Kristie Wolfe returns to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast with a conversation you do not want to miss. Her initial tiny house project in 2011 led her down a path she never expected. Kristie is passionate about creating unique, handcrafted experiences including a tree house in Hawaii, an underground hobbit hole in Washington and a potato hotel in her hometown of Boise. In this conversation we dive into Kristie's latest and most ambitious project to date, Moonpass lookouts and the inspiration behind them. Discover the secrets behind her success and learn how she continues to dominate the Airbnb market. Get ready for an inspiring and enlightening conversation.
In This Episode:
- Unique Builds 🏠 : Kristie is passionate about constructing unique homes, like a fire lookout tower in Idaho, and keeping offerings original to maintain brand integrity.
- Pricing Tools & Crowdfunding 💰 : The challenges of pricing tools for their Airbnb and leveraging crowdfunding to fund large projects.
- Organization & Documentation 📚 : How a “house bible” will help keep track of maintenance, inventory and records of Kristie’s properties.
- Accessibility & Regulations 🚪: Kristie faces challenges in accessing funds from future reservations and adheres to strict regulations, like installing a fire suppression system, which led to the development of alternative solutions, such as fireball systems.
- Inspirational Projects 👀 : Being a judge in Airbnb's unique project competition and the contestants' effort into their projects, which ranged from a bunker remodel to a salt cave house in Africa.
Links and Resources:
- Superhost School on Youtube
- Moonpass Lookouts Indiegogo
- Iglucraft Homes
- Fedex Waterproof Paper
- Oculis Lodge
- Crystal Peak Lookout on Airbnb
- Episode #111: How to Buy Inexpensive Land, Build for Cheap, and Dominate Airbnb with Kristie Wolfe
Kristie Wolfe built her first tiny house in 2011 as a social experiment in living simply and deliberately. What was intended to last a year ended up becoming a permanent move. From there, she has handcrafted one of a kind experiences like her treehouse in Hawaii, an underground hobbit hole in Washington, a fire lookout in the Idaho Panhandle, and even a potato hotel in her hometown of Boise.
In 2017, Kristie and her brother Sam were able to save a 100-year-old barn and turn it into Idaho’s premiere wedding venue located in Nampa, Idaho. She is currently working on her first single family build in Salmon, Idaho and has another one coming up in Lakeside, Oregon.
Kristie launched a video course for aspiring Airbnb hosts called ‘Superhost School’ where she gives students the tools and information to host their own 5-star experience now available for free on Youtube or Tiktok.
This Week's Sponsor:
We spoke with John and Fin Kernohan from the United Tiny House Association, they have a total of three PrecisionTemp On Demand hot water heaters. PrecisionTemp professionally installed all three of the Kernohan’s water heaters and now they have an on demand supply of endless hot water. These units are suitable for any tiny lifestyle and are available for propane or natural gas.
PrecisionTemp is offering $100 off any unit plus free shipping when use the coupon code THLP. So head over to precisiontemp.com and use the coupon code THLP at checkout for $100 off any unit. Thank you so much to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring our show.
Kristie Wolfe 0:00
Unfortunately I had it shipped at the absolute worst time it got on the ocean. And then I think like two days later the Suez Canal thing happened. So what was supposed to be a 30 to 45 day shipping and was going to cost $6,000 took, I think like five months, and cost nearly as much as the building.
Ethan Waldman 0:27
Imagine waking up in a secluded fire tower Airbnb surrounded by breathtaking views of nature as the golden rays of the morning sun, gently kiss your face. The tranquility and awe inspiring beauty of such a place can transport you to a world far away from the chaos of everyday life. This is exactly the experience that today's guest Kristie Wolfe has created. 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 this is episode 269 with Kristie Wolfe. In 2011, Kristie embarked on a social experiment in simple and deliberate living by building her first tiny home. Little did she know that this project, which was initially intended to last a year will become a permanent and transformative journey. Since then, Kristie has continued to create remarkable handcrafted experiences, including a tree house in Hawaii, an underground hobbit hole in Washington and even a potato hotel in her hometown of Boise. In this conversation, we'll dive into Kristie's latest and most ambitious project to date, Moonpass lookouts, and the inspiration behind them. We also delve into Kristie's experience as an Airbnb host and her journey, creating unforgettable experiences for her guests. We'll discover the secrets behind her success and learn how she continues to dominate the Airbnb market. So get ready for an engaging and enlightening conversation with Kristie Wolfe, as we explore her extraordinary ventures and learn from her hosting expertise. I hope you stick around. I asked John and Finn Kernohan of United Tiny House Association what they love about their PrecisionTemp hot water heaters. And here's what they told me. Hey,
John Kernohan 2:09
Ethan. This is John and Finn Kernohan. With the United Tiny House Association.
Unknown Speaker 2:14
We organized time how best Oh, yeah, I
John Kernohan 2:16
guess. We have a total of three PrecisionTemp On Demand hot water heaters. The thing we really like about these and folks know this, I think they've picked this up on Finn and I, if we don't like something, you'll never hear us talk about it. So the two things we noticed that we noticed experienced immediately. They took painstaking effort to make sure that it was done right and installed. And so that was pretty cool right there. The other thing is the continuous on demand hot water that just ran forever without any fluctuations or anything. I can't imagine an application especially in our environment and our lifestyle of being the Nomad, transportable, mobile, tiny lifestyle where one of these units aren't good to us.
