published Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Living small: Tiny home in Apison could fit on a truck

Travis and Brittany Pyke's tiny house is in Apison.
Travis and Brittany Pyke's tiny house is in Apison.
Photo by Logan Foll.
  • photo
    Travis Pyke, the owner of Wind River Custom Homes in Apison, Tenn., measures flooring for a tiny house. Most tiny houses are 75 to 800 square feet.
    Photo by Logan Foll.
    enlarge photo

  • photo
    Brittany Pyke works in the kitchen of her tiny house. The Pykes are part of the social and architectural trend of living with less stuff in smaller spaces.
    Photo by Logan Foll.
    enlarge photo

Pyke's tiny home

Size: 200 square feet

Location: Apison

Investment: $15,000 to $30,000

The small house movement has been getting bigger — not the houses, the movement itself.

Apison resident Travis Pyke knows that, even though it's not the main reason he built the 200-square-foot cabin he and his wife live in.

"I had the skills to do it," said Pyke, 26, who grew up in a carpentry family. "I saw it as an opportunity to not have mortgage."

So does his business partner, Jeremy Weaver, who's building a tiny home for himself and his wife.

Wind River Custom Homes was scheduled to incorporate last week. Another company, Tennessee Tiny Homes, in Collierville, has been building small homes since 2011.

"I thought it was such a cool concept," said Ale Canizales, 25, Wind River's first client.

Canizales, a Delta flight attendant, decided that buying a tiny home would give her a place of her own without putting her into debt.

It will take some adjustment to be comfortable in her 24-by-8-foot cabin.

"I've never lived anywhere that small," the Southern Adventist University graduate said. She lives with five housemates in Atlanta now, but her room is pretty big.

Tiny homes tend to range from 75 to 800 square feet and are often mobile and constructed around a steel trailer.

Wind River anticipates selling turnkey homes for $30,000 to $40,000 each. Prices depend on size, style and appliances. Pyke's home, which is 18 feet long and 8 feet wide with a lofted sleeping area, cost about $15,000 in materials to construct.

Pyke started thinking about building a small home a few years ago, after reading a story about Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Tumbleweed, based in California, led the charge in the tiny home movement, which gained mainstream notice when Oprah Winfrey featured founder Jay Shafer on her popular daytime show in 2007.

"There have been different peaks and valleys in the past as far as interest in tinier living," said Greg Johnson, president of the Small House Society, in Iowa City, Iowa, which he founded with Shafer. Johnson's tiny house was the second Schafer built.

"Tinier living" and the "tiny house movement," also called the "small house movement," refer to a social and architectural trend wherein people live with less stuff in smaller spaces.

Technology has helped that along, Johnson said.

"Many people, they're not giving up much to live in a tiny house," he said. "There's not as much need to have bookshelves to store everything because it fits into our hard drives."

Saving money on the structure also frees up cash for folks to pay for better features and appliances, Pyke said.

The pressing question for tiny homes as they grow in number is where to put them. Rules vary around the country. Pyke's home sits on 2.5 acres, along with his father-in-law's home. Canizales is still working on where she'll put hers when it's completed late this year.

Either way, figuring out where to put a wee house isn't stopping people from wanting to buy them, and that's what Wind River is counting on. If the company gets another order or two this fall, it will need warehouse space. It's been constructing homes outside, but it takes extra work to keep them dry if it rains.

"It's nice to be inside," Pyke said. "We can build here in Chattanooga and deliver."

Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at mmalek@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406.

about Mitra Malek...

Mitra Malek writes about business, particularly Chattanooga's tech, entrepreneurial and venture capital communities, as well as tourism. Before coming to the Times Free Press she reported for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Journal Inquirer and Asbury Park Press. She spent eight years reporting for The Palm Beach Post, where she covered a state cancer cluster investigation. Her work at the Post covering government won her honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and ...

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