MJ Boyle is a mastermind in the tiny house community and the founder of several successful tiny house businesses, including My Tiny House Village and Oregon Teardrop Rentals. MJ has not only built and rented out nine unique tiny homes but has just embarked on transforming a construction trailer into an alluring tiny home called “My Tiny Bunkhouse.” In today's episode, MJ will share her innovative approach to waterless and odorless toilet systems that enhance both guest and staff experiences. We'll also delve into the art of rehabilitating and renovating tiny structures, a skill MJ has honed over years of experience, turning dilapidated shells into dream homes with sustainable practices. Join us for a comprehensive discussion on maintaining high occupancy rates, exceptional guest satisfaction, and the strategic intricacies of managing multiple tiny house locations efficiently. It’s a packed interview you won't want to miss!

In This Episode:

  • Pet-Friendly Policies 🐾: MJ allows pets but requires a deposit and adherence to specific rules to grant a free stay, addressing the challenge of finding pet-friendly rentals.
  • Flooring Choices 🏡: Luxury vinyl flooring is highlighted due to its scratch and water resistance, plus its ability to make spaces appear larger.
  • Built-In Furniture 🔨: Stability and practicality are achieved through built-ins instead of traditional furniture, tailored to renter needs.
  • Profitable Rentals 💸: MJ shares a success story where investing in tiny homes yielded substantial profit and emphasizes the importance of long-term planning.
  • Laundry Logistics 🧺: Discusses the high costs and logistical challenges of laundry management across multiple rental properties in different states.
  • DIY Composting Toilet 🚽: MJ designed a cost-effective, odorless composting toilet system using buckets, wood pellets, and cedar shavings, enhancing guest experience.
  • Property Rehabilitation 🛠️: MJ transformed a dilapidated trailer into a functional and inviting tiny home, showcasing her talent in renovation.
  • Business Growth During COVID 📈: The pandemic brought high demand, with rentals fully booked for an extended period, demonstrating business resilience.
  • Infrastructure Challenges 🔌: MJ recounts the technical and regulatory hurdles in establishing a new site for her tiny house village.


Links and Resources:

Guest Bio:

MJ Boyle

MJ Boyle

Michelle “MJ” Boyle is a patented inventor, an outgoing and accomplished speaker, enthusiastic Glamper, passionate entrepeneur, as well as the Founder and Creator of My Tiny House Village, Oregon Teardrop Rentals, and My Tiny Creekside Retreat. From Vermont to Texas, and Florida to Oregon, MJ has graced the stages of over a dozen events and festivals and has been featured on the Drew Barrymore Show, The New York Times, Yahoo, MSN, Business Insider, House Beautiful, and Costco Magazine; and in countless articles and videos documenting her creations and her story. Everywhere she goes she brings wit and humor, humility and expertise; but most importantly, the desire to inspire others to live their own version of Tiny House Heaven.


More Photos:

MJ Boyle and Teardrop Rental

Another teardrop rental

Creekside Retreat

Colorful Creekside Retreat


Ethan Waldman [00:00:01]: Alright. I am here with MJ Boyle. Michelle MJ Boyle is a patented inventor, an outgoing and accomplished speaker, enthusiastic glamper, passionate entrepreneur, as well as the founder and creator of My Tiny House Village, Oregon Teardrop Rentals, and My Tiny Creekside Retreat. From Vermont to Texas and Florida to Oregon, MJ has graced the stages of over a dozen events and festivals and has been featured on The Drew Barrymore Show, The New York Times, Yahoo, MSN, Business Insider, House Beautiful, and Costco Magazine, and in countless articles and videos documenting her creations and her story. Everywhere she goes, she brings wit and humor, humility Ethan expertise, but most importantly, the desire to inspire others to live their own version of tiny house heaven. One of my favorite people in the tiny house world, MJ Boyle. Welcome back to the tiny house lifestyle podcast for the 3rd time.

MJ [00:00:58]: Woo hoo. Thank you very much. It's so it's so great to hear a familiar voice and see your face.

Ethan Waldman [00:01:06]: Yep. And as somebody who is I guess, former podcast host yourself, you had to make sure that that bio was just full of tongue twisters.

MJ [00:01:17]: You're welcome.

Ethan Waldman [00:01:18]: Yeah. Thank you. I think I did it. I don't have to do any overdubs there. So, you know, I was just reviewing, you know, our past conversations. You were on the show, you know, episode 40 ish. So that was, like, 2018, 2019, and then you were there again episode 90 ish. So that's, like, 20 19 ish.

Ethan Waldman [00:01:45]: And, you know, it's been a while. Back then, you had maybe 2 houses, 2 or 3 houses. So just catch me up to what is going on because you're just like a powerhouse entrepreneur just getting these tiny houses online and and creating these these businesses?

MJ [00:02:05]: So, we're gonna we're gonna, first and foremost, I am finishing my 9th tiny home, right now. So 9 tiny homes in 9 years. So that's where I'm at right now. Going back a little bit. So the last time we talked, my tiny house village was a small village of tiny homes on a retired Christmas tree farm in Oregon.

Ethan Waldman [00:02:31]: Yep.

MJ [00:02:32]: And, basically, the concept was after I opened my first tiny home rental so my core business model is I design and build tiny homes specifically for use as short term rentals. And so the concept basically was we're gonna rent, then it was so successful that I took the the money from my first tiny home rental, right, and rolled it forward. Mhmm. And then did another one, another one, and another one. In the meantime, I also started another, another small company called Oregon Teardrop Rentals. So it's very, very, very similar to the tiny house rentals in that they're tiny, they're colorful, they're designed by me, they're rentable, da da da. But the difference is that people take them with them camping. You know? Yep.

