Four Lights Tiny House Company

Tiny House Magazine

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December 11, 2012

Four Lights Tiny House Company

Marie Colvin

Jay Shafer contacted me recently about his new website and new houses he is introducing today. He sent me the following press release to share with you.

Jay Shafer will be unveiling what he calls his, “best tiny houses yet”, at this Tuesday, December 11 at 9:00 am EST. Jay has resigned from his position at Tumbleweed Tiny Houses to form Four Lights Tiny House Company.

When asked why he split with the business he founded in 1999, Jay says, “For some of the same reasons I started designing, building and living in small houses in the first place – for more freedom and more manageability. The message and design philosophy I’d built my original company on had become harder and harder to maintain as the business grew from a one-man operation into what it is today.”

Four Lights will launch by offering Jay’s first-ever unabridged, hands-on building workshop, his plans for a tiny house village (slated for completion in 2015), and a 280 square foot house (including lofts). An additional house will be unveiled every month for the next five months. Jay’s designs for compact furnishings and his system for “design-it-yourself” tiny houses will be released thru on January 31.

You can receive a schedule and reminders of these events by signing up at when it officially launches this Tuesday.

4lights logo

Marmara Long Shot

new napolean

Orcas Bay



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Deek - December 11, 2012 Reply

‘lookin forward to seeing the designs….Jay is not only a very good guy, but very talented and hard working.

DJ - December 11, 2012 Reply

I don’t follow the story. Mr. Shafer just started a new Tiny House company for more “freedom”. This implies flexibility, wiggle room or elbow space away from his former Business Partner. And since he’s still designing and building Tiny Houses, this makes him a direct competitor to his original company Tumbleweeds.

Most people who follow the movement were first exposed to Tiny Homes through Mr. Shafer. His customers bought plans from Tumbleweed in the past because of his designs and how he marketed these homes. That said, is this the end for Tumbleweeds?

    laura - December 11, 2012 Reply

    That is an effect of capitalism. Some people prefer the start-up and entrepreneurship of a new company. Once the company is established they let someone else run the established one while they go start up another one. This is how business has worked (to my understanding at least) for ages. Sometimes people leave because they don’t like their partner, sometimes they don’t even have a business partner and they just leave because they want the adrenaline rush and pace of a new start-up. Starting up a new company also allows one to take an entirely different direction with an idea – which is sometimes easier and less competitive than it would be to make both ideas a part of one company, especially when a particular way of design and marketing is built into a company (pun intended). 🙂
    I doubt this will be the end of Tumbleweeds, tiny houses are a relatively brand new market with many niches to be filled. Jay will just be filling a new one whereas Tumbleweed will continue to fill the niche it always has until there is no more demand for them. 🙂

      DJ - December 11, 2012 Reply


      Thanks for the explanation but if your theory is true, it doesn’t make any sense from a business perspective since both companies are after the same market. This would create redundancies and competition.

      If Jay Shafer had started a new company with an entirely new business plan and product, it would be tenable. But the new company is just a redressing of Tumbleweeds with slight modifications. This tells me the split from Tumbleweeds wasn’t entirely amicable.

      In the business world, companies merge to create hegemony over market share through economies of scale and bottom line efficiency. Two similar Tiny House companies targeting the same exact market isn’t plausible. If that’s the goal, it’s not a good use of resources and human capital

        2kids2cats - December 11, 2012 Reply


        As long as the market can sustain it, competition is good for both the consumer and the company. That is exactly how industries grow. In my industry I know of 4 companies that have formed in the past 5 years from employees or partners breaking off and starting a new company. All are in the same industry and all but one are doing very well. And we all still play together in the same sandbox. Sure there is competition for business, but again, it makes the companies stronger and is better for the customers.

        We can only speculate what Jay is up to, but considering the Tumbleweed website has a link to Jay’s new company there must not be too much animosity. I wish them both well.

          DJ - December 12, 2012 Reply

          I guess it would depend on what Tumbleweeds has planned moving forward to compensate for Mr. Shafer’s defection. If they already have exciting new plans from a team of newly hired Architects, then competition would indeed enhance the market value of these companies. Those who fail to adapt to this changing environment will consequently get weeded out by consumer preference.

          If Tumbleweeds will simply sell old stock plans and offer regional work shops, then this could be problematic.

Walt Barrett - December 12, 2012 Reply

I just want to wish Jay all the best in his new venture. The housing industry is going to undergo many design, size, and material science changes in the coming years and I am sure that Jay is going to be right in the middle of it with his usual style, attention to detail, and quality.
All the best Jay!

Walt Barrett

et - December 12, 2012 Reply

The new houses at Four Lights are beautiful. I wish him all the best for his new company.

Christina - December 12, 2012 Reply

This is pretty big news in the tiny house world and I’m excited to see what happens in terms of pricing and especially with that tiny house community.