Ethan Waldman 3:09
Right now. PrecisionTemp is offering $100 off any unit plus free shipping when use the coupon code THLP. So head over to precisiontemp.com and use the coupon code THLP at checkout for $100 off any unit. That's precisiontemp.com coupon code THLP. Thank you so much to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring our show
all right, I am here with Kristie Wolfe. Kristie built her first tiny house in 2011 as a social experiment in living simply and deliberately. What was intended to last year ended up becoming a permanent move. From there she has handcrafted one of a kind experiences like her tree house in Hawaii, an underground hobbit hole in Washington fire lookout in the Idaho Panhandle and even a potato hotel in her hometown of Boise. In 2017, Kristie and her brother Sam were able to save 100 year old barn and turn it into Idaho's premier wedding venue located in Nampa, Idaho. He is currently working on her first single family builds in salmon Idaho and has another one coming up in Lakeside Oregon, Kristie also launched a video course for aspiring Airbnb hosts called super host School, where she gives students the tools and information to host their own five star experience now available for free on YouTube or TikTok Kristie Wolfe, welcome back to the show.
Kristie Wolfe 4:44
Hey, good to see you.
Ethan Waldman 4:45
Good to see you too. Thanks for being here. And we were chatting before we started rolling. Your episode. Your first episode is is the most downloaded episode of this podcast. So thank you.
Kristie Wolfe 4:57
That's so amazing. I think There's much more to say about you and your interviewing skills than my ramblings. But I appreciate it.
Ethan Waldman 5:06
Maybe Maybe it's my title writing skills because I think the title of the episode is like, how to buy inexpensive land build for cheap and dominate Airbnb. Airbnb. But actually, I think I think the episode really delivers on on a on the promise of the title, which is maybe why it's been downloaded so many times.
Kristie Wolfe 5:28
Well, that's lovely.
Ethan Waldman 5:29
Yeah. So I guess I want to catch up, because it's been your episode 111? I think so people can go to the tiny house dotnet slash 111 If they want to catch that episode, but it's been several years since we we talked, I think you had just released the potato into the world at that point. Yeah, yeah. So I mean, you're always doing so much, but maybe, and whatever. You might not even I don't remember what I do. But like, catch us up, what have you done since then?
Kristie Wolfe 6:03
Yes, I'm still just, you know, out in the middle of nowhere, working on builds. So since the potato that when went crazy, I thought, and I'm not sure what our conversation was back then. But the potato was more something that I just really wanted to do. I thought, Oh, I'm gonna have to charge less. And this one probably won't be as popular. It's in a farm field. And then it just went bonkers going crazy. So who would have known that there were that many people that had a love for potatoes, like me. So now we have people come in from all over the world, every single day, it is booked. And it's also like a roadside attraction. And we have our cow Dolly, who has now become more popular than a potato. But right now, I'm in salmon, Idaho on this high mountain lake. It's really beautiful. And I'm working on that single family home that I'm nearly finished with Emily and like the last month and I work here for a little bit, and then I head off to another project. So I have that and I have a completed build in Lakeside, Oregon, but it's still just permitting. That one's not on the market. But it's really wonderful. It's a prefab house from Estonia. Okay. Unfortunately, I had it shipped at the absolute worst time it got on the ocean. And then I think like two days later, the Suez Canal thing happened. So what was supposed to be a 30 to 45 day shipping, and was going to cost $6,000 took, I think, like five months and cost nearly as much as the building. So it was a little bit of a nightmare. That one and it's such a wonderful spot. I can't wait for people to come but yeah, I my thinking was, you know, I really want to do a prefab. It'll be so easy. You know, I'll pop in, I'll change some things pop out. Just, you know, you can never count on anything being easy. Yep. That and then what's really exciting in my life right now is I bought, like my dream piece of land 55 acres in Wallace, Idaho, it's up in the Panhandle not far from my fire lookout crystal peak. It's only about 30 miles as the crow flies. But driving wise, it's like an hour and 40 minutes is this beautiful little historic town. And it's where America's largest forest fire started and kind of kicked off the birth of fire towers and the green army that built them. And so I am building I tweaked the design of the traditional fire tower. And I'm building five of those and a fire lookout Museum in Wallace. And I'm really excited about it. And I'm crowdfunding for that right now. So that's been a whole different journey. Yeah, so
Ethan Waldman 9:00
really quick before we talk about the the fire towers because I'm, I'm really excited about them. Are the single family homes. Are they going to be short term rentals? Or are you building them to like, put them on the market and sell them? No, no,
Kristie Wolfe 9:12
no, I'm gonna hold on to everything I own forever. Okay, okay. So yeah, that the ship house that I'm doing in Sam and the one that I'm at right now, it somebody had built it in the 60s. Okay, and I haven't got the complete story, but it's shaped like a ship and I call it the shipwreck house because it looks like a ship that got hit by a cannonball. It was in really rough shape. So it's been abandoned for decades. And really, the inside was preserved pretty well. But everything outside there's lots of large decks. Were just I mean, you couldn't walk around you're gonna fall through everybody in the neighborhood has come by and has been like, I cannot believe you bought that. So I've been repairing it and it's it's a It's been really fun to do a family home. I don't have any kids, but I have 15 nieces and two nephews. And so I've been able to there's like this huge treasure hunt that will involve the parents, and probably take more than one day to figure out that I have throughout the house to like, those sorts of things have been really fun. And different than my typical, you know, I'm, I'm usually designing for a couple to come stay. Okay.
Ethan Waldman 10:27
Well, in our last conversation, one of the things that you shared was kind of your, your problem solving mindset, which is that everything is figured out double. And it sounds like it does was is this ship project like testing the limits of your of your figure out ability?