MJ [00:03:21]: With the tiny homes, they stay in them. With the teardrops, they take them with them. The, basically, the reason why I kind of connected those 2 companies in this conversation initially is because I was in an absolute perfect position when COVID hit. There from a business perspective, there is, you know, the people whose business went boom and the people whose business went bust, and I was in the boom category. I was the most popular girl in town. Every single thing that I owned was 100% rented for 10 straight months. It was Wow. Pandemonium.

MJ [00:04:04]: It was crazy nuts. Yeah. And so that's, so I had those two businesses, and then I did so well, during that period of time. And I was looking for land, my own land to land, basically. And because I was on leased land in Oregon, I knew that was a ticking time bomb. So, you know, you know that it's someone else's land, and, eventually, I'm gonna have to move the village. So, in 2021, I purchased an illegal, cannabis grow operation,

MJ [00:04:40]: is waterfront with a hoarder's house. So I I took the, you know, the profits from my COVID experience, and I invested in my own land in 2021. And then sure enough, in fall of 2022, I was notified by the county that I was in violation, a very familiar story for most tiny house enthusiasts. I was informed by the county that I was in direct violation, and I would have to move my tiny house village. And luckily because

MJ [00:05:15]: Yeah. Yeah. Luckily, I had some place to go. So that's the short that's the short version of where I was last time we chatted and then kind of where I am today.

Ethan Waldman [00:05:25]: My gosh. Moving one tiny house is a lot. So you had to move how many was it at that point?

MJ [00:05:32]: 6 of them.

Ethan Waldman [00:05:34]: 6. Yes.

MJ [00:05:36]: And I I was only out of business or I was only closed down, okay, for 30 days.

Ethan Waldman [00:05:45]: Wow. Now this this, illegal cannabis grow operation hoarder house situation, I'm guessing there wasn't, like, a lot of infrastructure for tiny homes there. So what did you have to do to the property to get it ready for for the 6 tiny homes?

MJ [00:06:01]: Yeah. There was there was no infrastructure. Although I did have to move 6 tiny homes, not all of them came here. But, basically, what I had to do was, put in, install an RV park, basically. So I have almost 3 waterfront acres. And, I basically, got a contractor and a permit and the whole 9 yards and installed an RV park. So that involved, of course, tapping into my existing water supply. Now the electrical, the power was an interesting story because although I had a lot of extra I have 3 200 amp panels.

MJ [00:06:42]: So I have lots and lots of power. Thank you, cannabis grow operation. But I couldn't leverage any of my existing electrical structure because of how the property is laid out. There was no way to ditch to get from where the power is to where the power needed to be. So that was a bit of back and forth. I had to meet with the power grid with the utility several times, 3 or 4 times, because I was asking for yet another meter box on the same piece of property, which is specifically prohibited. But they went up the ladder, and by the time it reached the top guy at the utility company

MJ [00:07:24]: He came out and was like, okay. No big deal. We're gonna do that. So there was a bit of back and forth. But, yeah, I've just basically hired a contractor, dug the ditches, put in the water, put in the power, brought in a new brought in a new meter. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman [00:07:39]: Wow. Wow. And then your your your homes, I know we talked about this in a past conversation, The the toilets are all compost toilets. Right? So you didn't have to deal with, like, setting up a septic for these houses.

MJ [00:07:52]: Absolutely. Yes. And that you know, I mean, yeah, we've talked a lot about that. In fact, fact, that's, of course, also huge conversation in general and any conversation about tiny homes. All of my tiny homes are, currently have what's called a cedar loo toilet. So

MJ [00:08:07]: Not a true compassing toilet. I used to use Nature's Head. I used to have Nature's Head toilets in the houses. The cleaners finally said nope. So Okay. I have the additional challenge not just of needing a waterless toilet scenario, but I have the additional challenge of having staff. I have staff that clean, and then I also have the guest experience. So whatever toilet situation I came up with, it had to meet all of those requirements.

MJ [00:08:40]: Right? The guest had to literally enjoy the experience. The cleaners had to sign off on, agree to support the scenario. And then, of course, it had to be from my perspective because I designed the homes, had to be a waterless solution, an odorless solution. And so I have kind of my own system that I created for that.

Ethan Waldman [00:09:04]: Very cool. Would you well, I mean, I'm just kind of I'm I'm I wanna go on this ride with you. So can you describe the system?

MJ [00:09:13]: Yeah. So, so we're all familiar with the bucket, basically. You know? Yeah. humanure toilet. In the bucket. Right? And then you have a you have a handful of cedar chips or whatever that you've tossed

MJ [00:09:28]: And that kinda keeps the odor down. The challenge is, however again, I have guests, and I want them to literally have a completely odorless and positive experience. So what I do is I start with the bucket, and then I take a 9 millimeter bag, specifically. It's gotta be 9 millimeter, anything less. So so I take a 9 millimeter, garbage bag, basically, which is pretty common, but you have to be really sensitive.

Ethan Waldman [00:09:54]: That's thick, though.

MJ [00:09:54]: yeah. And then I toss in actual pellets. So the pellets I get from the feed store, they are used, you know, not these are not wood stove pellets, but they're kinda similar to that. So then you toss in the pellets. Okay. And then you take another bag, and you toss in pellets, and then another bag, and you toss in pellets, and another bag and toss in pellets. So every toilet is preset with 4 bags, and each bag, of course, has pellets at the bottom. So what happens is when the waste arrives, the pellets actually absorb actively absorb and deodorize the liquid.

