How does a tiny home community builder get good-quality tiny homes quickly? Abby Shank is solving that problem by partnering with other companies, essentially becoming a tiny house builder who doesn’t build all of the houses herself! We discuss the evolution of Tiny Estates from a community of vacation homes to permanent residences and all of the work that that shift entails, plus her new business model.
In This Episode:
- The evolution of Tiny Estates
- Short-term rental challenges
- How Abby and her partners are improving tiny home builds
- Can tiny homes meet HUD code?
- Do tiny homes depreciate or appreciate in terms of resale value?
Links and Resources:
Abby Shank is the CEO of Tiny Estates and Live Tiny. Tiny Estates is a tiny home resort where owned tiny homes surround two ponds on the 14-acre property. Live Tiny is an entity selling tiny home builds across the country. Abby saw a demand for better quality tiny homes with a quicker build time and set out to do just that. With almost a decade of experience in the tiny home industry, Abby is eager to provide a better quality build and living experience through her homes and communities.
This Week's Sponsor:
PrecisionTemp is making one product to solve two issues that I know everyone deals with in a tiny house: running out of hot water and heating your tiny house. PrecisionTemp has made the amazing TwinTemp Junior propane tankless water heater, which provides unlimited hot water for your tiny house and hydronic heating. This means you get warm heated floors, so there are no cold spots. It's designed specifically for tiny houses and features whisper-quiet operation as well as high efficiency. If you want more information on how PrecisionTemp can help make living tiny easier and more comfortable visit precisiontemp.com. While you're there, use the coupon code THLP for $100 off any PrecisionTemp unit plus free shipping.
The VIA Series 26′ Standard model
Interior of the 28′ Modern model
The maple finish looks bright and cozy at the same time
They've tested the homes for a variety of weather conditions
The systems are built to be accessed easily in case of repairs
Most houses come with mini splits, but other options are available
They aim for a balance between aesthetics and practicality
Managing short-term rentals helped with perspective
They can build 40 houses a month!
Abby Shank 0:00
It wasn't like a Marriott hotel room where you can just switch people when something happens. And if somebody comes in and completely destroyed the house? I mean, we had one lady back a U-Haul up and take everything, the sofa, the mattresses, like all the decor. That was a lot to try and get it back to where it needed to be for the next guest.
Ethan Waldman 0:16
Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and I am here with Abby Shank. Abby Shank is the CEO of Tiny Estates. And she was actually a guest on the podcast a few years ago, when Tiny Estates was one of or the biggest, tiny community in the world. Things have definitely shifted. Abby is an entrepreneur at heart, and she has continued to kind of evolve and change. And Tiny Estates is now a place where people own their own tiny homes. And she's looking at creating new communities. But one of the issues that she ran into is that she needed a way to quickly get good quality tiny homes. So he has actually partnered with a couple of different companies and is now trying her hand at at being essentially a tiny house builder though she's not building them herself. We will talk all about that. But it's a pretty interesting business model and an interesting company and I think it's it's definitely worth giving it a listen and also taking a look. So I hope you stick around for my interview with Abby Shank.
I'd like to tell you about the sponsor of today's episode PrecisionTemp. PrecisionTemp is making one product to solve two issues that I know everyone deals with in a tiny house, running out of hot water and heating your tiny house. PrecisionTemp has made the amazing TwinTemp Junior propane tankless water heater, which provides unlimited hot water for your tiny house and hydronic heating. This means you get warm heated floors, so there are no cold spots. It's designed specifically for tiny houses and features whisper quiet operation as well as high efficiency. If you want more information on how PrecisionTemp can help make living tiny easier and more comfortable visit precisiontemp.com. While you're there, use the coupon code THLP for $100 off the TwinTemp Junior plus free shipping. That website again is precisiontemp.com, coupon code THLP for $100 off the TwinTemp Junior plus free shipping. Thank you so much to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring our show.