Kristie Wolfe 10:44
No, it's been, it's been okay, actually crowdfunding, the computer stuff is harder for me than the actual physical things. But it has been this is like a lot of square footage compared to my other ones. So this is basically like doing three builds. So it has been super time consuming. And I also bought this and started working on it right when the lumber spikes happen. So all my decks are like, you know, when plywood was $104 a piece and stuff like that. So that whole COVID and supply chains that has been super challenging and hard to figure out things because there's not a lot in your control, you know, but it's just been a big project, not necessarily a super challenging one. But I was gonna say the family, the guy who built it, he, I believe is in his 90s They're going to be my first guest in July. And so the grandkids that grew up here, they're like my age now. The whole family's coming down. I'm gonna get the whole story.
Ethan Waldman 11:47
That's so fun. Yeah. So fire towers, which are like, they're so cool. And you you, you have one fire tower crystal peak, which is an old fire tower that you kind of rehabbed and are now Airbnb being what is it about fire towers that made you be like, Okay, I want to do I want to do more of these, I want to do five of them.
Kristie Wolfe 12:12
Yes, that was kind of the gateway drug crystal peak, you know, I, I'm just really drawn to unique builds. And so I, I was looking up different unique buildings, like school houses, most times, those are really big, you know, I need like the one room schoolhouses that has gone down the line. I'm like, I really would like a fire lookout. Usually, those are decommissioned. And you have to erect them on private land. But the one I came across this article that said that there was one for sell in Idaho, which is crazy. And this is like, you know, I'm from Idaho. I live in Idaho. And this was my first Idaho build. And so, but the article was quite old, it was on a blog, but I did some digging. And I eventually found the real letter from this expired post got a hold of him and was able to buy it. The listing had expired, and nobody had purchased it. And so it was the same situation as the ship has been abandoned forever. But it's kind of a wild story. I tried to like, find the history and learn everything I can about whatever the type of build is. And so obviously, there's a lot of history with the fire towers, but I didn't know my particular one, what the deal was with that. And so somebody had said it was in a book called fire lookouts at the Northwest and that would be helpful. I went and looked up that book. It was like $300 on Amazon because it's out of print. And so I decided that I would try to find the author's email address and email him and I did and he wrote back immediately, and he said, Well, my son Dave, actually is the one who put your tower on there. So it had come from Washington State originally, he bought it for $1 on the condition that he move it within a month, he did that. And that's where I got crystal peak, and he actually sold all the timber on the land to pay for the land. So he got out of it like scot free. It was just like this fun thing. And his dad is the like, expert in all things. fire towers. And so through that, and so Dave has come in state now and I've visited Ray lots of time. And so yeah, just learning so much more about them. It's a really cool experience, because you have the 360 degree windows, usually in solitude. So they're really cool, but they are dwindling in numbers. We just lost one here and salmon last year and the moose fire. And so my hope is with my museum, and then everybody tells me I can't make a museum, pay for itself or be profitable, but I think I can do that. I see all right, but I'm like I do have the income from the Airbnbs that can help support the museum. And then the museum's mission will be to help support the forest lookout association with doing upkeep on the old ones. And then also just wildfire education and things like that. So I don't know, I've become a little obsessed with it. And I thought I was going to do it in Fern wood where my other one was, and it just like never, never came to fruition, I couldn't buy a large lot, I would have had to put them on, scatter them amongst the town. And then last year, I was coming through Wallace, and I just stopped on like, a beautiful picturesque like first day of winter, huge snowflakes. The town is so charming and beautiful. My other ones just, it's not really even in a town. It's just in the middle of nowhere, right. And so and then I had like the best lasagna of my life. And I was just like, so taken with the charm of this town that I started looking for land. And then I found a piece last October, and didn't know if I could do it. Because you know, from my roots of very cheap properties, which this is cheap for what I'm getting, but still out of my budget. So this was 500,000. And it's 55 acres completely surrounded by Forest Service lands. So there's no neighbors, and just in like the most beautiful little city, so I decided to do the crowd funding to help with the rest of it. Because it's just so much bigger of an undertaking, then what I would normally do is just bootstrap the whole thing with my savings. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 16:48
Cool. Okay. Wow, this is, this feels very new for you. Because I know like last time we talked, you were always you're like blowing my mind with how cheap you bought everything for you. And you're like No, Ethan, it doesn't matter if it's in the middle of nowhere. As long as it's a unique experience, people will will come.
Kristie Wolfe 17:05
Yes. Which I still stand by. I definitely still stand by that.
Ethan Waldman 17:08
Yes. Well, so the new location. So this is raw land that you purchased. And so you're having to like clear, like put in road clear the space like all the utilities, all that stuff, right?
Kristie Wolfe 17:21
Well, utility they're not, there's not going to really be utilities, per se. So there there is like a driveway already. And there is they used to have two manufactured homes there. And that the footings for those manufactured homes is what the museum design is based off of. Okay, so they do already have a water cistern. Huge propane tanks and a big solar setup for that area. So I'm a head there. There's like a creek and a pond. And it's just, it's just incredible. Cool. I have to do it.
Ethan Waldman 17:56
Yeah, and actually, for people who are listening, I created kind of like a shortcut. You can check out the crowdfunding campaign if you're listening soon. So you can go to thetinyhouse.net/moonpass, and you'll see the campaign so essentially, these aren't your kind of pre selling stays in, in the lookout, right?
