Great Ideas

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!

tiny house

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

106 Comments Great Ideas

  1. DeWhit

    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.”

    Reply
  2. DeWhit

    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 !

    Reply
  3. Nancy Tharpe

    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.

    Reply
  4. Michael

    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.

    Reply
  5. Michael

    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?

    Reply
  6. Karen

    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!

    Reply
  7. Br. Curt

    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!

    Reply
  8. Spudboater

    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.

    Reply
    1. Robert

      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.

      Reply
  9. Lester

    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.

    Reply
  10. Lesa Kosteck

    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

    Reply
  11. Victoria Whitcher

    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

    Reply
  12. T.J. Bertanzel

    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

    Reply

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