December 4, 2012

Great Ideas

tiny house

By Stew MacInnes

My name is Stew MacInnes, founder and CEO of Maximus Extreme Living Solutions. My company builds self-contained living units. Self-contained living units (as we see them) are tiny homes that are permanently affixed to a mobile steel platform and are designed to have the hell kicked out of them time and time again and keep coming back for more!

In all seriousness, we originally designed our homes to withstand the extreme rigors that are associated with the exploration and extraction of domestic energy. We designed our homes to withstand the weather conditions and terrain of the oil fields located in Alaska and North Dakota. We figured that if our homes could handle those conditions, then they could withstand a weekend jaunt to Yosemite.

One of our core values is to continually seek out “Great Ideas” to incorporate into our ever evolving product. It doesn’t matter to us where we find the “Great Idea” – the goal is simply to find them!

For instance, the whole concept of a Tiny Home is a great idea in and of itself. Tiny Homes have a low energy profile, are relatively inexpensive to build, relatively easy to operate and are highly functional. We have found a number of “Great Ideas” that we have incorporated into the production of our homes. We utilize SIP’s (Structural Insulated Panels) in all of our wall, roof, and floor systems; which make our homes incredibly energy efficient and safe. We have elected to install either composting or incinerating toilets in all of our homes; the toilets have a zero load factor on any municipality. We also use either commercial grade metal roofs or a synthetic roof system, with the brand name of GACO, both of which have fifty year warranties. We believe that our “Great Idea” is that we have taken the back yard Tiny Home concept and transformed it into a high performance industrial application. We assemble the best residential and commercial construction products and then incorporate them into our units. By incorporating the best residential and commercial grade products into our units; we can confidently offer a product that can perform at an equally high level in either an industrial or recreational setting.

living area tiny house

“Great Ideas” are fine and, as I mentioned earlier, we feel our “Great Idea” is our ability to identify other “Great Ideas” and assemble them into our final product; but “Great Ideas” alone are simply not enough.

“Great Ideas” by their very nature are transient. An idea must evolve from mere synapses to that of motion and matter. Work provides an idea with breath; sweat becomes the blood that courses through an idea’s veins. An idea by its very nature yearns to break the bonds of grey matter and dwell in the world of absolutes. An idea without work will simply fade away.

loft tiny house

My personal theories regarding ideas have evolved over the past twenty one year’s, largely because of my involvement in business or more specifically the business of real estate sales. I have learned that the person with the best idea is the one who actually can get that idea to market. Their idea may not be the most glamorous idea, the most innovative idea or the idea that holds the most potential profit; however the person who can transform an idea from thought to product and from product to market ultimately possesses THE “best” idea! During my own limited involvement (to date) in the Tiny Home market, I have found more validation for my ever evolving theories on “Great Ideas.” Having spent more than a year researching the Tiny Home genre, culture and marketplace I have found that there are and has been incredible people who have delved into the world of tiny homes. I have seen great design work, incredible craftsmanship, really cool web-sites, and the list goes on and on. Yet during that same length of time I have seen the all too familiar patterns of “Stew’s Idea Theory” play out to their logical conclusions; some good, some not so good.

living area and loft tiny house

In researching a project this past week, I found myself going through my favorites tab on my computer to revisit some really cool Tiny Home sites; but I found that a significant number of those sites were either abandoned, inactive, or completely dead. I was sad for those folks, because I know the emotional capital required to venture into the world of entrepreneurship. I’m sure that many of those folks hated to see their “Great Ideas” just fall by the way side. I too, have been the victim of failed “Great Ideas” many-a-time throughout the course of my life. The level of remorse one experiences due to their failure is often in direct proportion to their level of emotional vesting in their particular project or idea. IE, if you’re all in and fail…it hurts like hell!

tiny houses by maximus extreme

I know that there certainly no guarantees to ensure the ultimate success of Maximus Extreme Living Solutions; however there are quantifiable steps that can be taken to better the odds of our success. As I looked for those above mentioned (MIA) web-sites earlier this week, coupled with my own Tiny Home research over the past year, it appears as though there are specific challenges faced by our industry that have already claimed a good number of folks and their own respective “Great Ideas.”

caboose tiny house

From what I have found it appears as though the issue of finance is a huge obstacle. Obviously start-up capital in this market is as dry as a bone. A weak pool of venture capital coupled with the fact that the Tiny Home movement (by its very nature) has a built-in novelty factor and a relative lack of market longevity; which tends to make a difficult situation even more challenging. However, it appears to me that the start-up financing or capital is a secondary issue in the grand scheme of things. The bigger issue is the financing for the end user! I have read countless blogs of both Tiny Home advocates/wanna-be consumers and Park Model enthusiast alike, bemoaning the lack of financing of any sort! The reality is that there isn’t a complete lack of available financing; one just has to embrace their inner Sherlock Holmes to find it. There are fewer and fewer financing options and outlets that are willing to provide financing for an end user that is interested in purchasing a Tiny Home.

sink tiny caboose house

As the Tiny Home movement continues to evolve, we have seen the construction of Tiny Homes gravitate from the (do it yourselfer) and (garage band builder) to the individual and/or company that has realized that there is a viable consumer base. The Tiny Home movement is starting to become commercialized. Purists of the movement shouldn’t fret, they should be flattered. Their efforts have brought the light of day to a product that is transformative by its very nature. The Tiny Home movement is a great housing alternative; it’s also an affordable alternative for a large number of people! There-in lies the rub, the Tiny Home is only relatively affordable. If one cannot successfully gain financing then the entire economic chain breaks, thus killing many a “Great Idea” and company alike along the way.