Kristie Wolfe 18:18
Exactly. Yeah. So normally so I could I could open up my calendar for next year when I think I could be open and start booking through Airbnb. However, as you know, as an Airbnb host, those funds are not released to you until somebody stays so I have hundreds of 1000s of dollars in future reservations on Airbnb but don't have access to that money. Which stinks. Yeah. And and the people have already paid for it. Airbnb is holding it. Totally understand. But it makes it difficult. When you're like, oh, I have this idea. And I could do this thing. If I had that money I would be able to, to expand or do another unit. Yeah. But you don't. Yeah. And so there's been a couple of other successful campaigns. There's one called Oculus lodge that launched on Indiegogo a couple months ago in Washington State. And so I talked to the founder of that and decided to give it a shot. It's way more work than I ever anticipated. But basically the sell is that people are my guests are getting a really good discount on their stay. So when when we're done with this, it'll just be normal prices. And they get first access though my places you have to book out pretty far in advance. So if you're wanting to stay soon, it gives the guest the ability to do that and then also just help help make this a reality which is really cool. And one thing that I think has been interesting about it is Normally, I buy something and you know, the rumor mill starts in little little town that I'm in and I start to meet people slowly and, you know, yeah, figure out, you know, different resources and stuff. But by announcing this before, we've got too far into the build, you know, we're in permitting and stuff like that. But it's been really wonderful because people from the community have reached out or people are saying, Hey, I have an a, you know, I own an electrician shop in town if you needed to help with that. Oh, we have this we have that. That has been really amazing to build that network on the front end versus over the months of building Yeah, and yeah, I've I've really loved that part of it. That sounds great.
Ethan Waldman 20:50
And it's nice to get the commute almost get the community behind what you're doing. Right? Yeah. Slash find an awesome caretaker to for the property. Yes, exactly.
Kristie Wolfe 21:01
We're gonna need Yeah,
Ethan Waldman 21:03
so with a crystal peak lookout I kind of remember you did was the bathroom inside of like a snowcat or something.
Kristie Wolfe 21:11
Now we do have a snowcat that helps take guests up in the winter because inaccessible via car. Okay. There was a like an old outhouse that we have there and then, okay, there's an old woodshed that we made into a sauna. So I've borrowed from those things for this one quite heavily.
Ethan Waldman 21:28
Yeah. So what are you doing for bathrooms? And plumbing? Is there going to be plumbing inside of the lookouts? Or is it all kind of down in the bathrooms?
Kristie Wolfe 21:37
It's all down below. Like we do have a sink but it doesn't have like water that you turn on it like when a pump faucet so you can like you know, clean up and things like that but not running water. Okay. And then down at the bottom, there will be a unit that will have a sauna and a toilet. Okay, so a bathroom but not a shower. Yep. So you might know about these dry flush toilets. Do you know about this? It's like works like a Diaper Genie.
Ethan Waldman 22:05
Yeah, I've definitely heard of them and looked at them online.
Kristie Wolfe 22:08
Okay, so that's my plan. That's, that's what we have proposed, to the city to use. Okay, so those will be in those units. And then in the museum, there's actually a part that I'm going to have showers for the guests that there will be a part blocked off from the rest of the place and accessible for all hours. That will have actual running hot water. So the showers will be there and we will have some flushing toilets in there as well.
Ethan Waldman 22:37
Okay. Okay. Cool. Lots of options for toilets. Yeah.
Kristie Wolfe 22:41
And then there'll just be like a little bit of solar power for charging your phones and headlamps and things like that. That's kind of what we do at Crystal peak.
Ethan Waldman 22:50
Yeah, but no, no hair dryers or toaster ovens? No. How do you prevent people from trying?
Kristie Wolfe 22:59
We don't have outlets. Okay, that works.
Ethan Waldman 23:02
Kristie Wolfe 23:03
and my other properties that I have off grid. I don't put an outlet in the bathroom. Like we have to have outlets other places. So it still could happen. But I don't put them in the bathroom.
Ethan Waldman 23:12
That's That's smart. Yeah, we the tiny house that I Airbnb is the one that I built. And I like I didn't know what I was doing. It's only got like, one amp service. So like, if somebody plugs in a hairdryer well, like the hot water heaters on it. Breakers trip
Kristie Wolfe 23:27
staff. Yeah. Well, and we do we, you know, we tried to like tell everybody in our guide books and everything like this house is off grid. You know, no, hairdryer is nothing that heats up like that. Well, you won't have power. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 23:43
Well, last time we spoke, I think we talked about superhost school that you were working on. And that was going to be like a paid course. And it looks like you shifted gears and now it's free on YouTube.
Kristie Wolfe 23:55
Yes, I decided to just launch it for free. It was paid for a certain amount of time. But I just, you know, I'm not the guru type to hold webinars and things like that. I'm totally you know, I'm building full time, but I still wanted the information to be out there. Because when people you know, hit me up about it, trying to respond to those questions individually is quite hard. So yeah, I put everything I know basically about hosting into those videos and just ended up having them put up there for free as anybody can access them.
Ethan Waldman 24:35
Nice. That's awesome. I'll definitely link to those as well in the show notes for this episode, which will be at thetinyhouse.net/269 And I'm looking for I when I was kind of prepping for our interview. I was like oh super high school is free now. I got to do that. Yeah. So I want to circle back to something you mentioned before prefab houses from us. Don't ya?
