decor. The idea Bill insists is to make the space appear larger than it is by keep lines clean and make all furnishings and adornments invisible. The walls themselves are made from a honeycomb-type material that is recycled cardboard and covered with a thin birch veneer. The floors are recycled, compressed Mulberry bushes from Sustainable Flooring of Boulder, CO and is actually more durable and more hard the Teak.
To make the trailer more comfortable and homey the sleeping arrangements are for a king size bed while the bed consists of one stationary twin which doubles as a sofa. When the bed is stowed, a drop down table can be slid into place to make a dining area for four. The entertainment system is a 26″ Samsung LED TV swings out above the bed for Apple TV or HD DirecTV. The printer , computers and WiFi storage is in the cabinet next to the TV. This level of technology is something that is becoming more predominant in tiny houses as even Tim and Shannon’s tiny house features a retractable movie screen with a HD projector and a surround sound system.
Southworth designed and built his little cabin on wheels to use solar, battery, and power management and it’s designed to store for on board storage so that Bill and his wife can go for weeks off the grid and even off the radar!
I was sitting on the porch of my tiny house the other night thinking about tiny houses and the movement when the question floated into my mind: “If I somehow became the steward of $1,000,000 to further the tiny house movement, what would I do?” It’s an interesting question and I really like thought experiments like this. So, here is what I’d do:
I think an important first step would be to establish a tiny house proof of concept with a city and create a model that other cities could follow. I would most likely start in my hometown of Charlotte, mainly because I know the codes better and have some good connections with folks that I’d need to leverage in order to make my plan successful.
I’ve had some preliminary conversations with some community development leaders, developers, lawyers and a few political figures at the point, but have yet to take it much further because the later phases of execution would require funds that I simply don’t have. So I’d start a dialogue with some key people and then also contract the services of a few people, primarily lawyers that have experience doing community development. I don’t think things would need to get pushed into the court room, but a few of the lawyers I have in mind know the landscape better than I do, they have the personal connections, they know what meetings you need to show up for, they know who other follow on votes and they know the process. These things are valuable to the execution of the plan. I figure it will take about $50,000 in contractor fees, mainly because most of the people would be lawyers ($200-$300 an hr).
Running Total: $50,000
From there I’d work with these people to start conversations with the city about getting a program started where we would essential do a trial run on a particular piece of land for a tiny house community. I figure about $5,000 in fees, filings, paperwork, etc.
Running Total: $55,000
Concurrently I would be shopping for land, somewhere in the 10-20 acre range of which I have about 5 locations that would be ideally suited for this project. The key here would be land that could be rezone for a cluster housing setup and located within a 30 minute drive of downtown Charlotte. The location would be key. Most people today want the amenities of a city and Charlotte is a decent sized city to meet that need, plus land is relatively cheap and still available. For the land I’d be looking to spend up to $250,000 which would be the home of the community and a common house that would also later be used to run training events, meetings, etc.
Running Total: $305,000
Next once we had the land and the city’s support, I would work the land (grading, access, roads, parking), install infrastructure (water, sewer, solar, internet, gas), then begin construction. For this I’m assuming $75,000 to meet city requirements. I’m also assuming they’ll require us to install storm drains, side walks, and a retention pond because of the number of people, it would be similar to an apartment complex in their eyes.
Running Total: $380,000
Once I had the land secured, I’d put out a call for residents. There would be an application, interview, and selection process. The goal would be selecting people who would be good stewards of the first location, would have the ability to interface with the public and the media very well, and people who could help us put a good foot forward in the community. The group would also have to function well as a team, because I would want a community, not disparate individuals that just want a place to put a tiny house or live cheap. I envision the people selected would go through a lengthy interview process, jump through a lot of hoops and prove that they are the right people for the mission.
With that group I’d want to do some team building, some communications training and community building. There will also be some media interface training, so that they can keep calm when a reporter tries to pull a “gotcha”, when a detractor speaks out, or when something goes wrong and they need to operate under pressure. For that I’d budget about $5,000 for various activities and facilitators.
Running Total: $385,000
From that point I’d design the houses with each of the people using some tiny house designers I know. The plans would be used to build the house and then either given away or sold as a revenue generator for the non-profit mission of this incubator.
Established Revenue: $1,000 / month
Each house would be designed, built and paid for by this project, but each person would enter into a 2 or 3 year lease on that house. I’d guess between $200-$400 for rent and utilities a month.
