This is not your average California home show.
Some unconventional home builders are showcasing their creations at the California State Fair’s first Tiny House exhibition this weekend.
Lou Pereyra is the owner and principal of Tiny Mountain Houses, a Salem, Oregon-based tiny house builder soon to open a showroom in Roseville. He believes that his small, customizable prefab designs could have big appeal for Californians looking for housing alternatives.
“We have people who are divorcees or widows who are looking for housing options,” said Pereyra, one of the exhibitors at the Tiny House exhibition located in front of the Miller Lite Racetrack Grandstand July 13-15. “They like the idea.”
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But these petite dwellings aren’t the miniature log cabins that you might see on blogs about inspired compact living – although the Mount Everest model, admittedly, does come close. Instead think 14-foot ceilings, expansive windows, wainscoting details and open layouts, all in roughly 300 square feet.
Like a recreational vehicle, Tiny Mountain Homes come on wheels and connect to a full-size truck. Also like an RV, they don’t incur property taxes.
Pereyra thinks his tiny houses appeal to many buyers who wouldn’t traditionally consider themselves RV owners.
The first sale the company made “was to someone who didn’t even know she wanted a tiny house,” Pereyra recalled. Impressed by the surprising spaciousness, affordability and design, she said: “It’s mine.”
Pereyra brings his background in construction and modular building to the design and execution of his mobile dwellings, noting that traditional elements, such as stainless steel fixtures and hardwood countertops, are appealing not just because of its aesthetic, but for its quality and durability, helping retain resale value.
“I use typical residential features and construction processes,” Pereyra said, stating that the fixtures and hardware will last as long as they would in your conventional house.
The most popular home, the Castle Peak model, will expand your idea of tiny. With 335 square feet and 2 sleeping lofts, this home offers the most storage of any model, is outfitted with a full kitchen and bathroom and is prepped for a washer and dryer.
Pereyra said he believes the industry still going through the process of gaining acceptability but is confident in the broad appeal of his product and the benefits over full-sized builds.
Custom homebuilding requires extensive permitting, planning, and costs. “Sometimes you are spending $80,000 before putting a shovel into the dirt,” he said.
Because of that, he’s even seen a college student jump on the bandwagon, realizing that with financing, payments rival the cost of renting.
The owner says that customers are delighted to think, “I could pay the same or less, and it’s mine.”
The surprisingly versatile homes, although likely not ideal for growing families or those with a penchant for stately furnishings, are becoming popular to those looking to downsize and investors wanting to rent them out.
Although Pereyra says the vast majority of his buyers put their homes on their own property or that of a friend or relative, for the rest he says: “The Achilles’ heel is finding where to park it.”
For those with a smaller budget or those who are instead looking to make a smaller carbon footprint, next to the tiny homes on wheels is a yurt by the company Living Intent.
Caleb Erskine sources and constructs 16-foot yurts, tent-like circular structures with a pointed top and a collapsible wood lattice for siding. Erskine sells the minimalist dwellings for about $4,800 and can assemble them for his clients in 35 minutes.
After high school, Erskine was intent on moving out of his parents’ house, so he decided to buy a small piece of property and build himself a yurt. He enjoyed the process so much he started Living Intent.
Many of Erskine’s customers are young people looking for affordable housing, unsurprising in California. But traditional homeowners have also taken to purchasing yurts, Erskine said, installing them on their property to use as Airbnb rentals.
Erskine said his business has benefited from the fad known as glamping or boutique camping. He just finalized a six-yurt deal for a Burning Man camp, and he’s in the process of partnering with California vineyards.
Environmental stewardship is central to Erskine’s business model. He builds his yurts with sustainably harvested redwood beams, offers solar panel packages and encourages yurt-owners to consider a composting toilet to round out their low-profile, low-impact dwelling.