Kristie Wolfe 25:01
Oh my gosh, there's such a cool house, but it's so hard. So the company that I use is called igloo craft. And they're like, if you picture an Airstream that was covered in cedar shakes, you would have a pretty good mental image. And that's probably what I should have done. Their craftsmanship is great. But the getting into America was quite hard. And then also probably, you know, if I had done this in Idaho, it would probably be different. But, and maybe it wouldn't even be different in a different county. But where I put it, there are lots of rules in Oregon. And so originally, you know, when I bought the land, I reached out to the necessary people and said, like, this is what I'm planning on doing. And at that time, like the state was in charge of buildings like this, and they said, okay, just have the factory send us pictures, which we did. Okay, when it got here, that changed, and the state no longer handles it. And so they're like, Well, you can't have a house that it has to be a prefab house that is manufactured in the state of Oregon. Oh, no mod. And I'm like, well, it's not. So what do I do now? Right. So then I went through this whole thing of after the fact permit added that has just been, and things just keep changing and changing. So and now, where I'm at, they implemented that all Airbnbs no matter the size have to have a fire suppression system, which, if you know anything about them, they're quite expensive. And I've tried to go I've tried to this is the figuring out part, I will figure it out. But I tried to go down the route of like, there are these, like fire ball, things that they use in food trucks that have like a chemical powder in them, okay, so that if the food truck reaches a certain temperature, then it explodes and puts out your fire. Okay? Because my house is so small, putting in the sprinkler system and the likelihood that a guest trips, the sprinkler system is way more likely than we have a fire in the rain forest, when I don't have both practical right bores when I don't have any open flame or anything like that. So I'm still trying to find a solution that would work for that. But it's new and so it's very narrow. Yeah. So the building itself, amazing. Anybody that's doing a prefab, especially outside of the country, I would definitely make sure you are allowed, you know, I mean, there's not a lot I could do they change jurisdictions and stuff like that, but I wouldn't do it in a like a I'm trying to think of a nice word but you know, in Idaho in rural areas. Yeah, there aren't even building departments, something like that. You would have been totally fine. But I'm like in a city. There has to be, you know, a lot of laws around that, which I'm totally fine with, but it has made it more difficult. It's a really cool building though.
Ethan Waldman 28:05
Yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing I just quickly looked up a glue craft while you were while you were chatting and they are incredible looking.
Kristie Wolfe 28:12
Really? Yeah, they're really really beautiful. I ended up redoing most of than the interior. Of course you did to make it more cottagey Oh, yeah, of course. Because it has more of a like what I would say in America looks like kind of like a cubicle aesthetic on the inside. So I took out all of that and and customized it but I think they're adorable. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 28:39
Yeah, no, they're they're super unique. And I think that that's a good description and Airstream covered in cedar shingles, which I suppose next time you could just buy an Airstream and cover it and cheap if I
Kristie Wolfe 28:50
had to do it over again
Ethan Waldman 28:54
nice nice Wow. So I want to get into the weeds a little bit on Airbnb hosting just a couple quick questions hopefully hopefully people aren't like going to go to sleep during this time. I noticed that your listings the pricing is oh is like very straightforward like $200 a night or whatever per night do you use and or recommend pricing tools that do dynamic pricing or do you prefer to keep things just very steady?
Kristie Wolfe 29:22
I I would recommend it and as I was more on top of my stuff, I would probably have it. This is just because I am like not paying attention but yeah, I don't I I don't change the rates for weekends or holidays or things like that. I mean, I'm in really rural areas. So like it's not like oh, there's a festival in town and we're gonna be booked and so I don't know that there'll be a lot. Also I haven't played around with it for a long time. But for a long time. These pricing tools would want me to price my houses way lower. Hmm, then what I was getting for years? Yeah. Because they're looking at a house that has no amenities. Why would anybody stay here? You know, they can't, they can't factor in the experience or the character. And so they're not, or at least at that time, it wasn't basing off of like, historically, you've always got $400 A night, so you should up it or something like that. And then the other thing that I run into, is, when I do do a price change, my listing, or my bookings are so far into the future, that I'm like, Okay, well, what do I want the Hubble hole to be priced at in November of 2024? I don't know. And so then I just ended up not
Ethan Waldman 30:46
doing it. Okay. Well, I'm a big fan of price labs, I've been using it for my property, and I think it I think it would do all the things that you just mentioned that you need it to do, like,
Kristie Wolfe 31:00
I should probably outsource that to yes,
Ethan Waldman 31:03
I was gonna say I like, it's clear that like, what interests you the most is like building and creating these super unique structures. And I feel like, the only way to do it, the way that you do it is to just stay focused on that and not the other stuff. So I was gonna ask, like, Do you have a team? Do you have an assistant? Or is it just you doing all this?
Kristie Wolfe 31:26
I just barely hired assistant. This is like her second week. And it's been amazing. It's been amazing. She just went and went to all the we went on a road trip to all the different places so she could meet everybody except for Hawaii. And so yeah, I just barely got somebody. You know, I've had I've hired my brother to come out a couple times to the ship house, but now he's running the wedding venue. So can't. So no, it's still mainly just little old me struggling through it. But I would like a team, for sure. Yeah, I just, it's so hard to know who I need. I do. I do use like people on Upwork and stuff like that all the time for, you know, permits, or blueprints. Or I work with lots of people, freelancers, I guess. I want to grow that team.
Ethan Waldman 32:19
Yeah. Well, it's I mean, you have to have people that you can reach out to for permits, and for blueprints and that kind of stuff. And I'm sure that you have people that you work with now who you can kind of go back to?
Kristie Wolfe 32:32
Yes, yes. But it was it was hitting a breaking point of, you know, I don't know how many more listings I could onboard, and still continue to spend most of my time building. So yeah, what I want to do,
Ethan Waldman 32:47
well, there's all the customer service that comes with just like running a listing when somebody texts you and says like, hey, the lock is jammed. How do I get in? Like, does that guy who or does that go to like your local caretaker?