Right. I am here with Abby Shank. Abby Shank is the CEO of Tiny Estates and Live Tiny. Tiny Estates is a tiny home resort where owned tiny homes surround two ponds on the 14-acre property. Live Tiny is an entity selling tiny home builds across the country. Abby saw a demand for better quality tiny homes with a quicker build time and set out to do just that. With almost a decade of experience in the tiny home industry, Abby is eager to provide a better quality build and living experience through her homes and communities. Abby Shank, welcome back to the podcast.
Abby Shank 3:12
Thank you for having me, Ethan.
Ethan Waldman 3:14
Yeah, it's great for you to be here. So I think when we spoke last Tiny Estates was was on the newer side of things. I think at the time, we were like it's the biggest tiny house community in the world. I don't know if it is anymore. But um, can you can you give us some updates? Like what you know?
Abby Shank 3:32
Yeah, at the time it was I think for rentals, we grew to a size with rentals that I think we were the largest for nightly rentals. And then when we switched during COVID to be an owner community. I think that change, I know there's a lot of different tiny house communities and it probably depends on whether they're all on wheels or if they all are true tiny homes in their square footage size being smaller because I know a lot of communities do modulars as well or allow RVs. So that's a little harder to articulate, you know, who's the largest where, but we're still very proud of, you know, the fact that we're all tiny homes and a community where people can come together and and be of, you know, differing backgrounds and mindsets but all still kind of come together on the tiny house journey and and owning their tiny house at a park like that.
Ethan Waldman 4:15
Yeah, yeah, it's awesome. So what is the current status of tiny house of Tiny Estates? Is it is it like a residential only community or like, what? How does that all work?
Abby Shank 4:25
So we're still zoned a campground. It can't be a primary residence. We switched to that. We don't have the nightly rentals and function like a hotel the way we used to. That was more of a try-before-you-buy-type experience. But we're now owner occupied so folks can own their house and place it there. But they do have to still follow that 181 day occupancy rule. Mostly because in a mobile home park, you're gonna pay property taxes on your unit, and things like voter registration and driver's license, that's kind of where it gets tricky. So as long as they abide by that 181 day rule, a lot of people you know, it's a getaway. It's their spot because they're originally from PA, but they're traveling, they come to visit family, you know, everybody's kind of a different situation of why they're there and why they own tiny, but everybody kind of comes together and weekends are usually busiest, because obviously people are coming from all over to occupy their tiny house.
Ethan Waldman 5:15
Yeah, and I'm sure I mean, I think last time, we talked a lot about like, navigating that spaghetti of of zoning and laws to try to even get something like Tiny Estates to happen at all. I'm sure that that whole campground thing, like, I'm sure you'd love to change it, but like, what have you run into hurdles trying to, like, turn it into like a full time thing?
Abby Shank 5:37
Yeah, we've spoken to the township. And they're, I think, just as eager as we are to make it into more of like a mobile home park. The way it works, now people pay lot rent very comparably to that as long as they abide by that rule, their house can stay there, they just can't personally occupy it more than that time. So the big sticking point is a mobile home park follows a code as far as building structure is concerned. And because we started out so early in the tiny house movement, a lot of our tiny homes don't meet, you know, a NOAH certificate to be ANSI certified, or they weren't built to any standard. And so because of that, it's really hard for the township to guarantee that it meets the build code. And without meaning a build code, it can't be a residence. So it can be transient, and they would love to switch over. But we're still trying to articulate how they could find a code that some of the older houses could meet, or if they could possibly dually zone us so that we could have some that are and some that aren't and slowly phasing that opportunity for people. You know, obviously everybody wants that. It's money for the township, but it makes it easier for the folks who own but coming up with some of those fixes is the problem.
Ethan Waldman 6:41
Abby Shank 6:43
Ethan Waldman 6:46
So I've been Airbnb in my tiny house now since May, it's going really well. But I, I have like a whole new level of respect for what you were doing when when they were short term rentals, because like managing one is plenty of work. I can only imagine what managing like 50 is like.