So my own observation is that it is of paramount importance to find viable financing options to move the movement forward on every level. Whether one is the garage band builder…with all due respect or a classic profiteer, financing is the key. We (MAX E.L.S.) are fortunate because we have found the missing link or ingredient so to speak!! We DO have fantastic financing options for our customers. We have found several lenders that are excited about the prospect of lending in our particular industry. They can offer great rates; great terms and in many cases allow for a zero down option! Our financing vendors are committed to breaking down the finance barrier that has existed in our industry since its inception, thus opening the door for the general public to the Tiny Home movement in ways that weren’t possible just a short time ago!

entry tiny caboose house

For our company the steps that we can and will take to (hopefully) keep us alive and kicking for an extended period of time is the following: we will always strive to seek and more importantly implement “Great Ideas.” We will provide the highest quality workmanship and product in every project that we undertake. We will under-commit and over-deliver. We will strive to put the needs of the customer first. And lastly, we will always strive to be people of our word!

As I mentioned earlier, I love “Great Ideas” and I don’t care where I find them, the above “steps that we can take” aren’t germane to Stew MacInnes, they are just “Great Ideas” that have been around forever. Core value kind of stuff…it never really goes out of style. I don’t need to re-invent the wheel to make a great company; I just need Great People who love “Great Ideas!”

“Ideas are a capital that bears interest only in the hands of talent” Antoine Rivarol (1753-1801) French writer and epigrammatist.

ladder to bunks in caboose

windows of caboose

windows on caboose

ladder outside of caboose

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Mike - December 4, 2012 Reply

Ya know, Kent – This article is pretty much antithetical to the Tiny House movement.

Bad enough someone brags about using all the ideas other folks worked hard on to make “big money”, but then derides us because we’re not providing him with enough good ideas to steal.

And then the article devolves into a sales pitch. You should label this one as advertising – although I could think of a few more adjectives.

    FelixWright - December 4, 2012 Reply

    No it isn’t. It’s an article about tiny, mobile homes made by a particular company. A company, like, say, Tumbleweed.

    Where does anyone get the idea that those who live in small abodes has to have a similar aesthetic, a similar economic outlook, as similar anything.

    A highly disparate range of people have lived in small mobile abodes since cavemen decided to take their act on the road. Hill folk, sodbusters, Lakota Indians, Mongols, Scottish crofters, Airstreamers, the denizens of trailer courts, etc., have all lived happy, VERY DIFFERENT lives in small homes.

    Choosing to live in a tiny space has nothing to do with conformity to a given, monolithic standard.

      Mike - December 4, 2012 Reply

      But it IS. The charm of the Tiny House movement is the initiative and design sense of the individual and the creative expression.

      If you want a manufactured home with sketchy aesthetics, there’s plenty of park models lined up along the frontage road.

      Additionally, I find the mindset of the advertisement pretty offensive in a used car salesman sort of way.

        FelixWright - December 4, 2012 Reply

        I personally prefer the quirky, eccentric houses often featured on this site. The kind of stuff that draws the ire of the building code commandos who torpedo those threads. These units don’t really interest me very much, but they do look like good practical examples of small mobile homes that would adequately suit and even please the souls of oif field employees. I think there is room for both.

        molly - December 4, 2012 Reply

        Mike, that’s what YOU find charming about tiny houses. I know lots of other people do too, but plenty of people are drawn to them for different reasons.

        There is no one definition of what tiny houses mean to people, because they mean different things to different people. Just like there is no one type of person who likes them. You seem to be very clear about what you like about them. However, you cannot define what other people like for them.

          Laura R. - December 4, 2012 Reply

          The house looks great except for all the conduit running on the inside. Kind of spoils the looks.

Jennifer - December 4, 2012 Reply

I have a great idea. How about a little humility. This post really tuned me off. I love the camaraderie other tiny house community. This company doesn’t seem the fit that niche.

    FelixWright - December 4, 2012 Reply

    I’m sure there is a lot of camaraderie between the workers living in temporary housing.

      alice h - December 4, 2012 Reply

      Don’t count on it! Camp can be worse than high school.

        Rick - December 4, 2012 Reply

        So you think these work sites are full of loners who are incapable of bonding with their fellows, sitting alone muttering to themselves as they cry into their feculent pillows?

        I’m guessing these camps are full of manly blather and brotherly rotomontades, spirited male bonding, carousing, drinking, comparing firearms, belching…. You or I might not want to be within miles of these sausage fests, but I bet they have some fun in their own ghastly little way.

Jennifer - December 4, 2012 Reply

*of the

Niall - December 4, 2012 Reply

I see no original ideas here…

    Norman - December 4, 2012 Reply

    Agreed.
    “I don’t need to re-invent the wheel to make a great company; I just need Great People who love “Great Ideas!””? Why not have a “Great Idea” or two of your own?

Mike - December 4, 2012 Reply

Anyone notice how SIP’s prevent internal wiring? Nice wood, ugly external wire conduits!

    ginger - December 4, 2012 Reply

    I totally agree! Even with external wiring, couldn’t it have been done in a cleaner way? It’s all I notice when I look at the interior.

      Abel Zyl Zimmerman - December 5, 2012 Reply

      Conduit IS functional, and reconfigurable. Good for oil fields, and similar.

