In today's episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Tracy Manchego-Baker, co-founder of Tiny Building Experts based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tracy and her husband Austin have built a reputation as experienced ethical and high quality tiny home builders, with Austin leading the way by being part of almost 500 Tiny House builds since 2014. They also serve as industry consultants and subject matter experts supporting tiny home initiatives both locally and nationally for building code standards and navigating the placement of tiny homes legally. If you've heard the recent news out of Colorado regarding new Tiny House regulations, you'll be happy to know that Tracy served on the committee to help create them and she'll walk us through exactly what the new law does and doesn't do. Stay tuned to discover more insights from Tracy Manchego-Baker of Tiny Building Experts.

In This Episode:

  • Challenges and Goals of the Tiny House Movement in Colorado 🏠: Initial challenges of the tiny house movement in Colorado and the goal of providing affordable housing and addressing homelessness.
  • Collaboration and Cooperation are Key 🀝: The need for collaboration between local jurisdictions, the state, and builders to make progress.
  • The Importance of Legalization and Certification πŸ“: Highlighting the significance of legalizing tiny houses and obtaining certifications to ensure compliance with codes and regulations.
  • Added Costs and Changes πŸ’°: Tracy addresses the frustrations and added costs that builders have to pass on to customers due to the new regulations.
  • Land Zoning and Placement Regulations πŸ—ΊοΈ: The role of zoning and land regulations in determining where tiny houses can be legally placed in Colorado.
  • The Impact of the New Laws on Tiny House Living πŸ“œ: Implications of the new laws, including the ability to pay real property taxes and the distinction between tiny houses on wheels and other types of housing.
  • Changing Attitudes in Zoning Laws πŸ›οΈ: Evolving attitude towards tiny houses in zoning laws and efforts to make zoning regulations more friendly towards tiny houses.
  • Advocacy and Education πŸ“£: Tracy emphasizes the importance of advocacy and education in the tiny house movement to promote understanding and compliance with regulations.
  • Misinformation and Doing Things Correctly 🚫🚧: Tracy discusses the importance of doing things correctly to avoid negative consequences for builders and homeowners.


Links and Resources:


Guest Bio:

Tracy Manchego-Baker

Tracy Manchego-Baker

Austin Baker and Tracy Manchego-Baker from Tiny Building Experts out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. They are an experienced, ethical and high quality Tinyhome Builder with Austin leading the way by being a part of almost 500 builds since 2014. They also serve as Industry Consultants and Subject Matter Experts supporting Tinyhome initiatives both local and across the Country for building codes and standards plus with navigating the placement of Tinyhomes legally. We participated on the CO TAC team for HB 22-1242 and continue to stay involved with the State of Colorado regarding the new Tinyhouse laws.


More Photos:

Austin of Tiny Building Experts

Austin Baker with Bear the shop dog

Inside tiny home

Tiny build interior

Tiny House Kitchen

Tiny house interior kitchen view


More Photos:

New tiny home

New tiny home

Tiny home on wheels


Tracy Manchego-Baker 0:00

This felt like punishment for builders that were doing it the right way because I saw all of the costs that were adding up that I was about to have to pass on to my customer. It didn't feel good. Okay, it felt like I have to submit plans which cost money. I have to get a blower door test done now would cost money, I had to increase your R value by an R four on your roof.

Ethan Waldman 0:24

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 in today's episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Tracy Manchego-Baker, co-founder of time building experts based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tracy and her husband Austin have built a reputation as experienced ethical and high quality tiny home builders, with Austin leading the way by being a part of almost 500 Tiny House builds since 2014. They also serve as industry consultants and subject matter experts supporting tiny home initiatives both locally and nationally for building code standards and navigating the placement of tiny homes legally. And if you've heard the recent news out of Colorado regarding new Tiny House regulations, you'll be happy to know that Tracy served on the committee to help create them and she'll walk us through exactly what the new law does and doesn't do. Stay tuned to discover more insights from Tracy Manchego-Baker of tiny building experts.