MJ [00:10:34]: And then off to the side of the toilet, there's a small container of aromatic cedar shavings. Then when the guest takes after the waste is done, then they take the cedar chips and toss it on top. That then deodorizes the solids. And then the third thing is once per day during their stay, once per day, the guest actually pulls that bag and puts a knot on the top and puts it in the garbage can. So we have a a garbage can with a black big black garbage bag, so it's double bagged. They pull the bag out of the toilet. They put it in the garbage can, and the next bag is ready to go. Nice.

MJ [00:11:17]: Very rarely do I have guests that stay more than 3 or 4 days. So most of the time, they take care of it. They bag it. They dispose it. No problem. If I have guests that stay longer than 3 days, then I will deliver every 3 days another freshly preset bucket.

Ethan Waldman [00:11:35]: Freshly charged bucket.

MJ [00:11:37]: Last bag out of last one, they dropped the new bucket in. So, very clean, completely odorless. And if you read my reviews, you'll see many, many, many people have, commented positively, about it being the best smelling system they've ever experienced.

Ethan Waldman [00:11:55]: Amazing. Well, that's that's I love the innovation there. I I've I've, the addition of the wood pellets is brilliant. I actually I have used wood pellets as kitty litter, and it's true. They you know, as soon as any moisture touches them, they they absorb it. They expand. They basically turn back into sawdust, but they do a really wonderful job.

MJ [00:12:15]: Mhmm. And it's taken. You know, I've I've experimented with different materials. I've experimented with different types of toilets, different types of bags. I actually had a a deodorizing salt so that I actually added, for a while, but that ended up being just, you know, more than I really needed to do. Yeah. I've experimented a lot over the years, and this was kind of the system that I finally resulted in. And and for those people that are not gonna have a chance to ask the question that I know comes next, because when I talk to people, in person, especially, like, at the bar, it's a great conversation.

Ethan Waldman [00:12:52]: It's a great conversation starter.

MJ [00:12:54]: With strangers. Anyways, so the garbage company, the utilities, they're very familiar. They know exactly what's going on. From their perspective, this is no different from a disposal perspective. This is no different than a bag of diapers.

Ethan Waldman [00:13:11]: Sure.

MJ [00:13:12]: Right? So

Ethan Waldman [00:13:13]: Right.

MJ [00:13:14]: Oftentimes, that question will come up about disposal, and is that even legal and and all that fun stuff. So, yes. Of course. I asked, and and that's the answer. Right? We're we're double bagging it, and it's no different than than a bag of diapers.

Ethan Waldman [00:13:29]: Yeah. Well, on that note, on a bag of diapers

MJ [00:13:35]: Maybe we found that we found the title for the podcast.

Ethan Waldman [00:13:39]: Oh Man, yeah, let's try that for the for the algorithm. It's it's no different than a bag of diapers with MJ Boyle.

MJ [00:13:48]: Oh, yeah. That's true. You do. Yeah. We have to take the algorithm in consideration. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman [00:13:53]: Yeah. So you at least in in, you know, in previous interviews and just from from what I've seen following you, you seem to find these, like I I hesitate to even call them tiny houses sometimes. Like like, you just find these beat, like, houses mobile structures on wheels. I think there was one that was like a chicken coop at one point, and then you turn them into these amazing rentals. We we actually had, a listener write in with a question about, you know, how do you rehab a tiny house or renovate a tiny house? And and I I thought of you immediately because I'm like, oh my gosh. Michelle buys these tiny houses that in some kind sometimes they, like, are not livable at all. And then she renovates them. She rehabs them and turns them into amazing tiny homes that that happen to be rentals.

Ethan Waldman [00:14:50]: But, you know, what I've seen you do, they all look like they would be totally comfortable to live in. I mean, if it if it's comfortable to rent for for, you know, 5 days, why not, you know, 50 or or 5 weeks? But can you talk about, like, what you look for when you're when you're kinda looking at at tiny structures as and and what, you know, what makes something rehabable in the first place? What makes something worth buying and and kind of fixing up?

MJ [00:15:26]: That's awesome question. Thank you for asking. So first of all, I have this knack or my proclivity is probably a better word for seeing things for not what they are, but for what they're going to be when I get done with them. And this has served me very well in this industry and in the building of my business. By the way, it does not work very well with relationships, however.

Ethan Waldman [00:16:01]: Yeah. Yeah. You can't be like, I'm gonna fix you and change you to the person that I want you to be.

MJ [00:16:07]: Exactly. So it's taken me an entire lifetime to figure out that what I'm really, really, really good at, is not great for relationships, but that's a different podcast. Anyways, so I have, the the succinct answer to your question really has to do with the chassis, the wheels, the structure, the trailer. Like, that's first and foremost. One of the things I cringe the most, when I see tiny homes for sale online of any kind, the thing that I cringe the most or the thing that I try to help people become aware of is the health and the capacity of the chassis, of the trailer itself. I

Ethan Waldman [00:16:55]: Yeah.