Abby Shank 7:07
Yeah, and we always said I think Airbnb is a great platform. And I think people would have success for one or two. But because they were all so unique. That's really why during COVID, we decided to pivot it was more a lifestyle choice. You know, everybody loved it. And it was going very well. But with each house being so unique, and that was the draw of the tiny houses. It wasn't like a Marriott hotel room where you can just switch people when something happens. And if somebody comes in and completely destroys the house? I mean, we had one lady back a U-Haul up and take everything, the sofa, the mattresses, like all the decor. And that's something in a matter of, you know, three hour cleaning window, you can't just - we stopped things. But that was a lot to try and get it back to where it needed to be for the next guest. So that became a bit of a hassle during COVID When people expected cleaner. But they had been so cooped up that I think that it was more that like Spring Break mentality that they came and they were ready to go. And so things were left worse and then expected to be cleaner. And that's kind of when we decided to pivot.
Ethan Waldman 8:03
Yeah. Wow, the tiny house. It's so minimal, it doesn't even have a sofa.
Abby Shank 8:08
It's nothing. You sit on the floor and you have no dishes. Hey, by the way, they ripped your countertops out! Yeah, it would have been an interesting experience.
Ethan Waldman 8:16
Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, well, I have a security camera on my, on my tiny house. So anybody listening who's thinking about coming and stealing my couch? Actually, it's bolted to the floor. So you can't do it.
Abby Shank 8:29
Ethan Waldman 8:31
So when we spoke last time, you definitely talked about, you know, wanting to kind of repeat this model or look at tiny communities or whatever you want to call them in other states and other places. Has that been something that you've continued to pursue?
Abby Shank 8:47
It is and that's kind of how our build company started. So the long and the short of everything is that we loved what we were doing at Tiny Estates, whether it be rentals or be owners, I think there's a demand for both. We found that a big problem was a lot of the quality builders are just small scale, and that they're great craftsmen, but they're local to their town. And so they're doing 10, maybe 15 houses a year, which is wonderful business for them. But for us and building a community is really difficult to scale, knowing that we're going to set up a park that might have 100 lots. That takes a long time to be able to really cashflow and to really be able to fill it if builders can only do such a limited demand and they have such a long waitlist. And so because of that, we really wanted to fix the build problem first and find a quality product that we knew we could stand behind and not necessarily require at all of our parks. But that if somebody came in and they wanted a lot, there was something ready to go for them. If they wanted that, whether that be something we provided as a long term rental until their house was ready, or that they truly could just buy and place on a site to move more quickly. But you know, builders can still build for people in our parks. Our park is still very much builders across the country, which is great. I think we learn a lot from seeing other people's product and knowing what people want to improve and what things we could change and trying to really move the industry forward. And so in looking to do other communities, that was our goal was to solve the build. And now that we feel like we have a product that we can build much more quickly, and that we can scale with, we're looking for the land to do other properties. So we're actually partnering with someone in Tennessee, looking at a place in Florida, there's a place in Texas as well, California is a huge demand all the time. So that's always kind of on our radar. But I know there's demand pretty much in every state that we would love to find the right land to go after. It's really just zoning that always tends to hold things
Ethan Waldman 10:35
up. Yes, yes. And my limited knowledge, I know that like whether you're running it as like a short term rental, or a campground versus like a full time living, those are like three different categories and three different sets of laws.
Abby Shank 10:52
Right. And of course, in every state, the laws are different. And it makes it tricky. As we look in different locations, a lot of people will call and say, "I want to do a community. I'll back you." Which is great. But we don't obviously know the intricacies of zoning in every single state. So it takes a lot of time. People say well, it should be much quicker. And I wish it was but unfortunately, all good things take time. And it was easy, everyone would be doing it. So we're still working on it. But I think the builds will help us scale quickly, when we find the right properties, we'll be able to build them out a lot quicker than originally we would have been able to.
Ethan Waldman 11:23
Yeah. And, and you've already touched on this a little bit, but I'll ask the question directly. I mean, it seems like there are so many new tiny house builders popping up all the time, like I've long ago stopped trying to like keep track of knowing what tiny house builders are out there. But have you talked about kind of the demand, you know, your own almost internal demand for tiny houses? From from an external perspective, what you know, what's different about the tiny houses that you're partnering on? Or what, you know, how, how do you see them differentiated from, you know, all the other tiny house builders out there?