      I have a few tricks to get it looking better in SIPs… but don’t want to bore you guys. (hint)

        brian z - December 6, 2012 Reply

        The easiest way I have found to run electrical chases in SIPS is to get a 1″ steel ball like a PinBall. Mark the edge of the SIP where the run needs to be made. Hold the ball with tongs as you heat it with a blow torch. Then, simply set the ball on the styrofoam core and let gravity pull the ball through. Works like a charm.

    Denton - December 5, 2012 Reply

    The author said the product was initially designed for customers in domestic energy extraction. Some folks may not prefer exposed conduit for their living space even if they are in an industrial setting. It would look better to conceal the wiring in chases or within the SIPs where possible. In his second edition book “The Timber-Frame Home – Design, Construction, Finishing”, Tedd Benson describes and gives detailed sketches of several options for running wire through and around SIPs. For example, Mr. Benson shows an extended baseboard wire chase that contains the wire, can be used to mount receptacles, and also is part of the finish carpentry. These may be ideas to implement.

liz goertz - December 4, 2012 Reply

I think this guy is excited about what he is doing, and has some good points about financing and industry. I like both examples from the outside, but they don’t appear to have chosen the best ideas for internal lay out. To me they look a bit sterile and bunk house like. It could be that the conduit plays a part.
I recommend that the author live in them for a while to see how the space both works and feels.
And by the way, I have seen many posts on here that would fall under advertising.

    FelixWright - December 4, 2012 Reply

    I got the impression that these homes are tailored to the needs of oil production workers. My guess is that a spartan, industrial temporary home would probably not perturb them at all. Some times all one needs is a place to flop.

      Mike - December 4, 2012 Reply

      Then he needs to market to the oil field workers.

        FelixWright - December 4, 2012 Reply

        I thought he was.

        Andy - December 4, 2012 Reply

        What luck. I’m an oil field worker, and follower of this blog since 2007.

        While the purists may sniff at the thought of commercialism, the author is addressing a real need. I haven’t looked into the details, but if he has truly solved the issue of financing, he has made a significant contribution to the tiny home movement.

Virgil - December 4, 2012 Reply

To chime in on the critical side, I agree with what’s been said above about the chutzpah in this post. However, there’s a bigger issue underlying this particular house builder…

Their stated business is building “to withstand the extreme rigors that are associated with the exploration and extraction of domestic energy […] in ND and AK”. In other words, TAR SANDS AND FRACKING!

Any claims about energy efficiency and other environmental benefits of a small house, go straight out the window when you use it to facilitate the mining of what is possibly the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet! If you really care about the environment, stop making houses to that people can dig dirty oil out of tar sands and pollute groundwater with hydraulic fracturing.

    FelixWright - December 4, 2012 Reply

    Do you also object to the small houses and shacks found in mining towns around the world? And of course, you must realize that the same petroleum products are used to power the internet, of which you have just availed yourself?

    Sarai - December 4, 2012 Reply

    Might want to check your facts: we don’t have tar sands or fracking in Alaska.

Jenn - December 4, 2012 Reply

I have to agree that this poster seems a tad arrogant and dismissive of the many quality DYI builders whose projects have been featured at this site. Perhaps this builder needs a remedial course in humility as well as a rethink in the extensive use of metal conduit for power delivery in his homes. Maybe there is a better ‘idea’ for that item as well.

Dan - December 4, 2012 Reply

I check this website religiously every morning because I absolutely love the ideas and concepts people have here and what they freely share to better the Tiny House movement, but this post just struck a cord with me. The resounding message from the VAST majority of posts is the concept of community and the open sharing of ideas related to the idea of living a richer life in a smaller footprint. This post smacks of blatant commercialism and self-righteous egotism. Several paragraphs promoting other folk’s “Great Ideas” as something the author is uniquely able to rescue and coalesce into a grand vision, all the while not attributing a single iota of credit to any of the actual pioneers of this movement, just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t see a single “Great Idea” anywhere within your thinly veiled sales pitch, only a remix of the brilliance of others without issuing them credit.

    Rick - December 4, 2012 Reply

    I like this site too. In it’s entirety, from homemade to commercially made dwellings.

    The problem is that the “pioneers” of tiny living lived in tiny fixed and rolling homes long before the “pioneers of the tiny house movement” were born. Many commentators on this site disparage or try to distinguish themselves from these people. Proponents of the “tiny house movement” are often highly critical of those who live in tiny houses that do not meet with their middle class conformist ideals, like, say, many hill folk of the American south who live in cabins and shacks. We all stand on the shoulders of previous generations without giving due credit.

    Mike - December 4, 2012 Reply

    Spot on, Dan.

Em - December 4, 2012 Reply

I don’t care if something is an ad or promotional for their business. Doesn’t bother me a bit. I was happy to learn of Tumbleweed, for instance. If it’s a business and not some individual, I do feel free to say what I think of it, though, if I don’t like it.

I’m not crazy about these. They’re a bit sterile. It’s partly the materials, I think. Partly not enough windows for me. I guess they’re not quite quirky enough. I love the quirk. 🙂

Sabra Marcroft - December 4, 2012 Reply

I wonder if it would be possible to start some sort of tiny house investment pool,club or fund? You could fundraise to get together the initial capital and contract with a credit union to administer.
Conduit…Being able to get to the wiring without tearing up the walls is so smart. I’ve seen channels and ports in walls covered with baseboard or other moulding designed to be removable. No ugly conduit.