MJ [00:16:56]: Hopefully, I don't say that too many times in this conversation because it definitely felt like a mantra in many, many ways. So first and foremost is the the health and the condition of the trailer. That's just, that's the deal breaker. Right? That's kind of the first thing. That's the deal breaker. Beyond that, the next thing I have to consider in in my business and in my plan is I say, what condition is it currently in? What time and money do I currently have? And can I take that current condition using my current pile of money and my current time constraint and accomplish the task? So I've done this, 4 times, specifically 3 on wheels. One that wasn't on wheels that I put on wheels, totally different story. But for the

MJ [00:17:48]: Purposes of this discussion, I've taken 3 in very, very, very different conditions, 3 existing structures

MJ [00:17:57]: On wheels in 3 entirely different stories, 3 entirely different conditions. And each one had that in common. Right? Number 1, what's the chassis? Number 2, how much money and how much time, and can I take its current condition and accomplish what I need to do in the in the period of time that I've given myself? Mhmm. Again, as far as time goes, it's always my own self imposed deadline. Right? I don't have a boss. That's the glory. Yeah. Again, the best part of my business model, it's for me, with me, by me, about me.

MJ [00:18:29]: So I can change my mind at any time. That's kinda where I start.

Ethan Waldman [00:18:34]: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So that's that's a really great answer. So just to make sure that I'm getting it correctly is, first and foremost, the chassis, the trailer, It's important that that is in good condition because that's really almost impossible to change. And then it's just about time and budget based on what you see in the structure.

MJ [00:18:57]: Yeah. But furthermore, not just about the condition. And and this is the this is the the line in the sand that I tried to draw again online when I see these conversations as much possible. It also has to do with what the chassis is capable of carrying. Right? So as a really, really simple example, your average RV, for instance, your average RV off the manufacturing floor, 18 to 20 foot long RV. It has a dual, you know, a dual, axle. Most of those can carry £7,000. That's it.

MJ [00:19:37]: And that includes the weight of the trailer itself, which is about between 15 to £2,000. Right? So trying to build a wood structure or a double, story, a 2 story wood structure on an 18 foot long trailer that can only max out at £7,000 near to impossible. Like and not advisable. So when I see homes that need to be rehabbed or need to be sold or whatever, my first question is, what is the capacity of the trailer besides the condition? Right? What's the what can the trailer hold total?

MJ [00:20:18]: And when was the last time it was scaled? That's another thing. All of mine are scaled. I I know exactly how much weight, you know, that they that I'm starting with, how much weight I have to play with as I Yep. As I renovate it. And then, so that's not just the basic condition, but also that's a that's a big deal. I mean, a house that's overbuilt to the chassis, in my mind, is not worth the paper it's printed on.

Ethan Waldman [00:20:46]: Yeah. That's that's really important, and that's great advice. Okay. So we've got your your kind of your criteria for the decision making process of whether it's worth even buying or starting on. Is there anything, you know, on the inside above that chassis that would scare you away and say and be like No. Yeah. No. This is a deal breaker.

MJ [00:21:22]: No. Actually, and that goes back to what you described as a chicken coop. It wasn't quite a chicken coop. It was a pancake shack. But, but and I again, this is this is the part where my crazy, really comes into play because and where I where I describe myself as having the ability to see not what it is, but what it will become. Because everyone else so the the project I'm gonna tell you just a brief story about is what's called my tiny wine wagon. Yep. And, I found an ad on Craigslist, which by the way, I now I can't allow myself to go on Craigslist.

MJ [00:21:58]: It's like saving puppies with me and tiny homes. So I found, an ad on Craigslist for, a 37 year old well, actually, it was a 1954 single wide mobile home chassis. And on it, they had built a pancake shack for a nonprofit, community organization in Quattage Grove, Oregon. And this structure's sole job was once a year, they would haul it to the top of a mountain. They would have what's called the miner's breakfast. And they it was had windows on the side, and this is the window where you place the order. And this is the window where you pick up the pancakes. And they had these metal ramps that would fold down so the people could walk up to the window level.

MJ [00:22:52]: And for 37 years, that build, it was stored inside, and it had these huge fans. So it didn't really have a a roof or a ceiling of any kind because it was basically all fans. And, people would drive out to the top of the mountain, pay $25, and get their pancake breakfast, and all the money would go to the local community. So this nonprofit was actually selling this pancake shack as a tiny home, but they put it they did the wording wrong, and so it was listed under the wrong category, which is why I found it. Anyways and so but it was a, a dual axle trailer that could haul, 20,000 pounds. And the reason why it was so much weight on the axles and on the trailer was because of the fact that the whole trailer on the inside was, cast iron. Right? You have these huge pancake, like, griddles. Right? So you have tons and tons of propane tanks and pancake grills and all the so the infrastructure on the inside was all of this weight, none of which, of course, I needed and ripped out immediately.

MJ [00:24:00]: So, I bought that, for a $1,000. Wow. And then and then I decided from a rehab perspective, obviously, the roof had to go. There wasn't really any roof because it was all just, you know, fans and so forth. So, I had to create of course, tore off the roof and also had to create a slope and that kind of thing. But from a structural perspective, it stayed exactly the same. The windows didn't change. The doors didn't change.

MJ [00:24:28]: I did turn the what was the back porch where they stored the propane tanks. That's now an outdoor shower,

MJ [00:24:36]: which is a fun feature. But yeah. So that was definitely a project where anyone else with any sanity at all would look at that project and say, oh, hell no. There's no way that's gonna work out well. And Yeah. The I I proved them all wrong.

Ethan Waldman [00:24:55]: The photos of that one in the before, like, I I look at it, and I'm just, like, I get a, like, a stomachache.

MJ [00:25:08]: I love those before after photos. They're so

Ethan Waldman [00:25:11]: Yeah. No. They're they're incredible.

MJ [00:25:12]: Is still in service. Right now, I have someone that's staying there for 3 weeks, continues to garner, you know, rave reviews. Lots of fans. 5 stars. I'm I'm very, very, one thing about being a a short term rental host is just setting the expectation. Right? Everybody knows specifically before they come. This is your toilet situation. This is your shower situation.

