2009 - Volume #33, Issue #3, Page #27[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Tiny Homes Have No Wasted Space
Shafer finished his first mini home - 89 sq. ft. in size - in Iowa City in 2000 after he "got fed up with spending money and wasting resources to live happily" (featured in FARM SHOW's Vol. 25, No. 4). The art graduate, who had an interest in architecture, found out there was a lot of interest in his homes so he started building them for others.
In 2005 he moved to California, where he discovered even more demand for his blueprints and seminars.
"We're getting larger groups every time," Shafer says. "I think people are recognizing the value in building their own homes now. The small ones on wheels are popular as are the 800 sq. ft. models for people who don't want to be quite as extreme about it."
Other companies offer plans for small houses, but Shafer notes his company's blueprints also include interior layout details down to the 1/16 -in. level.
"We spend a lot of time on proportioning houses that are visually nice, and we lay out interiors very thoroughly," Shafer says. His designs include using vertical space such as shelves all the way to the ceiling, sleeping lofts and built-in couches, bookcases, desks, etc.
The smallest models are built on wheels, because they don't meet building code size minimums. But the benefits are that they are mobile and are often licensed like a camper instead of taxed as property.
At seminars throughout the country, Shafer explains how to build, vent and brace the homes. They can be built in all climates. An Iowa man lives in a 7 by 8-ft. house with a slightly bigger loft that he heats for about $160/year with a boat heater.
Well-insulated with thoughtfully chosen appliances, windows and materials, the homes are good quality and have a higher per foot cost than typical homes because they still require the heating, plumbing and other operating systems. However, some builders save money by recycling materials. One woman built her tiny house for $10,000.
Shafer lists estimated prices for plans and finished homes on his website. Blueprints range from $500 to $1,000. He also has a schedule of seminars planned throughout the U.S. and overseas.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, Jay Shafer, P.O. Box 941, Sebastopol, Calif. 95473 (ph 707 548-0177; www.tumbleweedhouses. com).
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