Abby Shank 12:02
Right. And there's a ton of great builders. I don't think that we're, you know, in any way doing something crazy novel, we're still a tiny house. Like you can go to a lot of other builders for what we're doing a few things differently. The way that we're building is a plywood stud rather than a 2x4, which we've actually patented. So we've partnered with Atomic, who does the manufacturing for things like the Super Bowl, WWE, a lot of big, large scale productions. And so their capacity for manufacturing as well as their experience in that realm has been very beneficial. They've always done massive productions that they then pare down and take across the country. So the transport of things, the mobility, the quality of what they do. But the speed with which they can do it is, is key in how we're building.
And so all of our plywood studs are caught on a CNC machine. And that allows it all to be fit together like puzzle pieces. So one of the big things we noticed with other builders was expansion and contraction. And that was a big problem. Because not only do you see a lot of bad tolerances, there's you know, things in the corners, where they just throw a bunch of caulk in it to make it look like it matches. But that's going to be an issue with heating and cooling, that's going to be an issue for bugs, obviously, moisture. So it causes a lot of issues that aesthetically pleasing, but also, you know, behind the walls is a problem. And because our plywood studs allow for a much better tolerance, and fit together so well. Things like levels aren't really even necessary, because it all fits together. So specifically, and can be put together a lot quicker. So from start to finish, and just a matter of weeks, we can do a house, we can do 40 houses a month in our current warehouse, and as we grow can do other warehouses to do more. So we're in about 500 houses a year.
Ethan Waldman 12:45
Abby Shank 12:45
In scalability with our current space in Elizabeth town, which is right down the street from our community.
Ethan Waldman 12:48
Abby Shank 12:49
And then there's lots of other little things, you know, we noticed the p traps that were freezing and other builders homes and just little you know, details that after having rented for so long, we noticed things that would go wrong that we've tried to fix with our builds, condensation lines for the Heating and AC would be run through the walls. And so if somebody needed a new unit, they had to have all their walls torn out to have that fixed. So we've made sure that all those condensation lines are not within the walls of the house that you don't have to have this ugly tubing outside your house to look at either. So aesthetically, again, it's pleasing, but it's also fixing that problem of down the road, what's gonna go wrong? And every house comes with a full home warranty. So they have a 24/7 number when they buy a house that they can call. That was one big thing that builders, you know, they build a house, they ship it across the country and if something went wrong, it could just be that, you know, a cute old lady bought it to retire. She doesn't know a ton about how things work. There's no batteries in the mini split remote. She thinks it's broken. Obviously the builder doesn't want to fly from California to PA to come fix it when there's not really anything wrong. But how do they go about that? And do they have a network for repairs and so we've created a home warranty system that is truly a network across the country. Regardless of where the home goes, that they can call 24/7. You know, plumbers, electricians, whatever that may be, to have things quickly fixed or quickly, you know, addressed so that they know how to work the house and how things should be done in order to prevent a lot of costs for us as the builders but also a lot of headache for the client that's buying the house.
Ethan Waldman 15:20
Nice. And you were kind of talking a little bit about like the the ventilation, the insulation, how are these homes insulated?
Abby Shank 15:28
The R value is R 23. So they have rock wool in the walls, and they have a zip R on the exterior.
Ethan Waldman 15:35
Abby Shank 15:35
So they have a moisture barrier there have a full vapor barrier as well and a continuous theme. So you're not going to notice things kind of coming through. Unfortunately, I've had a lot of tiny houses that I connected that had plumbing leaks, and you saw it run through the edge of the trailer between the House and the trailer. And so you won't see that nothing you want your house to start filling up with water. But obviously that continuously means a lot less things like bugs and loss of heating and cooling. And it's a lot more efficient that way.
Ethan Waldman 16:01
Yeah, so does that R 23 include the zip R, or is that just what's in the wall?
Abby Shank 16:06
It does include the zip R. Now, we can upgrade that to an even more if somebody wants. We have an all weather package of someone's going to be in a very, very cold climate. And we've actually tested for wind speed and weight load capacity, the plywood studs, and they do far better than 2x4s, which was one of the primary reasons we wanted to go that way. So things like snow load on the roof have been tested. So it's not just going to stay warm in your house. But you also know if you're in an area that gets a ton of snow, that you don't have to worry about how that impacts your house and how it will hold up.