MJ [00:25:37]: This is your ladder situation in some cases. So so that's definitely one of the more extreme versions. The tiny home that I'm finishing right now was also a bit of a rehab, but not quite extreme. Not quite as extreme.

Ethan Waldman [00:25:53]: And what's what's this one gonna be called? My tiny ...

MJ [00:26:00]: Bunkhouse. Yeah. So, this project, that I'm just now finishing right now, again, going back to that whole scenario of what is the current condition, what's my monetary situation, what's my schedule. Right? And so this one was actually purchased last fall. And architecturally, from the outside, it's the ugliest thing you've ever seen because it's actually a you know, the construction trailers? Those ugly square generic with one window and bars over the window scenario.

Ethan Waldman [00:26:38]: Yeah. They're they're just like the temporary office for a construction site. They

MJ [00:26:42]: Exactly.

Ethan Waldman [00:26:43]: Haul it out there.

Ethan Waldman [00:26:45]: Okay. So you bought one of those and you're turning it in. Okay.

MJ [00:26:48]: Yes. Yeah. So I bought one of those in all of its ugly glory. And the back, most notably, the back, the short end in the back was a big, huge, ugly, rusted out roll up garage door.

MJ [00:27:02]: Because at the end of the day, they roll up the garage door and then they drive in with the equipment and everything because, of course, you want everything expensive inside the the work shack or whatever. And so Yeah. So that when I saw that particular door, the first thing that I did was obviously that door went away and now it's this beautiful full glass custom. Oh my god. I can't believe how much I paid for that door, in the back that just adds just a huge wow factor for the room. Yeah. I'm very excited actually, though, about how it's gonna turn out because it's it's definitely gonna have that juxtaposition of, doesn't look like much from the outside, but then you're gonna walk inside and go, oh my god. This is amazing.

MJ [00:27:48]: You know? Obviously, added windows and the bathroom, and there's obviously, you know, like any rehab project. I added a ton. But, it actually you know, it's a 15 k, and so lots and lots and lots of, lots and lots of ability, you know, to add. But on the other hand, I didn't have to add much. Right? So the roof, the walls, the windows, the doors, like, everything, the the the heavy stuff was pretty much remained the same. I did have to tear it down on the inside almost to the studs because of all the infrastructure that's required to add a bathroom and a kitchen.

Ethan Waldman [00:28:28]: Yeah.

MJ [00:28:29]: So, you know, tore out the stud all the way back to the studs to do redo all the wiring. So in this particular one, however, the wiring was laughable because basically what they had done in many cases just stapled extension cords to the walls. And then that was their electrical. So obviously Ethan wasn't gonna work. So electrical and plumbing was it was the the bulk, right, of the of the expense and the time Yep. For the bunkhouse project. And then, of course, you gotta do the sheetrock and the paint and the texture and all that fun stuff. But, yeah, that's so that's a much less extreme, but equally rewarding, in project.

MJ [00:29:08]: Budget wise, boy, prices have increased so much in the past few years. It's crazy. So but budget wise, I'll come out once it's complete. But another thing about my budgets versus, your average tiny house budget is when I finish a project, that means the deck is done, the barbecue's on the back, all the patio furniture, the bedding, the plates, the mic I mean, every single thing has to be 100% fully

MJ [00:29:38]: Right. Yeah. Fully set and ready to go, which is an additional level of, again, a level of attention to detail and and all I mean, it's gotta be just literally perfect when the first guest walks in. So, so this project, although it feels so expensive from a historical perspective on how much how many houses I've done now, Yeah. This house, I'm super proud. When by the time I'm done, total budget all in 25 k. So not bad.

Ethan Waldman [00:30:12]: That's not bad at all.

MJ [00:30:14]: Yeah. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman [00:30:15]: I mean Yeah.

MJ [00:30:16]: Pretty proud

Ethan Waldman [00:30:16]: of that. And also, like, whether you're looking at it as a a short term rental, which is an investment for you, or whether you were looking to live in it, 25 k is at super low end for what a tiny house would cost, certainly to buy a new one today. I mean, we're talking 100 100 k and up now for for a premade tiny house.

MJ [00:30:38]: And this particular one is a it's, you know, because of the architecture, again, I didn't really reinvent too much. It's a main floor unit. But, it's long enough. It's 24 feet long. So I actually do have a lounge. I actually have a living room area, which is really rare in a tiny home. So I actually have a living room a living room, a fully functional, you know, 3 piece kitchen, bathroom, desk area, bedroom, queen-size bed, and twin, so it sleeps 3 people. Really, really proud of this project.

MJ [00:31:14]: But also as you can well imagine by this point in time, I have experimented with enough projects and enough floor plans and enough materials Mhmm. That it's fun. In some instances, I'm executing against what I already know. In some instances, I'm starting over with a brand new product. So I get to learn something new. So that's another reason why I keep building is because I love the creative process.

Ethan Waldman [00:31:45]: Talk, well, I I have 2 questions from different angles. Like, my my first question is, like, talk about interior finishes to me when you're looking for, like, durability, cleanability, and then, you know, minimizing the maintenance. I mean, my tiny house is now 12, 13 years old, and I'm starting, you know, to have to repaint and restain and redo. And the choices I made 12 years ago when I didn't really ever consider the fact that I might be renting this house out. The finishes that I chose weren't necessarily the most durable. They were maybe tended towards the low VOC or the environmentally friendly. But they have not always withstood the test of, you know, Airbnb guests who are mostly very respectful, but just it's the house is getting used in a way that it never did when it was just, you know, me and and and my partner. So what are some of the material choices that you make? Because I'm sure you come back to the same, you know, products over and over again once you find ones that work well.