Paulette - December 4, 2012 Reply

Read this post first thing every morning and was disappointed by the lack of charm and quaintness that I am used to seeing in the buildings. I felt the tone arrogant and the CEO liked the sound of his own voice a little too much. Could you shorten it in the future and let us read the sales pitch on the company’s website?

Stuart - December 4, 2012 Reply

I actually quite like this guy…

I don’t care that they are used in oil fields, I certainly wouldn’t tell him to stop because they are, I trust no one drives a ford/chevy/dodge/toyota etc? all companies that produce vehicles used in mining…

And it does’t bother me that he wants to make money, are we to assume that all these small independent companies are doing it out of the good of their heart? I’m sure they want to make enough to live on, to have a nice time with family and the likes that come from having a disposable income.

I agree that the exposed conduit might not suit some, perhaps re-route it, I don’t like the yellow color either but I don’t love every house posted here.

But he is right in the fact that financing for homes like these is hard if not impossible, he has secured lines of credit which is more than others.

For tiny houses to become a valid option, they need to be affordable to all, not just the people who can put them as a guest room in the yard of their house. I am changing my lifestyle because I want to own a small piece of land with a tiny house on it, I understand that I may need a huge deposit to buy land, then save and build the house as I can afford it, or be very lucky and find a bank willing to give me a construction loan. a financed option may solve the renting while building issue.

Bryan - December 4, 2012 Reply

I suspect the author finished typing this, proclaimed “Boom! Nailed it,” swatted his secretary on the bottom, and headed out to knock back some brewskis with his frat brothers.

I’ll come back later and look at the pictures alone when the bad taste in my mouth has subsided.

    Mike - December 4, 2012 Reply

    I had the same mental picture. You can bet there was no marketing director involved in THAT piece.

    Jennifer - December 4, 2012 Reply

    lol, Best comment of the day!

    stpauligirl - December 4, 2012 Reply

    Exactly! I’m not sure I could have verbalized the general yuckiness I felt after reading that – but I think Bryan hit it on the head.

Stacie - December 4, 2012 Reply

Wowza! I too am an avid reader of all the current tiny house movements. I am seeing more and more hate within a group of like minded people and it makes me sad. This posting is certainly wordy, but there are some good points. And not all housing is meant to be like the others. I know while in Afghanistan I would have loved on of these. LOL I also don’t mind the electrical conduit being visible. I actually kind of like it… As for who the customer base is, that really isn’t our business. Our issues are with the companies doing the drilling. So maybe can we find some peace here? We can avoid buying from businesses we don’t support right? (Me, I want cheap and simple not fancy and costly for my 160 sq feet….) 🙂

Solar Bozo - December 4, 2012 Reply

I am not impressed, with either the design, the implementation, or the craftsmanship. Nothing much to be proud of here.

To me, it looks like someone with little craftsmanship or common sense was handed a pile of money and told to build it.

    DeWhit - December 8, 2012 Reply

    EXACTLY !

    An individual from the money side of real estate is taking whatever he can find and slapping some “systems” in it and trying to figure out the marketing angle and sales points on something that isn’t even remotely qualified for it’s purpose.

    When you work from labor camps…the housing you furnish is a tool to help you as a contractor make the most cash and keep the most cash you can to be able to put into your HOME elsewhere.

    Whoever is paying the housing bills wants cheap and maintenance free housing that enables the work to move forward. Call Bechtel Engineering and try to sell this. Try to just get an appointment to sell this to them.

    I can guarantee you that the powers that be within industries that use on site worker housing are not even remotely considering this. A serious individual contractor will not consider this.
    I don’t want cute and crafty. I want something that makes me money to take away to the place where I can have asthetics and looks and total comfort in my HOME.

    Every pickup truck mfg. and tool mfg. wants you to think that their product is the standard for “industry workers” and “heavy duty’ and you will reap that benefit as a ordinary joe coming and going with their product. Same here.

    This is just some financial guys jumping in that hope that it will draw enough sales so someone else will come buy the company as an investment in a possible emerging product market.

    You can’t sell a cure until you invent a disease.

alice h - December 4, 2012 Reply

From a purely practical point of view nice wood interiors are not going to stand up well to the intense wear and tear of camp life if these units are company owned and house a constant rotation. People will be clomping in and out with dirty clothes, heavy boots, clanking tools and whatnot even if they have another place to clean up and change first. If owned by an individual who will take care of it that’s a different story. Some workers will appreciate having a nicer place to stay, some won’t.

Financing will always be an issue and if some of the ideas referred to help somebody that’s great. Best to research all options. Just make sure you read the fine print!

Mike - December 4, 2012 Reply

Disclaimer:

Felix Wright works for Stew MacInnes.

    FelixWright - December 4, 2012 Reply

    No, Felix Wright is not an employee of this company. In fact, Felix and Rick are the same person. I changed machines and didn’t remember my original nom de plume. Aesthetics are like opinions, everybody has a different idea of what is best, or what they consider to be acceptable. People who are overly concerned with, or feel the need to pass judgement on the aesthetic decisions of others, generally make the worst, troublesome neighbors. Some of my favorite designs have come from Jenine (sp), but just because I prefer a different style doesn’t make me inclined to criticize the work of others.

    molly - December 4, 2012 Reply

    Mike, why would you write that? Are you trying to insult someone or start a fight? I really don’t get it.

