A couple seen in profile stand in front of the sink in the kitchen area of their tiny home. The person closest to the viewer is a woman with long dark hair; she wears glasses and a purple tank top, and she holds a small silver teapot above a mug, getting ready to pour a cup of tea. The man next to her has curly hair and a beard; he wears glasses and a blue button-up shirt. He uses the flexible and detatchible sink faucet to wash out a silver bowl. The kitchen area is a countertop holding a few appliances. Two windows over the countertop look outside. Behind the couple is an open doorway, through which can be seen a shower.
The tiny house movement has been growing in popularity as more people embrace minimalist lifestyles. — Getty Images/Tony Anderson

Some might attribute the tiny home’s popularity to the Great Recession while others might point to Henry David Thoreau’s 150-square-foot Walden Pond cabin as the original inspiration for minimalist living. Regardless of what started the trend, there’s no debating that demand for tiny homes is on the rise.

Technavio projects that the tiny home market size will grow at a CAGR of 4.88% between 2022 and 2027. These are a few of the small businesses answering the call for more modest living spaces and the benefits they afford.

ESCAPE Traveler

ESCAPE Traveler has been on top of this trend for about a quarter of a century, but in 2016, CEO Dan Dobrowolski said his business had grown by 6,000%. He’s had to expand the company’s manufacturing plant three times to keep up with demand. What started out as a 12,000-square-foot production plant is now a 30,000-square-foot RVIA-inspected plant in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

In the beginning, ESCAPE Traveler designed tiny homes for northwest Wisconsin where temperatures reach extreme highs and lows throughout the year. An understanding of tumultuous weather combined with clever architecture gave this business an edge and won over customers all over the continental United States and on multiple Hawaiian islands. There’s even an ESCAPE village in Tampa Bay composed of these tiny homes — for rent or for sale.

ESCAPE Traveler tiny homes are set on wheels rather than a permanent foundation. The largest model is 388 square feet and price tags on the standard prefabricated models range from $35,000 to just under $100,000.

Tiny SMART House

Based in Albany, Oregon, Tiny SMART House was once just a dream for former “McMansion” Constructor Nathan Light Watson. In 2012, Watson’s mission to help others “live happily, responsibly, and debt free” came to fruition.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that upholds the company’s vision and values. It stands for Sustainable construction, Modern efficiency, Affordable luxury, RV-certified, and Towable anywhere. Like the ESCAPE Traveler tiny homes, Tiny SMART Houses also sit on wheels. The company builds its trailers out of rectangular tube steel and offers them to customers as their best option for a Tiny SMART House or their own build. Although these tiny homes are permanently attached to their trailers, there are many design options such as skirting, decking, and landscaping available to disguise the wheels.

The average starting price for a Tiny SMART House is about $60,000. This company offers full customization within certain sizing parameters. The maximum height a unit can be is 13.5 feet tall, as that is the legal height limit for trailers.

OBY House (or Our Backyard House) is a co-op in northern California that’s incentivizing people to allow tiny home builds in their backyards in the name of affordable housing.

Custom Container Living

Established in 2015 by Robert Wagoner, Custom Container Living repurposes shipping containers into full-time dwellings, vacation properties, rentals, and business sites. With experience as a traditional fine home constructor, Wagoner harnessed his skills to utilize these virtually indestructible pods and create a unique home that fits each customer’s style.

Custom Container Living sources gently used shipping containers that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Upcycling is eco-friendly on its own, but due to the highly insulated nature of these units, the resident can use less energy and in turn, leave a smaller carbon footprint.

These container homes range in price from $29,000 to $100,000 and in size from 160 to 960 square feet, depending on the customer’s wish list. Each house is built from the floor plan up and ships in its finished form from Archie, Missouri.

OBY House

OBY House (or Our Backyard House) is a co-op in northern California that’s incentivizing people to allow tiny home builds in their backyards in the name of affordable housing. What that means is that OBY House leases a portion of a property owner’s land and, in tandem with the Oakland Housing Authority, subsidizes rent for low-income renters. Folks who are willing to work with this cooperative can help provide shelter for someone in need and make up to $500 per month.

These backyard structures are considered ADUs (or accessory dwelling units) and OBY House determines whether or not a prospect’s backyard is suitable and handles the necessary permit dealings. For simplicity’s sake, there is one floor plan, which is a four-cornered, 625 square-foot, single-story home with a living and dining area, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a shared bathroom. In addition to overseeing construction from start to finish, OBY House screens potential tenants, helps move them in, and handles any maintenance or repairs.

OBY House is also committed to carbon reduction when it comes to the production process, materials used, and the end result. The co-op’s goal is to have a net positive impact on the environment through the use of solar paneling, salvaged lumber, superinsulation, and other innovative practices.

Mustard Seed Tiny Homes

Clint and Haley Gooch met in 2010 doing global mission work. They stayed in places like Nepal and Haiti, which made them reevaluate the value of material possessions and realize the benefits of simpler living. Predicated on a vast worldview, where community and culture supersede status and consumerism, the couple founded Mustard Seed Tiny Homes in 2016.

In addition to simply helping people “go tiny,” Mustard Seed Tiny Homes gives a portion of its profits towards helping those in need both locally and internationally. The organization is locally partnered with Atlanta nonprofit Ground Zero Grace and connected with several organizations abroad, with the common goal of providing housing for the elderly, the disabled, veterans, single moms, and families with illnesses. Anyone who purchases a Mustard Seed Tiny Home is giving a “seed of hope” to someone in need.

Mustard Seed Tiny Homes builds modular, park model, and THOWs (tiny homes on wheels) tiny houses, although THOW building is currently on hold due to high demand for the former. The company’s largest model is about 400 square feet and costs about $230 per square foot.

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