MJ [00:33:09]: Yeah. Absolutely. Again, building a home for your own individual use versus building it for strangers who, you know, may or may not have a full respect or understanding. Also, as you know too, tiny homes live hard. Right? Yeah. You're spending, you know, all that time and that amount of square feet. So the they they yeah. So first and foremost, I will also say that another major consideration 2 major considerations for me when I build, one of them is I allow pets in my short term rentals.

MJ [00:33:45]: Less than 25% of Airbnbs in this country, less than 25% of them allow pets at all, number 1. Number 2, I also allow pets to stay for free. So less than 3% of total Airbnbs in the country not only allow pets, but allow pets to stay for free. I do charge a pet deposit, which means if you come and you follow the rules and clean up after yourself and then leave, you know, everything's good, you get your deposit back, you bring your pet for free. But that is a major, major, consideration when it comes to flooring. Number 1 flooring. So I only use, luxury vinyl right now, LVP.

MJ [00:34:29]: A very, very, very high quality scratch resistant waterproof luxury vinyl in every single room, which is also, something I learned versus my tiny house that I built in 2015. I did the fancy, the tile in the bathroom and that kind of thing, mainly because of the product that I used for flooring in the main space wasn't adequate for a bathroom application that was gonna get wet all the time. So now, it's definitely something that I've learned. 1st and foremost is I use luxury vinyl, in all of the tiny homes. Again, scratch resistant, water resistant. You can use and it's also full you know, wall to wall, you know, shall we say? From a design perspective, that also makes the space feel a lot larger when the flooring, you know, reaches all four corners of the house. So that's that's the first consideration material wise.

MJ [00:35:22]: Be I mean, I would never use anything else at this point. Absolutely. Okay. The second thing that, I definitely take in consideration is especially for the my houses, which are gonna get a lot of, you know, hard use. The second thing is tiny homes over over time. The sexy, Instagrammable, folding stuff that we have created in order to live in our tiny spaces is super sexy, tons and tons of views, completely 100% untenable, unusable, not happening in a rental. So, I mean, I I, you know, I understand that the, you know, the the ladder folds down or the bed rises to the ceiling. I mean, it's all really, really great conceptually.

MJ [00:36:13]: But when it comes to renters, no. So the other thing is is I incorporate as many built ins as possible. That bed is not moving.

Ethan Waldman [00:36:26]: Yeah. It's

MJ [00:36:26]: not going up. It's not going down. It's not hitting against the wall. I don't use, traditional furniture. Even if it will fit, I'm not gonna put in a couch, or I'm not gonna put in, you know, a regular bed frame with a fabric headboard or something fancy like that. It's just not practical. And so, that's another thing is, I try to use as many built ins as possible because you're creating, you're creating stability, of course, in the in the furniture themselves. Again, the beds the beds don't move.

MJ [00:36:59]: They're part of the literal building. Yeah. So that's that's 2 things off the off the top of my head. That's that's a big deal too.

Ethan Waldman [00:37:08]: Those are I mean, I know you you keep throwing out the disclaimers that, like, building for yourself is different than building for a rental, but I I really think that having observed this and been a part of it for this long, I think almost everybody who builds a tiny house for themselves at some point, they decide that they either need more space, maybe they start a family, maybe something changes, and turning them into a rental is such a great and kind of obvious solution to that problem, versus just selling them. And so I I really think that anyone listening who is in the process of doing this, to think about think about this, think about the LVP instead of the hardwood floors, if you can. And think about doing those built ins for the same reasons that you you might be renting this thing one day. And also it might just help cut down on on the maintenance, you know, that you have to do down the road.

MJ [00:38:13]: Oh, for sure. For sure. For sure. I can I I just wanna tell a real brief, success story also in this in this

Ethan Waldman [00:38:22]: No? No stories. No. I'm kidding. Go go for it.

MJ [00:38:26]: Well, this I my my stories tend to be long, so I'm gonna try to make No.

Ethan Waldman [00:38:30]: No. They're great. That's that's I mean, that's the whole point of you being here. Tell us stories.

MJ [00:38:34]: I know, but I have so many of them.

Ethan Waldman [00:38:36]: Okay.

MJ [00:38:39]: So I had another project real briefly, though, kind of along the same, you know, conversation. And another project was called, my tiny Vagabond. And, originally, I had bought it as a shell. I have never paid that much money for a shell in my life. I was feeling sorry for myself, and so I actually bought a shell that was almost completely done. Someone had already built the tiny home, and, it was fairly lightweight. It was a dual axle. It's pretty lightweight.

MJ [00:39:08]: And I at the time, in my mind, I had envisioned actually combining the teardrop concept of people take it with them when they go camping and the tiny house concept. So I'd originally bought it with the intention of, renting it out for people to take it with them. I never executed on that. Long story, I won't go into it. So I decided to actually utilize it as a stay in place tiny home instead. So I bought the Shell for $15,000, which again, I can't believe. And it wasn't really a Shell, actually. It was pretty well finished out.

MJ [00:39:41]: But, however, there was a lot that was wrong with it that I couldn't utilize for short term rental. So I Okay. Bought it for $15,000. I put $5,000 into it. So when I opened the doors as a rental, it was $20,000. I rented it out just as a just general math. I rented it out for a year and a half.

Ethan Waldman [00:40:02]: Mhmm.