Ethan Waldman 16:36
Send one up to me in Vermont! I'll test it out for you.
Abby Shank 16:39
We'd be happy to! I would love to see how it goes to get your feedback, even insulating the trailers. That was one big thing in PA People always complain they were so cold on their feet, that we wanted to make sure that that E 23 value is also in the floors so that people don't notice, you know, heating and cooling issues in the really cold trailer.
Ethan Waldman 16:57
Definitely. And then speaking of heating and cooling, are you using heat pumps for that? Are there other options?
Abby Shank 17:03
Yeah, typically, our houses have many splits. The head unit is on like a picture window. So it heats and cools the whole house. And then there's a temperature sensor for an air circulation system that will bring the heat to the bedroom or to whatever is on the other side of the home. In a really long you know, 40 foot we would do two head unit. But a lot of people want to things like those two, we can definitely do like a woodstove. If somebody wants something like that.
Ethan Waldman 17:29
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Nice. And in terms of ventilation, is there a house ventilation system that you're including?
Abby Shank 19:08
There is, yep, so we have a whole home circulation system and then ventilation as well. So everything's know inspected to make sure that everything is is done correctly and built correctly. Which we're very proud of, you know the quality but also want to make sure that things are not going to be an issue for clients down the road.
Ethan Waldman 19:24
Yeah, I mean, I'm i I'm impressed because I think that it's it's rare that a builder as as much experience dealing with tiny homes, as you do, especially from the rental side of things where I would say the houses are getting used a bit harder. The like, renters aren't always short term renters in particular aren't always like taking the utmost of care of the house while they're there. Hopefully they do but they don't always.
Abby Shank 19:54
Yeah, typically not so much and so you definitely see what wears and tears quickly but also so what's not just known or necessarily user friendly things like even TVs, which are tiny house specific. But you put metal siding on the house? Are you going to get cellphone signal on Wi Fi in the house? And thinking through things like that. Running conduit in the walls so that you can get boosters in the house if necessary. Because a lot of people like that metal look. Well, we had a lot of trouble with that in some of our houses. And nobody wants to drill through a brand new house to get an ethernet cable in. So making sure you think about it before. Atomic has always prided itself in making all the mistakes at the beginning. Obviously, no one does anything without mistakes, but they do it before they cut. So it's never an issue for the client, we'll spend three hours talking about a cabinet and how to make that cabinet perfect, because we want to make sure it doesn't become a problem. So sometimes maybe it's overkill. And it's too much thought into one thing, obviously you learn when you do things, but the way that they articulate their build and how they cut it so precisely and have a true system for how everything's done is the reason that we're able to scale so quickly, and build houses in such a precise manner. That's also still such a high quality.
Ethan Waldman 21:04
Nice. So we talked a little bit about this before we started recording, I kind of tripped myself up, but there's, there's ive Tiny, there's Live Connected. And then there's Atomic, and I know I understand that Atomic is the manufacturer. Can you untangle Live Tiny and Live Connected?
Unknown Speaker 21:26
For me? Yeah, so Live Connected is actually the reason that a lot of this started. Live Connected is the design firm that came from, it's actually called DSA. So all of the companies have like their original parent company, which gave them their experience in the industry, Atomic being those that do the steps and manufacture their Atomic homes for these purposes. DSA is the architects in New York that designed full time, and so Live Connected is their tiny house division of design. And then Tiny Estates being our community is Live Tiny for the sales purposes of these houses. We don't do that to make it confusing. But obviously the legalities of doing something similar but different, we all kind of had to pivot. But ultimately, you're connected started because of a request for information for the state of Texas, and a request to change up female housing and do something that would be better. And so they did what we call the connect this house, which is a tiny home, but it's foundational. And so it can be set up in a matter of four to six hours. And it's built in our warehouse, tiny home, like what you would expect, starts at 500 square feet and goes up to about 2000. But then can be put on a property, long term and truly foundationalist. And in doing that I was brought in to kind of look at connections and how things go and said, "Well, we have a huge demand for something similar. Would you do trailer base?" And then we call our Via everything that's on a trailer, which would be the tiny homele as you and I know it in which you know, now Airbnb and you lived and so we can do both. But there's a huge demand in the National Disaster Relief sector, especially with things like what happened in Florida, that people want to quickly get into something that they feel like is home, but maybe aren't always going to be able to live in a tiny house. And so we're looking to create houses that are HUD certified, which is unique for the industry. And obviously something I think a lot of builders are working towards, but build something that would be HUD certified that we could take that people could live in, after a disaster and then rebuild a city with the more foundational product, because there's a little more site planning that goes into foundation realizing but that kind of allows for the temporary and the permanent, depending on what the person would like.