All right, I am here with Tracy Manchego-Baker. Austin Baker and Tracy Manchego-Baker from tiny building experts are based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They are an experienced ethical and high quality tiny home builder with Austin leading the way by being part of almost 500 Tiny House builds since 2014. They also served as industry consultants and subject matter experts supporting tiny home initiatives both locally and across the country for building codes and standards, plus navigating the placement of tiny homes legally. They participated in the Colorado TAC team for HB 22-1242 and continue to stay involved with the state of Colorado regarding new Tiny House laws. Tracy Manchego-Baker, welcome to the show.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 2:12

Hi, everybody. Hi, Ethan.

Ethan Waldman 2:16

Hi, thanks for being here. So I want to just start just can you give me your backstory, you know what got you into the tiny house world.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 2:23

I'm going to blame Austin. He is the one that kind of drew me in. I kind of I saw his passion and his love for the tiny houses. He was working a white collar kind of admission, you know, Director of Admissions job at a college, okay. And one day he he came home and he was like, Hey, listen, I'm going to go do some work with my hands. And I was like, Okay, what does that mean? And I saw him just start this journey. Ethan, that was really interesting to watch. You ever heard those stories where people say, hey, everything that I've done to this point, I feel like it was all on purpose to get me to where I am. Kind of look at that with Austin's story. I watched him do fencing to siting on three story apartment buildings, too, and selling over 10,000 windows and doors over a few years. Wow. I watched him do these different roles. And one day he came in and he said, Hey, I'm gonna go down here and apply at this place down the street. It's just close to home. And they're doing some, you know, chicken coops and sheds and it's a bunch of cool Amish guys. That's really what he said. And I was like, okay, he goes, it's company by the name. It was, I think they were shed yard at that time. And he went down there and he walked in and mind you when Austin was a director of admissions at the college, he saw that news magazine publication with Jay Shafer. Do you remember that one, even like you've been in this industry for a long time, so you probably remember, it was of Jay. And he had, I think it was his epu. It was like a little 18 footer or something was a little tiny house. It was the first one that I think he had built and saw that. And he was like, always wanted an RV when he was a kid always wanted to do that family vacation thing. He didn't really get to have that when he was growing up. So I think it's something that he's always he always wanted. And when he saw that picture of Jay, and that tiny house, he was like, Oh, I'm gonna build one of these one day. And I'm not kidding you, Ethan. Fast forward, like a year or two later. He goes, you know, a couple years later, he goes into the shed yard, you know, after doing some work with his hands for years. And he goes in for an interview and I'm not kidding you. They opened up the doors. And they were like, Hey, I'm going into this interview, meet the team. You know, what do you think about this? And they opened these big, huge doors and it was a tiny house. Haha, Austin was completely floored. He was like, and I love the way he tells the story because it's so much more passionate. But he's also a little shy and humble. But I will tell you that he knew right then in there, he was in the right place. And it was super important for him to be there at that time. And it was a great opportunity. And he knew right then in there, he had to work with those guys. So it was a bunch of Amish guys. But the last name Miller great guys, bunch of brothers, Pops, you know, really cool family and they were building for Tumbleweed. Okay. So they were building for Tumbleweed Tiny House company before Tumbleweed started building for themselves. Because when Tumbleweed first started out in the industry, they used to outsource, right, they're built. And so Austin was working with those guys. And so he started back in like 2014, I want to say Ethan, and within a couple of years, he, you know, ended up transitioning from working with the Amish guys to he did end up at Tumbleweed. He, you know, got to run that shop for for a while. Yep, broke records. You know, I think he did like 15 Tiny houses in one month, leading that team at a certain point in time of his career. And after a few years, you know, of doing all of that he ended up going his separate ways. And he started his own company. And I want to say we started 2018 2019. Okay, it was hard, because we were like, wow, we really want to keep building tiny houses, we want to keep loving on people. We want to really help people, our mindset was not to keep all the information so close to our hearts, and instead use it to help educate people. Because we started to see, you know, in 2014 2016 2018, we started to see the tiny house movement started to take off back, right, like you start to see this big run. But there was a lot of misinformation out there. And I was struggling with that. And so I decided, you know, I told Austin, you know, I'll definitely help support your company, tiny building experts. Were out in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and he's been doing this for a while he will hit 500 Tiny houses that he's touched this year. So he's got a lot of experience. But I decided I was gonna help him as long as we were going to help everybody. That was my goal. I mean, I wanted to help everybody with education. If you wanted to build a tiny house, I wanted you to know that you could as a DIY or you could do it to code, you could get your house certified. And you could do that, even as a DIY er. And I also wanted to help small businesses that wanted to do tiny houses, I wanted to help them do things correctly. I saw in the industry, you know, there was a point in time where the industry gets look got a little bit saturated with a lot of builders coming in, and that's fine. But we had a lot of DIY or a lot of builders. Yep. A lot of different folks that came into the industry from remodelers, general contractors, you name it, we everybody has embarked upon the industry over the last, you know, 10 years and even more so over the last couple years. Yeah. And I've always wanted to support everybody. But I've also learned quickly that when we don't do things correctly, it makes it harder on everybody trying to do it, correct. Absolutely. Because the rules, the rules were already hard as it was, we were all trying to navigate. Right, we decided we were gonna build the RV code. Right? Because, you know, we went to states like Colorado, I'm gonna use Colorado as an example, you guys, just because I've been working in this state for a long time for many years about legalizing tiny houses. And in Colorado, if you tried to go to the building department, even they would turn me away. If I said, Hey, we're gonna build a tiny house, right? We want to show that it's been built to code. We want to be recognized. We want to do it legally. And it was just always a quick No, right? It was just a no, it was as soon as you were building on wheels, it was considered an RV. Not only in the state of Colorado, but many states across the United States, if you built on wheels, the local building jurisdictions called an RV. So that's why Tiny House companies went out there and got RV loans for customers and went to RV certifications. So Austin, for example, as well as other tiny house builders out there. Those really good builders that wanted to show their houses were built to certain standards. Yep, we used RV code, right. NFPA 1192, which is RV code. Yeah. And so a lot of builders were like, Okay, great. We're all meeting over 500 different codes for fire, electrical, plumbing, safety. Everybody's feeling good about it, because truthfully, you know, builders like Austin, they were really exceeding code. If you look at like RV code, there's nothing really in there about framing.