It might be possible that some of the paid work needed to be done by this project could be paid to these members if they had the required skill sets for the job. This could also aid in keeping the project accessible for low income individuals.
I would want 10 houses to on the property, half to be people bringing their own house, half built onsite built with about half the labor done by the people themselves. I figure total cost per built house would be $40,000 for the five built on site for a total of $200,000.
I would also have a common house built (about 2,500 square feet). I figure about $200,000 for that building. That building would have a large room, community kitchen, a guest bedroom, laundry and toilets.
In this space I’d tried to save a lot of costs here by doing workshops where people come for the week and get hands on with building a tiny house. Tickets would be pricey because of the time, meals, organizing etc. I figure $1500 a person. This would help offset the costs of the houses. For the common house I’d try to do that with straw bale or ob and again, make that an event that we would sell tickets to.
Worst Case Running Total: $785,000
Target Running Total: $600,000
Established Revenue: $3,500-$5,000 / month
This would close the initial phase of the first location. From here the idea would be to document the entire process and produce some high quality materials, media, and website. These could be used by tiny house people and by municipalities. I figure there will be some coding, design and material fees with this $5,000.
Running Total: $605,000
Established Revenue: $3,500-$5,000 / month
The next phase would be taking the revenue generated and building that revenue to become a self sustaining non profit. The hope here is that with the initial $1M we could build an engine that could pump out tiny house havens and develop training for DIYers, Builders and cities to elevate the community.
The remaining funds to kick off the next location and essentially do lobbying on behalf of tiny houses. I would also look into tiny house financing, developer partnerships and tiny house insurance. We would develop tiny house codes that municipalities could plug and play for cities and we would help them in that process.
I’m also playing it safe with the budget because things will inevitably be more expensive, unexpected costs will come up and there will be some staffing costs.
Final Total: $850,000
Revenue: $13,500-$15,000 / month
So that is how I’d move the movement forward with an infusion of $1M.
Yurts are typically thought of as Mongolian round huts that can easily house a family through the harshest of conditions. But there are a new breed of yurts that appeal to those looking for luxury in a smaller size. One of those is Maui’s ‘Octagon Studio’ at the Aromatherapy Foundation of Maui. How are they different? Unlike the Nomad Yurt the Octagon Tiny house has no wooden bone structure and the roof is made of wood and shingles rather than a roof covering with a compression ring to keep it tight. In fact, the one room yurt in Maui is more of a cottage or tiny house or even a studio than a true yurt. No matter though as it The provides guests with a charming accommodation and an incredible opportunity to get away and escape from reality. Coupled with sensational views from each window the beautiful wooden house is nothing short of relaxing and rejuvenating.
The cabin, if you will, accommodates 2 people in a 1 bedroom/1 bathroom setup. The bedroom features wood ceilings, a wooden bed frame, nature inspired linens, wood flooring, and an incomparable set of floor to ceiling windows that overlook beautiful fragrant and edible gardens. In addition the bedroom has drapes that surround the bed acting as more than mosquito repellants but rather as privacy curtains from anyone passing by in the gardens and potentially looking in.
While the studio cabin is in a rather remote location removed from society it does has electrical outlets, WiFi, a pool, and a hot tub. It also feature a small kitchenette that allows for food preparation and basic sustenance. It includes a small fridge, a 4-burner range, and a small sink. But with so many exotic fruits and vegetables as well as native meals available cooking may be the last thing on the mind of someone in Makawao (the Upcountry where the studio is located).
With appears to be stained and finished Oak the bathroom is spacious with its almost overly-exposed views. The only thing separating the person bathing and Mother Nature is glass and some beautiful white drapes. It allows for a true natural feel with access to unlimited hot water, great water pressure, and rainfall pressure.
NOTE: The Octagon Studio is located in the beautiful area of Olinda just a few miles above the quaint cowboy town of Makawao. The air at three-thousand feet is fresh and vibrant and the pine and eucalyptus forest above the house provide great hikes and adventures. The cottage is located on an aromatic farm and the mesmerizing scent of rose geranium and lavender is always present. A beautiful 20 minute drive down the hill will bring you to Baldwin Beach near Paia for swimming and beach time and two miles north of Paia are the famous windsurfing and kite-surfing beaches of Hookipa. Both Makawao and Paia provide excellent shopping and dining experiences.