Road Trip at Home: For minimalists who covet home ownership but not a mortgage, the efficient Tiny Houses may be the answer.
GRATON, Calif.--In an era of mini-mansions and underwater mortgages, one group of people has largely avoided both while managing to be as green as possible: residents of Tiny Houses.
Started by Jay Shafer, who began living in a 75-square-foot house in 1997, Tumbleweed Tiny Houses specializes in designing homes that are both functional and highly efficient. Sized between 65 and 837 square feet, the homes are meant to be affordable while emphasizing the need for organization and minimalism.
Seen here is the XS-House, Tiny Houses' smallest home, which can be bought built-to-order for $39,000, or can be built by customers themselves for about $16,000.
This is the front of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses owner Jay Shafer's personal home. It is the 89-square-foot Epu, which weighs about 4,700 pounds and costs about $46,000 pre-built or about $20,000 for do-it-yourself, including plans, materials, and labor.
Though Tiny Houses are obviously small, they all have charming porches and are designed to be as functional as possible.
This is the frame for a new prototype Tiny House that Shafer is building. Generally, he sells about one pre-built home a year, and the rest of his several dozen annual customers buy plans, which can cost as little as $10--when he's running a promotion--or several hundred dollars.
This is the right side of Shafer's Tiny House. Because the building is smaller than houses are required to be in most municipalities, Shafer designs them to technically be recreational vehicles, meaning they are built on a frame with wheels. Still, most people plant the houses in place and don't move them.
This is the Ernesti, one of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses' largest models. It comes in two variations, one with two bedrooms that is 746 square feet, and the other which is three bedrooms and 843 square feet.
This is the Sebastarosa, which comes as either a two-bedroom model that's 750 square feet. It can be built as a two-bedroom at 750 square feet, or as a three-bedroom at 847 square feet. The materials cost between $49,000 and $56,000.