Kristie Wolfe 32:58
And then you're like, just try again? Okay, you got it. Awesome. No, that does go to me, it actually will go, I do use gesi. So they'll probably see it first. And I just get like the text alert with like, the very first of the sentence, any host will know. And so sometimes you don't know, like is gonna be it's like, hey, we arrived and you're like, is that a good? Or is this gonna be like something? So usually on those ones, I will like, look at it and see if it's something that I could answer right away. But for most of the things, guests can answer and they're not too urgent, but yeah, it's still it's coming to me.
Ethan Waldman 33:41
Wow. That is, I'm I'm like, amazed and also I'm like, Kristie, you shouldn't be doing shake Come on.
Kristie Wolfe 33:52
I know the assistant will take over that part. But and really like my, when I get those calls with the lock with whatever my reaction is, how do we fix this? So I don't get that call again. Right? Like, is this locked too confusing? Is is it starting to stick what's going on here? You know, and then try to eliminate that as much as possible.
Ethan Waldman 34:17
Got it. And that's like, I've, I've really like I've gone back to your interview. As I've set up my Airbnb, like I've created a manual and I took lots of pictures of how I want it to be for my cleaner and like, every time somebody has a question, I add it to the manual. Yes, and it really helps.
Kristie Wolfe 34:36
Yes, I have this fantasy of making a house Bible for each of my properties and I kind of have it in like pieces. But I'm just having this like Master of down to like the paint colors. You know, I take pictures of when I build of like where the wires and plumbing is running, things like that. Yep, appliance manuals All those things because when something does happen, this is the part that I'm like trying to make a system for. Yep. You know if a water heater goes out, but I'm the one that knows, oh, we buy it from this guy on Maui that just has like an old Craigslist ad, I think his name's Ron, let me look it up, you know, and I have to do that, then it's always going to come back to me. So I want this manual to be able to say like, Oh, now I don't have to go and find that model number to get it to the maintenance person. So that would be a dream, if anybody wants to know, that's like, one of the things that I have in their neighbor's phone number is because you know, somebody's dog shows up. Or, you know, oh, there's a crazy windstorm. And then I am really connected to these neighborhoods that are really rural, because there's nobody, you know, the news isn't covering whatever is happening. So if they're like, oh, there's a tree down on the road, then everybody's messaging. And so just all of those little things that go into a house, and you know, if there's a scuff, then this is it. And also lots of the things that I buy, it's like really curated. So they come from a million different places. Yeah, and aren't necessarily replaceable. So having pictures of the items, so that somebody else would be able to say, Well, okay, we can't get that because it was from an antique store, but we can find something slightly similar.
Ethan Waldman 36:25
Yeah, that's Yeah, that's really smart. I mean, I kind of did that with my tiny house. But I didn't. I didn't stay that organized about it. But so now it's like, when I need to replace the anode in the hot water heater. I'm like, going into my Amazon history and scrolling back exactly. Finding the part number, and then yeah, no, it would be really nice to have all that compiled. And I can imagine that, once you have multiple properties, it kind of becomes a necessity.
Kristie Wolfe 36:51
Yes. And then the only other thing that I haven't found a good system for with running my Airbnb is the inventory. So do you use what was turnover? b&b, but they are no,
Ethan Waldman 37:05
I played around with it, it feels like a little bit more than I need for my one property. And so I ended up kind of building basically, what I needed was a way for my two cleaners to be able to sign up for dates. And so I kind of rigged together my own system using this tool that I love called notion. Okay, no, no, it's 10, which is actually what I use for my I use notion for my tiny house manual. So that, you know, there's just like, a QR code, just a laminated page that says, like, go here for the tiny house manual. And so every time I update it that, you know, it's essentially a website that gets updated rather than having to like, print out another copy of it.
Kristie Wolfe 37:47
Yes, I do go through that. We have like a Google Doc that is editable. But then I have the physical one at the house that does need to be changed from time to time. One thing about that is it's not called Kinko's anymore. FedEx Office has a waterproof paper. Have you seen I have not seen this. It's amazing. It looks like normal paper. But I have printed off like posters and stuff for my outdoor like Trailhead at the at Crystal peak, it is not faded, you know, it's wet, snowy, all that stuff. Cool. So even inside of your house, like in Hawaii, where it's humid, the paper gets all gross, or somebody sets their coffee on it. And you know, then you're like, Oh, now I have this crappy thing. Or you have the plastic sleeves. Yeah, that waterproof paper is amazing sounds or guidebooks or anything that you do have to have a sign for in your house, we, but I use turnover for my cleaners. And I love it. I don't use their marketplace. But I love it because of pain. The Cleaners. So I don't know how you do that. But like before having to stay on top of paying everybody and I would do it weekly. So this makes it so they get paid immediately after they clean, which is great. But they have they have tried to do a inventory part. But it's more like the caretaker would say, Oh, we have 24 rolls of toilet paper left and what I want to exist, the only thing that I still like have to do myself is like a caretaker will say, hey, you know lots of things we have on subscription through Amazon, but we have lots of unique things too. So they'll say, you know, hey, our sheets are looking rough or we need a new, you know, whatever the certain cells that we have, and so then I'll have to go and and purchase it and I would really like something that they would just be able to scan the barcode and reorder for our house. That would be amazing. And I'm hoping and like I've been playing around with AI a lot and I'm hoping that soon I can create my own in that system of all the products that get reused, that we have to replace, and just let them take care of that
Ethan Waldman 40:07
really cool. Yeah, this is a lot to think about for for an expanding Airbnb empire. Yeah. I want to shift back to the, to the moon pass lookouts. And I'm curious, have you figured out how you're going to build them yet?