GLENN - December 4, 2012 Reply

SO what is the price of one, did any body find out????

    Mike - December 4, 2012 Reply

    For such a gabby article, there’s no mention. And when you follow the link to the site there’s STILL no mention, but you DO get to give up all your personal information so they can pitch it to you without benefit of alternative options.

    If I had to guess, I’d say north of $40K.

    p.s. Their newsletter is called The Frackhouse.

    cheryl spelts - December 4, 2012 Reply

    The author addressed price somewhat in a comment on another blog… “We can and do allow for complete customization…..which can see prices range from the mid $30?s to $100+.”
    http://www.tinyhousetalk.com/tiny-houses-on-steroids/

Dave - December 4, 2012 Reply

As others have weighed in on this post, I too feel compelled to respond. The tone of CEO MacInnes was brash and unpolished. This cavalier pitch may go over well with men desperate for shelter in the oil fields but probably not with your average tinyhouseblog reader. When Tammy and Logan or Dee respond they come from a place of sincerity… they talk the talk then walk the walk. MacInnes’ means to an end undercurrent belies a true lack of credibility. He sounds one step away from a Hummer and 2800 square feet.

    Ron - December 4, 2012 Reply

    “He sounds one step away from a Hummer and 2800 square feet.”

    What a huge and unkind assumption. He’s not one of us so he must be the exact opposite.

Bob - December 4, 2012 Reply

I’m going to guess that the purpose of the exposed conduit is to allow the walls to be completely insulated. If you bury the conduit in the walls, the insulation in those places must be correspondingly thinner.
Plus the exposed conduit allows for more flexibility in layout after the walls go up.

Greg - December 4, 2012 Reply

Wow, Some hateful people out there. It seems to me Stew is saying that usually any product starts with one idea, its when you take the idea and expand it and make it work, is when it becomes a great idea. Who cares, hes like anyone else building something for someone. Trying to make some money and provide a service. I don’t like everything he did, but he has many good features. I like the red house and think they look really well built. I don’t see how someone could say from looking at these pics that it does not look sound. Im more of an optimist though, I guess I see the glass half full. Personally I would really like to try one of these and see how they operate.

handyhusband01 - December 4, 2012 Reply

Surface wiring detracts and shows a lack of prior planning in the design. Otherwise same old thing – caboose on wheels.

stpauligirl - December 4, 2012 Reply

Ew.

Greg - December 4, 2012 Reply

Ya,I constantly see cabooses crusing down the road. Just coming back from lunch today I almost got ran over by a caboose. Their like Hummers, There everywhere. 🙂

cheryl spelts - December 4, 2012 Reply

i’m not troubled by his tone-he didn’t tailor his pitch to this audience, but whatever…

Couple of thoughts! One, neither of these designs look like a house – they feel more like a caboose on wheels – which will definitely appeal to some people – but not to anyone who wants a house that looks like a house, just smaller and on wheels.

And two, a huge percentage of people are drawn to these houses because they like the idea of building their own.

So while i agree that a company that can provide financing is a brilliant big idea, if this company really wants to find big time success in this market, I think they need to consider hiring an artist to cleanup their current designs – aesthetics are important! And they should consider branching out into design that look like real houses.

Seriously Stew? I’d suggest you go hire someone like Jay Shafer. You said you were mezmorized by his designs – there’s a reason for that! If you could offer a tiny house that was brilliantly designed, with financing? THAT would be a big idea.

Debra - December 4, 2012 Reply

I am a bit late weighing in…..I like it. I like the galvanized metal, and the conduit. If it were mine, I would go all the way with the industrial feel with lighting, and steel shelving. Love the shower.

Hang in there. There is interest in this type product, a lot of your success will be all in the price point.

ginger - December 4, 2012 Reply

I have to admit, I spent more time reading the comments then the article. I didn’t really read the article, after the first couple of paragraphs I simply lost interest in what he had to say.

That said – I did closely look at the pictures. I’m all about the pictures. I liked the exteriors and really liked the bunk beds. Hated the exposed wiring.

On an aside – what is the attraction to the wood clad interior?! It almost seems like a given in the tiny home community. I don’t mind it as a detail – ceiling, feature wall, etc – but everywhere? How do people find it that live with it? Personally, I like to paint my walls.

I also really disliked the picture quality – I would have loved to see these houses actually outside and photographed with natural light. At night, in a warehouse – really doesn’t bring any justice to those windows or the other details.

Miranda - December 4, 2012 Reply

As someone who has long enjoyed the movement of the ‘tiny house’, but is a fairly new reader of this blog, I’ve never been so turned off by a comment section. I’ve thought of the tiny house movement as one that embraces simpler, smaller, more efficient living. This article discussed that – if not in a way you may have liked.

I found the product offered to fit the stated purpose according to the author. Just because it may not fit your aestetics of what you think a tiny house could be, it’s a tiny house for someone who likely would be quite happy with it.

Personally I found the information about the struggles to get financing and the high rate of business failure among the entrepreneurs of this movement interesting and informative – maybe you knew that information, but don’t assume all of us do.

I always assumed due to the nature of seeing things from a different perspective, the followers of the TH movement would be more openminded and while you may not agree – or even like this article, I never expected the ignorance and vitrolic nature of some of the comments posted above. Perhaps I just need to move along to another blog.

joannemaillet - December 4, 2012 Reply

I enjoy all tiny house articles. I just found the author used “Great Ideas” way too much.