Abby Shank 21:27
Yeah, the Connexus is beautiful. I'm looking at some photos of it. And you know, I think that there, there is demand in the tiny house world for foundation-based small houses. And these are, you know, 500 to 800 square feet. So maybe not tiny, in some people's sense of the word, but still quite a bit smaller than than an average American house. And they look again, you know, they're built in that same way in that modular factory build where you get that, that quality build.
Right, and one of the huge upsides to tiny houses, I think, is the ability to transport them without all the special permits and licensing. And when you build a Connexus house, it's put on a single trailer for transport. So there isn't this massive load with a whole bunch of pieces the way a normal modular home would come to you. So it's a lot more accessible to certain remote properties and a lot easier to bring onto a property and build in such short time. So we like to say that you can be in your house by dinnertime the same day that it's brought.
Ethan Waldman 24:30
Now. At the risk of getting too nerdy on the on the codes and legal stuff. Are those Connexes homes built? Are those Park models are they like HUD code?
Abby Shank 24:40
They would be HUD. They would be more permanent? Wow. I mean, I and then the Via houses on trailers would be more parked models.
Ethan Waldman 24:49
Okay, my understanding that me is that meeting HUD code is actually quite difficult and rigorous.
Abby Shank 24:54
It is and it's frustrating because right now HUD says that 320 square feet is the requirement And so a 40 foot house is really required to meet HUD. And obviously a lot of people want a smaller tiny house. But we're working on that. We're working to make our plywood studs something that will be written into HUD similar to the ways that panels have been. There's an inspection agency that's nationally recognized that has been out to our warehouse to try and figure out how we can progress that and I've talked to Lindsay Wood and some others in the tiny house realm of how can we work to get all builders in a, in a realm that makes that possible for people. Because I think HUD would be a very easy way for people to get their houses into townships that aren't currently allowing them. So that's definitely the way that I think the industry is moving and something that we're working towards.
Ethan Waldman 25:39
Yeah, yeah, I agree. And I, it's funny, I just like learned about HUD code recently. Wow, this, this totally exists. And it's like almost what we need.
Abby Shank 25:48
But it's so close. I mean, the lofts I think, are still going to be a little tricky. But hopefully, it's close enough that we can make it work with the right people behind it.
Ethan Waldman 25:57
Right, right. Now, one of the major hurdles that people face, especially when they're, you know, buying a tiny home, you know, a prebuilt tiny home versus doing a self build is, you know, is the financing. And it's kind of one of the I see it as a paradox of the tiny house world, which is that like, these houses are really affordable, except you can't get normal loans for them. And so therefore, you need more money upfront to buy them. And then they're not affordable because of that. So what's happening in the financing department of Live Tiny?
Abby Shank 26:33
And that was a big thing for us too. And having a build company was having something that is more affordable. Everybody talks about the affordability of tiny homes. And I think, especially with the cost of materials, right now, it's not very likely that the prices are going to come down. But if you can do it over a standard conventional term, you're at least getting equity in something. So I don't think anybody wants to pay for a tiny house or a standard house for 25 or 30 years. But the ability to do that, especially when you're starting out or when you're retiring, knowing that you're at least getting equity rather than throwing it at Rent is critical. And so we have a lender that's based out of PA that's licensed in 16 different states that will lend that's typically our go to. But then we also work with 21st Mortgage, because they can lend in every state. The drawback of that is that because it's more like a park model, they require it to be placed on the property for the person to have it ready to go more in a sense, or we like to look at it as more of an RV where we're selling it on the dock. But there are two lenders that we typically work with that are conventional terms. So typically, in this market, it's between 6% and 8% on a 25 year term. And then between 5% and 10% down. So a lot more affordable, our base house would be about $500 a month.