Kristie Wolfe 40:24
Yes. So I have like the blueprints and stuff. And it was really fun working with the structural engineer, I obviously already have my existing tower to base it off them. And so that one has a metal frame, a steel frame. But the guy that I mentioned earlier, Dave, that took it there, he did it all with his Bronco, and like a buddy. And so it's like, all bolted together, it's still there crazy heavy, you know, I can barely pick up at end, but it's doable. And so what I told the structural engineer is that I need all of these pieces to be able to bolt together, instead of I don't want any welding. Yeah, it all has to be off site. Yep. Not that I couldn't get a welder out there, but just gonna make it so much easier. So that was really fun to design. And then, you know, these ones have a clear roof. And so that structure was a little bit of a challenge. And even though my current tower is a wood box that sits on top of a wood frame, he says that that's not okay. For wind and stuff. So it actually has to have still covering, you know, my corners basically have to be steel and stuff like that. And so, you know, lots of people in those sort of professional are like, super thinkers, you know, yeah. And I am just a jack of all trades sort of thing. So he was having a problem with, how are we going to bolt together, this thing that needs to look really nice, because it's a skylight. And so I was like, trying to understand the problem. And then I said, Well, couldn't I just have some brackets manufactured? You know, that we could just pop the corners into or, you know, the one on top that like, kind of star looking? One, I can just have that manufacturer and then we can just put those in. He was like, well, like, Yeah, I think that would work. Let me run some numbers. It is just like, too simple of a solution for his genius mind, you know? Yeah. So yeah, I'm just going to have, I'm hoping to put them all up at once, that will keep the costs down. Yeah. And have everything shipped out there and then just be there for like two weeks erecting them. And that's, that's the idea. I tried to design them. So that doesn't have, you know, highly skilled labor involved. And I'm super stoked about it. I can't wait to build them. Have you thought about, like making them a prefab kit that you can buy? or and or plans that you can buy? Because I think that people would know, I get hit up all the time for all of my places. Actually, I just had to send a message. And it probably will do no good to somebody on Alibaba that has pictures of my hobbit hole that they're selling. My hobbit hole brave. I'm like, definitely, you know, I mean, I don't know what kind of thing they think that they can make it. But for it to be buried. It's got to be pretty crazy. Anyway. Yeah. So I do get hit up a lot. But for me, like the uniqueness of it, I don't really want them to go everywhere. That might sound bad. But I'm like, I have guests coming from all over the world. Not that there couldn't be an Eastern fire lookout thing. But Right, right. I want this to be the fire lookout capital of the world. And, you know, I just tell people, it's a custom design. And, yeah, this is what I do. And I think the other thing is, I could have people do, you know, lockouts, or tree houses or whatever I could, I could sell those. But one, it's getting away from what I want to be doing, which is creating these experiences. Yeah. And then I also, you know, if somebody puts one in Tennessee, but they don't care about the customer experience, like I do, which is going to be really hard for anybody, then somebody might associate my brand with that one. And it's not really we're not really connected, that sort of stuff.
Ethan Waldman 44:41
That all makes sense. That all makes sense. I am, I retract, retract, Mike. No, I don't retract my question.
Kristie Wolfe 44:48
I do feel a little stingy when people are like, hey, share with me your plans. I'm like, well, that's no. Like figure it out yourself.
Ethan Waldman 44:55
Yeah, exactly. I mean, frankly, like you have enough photos of them that if somebody really wanted to build one. Do it, you know?
Kristie Wolfe 45:03
Well, and we've had people come with tape measures to the tree house at Build. Yeah, a couple of streets up. But fortunately which used to like drive me crazy. Yeah. But fortunately like, people will always underestimate what is in important these important thing. Yeah. Yeah. And then they'll be like, well, you have to have your have all this wasted space, you should put this in that and then it gets so far from the original plan, yes, that it doesn't look like a copy. But what I hope you know, I do share a lot of information. So I'm and what I hope is like not for somebody to just copy the build, but like that they will be inspired to build their own thing. Right. And, and that's what I think is really cool, especially with like the OMG fund and stuff, all of those houses are starting to be framed in and stuff now. And it's so exciting to see because it's all original ideas, you know, and that, and it's awesome.
Ethan Waldman 46:03
That was something you did something with Airbnb for that to help select people. Yeah,
Kristie Wolfe 46:08
I really wanted to compete in it. Instead, I was a judge, which is the second best thing. But Airbnb last year gave $10 million to 100 people. So each person got $100,000, to build something unique and all over the world. And so I was one of the I think three judges. And we were each given them in like the final round. And we each got like a certain amount of them to judge. So not all of the winners, I didn't see all of the winners and applications, but a fair amount of them. And it's and I follow them as much as I can on Instagram and try to cheer them on. That's been really, really cool.
Ethan Waldman 46:50
Can you share any details on on any of your, you know, maybe one or two your favorite projects that one.