Bobbi M - December 4, 2012 Reply

I agree with Miranda- I’m surprised at the hatred lacing some of these comments. I’ve been a fairly consistent follower of the Tiny House blog, and am actually ashamed of some of the people’s comments in a community that I am typically proud to be a part of. The article is written from a marketing plan perspective, as though he is trying to sell his idea to businessmen or women; maybe not perfectly tailored to “against-convention” folks, but definitely caters to a significant section of society. I found his article very informative, and think it’s wonderful that he is putting together ideas from several areas of the tiny house community- something which we typically pride ourselves on- community and sharing ideas. He never claimed that they were his idea, only that he had pulled from the ideas of the greater community to cater to a different section. And different isn’t bad…it’s just different. It’s too bad that some commenters are so “open-minded” that their brains are leaking out.

TJ - December 4, 2012 Reply

Lots of hot air in this article,but I do like these tiny homes. First time I’ve seen SIPs used in towable tiny homes. Great idea. Electrical chases can be routed out of the foam inner core, at the SIPs factory, before the top layer of OSB is glued in place.Also,as seen on a This Old House episode, a steel ball is heated with a torch and dropped down the foam core of the panel and it comes out the bottom;melting a perfect chase to run wiring. Very cool!

steve dogtownrunner - December 4, 2012 Reply

bottom line this guy was arrogant and turned me off. he has a handle on many of the issues in our community, but he isn’t really bringing anything new to the discussion. yes very commercial and that is ok, but he didn’t present it very well. marketing is about connecting with your target audience, if you piss half or more of them off, it doesn’t matter how good your recycled ideas are you will lose.

cheryl spelts - December 4, 2012 Reply

Hatred is way too strong a word.

Spirited discussion is a good thing. Nothing wrong with dissenting opinions. just the fact that the topic is generating so much discussion means there is interest, and that’s a good thing for any business. Maybe some good will come of it!

Brandon - December 4, 2012 Reply

Wow. Just wow. This is an incredible site and incredible movement and to have people saying things like, I’m not impressed, and I can do better and he said this that way and I don’t like how he did this, and he’s trying to advertise and make money, oh no! It is all kind of silly. I love the tiny house movement and good on this company and all other companies for advertising, thinking, building, trying, making a stand and saying we can live smaller and simpler. I don’t care how he markets. This company will change lives like it or not for some of you “elite tiny housers” or whatever is going on here. Tiny houses are awesome and necessary. And people are people.
I can’t wait to build and own my own tiny home. Anyone capable of this is a good person. Lay off.

Chris - December 5, 2012 Reply

You may be giving him too much credit for arrogance. His post was odd and almost sounded like mentally challenged person’s rant with some marketing thrown in. This idea does have it’s place and I do believe with the right mix of people, financing can and should happen, but I’m not so sure I really believe he has secured it.

    Greg - December 6, 2012 Reply

    I guess everyone is entiled to his own opinion. I know Stew and your absolutely wrong. He is very smart and you calling him names is out of line. Maybe the article came off wrong but he has worked very hard on this project and didn’t have a pot of money handed to him. Hes trying to make a living and try to supply a need to a niche market. It is nice to see peoples feedback. (constructive feedback)!

Angie - December 5, 2012 Reply

I like the yellow caboose configuration – with those 3 center windows and the ladder on the side. Of course, you’d have to be quirky to like a home that bright – works for me.

Gene Wallen - December 5, 2012 Reply

The way to get tiny house financing and insurance is to build it to RVIA specifications, get a RVIA inspection and display the RVIA sticker.Provide a DOT approved vehicle and certificate of origin and serial number.

Scott Gordon - December 5, 2012 Reply

I watched the red home being built from the frailer up. This is a prototype and we had a hard time channeling out for the wiring thus the conduit, not perfect for sure but when building something for the first time with new materials there is a lot of give and take.
Many people are not in the position to buy plans and build their own tiny home. Many people don’t have the tools, know how, or a place to build their own. Many people don’t have the upfront cash to buy a trailer and all the materials to build their own. Stew is trying to fill a gap in this movement and most of the posters here are burning him down for a few design decision and because he is not an eloquent writer.
Be nice – Scott

    joe chipman - December 5, 2012 Reply

    The yellow caboose model is is simply stunning. Beautiful exterior fit and finish and the ladder rungs really set off the train caboose look perfectly.The Interior Seating, bunk beds, sheeting and trim look simple, neat and very professional. Beautiful work, this is the kind of fit and finish that most tiny house people dream of.

    Now being a electrician myself, wiring a tiny house with 1/2″ emt conduit detracts from the natural beauty of the wood and the wonderful interior design. Have you considered consulting with a local electrician specializing in wiring log homes. I believe you could easily find a way to nicely hide all those wires with the right electrical contractor.

    good luck on your new business venture.

    Joe Chipman
    Hermit DeLuxe

    Devon - December 8, 2012 Reply

    So far as I know, they are the only company who can offer custom designs AND financing with sometimes zero % down. That is huge to older folks like us. I don’t really care for the conduit either, but you can customize these places, so I’m going to go ahead and think that you could probably get them wired yourself in the way you wish? My own personal favorite is the little cottage built for this blogger:
    http://www.320squarefoothome.com/
    so if I could get something like that built with SIPs = awesomeness! Truly, the financing is the icing on the cake, and you don’t see many people mentioning that they can offer it!