Ethan Waldman 9:56

Right? RVs don't have framing

Tracy Manchego-Baker 9:59

Because they don't have trusses and girder. Right? Right and they don't have Ridge beams? Sure. And they don't have 2x4 framing. Yeah, I think in RVs, it's like one by three. I could be wrong. I'm sure somebody will correct me. But I know that it's two inch walls and RVs and campers versus five inch walls that I have in a tiny house, which is the same as your regular home. Right? Like you literally have at least five inch walls. If you're doing standard two by four framing. So the point that I bring this up is, you know, the builders were building to exceed RV code. They were already doing it. Ethan, we just weren't recognized for it. Nobody, nobody just wanted to recognize us for it. And so with these new Colorado law, the new house bill, you know, it kind of want to tie that in here. And the new law was designed to say, hey, we're now going to recognize that you guys are building these houses to code.

Ethan Waldman 10:53

Nice. Okay. Yeah. So let's,

Tracy Manchego-Baker 10:55

that's a big deal. Talk about? Yeah,

Ethan Waldman 10:57

so there was a lot in there, I kind of want to I do want to talk about Colorado, but so the, you know, the RV code, which is has been the direction that the industry is going. There is also at the same time Appendix Q and the kind of slow and get, you know, moving along efforts to put you know, tiny houses on wheels into, you know, the standard residential code. curious what your thoughts are on on those kind of two efforts. It sounds like, you know, Austin and your company are still kind of on board with the RV code and doing it to that kind of side of things, or am I making an assumption?

Tracy Manchego-Baker 11:38

Well, it's actually going to get to a point even with if you're a good builder, and you want to do right, the right thing, and you want to take care of your customers correctly. We're actually in a situation where we're offering a dual certification, because even I have to write the reason why. First of all, you let me let me break apart your question here. So you talked about Appendix Q. So Appendix Q is for tiny houses on foundations. Right, period. That's what Appendix Q is for. So if you already want to build a tiny house, in your local jurisdiction, accept Appendix Q, because not all jurisdictions accept it. Okay, or have accepted the code? Correct. Okay. Meaning that they're willing to allow you to build to it correct. There's nothing in Appendix Q, at least from what I've been aware of, and why we've all been having issues with it was there's nothing in there about wheels, right? It was all foundation. So that's that. Right. So Appendix Q for me, is tiny houses on foundation. We have rules for that, right? It's already been established. But I think the state of Colorado, for example, was like, Well, why aren't people doing it? And it was like, well, because they didn't want to build their tiny houses on foundation. They wanted them on wheels. Right. And so now, they're doing this new role.