Ethan Waldman 27:43
That's amazing for like a 20 or 25 year mortgage?
Abby Shank 27:47
Right. So again, nobody wants to pay for it for 25 years, but they're at least getting that equity if they do and they can do shorter terms, which actually becomes better rates as well. But a lot of people starting out, they figure you know what, I'll do that for five years. And when I sell it, I'll get all that back is equity. And every house that we've sold at Tiny Estates has gone for the same if not more than what it was built for, especially with the cost of building materials now. So yeah, I think a lot of people are realizing that tiny homes are true assets, that they're getting the value out of like you would a standard house as long as it's well maintained.
Ethan Waldman 28:16
Yeah. And that is that is a little bit different. Because I think there's been a lot of this question about like what the resale market is for tiny houses. I guess you have sold several houses at this point, before doing Live Connected, but I just mean houses that were at a Tiny Estates, do you feel like there was a point in time where things shifted and tiny homes like stops depreciating and started kind of holding their value?
Abby Shank 28:45
Yeah, I don't know that I've ever seen a time where they were depreciating, per se. And especially considering we had them as rentals, the US market was really good, at least for as long as we've we've been selling. But I would say when we started in 2018 and 24 foot was probably $50,000 to $60,000. Now it's more like $90,000. And that sticker shock is usually a lot for people. But that's also the cost of housing, the cost of materials now. And the ability to finance them and insure them and a lot has evolved in the industry. So we've seen that that has increased. I mean, we have some builders that are going back to clients saying, "Well, if you're looking to move, I'll buy the house I built you two or three years ago and buy it for more than you paid for it." Which is crazy to me. But the builder knows they can come in touch up a few things, install it for what's now far higher, and that they are still warranting and certifying their same work rather than build something totally new. So there's definitely a market for the used homes as the market evolves.
Ethan Waldman 29:43
That's really interesting. I haven't seen that myself, but I believe you.
Abby Shank 29:48
It's kind of crazy to me, you know, they know we have one person who sold their house or bought their house for $75,00, 3 years ago and the builder just offered them $80k, which is kind of crazy. I mean, obviously we live in In normal house, you oftentimes sell it for more than you bought it for. So it's kind of progressing with normal housing, which is great, because a lot of people have said, "Oh, it won't last. It'll be like a car, you know, it'll deppreciate as soon as it's, the day after it's new, as soon as you buy it." We have definitely not seen that when we pivoted from rentals to owners, we sold all the houses that we had as rentals. And they all like I said, have sold for the same if not more than they were built for, which is crazy.
Ethan Waldman 30:26
I mean, I'm really happy to hear that. And I think that that's like, further differentiation of tiny homes from from RVs. And campers is that, you know, it's it's pretty rare to sell an RV or a camper for more than you bought it for, I think they tend to depreciate pretty heavily, like a like a car would. So I'm really happy to hear that the tiny homes are appreciating,
Abby Shank 30:51
Yeah, it's nice to know that the industry for tiny homes is evolving in that way. And I think just the quality alone speaks to that. Because if you have an RV, I don't think you would drive it off the lot and still have the value. And I think you would notice a lot of those things like bugs and, you know, insulation value, a lot of people say if you took an RV apart, you would never be able to put it back together. We're in a tiny house, if you decided you wanted to renovate the floors or the walls, you could do that the way you would in a typical home.
Ethan Waldman 31:17
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Because, you know, they are at the end of the day, they are built like, like typical homes. But, you know, I think that these factory builds, and I've seen, you know, there are many, there are other companies doing modular factory builds. And I think that, that, for some reason that is seen, you know, in the traditional home world as somehow being lesser than, but I think that, you know, building in a factory with a perfectly, perfectly flat floor, perfect weather. It's actually preferable as a building location.
