There have been lots of happenings here at RMTH over the past few weeks. First off, the Boulder sold to a lovely local woman who just absolutely adores it. I’m happy that the house will get to stay in Durango for a while so I can still show it to interested clients! They say the first sale is the hardest, and although I was stressing for a good 2 months trying to sell this house, it actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Now that the house is gone from my shop, it actually feels a little lonely over here.
No worries though, I’ve got some good meat and potato news. I’ll start small, and leave you in suspense so that you actually read all this 😉 Construction of the Stanley has commenced with the arrival of the trailer chassis. I’m waiting on timber to get milled before this micro log cabin is really ready to rock and roll. I hope to have enough work done on it to showcase it in the Durango Home and Ranch show coming up April 26-27. I’ll have my personal house there too so people can get a feel for different sizes and styles.
I’m currently wrapping up designs and estimates for two new projects in the Front Range and about to begin two more! All the while I continue to get good leads on a daily basis. I am becoming very efficient in Sketchup which is helping to come up with cool designs more quickly. I’m also fine tuning my system for estimating which is improving speed and accuracy. I have started the process of becoming a licensed RV manufacturer but have no idea when or even if this will happen. It needs to happen at some point though so I can open up the door to RV financing and complete legality in parks that require the unit to have the RVIA seal.
Now, for the really big news, which is two fold: 1.Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses is expanding to Boulder, CO 2. Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses will be changing its building technology primarily to SIP’s
BOULDER- While my truck was broke down in Boulder back in February, I got to meet some really cool people, one of which is a fine home builder and businessman named Brooks. Brooks was extremely interested in my product and immediately saw their potential as temporary housing for victims of the flood last fall. He has built several large high end houses across that part of the country, and as he puts it, is just sick and tired of such wasteful construction. He was looking for a breath of fresh air, something more modest and meaningful. The reason for my trip to Boulder last week was to get to know Brooks a little better and brainstorm a partnership. Brooks doesn’t have much of a desire to own another business (he already owns 4), but he does really want to build some awesome Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses, so we are working out a general agreement whereas I will handle all of the client coordination, design, paperwork etc. while he will handle the construction work in Boulder. I should be clear that the business is still based in Durango, and I will still be building houses in Durango. This partnership with Brooks will simply add the following benefits. 1. Boulder is in a better geographic location than Durango. It is more or less the center of population for the state of Colorado, being very close to Denver, and not far from Colorado Springs and Ft. Collins. Boulder also has much easier access to I-25 and I-70 which makes transport to adjoining states or even further much more convenient. 2. As someone who has been in the building industry for 30 years, Brooks has access to every tradesman and every material supplier imaginable. He has way more manpower than I do. What takes me 2-3 months will only take him 2-3 weeks. So, it really makes sense to have a satellite location in Boulder for when things really take off. We will need to complete a few builds to see whether he can do it for the same costs, but theoretically he should be able to do it for the same or less.
SIP’s- Aka, Structurally Insulated Panels. For those of you not too familiar with this system, it is a foam insulation core with structural OSB sheathing glued on both sides. I’ve been considering using SIPs on a tiny house project for a while now, I just needed the right cards to fall into place. My second reason for going to Boulder last week was to meet with a SIP manufacturer that Brooks has ties to. The three of us sat down for a good three hours to answer each other’s questions and see how SIPs could be integrated into a Tiny House design. I’ve long been aware of the advantages of using SIP’s, but it wasn’t until this meeting that I had some truly incredible ‘a ha’ moments. Once the ins and outs of this system were ingrained in my brain, it became clear that for most tiny house designs I have in mind, SIP’s will be the best tool for the job. The product is not conducive to every design, but most of them.
Here is what we deem to be the advantages of SIP’s for Tiny House construction: 1. Assembly speed. It will now only take about a half day to create a shell that is sheathed and fully insulated. This previously would have taken me about 2 weeks. Framing and sheathing aren’t too time consuming, but insulating sure is, speaking of which-2. Better insulation. The R-value for the foam is the same as the R-tech foam I currently use. The main difference is that there are no internal studs to conduct heat and there are no cracks. It is an unbroken plane of foam, except at windows, but even here there is less wood and more foam since you don’t need king studs, trimmer studs, and cripple studs, just studs around the rough opening. 3. Comparable weight. The last house I built used advanced framing and 1/4″ sheathing on both sides to really cut down on weight. SIPs will add weight by using 7/16″ OSB on both sides, however, they take away weight by not requiring interior studs. Without doing a detailed calc or actually weighing each system, I can’t say which will be lighter, but they should each be about the same. SIP’s are definitely lighter than traditional framing with OSB sheathing. 4. Stronger. As opposed to relying on several component pieces and oodles of fasteners, SIPs derive their strength from uniformity.Stresses are transferred throughout the entire panel. This means that not only can they support more weight, but will stand up to wind, flex, and vibration better than stud framing. 5. More accurate- Panels are produced and CNC cut in a factory setting which means everything will be perfectly straight, square and level. 5.Air quality friendly. This was a big concern of mine going into the meeting. Will the foam offgas? Does the OSB have a lot of toxice glues such as formaldehyde? Turns out, the foam is very inert and our bodies contain more formaldehyde than the OSB used in SIP’s, so, this puts my mind at ease for incorporating this system into my Tiny Houses. SIP’s should prove to provide a better product for the same cost or less than I’m currently building my houses for.
With the incorporation of this building system there are some new exciting applications on the works. Sometime very soon, I plan to offer flat pack house “kits”. For those who want to do most of the work on their own house (which seems to be most everybody interested in Tiny Houses), but perhaps don’t have the time or know-how to complete the framing, the kit will consist of the trailer, floor system, wall panels, roof panels, and all the accessories you will need to put the shell together. The package can be delivered more easily and eliminate the hardest part of the construction process, yet still leave plenty of work and personal satisfaction to be had with the finish out. Stay tuned for more developments!
So, I think that about sums it up for now. So far it has been a pleasant spring in Durango and I am really enjoying working outside in abundant sunshine and nicer temps. I’m also enjoying the extra long daylight hours so I can knock off work at 5pm and get some good mountain biking in. Pretty soon river season will start up too, and I look forward to that. Thanks for checking in. Remember, Tiny Houses are awesome, especially ones of the Rocky Mountain variety 😉