MJ [00:40:03]: I made $25,000, over the course of that year and a half. So definitely, you know, paid myself back for my original investment. And then, because of all the shuffle that was going on in 2022, I couldn't utilize all the trailers that I had at my current location. So I actually ended up selling it for $35,000.

Ethan Waldman [00:40:25]: Nice.

MJ [00:40:27]: So, again, when you start with a very with a lower budget and when you think about the long term, you know, the long term of it, it was relatively easy for me to sell it for 35,000 because, a, it was all it was now a proven rental. Right? I could prove I could prove its its income potential. Plus, it had been redesigned in a way that, was, again, super, super sturdy. And and and, again, it was kind of this proven concept. So it ended up being a really, really great investment. I had to use that money actually, that 35,000. I had to actually use that to pay for the move of the other tinies. Right? So you have to tear down the decks.

MJ [00:41:08]: You have to call all the transporters, get the, of course, the RV park built at the new location. So that was, that was another situation where I actually bought built a tiny house. It was mostly done, but still had that idea of the long term and what I wanted to invest in it. And then it actually served a really great role even when I even when I sold it.

Ethan Waldman [00:41:31]: That's awesome. Yeah. So I wanna ask, this just just totally selfishly because I I do one Airbnb. You know, I do my one tiny house and I'm like, I know that the way that I'm doing it couldn't scale up to more. Yeah. I could maybe do a second one the way that I'm doing it, but more than that, you know, so so my big pain point, I'm gonna just say, is laundry. Because, you know, this house is about 20 minutes away from where I live. So my cleaners put the dirty laundry out in a bin once or twice a week.

Ethan Waldman [00:42:11]: I'm driving down there. I'm picking up the laundry. I'm bringing it to my house. I'm doing the laundry. I'm bringing it back. Works great for works great for 1 house or 2.

MJ [00:42:22]: And you've gotten really good at folding towels. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman [00:42:25]: I I have, like, I can air fold a towel. Like, I don't even need a surface. I'm just, like, do do do. Like, just fold this towel up right against my body. But, I mean, I looked into, like, a laundry service, like, to get the laundry done by a laundry service. It's almost as expensive as buying a new set of sheets each time. Like, it's it's so expensive. So I'm curious.

Ethan Waldman [00:42:47]: You've got, like, many, many tiny homes in different locations, it sounds like. And I'm guessing you didn't have to leave this interview to change the wash over, so I'm guessing you're not doing the laundry.

MJ [00:43:01]: I'm not doing the laundry currently. Okay. First of all, I'm not doing the no. I mean, like, in this part of the season, shall we say. Yeah. Okay. Okay. One major one major disadvantage of this business model, especially at my new location, not as much at my Oregon location, but at my current rural Washington location is the seasonality.

MJ [00:43:25]: So Yeah. With seasonality, of course, comes in reduced occupancy. Right? So Yeah. People staying less often. Also, you have a rate change. Obviously, you can't charge as much in the middle of December as you can for July 4th weekend. Right? So we have a drop in occupancy. We have a drop in rates.

MJ [00:43:43]: But Yeah. With that comes the fact that I've got a lot more time on my hands and a lot less money. So Yeah. First and foremost, currently, I'm going ramping into what's called busy season for me. Currently ramping into busy season. So I have more time than I have or I have my money, excuse me, than I have time. And so in this business, actually, in life, I think, right, we're always making these these decisions based on that. So Yeah.

MJ [00:44:11]: The long story short is, yes, I have laundry service at both locations in Oregon and in Washington. I also have backup laundry service. So with anything, again, in life or in business, I always have a plan a and a plan b and a plan c. Right? So Yeah. It's entirely different depending on the season. You know, what what season am I aiming? What's my profitability looking like currently? But, yes, I do have this I I will tell you, however, again, cute little story. There's a laundry service here. My my Washington location's in a small kind of a smallish lumber town called, Longview, Washington.

MJ [00:44:49]: And there is a laundry service here, and they are the best. I just absolutely love these girls. And I just love I drop it off, and the next day, talk about sheets. They come back looking better than when they were new. And they are folded just so tight and so pristine. And I was amazed at how well they fold the fitted sheets. And so I asked them. I'm like, seriously, what is your secret? Because I can't when they're folded, I can't even tell the difference between the fitted ones and the folded ones or the yeah.

MJ [00:45:17]: Because the fitted sheets are, like, folded so tightly. You know? And they're like, we are never going to tell you our secret for how well we fold the fitted sheets because then you're just gonna do it yourself. And I'm like, that will never happen.

Ethan Waldman [00:45:32]: That will never

MJ [00:45:33]: happen. That will never happen. But, yes, I pay $2 per pound.

Ethan Waldman [00:45:40]: Yep.

MJ [00:45:41]: Dry weight, which again is quite a bit that basically amounts to about between 8 to $10 per house per turn. So slow season, I do not have the margin. I'm doing laundry, because I don't have the profit margins to be able to sub that out.

Ethan Waldman [00:46:01]: Cover it.

MJ [00:46:01]: Busy season? Oh, hell no. Like, I I barely have time to breathe. So

Ethan Waldman [00:46:08]: Yeah. Interesting. Alright. That's that's I I'm taking notes.

MJ [00:46:14]: Well, that actually, again, what what makes the difference between my ability because I have, businesses in Oregon and businesses in Washington. They're 85 miles apart. I commute back and forth about 3 to 4 times per week. I also have a full time 40 hour a week job. And so the only way that I'm able to pull that off, not just the laundry part of it, but the whole operation, is by having staff in place at both locations. So we have a Yeah. You know, we'll call it 1st round draft pick. 2nd round, we've always got a plan a, a plan b, a plan c for every single reservation and for everything that needs to be done.