Abby Shank 31:52
Yeah, you have less delays due to construction, and you know, that the materials haven't been tarnished or, you know, experienced any issues.
Ethan Waldman 31:59
Abby Shank 32:00
I think there's a lot to say for how well the house holds up, and how quickly it can be built because of that.
Ethan Waldman 32:05
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So you know, oftentimes with the kind of systemization, that the the factory model, the ability to customize kind of gets less. How much customization is possible for somebody who's thinking about buying one of these homes?
Abby Shank 32:27
We can do a full custom design, the way that we're building because it's cut on the CNC, it takes a little bit longer for the design file to be truly complete. So we would work with the design team to do the rendering the way a normal builder would give you the file that you can kind of virtually walk through. And then from there, it takes about four weeks to do the file for how it would be cut and ready to build. That's just so that we know that all the pieces and parts are truly going to fit together the way that we need. And we can give a true price based on how long it will take and, and give better metrics. If it is truly custom. Now, a lot of our floor plans are very easily changed or upgraded. And so things like as a house gets bigger, you want to add a pantry or an island, those aren't really custom in our mind. They're, you know, alterations to an existing layout. But if somebody wants a completely different layout or floor plan, that is something we can do we just have to have the design time for the files.
Ethan Waldman 33:18
All right, we're back. We had some slight internet issues, I think on both ends. So hopefully, hopefully, that'll be cleared up now. And Abby, you've actually moved into the factory.
Abby Shank 33:29
Yeah, I have. So hopefully you don't hear any background noise on me, I apologize. I was actually out in a tiny house in the parking lot. The internet's not as great out there. Because the house obviously is not connected in a park or anything like that. But I thought maybe that would be quieter. And you never know what you're gonna get when you do that. So my apologies.
Ethan Waldman 33:46
That's okay. Plus, I got to see a little bit of the house. So that was that was cool, too. Exactly. So you mentioned kind of the scalability of this and the speed, what's the current kind of lead time of of live connected, slash live tiny.
Abby Shank 34:02
If someone were to come in today and want to place an order, we could have a house for them in a matter of a month. Now, it really just depends on you know, how quickly they're looking, most people don't need it that fast. And they'll come in and say, "Hey, could I have it, this coming February or March?" But a lot of our orders are also kind of flexible, so we can always move things around. But we can do about 40 houses in a month in our current warehouse. So we can definitely quickly scale if somebody comes in and they need a bunch for a park or something like that. We're able to very quickly put them on the floor and give them what they need.
Ethan Waldman 34:31
Nice. Well, it's been really great catching up with you. You know, I'll encourage people to check out your first interview as well to hear more about kind of your entrepreneurial journey and and setting up Tiny Estates. But you know, what, what's next for you what what is what's kind of the next thing that you're that you're most excited about?
Abby Shank 34:51
I think starting more communities is definitely our goal. So for those who are looking for an investment, whether they have capital and they want to do a community or they've got land that they think is great for it, we would love to hear from you. We're also trying to connect park owners with those who want to do homes. A lot of people are interested in tiny homes as an investment and they want to Airbnb one, but they don't have the property for it. But a lot of community owners that would love to have tiny homes that are higher end for their park that would love to kind of pair those folks together as well. So whatever the interest is, whether that's to live in or to invest, we're definitely looking to build out communities and give people the opportunity to, to own and be a part of that journey with us. So anyone interested, we would definitely recommend that they reach out to us.
Ethan Waldman 35:33
Fantastic. Well, Abby, Shank, thanks so much for being a guest on the show.
Abby Shank 35:38
Thank you, Ethan.
Ethan Waldman 35:40
Thank you so much to Abby Shank for returning to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast. You can find lots of photos of some of my favorite Live Tiny homes, a transcript of this episode, and of course a link to Abby's first episode, our first interview on the show over at thetinyhouse.net/234. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/234. Well, that is all for this week's show. I am your host, Ethan Waldman and I will be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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