Bob - December 5, 2012 Reply

Great Looking, But the conduit kills it .

DJ - December 6, 2012 Reply

I’m a bit late on this discussion but the tenor of the article was a huge turn off. I would support any Small Business with the right focus and fundamentals. I’m very skeptical about this one.

Every business has a pitch or marketing angle. Clearly, the owner of this shop had the time to reflect on what he wanted his message to convey. Substance and quality matters but people generally do business with people they life. This person just doesn’t come across as very likable. It’s important for many reasons: flexibility, communications, contract, deadlines, etc.

My recommendation: approach at your own risk. This is tip of the iceberg stuff.

alice h - December 6, 2012 Reply

There’s an interview with this guy over on Tiny House Talk, sounds a lot better and makes more sense. http://www.tinyhousetalk.com/

11 Tiny Houses With Huge Style | WebUrbanist - December 7, 2012 Reply

[…] via tinyhouseblog, tinyhouseblog, tinyhouseblog, […]

Cat - December 7, 2012 Reply

It seems to me that some people here are missing the real point of tiny homes – to get away from debt and having mega-mortgages that stretch on for decades. Tiny houses are a great solution to affordable housing, and not having to pay 30 to 40% of your income for living (mortgage, rent, utilites, taxes, etc.). The people who are commenting on how this article/company is not what the Small House Movement is about seem to be “playing house” to me. I am glad the Small House Movement is getting attention from building companies and even financiers, because only then will it become more accessible to those of us who can’t build our own due to age, lack of help and/or skills. And for those who think these small houses are their idea, pleasssse… Most people on the planet live in very small houses, it’s just us glutenous Americans who live in McMansions.

Gabriel - December 7, 2012 Reply

I have to admit that I’m among many who may find those exposed conduits as pure eyesores, but there is always a way around it: First, the design is more flexible and you don’t have to compromise insulation and wall integrity. The second issue is doing internal design your own work: A carefully placed furniture item may hide the conduits. You may also integrate them in the design, providing there are not too curvy (or else over-simplifying may give the look of a ship’s engine room or even a hospital, God forbid…)

I would not place the double-decker bed in a passageway so close to the sink and would definitely paint the house with a color other than yellow!!!

-billS - December 8, 2012 Reply

The only thing that offends me is his overuse of the word “idea” What I think has most people upset here is the common interest they have with a true capitalist. While for completely different reasons, two equally different sub-cultures collide and find themselves on common ground. It’s like that awkward moment when you run into that old girlfriend you never told your wife about. You really don’t know what to say until after and then you get all ticked off. If we’ve only learned one thing from the tabloids or Jersey Shore, press is press people. Keep the subject on our minds and we promote whatever in the ad-space in between. I have to admit, SIP’s is wonderful, the metal roof perfect, the option of compost or incinerating toilet over the top. Sure the conduit’s exposed, but have you ever seen the inside of a college students apartment? Their tough on sh!t this guys fits the need. Breath, take a moment, and enjoy pictures of a few tiny houses. That’s how I spend my time drinking coffee on the weekends. Good Day People!

Sami Noor - December 8, 2012 Reply

Hi,

I own a lot on Mt. washington, LA County, and want
to build a small place on it.
I would appreciated if your company could get the job done, or give some other tip on how
to proceed.
I need a “Turn Key” type of project.
Thanks

Sami

Hank - December 8, 2012 Reply

A HOUSE WITH WHEELS IS A TRAILER AND LOTS OF COMPANIES MAKE THEM. THEY ARE NOT TINY HOUSES NO MATTER WHAT YOU THINK.

Marilyn - December 8, 2012 Reply

I’ve been enjoying Tiny House Blog for some time. I live on a boat and do some freelance writing for a hobby, sometimes re. the “simplicity movement”.

I was a little surprised to see the author ‘jumped on a bit heavily’. I started reading this piece and it kept my interest to the end. I was aware quickly that it had some “commercial promotion” aspect to it but that didn’t seem “in your face”. The author is a good writer, using great turns of phrases, quotes, etc. and worked to craft his article around his personal philosophy. I enjoyed reading the piece for the writing. I learned some things re. the state of financing (not an aspect of this topic usually of interest to me, not many articles on finance use phrases like… using your “inner Sherlock Holmes”). I “got” pretty quickly that his designs originated from use in some pretty tough environments and were probably appreciated more for durability than design. They were more thoughtful, though, than the ‘acres of trailers’ I remember being moved into the Rawlins, WY area in the mid 1970’s for the coal gasification workers and families. I passed the article on to a friend who is refitting, with a composting toilet, the Tugboat on which she lives. His reference to composting toilets reminded me of her and that she’d probably like this blog.

I don’t know this guy and guess I was spurred to comment for the first times here to make a statement that I appreciated that this person put some thought into the article, put his fingers to keyboard and then ‘sent the sucker’ to the blog enabling, at least me, to enjoy some writing and learn some things. I am new here but I’d like to hear even more about personal philosophies that spur you all toward your interest here.

Jim - December 8, 2012 Reply

About this company: I don’t care one way or the other, I’m not heading for any oilfield. About the protective comments regarding Tumbleweed Tiny Houses: I like their houses, but there is absolutely NOTHING original or new about THEIR idea. Look at the first days of the automobile (1920’s) and you will find the original “Tumbleweed” houses. I would think most people already know that anyway.

DeWhit - December 8, 2012 Reply

I see nothing new here.