Jay needs to hire teen builder Austin Hay to work at Four Lights.

alice h - December 12, 2012 Reply

Oh man, crack me up! Calling the new tiny house community “Napoleon Complex” is brilliant! Ha! Made my day! Seriously though, some nice concepts over at Four Lights, really looking forward to the compact furnishings section.

Jay Shafer - December 12, 2012 Reply

Well, these comments are certainly encouraging. Thank you. Broadly speaking, my defection is mostly due differences between what my ex-partner and I want to see in terms of the message and design philosophy we put out there and the way a business is run. I have a strong sense of what I want to achieve with a tiny house company, and it doesn’t match that of the new Tumbleweed. I hope there’s enough room in the market for all good work to prosper.

Michael D - December 13, 2012 Reply

I love the Napoleon Complex idea as well!

Jay, I think if it takes off you might want to consider franchising the concept along the lines of KOA Campgrounds but as an RV Park for tiny home owners. Set them up with some “transient” lots and people could travel from one complex to another throughout North America.

I for one would seriously consider buying a Napoleon Complex franchise.

Good Luck with the new venture!

Andy - December 13, 2012 Reply

It is common for business partners to split and sometimes it is simply best for all. Creative people like Jay often need a ton of space to create their vision. I look forward to seeing the new designs as his business evolves. All is evolution, nothing remains the same, not even for a moment in time.

Best of Luck, Andy

Abel Zyl Zimmerman - December 13, 2012 Reply

Just a note about ‘changeup’. We seem to live in a world where people are so inundated with media, that something ‘new’ shines much brighter than something ‘familiar’.

It is an honest (but odd) tactic, to keep creating new blogs, websites, and whole businesses… just to keep ‘plugging in’ people.

I am not saying this is what Jay is doing, per se. Just responding to comments above.

That being said, I am feeling very old fashioned and stubborn: and am probably going to stick with my business ’til I’m pushing daisies, Market share be damned.

CoalMinersDaughter - December 14, 2012 Reply

Jay is hot. A new business ain’t the only thing he should unveil.

    Jay Shafer - December 14, 2012 Reply

    At long last! Someone who appreciates me as more than just another pretty mind. Thank you, CMD.

Jeff - December 15, 2012 Reply

Best wishes to this new project! I have been following your stuff for quite a while. Went from an old house of 1300 sf and now living in half that and continue to explore further simplification and smallness. I like the idea of a new approach of using the RV park model. I agree that we are in just the beginning of refashioning new arrangements of living suited to planetary needs. So models such as these are grist for the mill. Plus I also believe that beauty is as much of a requirement as small space and these plans have always done that for my taste. Congratulations on your new endeavor.

Sandra Allen - December 15, 2012 Reply

I think Jay has a very nice mind and all that goes with it. His wife is pretty lucky!

I too had to break with a couple of partners who I got on board and tried to take over. If the relationship can be saved, cool. If not, then I say KUDO’S Jay! You have every right to do with your designs (stellar btw)what you need to do.

As for those who say there isn’t enough room for competition, I say look at how many fast food places there are? There’s not only room, but a need as well.

I will follow your new company as faithfully as I did the old. Both have been and will be welcomed by us all.

Sandi Allen

Christine Ferguson - December 15, 2012 Reply

Sure there’s no harm in having more in the market. Makes for additional discussion and new directions. Best wishes to both. I’m in Spain where police have just started moving motor homes off parking zones to encourage them to move into camping parks (can be up to 45$ a night! or hotels. Mentality of Spanish administration is sadly lacking but it opens the door even more to what I, and some of your TH Blog readers clearly advocate – the lease or purchase of small scale sites(like the British CL sites – no more than 5 parking together) A global network would be an agreeable thing. I for one have space in my garden……have you? An Advocate from Anadlucia!

Christine Ferguson - December 15, 2012 Reply

Ahem..error ….Andalucia….not Anadlucia. See what a glass in hand can do!

Shell - December 16, 2012 Reply

The more on the market, the more attention and hopefully the more serious it’s all taken too. Our country needs to start thinking more simple, it’s going to save us. Best wishes to you, Jay. I will follow both sites for I find this all so facinating.


Makao Bora - December 16, 2012 Reply

My country Kenya is in dire need of such radical ideas that save money and the environment. thank you

Geoffrey - December 17, 2012 Reply

Best of luck to Jay in his new venture. The designs so far look terrific.

Staceyranae - December 25, 2012 Reply

I was so excited and pationate about tiny houses when I lived in tx. I searched for the smallest property in the county. Me and family found what was called a camper lot. They are 50ft wide and 100ft from the rd. I some how convinced my very open minded Uncle to buy two lots . After explaining everything I knew about this tiny house movement (I had done lots of research….) he slowly came to love it as mich as I did! So this is what came of what we like to call magnolia walkup… @ bvtxweb.com_magnolia_walkup ….. I truly enjoyed helping him get this started. Although he has done all hard work, it was a pleasure to be a small part of it.

vicki - September 8, 2014 Reply

Any idea about total cost of finished Marie Colvin on a foundation? I’m in love with it. It’s just the little home I want for a retreat on my farm.

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