MJ [00:46:53]: So in addition to the regular stuff, like your cleaning and laundry, those are those are kind of obvious. But we've also got, as you can imagine, my maintenance to do list on a 3 acre waterfront property that sleeps 20 people. Yeah. Yeah. It so so I I have to shout out to my team. I have an amazing, amazing, super supportive, very flexible, enthusiastic team. And, that is really the the, I guess, the secret sauce for my business currently is my amazing team that knows exactly what to do that I don't have to micromanage them. We've also got you know, the other thing is the inventory too.

MJ [00:47:38]: When you start to scale, you have to think about inventory. Right? I have 6 6 sets of sheets for each individual house. Yep. So that's

Ethan Waldman [00:47:50]: a lot. Sheets.

MJ [00:47:51]: That's a lot. So you have to have a room. I have a linen room. I have an entire room that is just devoted to storing, the dirty laundry going out, the clean laundry coming in, the storage of the raw inventory that's waiting. So there you become you become this inventory manager, plus you have all the supplies as well from a from a yeah. So scaling is is definitely a challenge. But the team, the supply process that I have in place, the inventory arrangement, and all my labels, it that I'll actually love the business part of the business as well.

Ethan Waldman [00:48:26]: Yeah. I mean, that's you've gotta love it too because it there it's a lot of that. It probably is more that than than getting to design and build tiny houses.

MJ [00:48:36]: Yes. Absolutely. As a matter of fact, the reason why I continue to build and design tiny homes because that's the fun part.

MJ [00:48:44]: That's that's the creative part. That's the part that lights my brain on fire. That's the really, what do you say, the rewarding part of the project as well. Right? When people show up and they look at this ugly thing that used to be a work shack, and they walk in for that first time, and I get that first 5 star review, and they're like, this was amazing. We love the bunnies. We love the river. We love Michelle was so attentive. That's the that's the really rewarding part.

MJ [00:49:13]: Who's doing the laundry? No one cares.

Ethan Waldman [00:49:16]: Right. Nobody cares about that. They just they just care that the sheets are clean and it's done.

MJ [00:49:21]: Yeah. Exactly. You know?

Ethan Waldman [00:49:23]: Nice. Nice. Oh my gosh. This has been so fun talking with you. I feel like I could just we could just keep going and going. I I was curious, you know, is there anything that I didn't ask you that, you know, this conversation has sparked that you just wanna put out there?

MJ [00:49:42]: No. I don't think so. I mean, what came to my mind the minute you asked that question, which I realized was was I think I'm done. So, for the people in my life that when every time I say that, nope. This is it. They're the last one. The people in my life always laugh when I say that, but I think I think I'm there. I think I'm almost there.

MJ [00:50:09]: And so maybe our next podcast interview in a year or 2. Right? Mhmm. You can say, hey. Did you ever end up living up to your own promise for yourself? Are you done? I think I'm done. Number 1, I'm out of space at the current property. So there's that. I have to invest in new property. And number 2, my current property, I have yet to really, execute the event venue part of this property.

MJ [00:50:38]: So this property is also a wedding venue. For corporate retreats, family retreats, wedding venue kind of scenario. Yeah. I have had, you know, some weddings here, but I haven't really, really started engaging in that industry. That's an entirely different, right, an entirely different spin on my business model. So I think I'm done, and, it's been a wild fun ride. And now I think I might be kind of pivoting a little bit, maybe doing some more events. And, only time will tell whether or not my energy holds out that well.

Ethan Waldman [00:51:13]: Nice. Well, I look forward to having you back. We didn't even touch Oregon teardrop rentals, which I'm super curious about, but that's gonna have to be another another interview.

MJ [00:51:24]: Yeah. No. I appreciate that opportunity. It's, again, the it's very, very, very similar to the short term rentals, right, to the Airbnb's and VRBO rentals. But the part that I enjoy the most about that business model, which I don't get with my short term rental tiny homes, is Oregon 2. Rentals is a 100% concierge based business. I meet in person every single guest. I shake their hand.

MJ [00:51:54]: We have a whole hour long orientation before they leave. So I know about them and their family, where they're headed, and their fun stories of their vacations. And so that's a really, a similar business model, but kind of feeds my soul, from a social perspective. So, yes, I'd love to talk about that anytime. Hit me up, and we can talk about the the a lot of similarities, between that business model and the tiny homes. However, across the board, I also wanna say that one of the best parts of my life, my my business model, my decisions is I get to share my values with my guests. My values of you can travel with a teardrop and you can sleep comfortably and dry and quiet and secure, but you're not in an RV park, you know, cooking in your kitchen in your 40 foot long RV.

MJ [00:52:52]: You still get to be comfortable, but there's there's this simplicity, and you can still have that comfort and that simplicity. And so Yep. I love that I get to introduce tiny, simple, quiet, disconnected lifestyle with all of my guests. Whether you're staying in a tiny home, or you're staying in a teardrop trailer, or my a frame out by the creek, or my quote unquote luxurious cottage, it all kind of carries forward with that simple, disconnected, authentic, kind of quiet lifestyle. And I love, love, love that I get to share those values with with my customers.

Ethan Waldman [00:53:34]: Awesome. Well, I think that's a that's a great place to leave it. MJ Boyle, thanks for being a guest.

MJ [00:53:40]: Thank you. Thank you. It's really, really great to catch up with you. I appreciate it.

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