It reads to me as a investment glossy for funds.

Actually it would have been a fine posting and showing of someones work and project EXCEPT that it seemed to be more of an explanation of the trials and tribulations of someone’s financial dreams that should be featured in Entrepreneur Magazine.

The thrust here should be to downsize the financial impact of the users rather than elevate the check books of the marketer.

I should just refrain and start a site dedicated to “Anything Slapped On A Lightweight Trailer Frame.”

DeWhit - December 8, 2012 Reply

I read again.

Stew is big on Stew, Founder & CEO

Stew would be a hoot to have around on the job site though. Nothing better than framing and running siding with some high French commentary and quotes.

Take off the powdered wig and grab your tools and get in the truck Stew !

Nancy Tharpe - December 8, 2012 Reply

Looks to me Stew is a man of vision and accomplishment. He knows his market, and he knows they will pay for his finely-finished product.

Michael - December 8, 2012 Reply

Interesting little home.

I like the way it resembles a train caboose.

Michael - December 8, 2012 Reply

I always wonder how they are in relation to the inertial thrust of turning corners, braking and accelerating while being towed.

Are the frames built with screws or common nails?

I have heard standard homes use nails rather than screws so there can be the slight movement of expanding and contracting with heating and cooling as well as slight movement when the wind blows.
If they use screws, the heads could pop off and weaken the structure when it moves.

Michael - December 8, 2012 Reply

Also, I don’t see much difference (functionally that is) between these tiny homes and the travel trailer type of trailer home or a standard mobile home with the wheels left on them.

If they can be financed, why can’t these?

Karen - December 9, 2012 Reply

Hi! I looked all over your MEL site and found only 1 model featured (#4). Maybe it’s just me, but, I like to know the price of an item offered for sale. Couldn’t find it. Got the annoying feeling this is one of those deals where a sales rep “pre-qualifies” you before you can even find out if there’s anything worth looking at! Much less what it’s going to cost! I don’t think I’m alone in finding that off-putting! Next, no floorplans, and not a helluva lot of discussion about the houses. Where are models 1-3??? But lots of information about financing. Looks like an opportunity for some high interest rates and an over-inflated price tag from the getgo!

MsDawn - December 9, 2012 Reply

Definitely Manly. I think it is kinda ugly. Not warm at all. I prefer the wires be in the wall. I do like the bunks though.

Br. Curt - December 10, 2012 Reply

I really enjoy the one that looks like a caboose. That’s probably because I worked for a railroad for 5 years about 30 years ago. It has a good feel to it. Nice job!

Ray previato - December 14, 2012 Reply

Im planning to buy a lot and to buy 2 tiny houses
Can u help me to choose a small and nice house?

Spudboater - December 14, 2012 Reply

Okay, this was all good and well. But the minute I saw all the conduit run on the walls I was immediately turned off. That doesn’t look professional. It looks like white trash and or an afterthought. My brother has built houses with stress panels which are similar but thicker than the product being used here for walls and you simply cut into them, run the wiring or conduit and plaster or sheet rock over that portion. Or you can run wood over the wall on the interior if you want.

A tiny house bolted to a trailer isn’t much different than a mobile home bolted to a trailer, so I’m surprised to hear folks can’t get financing if they want it. It’s just that moveable housing costs more to finance as it’s harder to “track down” should you default on the loan and they want to foreclose aka reposess your home.

    Robert - December 15, 2012 Reply

    These are built w/ SIP panels. Structurally, you do NOT “… cut into them, run the wiring or conduit and plaster or sheet rock over that portion”. This could seriously weaken the support.

    I completely agree with your readers that the builder/designer is using very old technology with conduit outside the walls and poor design. Most SIP Panel MFG provide through the wall “Conduit Chase” for wire & pipe. Both horizontal & Vertical.

Lester - December 15, 2012 Reply

I really like the exterior design of the yellow caboose house, and I have actually toyed with the idea of possibly (someday) living in a converted caboose. A real caboose is tremendously heavy, though, so Stew’s design could offer a practical alternative.

Regarding the exposed electrical conduit shown in some of the interior photographs, the interiors shown probably are of the industrial type (for oil field workers, etc.), that Stew mentioned in his verbiage. If a company chose to purchase such small homes for its workers (notice the bunk beds), then such a company probably could lower its purchase costs, by economizing on interior wall finishing. Such lowered cost might explain the presence of the exposed electrical conduit.

Lesa Kosteck - December 16, 2012 Reply

I, for one, prefer the conduit.. I prefer the wiring to be contained in a metal pipe rather than through my walls… seems safer (less of a fire hazard, safe from possible rodent damage) … I’ve been through a house fire, so I’m a exceedingly concerned about said subject… I also figure it would make any future repairs/trouble-shooting easier and you wouldn’t have to tear up the wall.. doesn’t hurt that I like seeing “the structure” of a building.. just a personal preference, but thought I’d throw out another spin on it… 😉 me

Victoria Whitcher - December 17, 2012 Reply

I love love these homes. They seem so open without all the built ins. I think it was a great idea to leave the wiring outside. In a simple home it is easy to fix a hole an issue. Not a tiny house! Great JOB

T.J. Bertanzel - December 18, 2012 Reply

I am very interested in your designs I am in the process of selling my micro building A.K.A. 200 year old half building in Hudson N.Y. and I am waiting funds keep in touch . 2129352539 419 1/2 warren street hudson n.y. 12534. T.J.Bertanzel

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