They’re tiny cabins on wheels, but they aren’t meant for tiny people, at least not exclusively. They’re able to house adults, though they’re smaller than 150 square feet, and can sleep as many as four.
The Downtown Project has acquired three of the rustic-cabin-style micro houses from Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. in Sonoma, Calif., including the company’s very first Linden model.
One house is in the Downtown Project’s Container Park, which is under construction at East Fremont and Seventh streets; the others are parked in an adjacent lot, waiting to be placed.
Kim Schaefer, public relations director for the Downtown Project, said the cabins aren’t a permanent fixture, but are meant to make people think of possibilities.
The house parked at the Container Park’s Learning Village “will receive a lot of traffic and exposure so people have a chance to walk through it and be inspired,” Shaefer said. “As people tour these homes, they will generate ideas and creative solutions.”
The houses arrived to the Downtown Project’s container park in April and June, said Tumbleweed lead designer Meg Stephens. The models are the 130-square-foot Fencl, which sleeps two, the 117-square-foot Lusby, which sleeps four, and the 144-square-foot Linden, which can accommodate a king-size bed. The houses resemble tiny cabins, with wood interiors and exteriors, functional kitchens, a bathroom with a toilet and shower and even fireplaces in some models.
Tumbleweed manufactures “houses to go” wheeled cabins, ranging from 73- to 172 square-feet, and larger cottages. The cottages range from 261-square-foot studios to three-bedroom models of 884 square-feet.
Assembled houses range from $50,000 to $60,000; do-it-yourself construction plans start at $750.
Glenn Nowak, associate professor of architecture at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said micro houses are unlikely to become mainstream, but there’s a market. He said the structures are more common back East, and are often used as guest quarters or artist studios.
“There is a push toward finding ultra-efficient designs for both living and working,” Nowak said. “That boils down to smaller, multifunctional spaces and even mobile spaces.”
Stephens said the houses are mobile, but not meant to move often.
“They’re not the kind you would drive to Yosemite this weekend and a different campsite the next weekend,” Stephens said.
Nowak says small houses are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. A century ago, people chose small houses because they were practical and affordable. Today, after a short-lived McMansion craze, people prefer to live with less.
“Everything is downsizing,” Nowak said. “Gadgets are getting smaller. You can do a lot more in a lot less space and do it more economically.”
It’s yet to be determined where Downtown Project’s other two Tumbleweed houses will be placed.
“We may place these homes in other locations in downtown in the future,” Schaefer said.
Contact reporter Kristy Totten at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3809.