Kristie Wolfe 46:57
So the ones that I judge that I think are really fun is like somebody has a bunker. I can't remember it's in the middle of the country somewhere. I can't remember where it is. But so they had already had that and they're just wanting to remodel it. I'm like, I'm super jealous of that. I would love to have a bunker. This gal had a dice house. It's two dice stacked and they're kind of like it kind of makes a porch on one of them. But everything in there like the step the floating staircases like Jenga pieces, and the tile in the shower is Tetris and stuff. And her little video that she submitted like the execution was so good. And it's it's also really interesting to be on this side of like a competition. Yeah, I don't know that I've applied for any competitions. But I probably have in the past, but to know like, what sticks. I was really surprised at how little effort a lot of people put in to their submission videos and stuff. And so you could really tell like that girl submission video like blew me away really, really cool. She had like these little characters animation and stuff like that. That one's really cool. Nice. One of my other favorites. I think these people are in Colorado, I might be getting all the states messed up. But they have a big property and an existing like normal house Airbnb. But at one time, their house was like a landfill for tires or their property. So out in the middle of this gorgeous forest. There's 1000s of tires. And in their county, you can only recycle, like for a year. Like can't get rid of them. And so they came up with this super cool design. It's not an Earthship, but it looks like two stacked tires on top of each other built out of rubber. And that's like the perfect thing for me like you're taking something that is a nuisance that you have all this stuff and what are you going to do with it? And making it into something that people are going to want to come and experience? You know, that's super cool. And then there's a gal in Africa that's doing a salt cave house. Wow, that was really incredible, too. There's there's a bunch there's 100 people so they're all really awesome.
Ethan Waldman 49:13
That's those are all so cool sounding. You got my brain thinking like what's like what's unique to Vermont? I'm like thinking like something cheese? Maybe the chatter house? Yeah, it'd be it'd be made out of cheese. Yeah, I'm curious. You know, you you're a super Skill Builder. And you're like always learning some new things. So do you have any like, any things that you learned? Building wise in the last couple of years that kind of surprised you? Or like wow, I've been doing that the hard way. And now I know it the easy now this is the easy way.
Kristie Wolfe 49:52
Oh my gosh, that's such a good question. And I'm sure there's a million things I'm trying to think I Oh no, nothing's coming to my head. But like, the thing that is interesting is I'm pretty old. So I've been building for quite a while. And to see like products getting better, is really fascinating. Like, I always think every time I'm doing pecks pipe I think about that I used to solder pipe together. Like this is so easy. That's a tool that I love is the crimp tools. But it's, it looks like a wrench. So it kind of has like a head on it. That's kind of at a weird angle, like a wrench instead of like the big one that you had. And I'm weak, I have like no upper bodies, I would have the big ones. And I'd had to like hit it against the wall to move all my body to try to crimp a ring together, you know, and in the tight spots. Yeah, so this new one just like fits into the tiniest spots. And it's so easy to crimp together. That's a tool that I love. And I've been trying to do with big my, like, poor kid mentality is to be such like, you know, get by with what you have sort of a thing. But I've been trying to when I need a tool or want a tool to buy the freaking tool, and really hard. But recently, I bought a planer nice, you know, I had the handheld one, but I bought a bigger one that's been really incredible. I need to go buy a new table saw. But it's again, one of those hard things, right? That is convincing me to do it. I'm like, I do have some expendable income. And it is my job. And every time like even buying a new tape measure. I'm like, Oh my gosh, this is amazing. You know, instead of the one that like has that bend at three feet, you know, that sort of stuff?
Ethan Waldman 51:44
Cool. Cool. Yeah, I've been able to do you bring these big tools with you to these different job sites? Or do you end up like buying stuff and leaving it there,
Kristie Wolfe 51:53
I bring most of my stuff. And then I end up losing things all across the state. I have recently, I think last year, I bought a toolbox for every single place and I put all the basic things like all of the basic bits, you know, Teflon tape, electrical tape, all those things, just the cause every time I'd be like, Okay, I have four hours to get into the hobbit hole, do whatever I got to do and get out and then it's not close to town. So then when I'm at home depot before I'm heading up there, I'm like, do I have a cult gun up there? I think I have a cult gun. Well, they're $4 I might as well buy a call gun and that I end up with like six up there to now I just know exactly that I have the basics in side. And then I will bring like my impact drill and like a reciprocating saw go everywhere with me. But then when I like add a build like this, I will bring all my power tools Got it. Got it.
Ethan Waldman 52:55
Awesome. Well, I, I I could just keep chatting with you all afternoon. But I'm sure you have stuff to do. Actually, I know you have stuff to do based on this conversation. So one last question is, you know, any YouTube channels, Instagram people books that you've read, just anything that has really inspired you in the last couple of years or a couple of months that
Kristie Wolfe 53:17
you should have known this question was coming. You know, for every build, it is different, because I really like to immerse myself in the topic. So for the shipwreck build, I've, like listened to a lot of the classics like Treasure Island and things like that. So it's not particular books that I would feel like resonate with everybody across the board. But I would say if you are doing something unique like that, even like for the lookout towers, you know, rewatching documentaries and reading things about people's lives, in the towers being a watchman, but also just from the time period when these were being built, like really affects everything. I feel like it seeps in to the whole design. It definitely like seeps into, like terminology in the guide books and things like that. Yeah. And I think just makes the build more enjoyable.
Ethan Waldman 54:15
Nice. Nice. Well, Kristie. Well, thank you. Thank you so much. Again, for another great interview. I have the feeling this one's going to be maybe the number two most popular.
Kristie Wolfe 54:24
We need to just make an annual date to catch up.
Ethan Waldman 54:29
Done. June 13 2024.
Kristie Wolfe 54:32
Ethan Waldman 54:34
All right. Thanks so much.
Kristie Wolfe 54:36
All right. Talk to you later.
Ethan Waldman 54:38
Thank you so much to Kristie Wolfe for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes, including links to all of Kristie's properties to the Moon Pass lookouts, crowdfunding campaign and so much more over at thetinyhouse.net/269. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/269. Thanks You also to PrecisionTemp Hot Water Heaters for sponsoring our show today. Don't forget they are offering $100 off any unit plus free firstname.lastname@example.org When you use the coupon code THLP, which if you didn't know stands for Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, that's precisiontemp.com coupon code THLP. Well, that's all for the show. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
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