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November 11, 2010 at 5:42 am #7926AnonymousInactive
Building a green empire, one Tiny House at a time
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Living large in Tiny Houses (photos)
The question is, who exactly would want to live in a house where you can nearly reach your arms from one side to the other?
For Shafer, it’s pretty clear: it’s people who are interested in a simple, green lifestyle. These days, the term "green" is thrown about left and right and often means little, but in the case of Tiny Houses, green living is a direct reflection of a choice to live very efficiently, with the minimum amount of unused space, materials, and energy. "I think that’s the greenest green thing you can do," Shafer says, "buy less."
And that’s an attractive proposition for the hundreds of people who have chosen to adopt Shafer’s way of living: mainly, he says, single and creative types. It’s "folks who want to be doing something else besides paying a mortgage," he says.
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And that’s clearly a huge part of it. Tiny Houses may be small, but they also come with a matching price tag. The company, which started in 2005, sells its homes at prices that seem like they’re from another era: The XS-House, its smallest, comes ready made for just $39,000. And the estimated all-in price for plans, materials, and labor if you wanted to build it yourself is around $16,000–not counting the small patch of land it would need to sit on. Indeed, in this do-it-yourself era, the vast majority of his customers buy the plans and build the houses themselves. He says he actually builds and sells just one or two Tiny Houses a year.
Of course, Shafer does recognize that not everyone is ready to live in a home "smaller than some people’s closets." So while his flagships are his under-100-square-feet models, he also gives a nod to couples, or even small families, that need a bit more space. As such, he currently offers around 20 different models, with another 20 or so in the works, and sizes that go as high as five bedrooms, yet which still take up just 837 square feet.
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