Ethan Waldman 12:56

Yeah, and I'm not an expert on the codes either. But my understanding is that IRC is actually working on an update to Appendix Q that will essentially add, you know, will expand that set of laws for tiny houses on wheels. So Oh, okay. I have an appreciation that will be interesting when those two things are there. So

Tracy Manchego-Baker 13:15

this is what's going on. Are you ready? And I'm going to data dump it. So we've got NFPA 1192, which is RV code and RV certification. We still have ANSI 119.5, which is RV park model. Certification, right. Okay. Then we have Appendix Q, which is for that is IRC. Appendix Q was designed for tiny houses, it was to make some specific rules specific to tiny houses, to be able to be recognized, but that again, is on foundation. So now, now, let's talk about ASTM, with Janet Thome and her team. Let's talk about this new Colorado bill that now defines tiny homes on wheels. Yeah, you're now you're gonna throw ICC in there too. Right with THIA

Ethan Waldman 14:08

Code soup, Yeah.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 14:09

Correct, So here's where I'm at, you know what I you know, you know what I told everybody and I've been telling everybody for the last year and I'm not going to be popular for this. And that's okay. Because I focus on loving on everybody is a really feel like all of these teams should have came together a long time ago. Because now you have people like me and other builders across the United States that are keeping up with all of it. Right? And now, right, so great. If ICC is working on something now, that says Appendix Q allows for tiny homes on wheels. Well then why didn't anybody know about this for the last many, many years that Appendix Q has been around? Because it because it didn't allow for wheels? So now ICC is just start going to go down that path, correct? I mean, are you are you aware that this is something new that they're working on?

Ethan Waldman 15:05

Right, Yeah, this this is something new as far as I know.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 15:09

Right? So we've got ASTM standards, right, which are just standards that they're working on. Right. There's a whole new team. We're participating in that team. Now we have ICC, and I believe THIA is teamed up with ICC on that. And they're working on that. And that just started. And then we had for the last, like, nine months. I've been working with the state of Colorado. Because Colorado, went to all of those teams and said, Hey, what are you guys doing? Because Colorado even wrote Ethan, and just so you guys know, Colorado even wrote it into the law, that if a new standard comes into play, that Colorado has the right to adopt that. Nice, right. So they even wrote it into the law.

Ethan Waldman 15:53

This, this is really interesting to me. And I think that that this could be kind of one of the most forward thinking state regulations that I've heard of, can you, you know, can you talk me through, you know, what, what is HB-1242? Like, what does it do?

Tracy Manchego-Baker 16:08

Okay, so I've tried to make it really simple for everybody, because it's actually, there's a lot of great exciting things about it. There's a couple of things. And I have said this to the state of Colorado, I think there's a couple of things that we got wrong. And I don't think anybody expected for us to get it perfect. The first time. We tried, it was a lot of hard work. But I think there's a couple things that we could have maybe had gotten a little bit more cooperation from the local jurisdiction, or not even so much the local jurisdictions is the tacking or in the state of Colorado, I will say that I was very appreciative for them and getting to work with them. I feel like they truly tried to put themselves in our shoes as tiny housers, enthusiasts, builders, and home owners, customers, right. Like, I feel like they tried to put themselves in our shoes. But it was hard to meet what the state needed, what customers needed to because this was also about consumer protection, Ethan. And it's unfortunate that we had to get to the point where we needed consumer protection. But we did have a few bad apples, there was always going to be bad apples in every bunch. Okay. Yep. So this was also about the state. It was about consumer protection, protecting people, right from builders that don't do the right things. And it was also supposed to be about giving the builders a path to be able to follow and have certified State Certified Legal tiny houses placed in the state for our customers. And then obviously, as somebody who owns a tiny house, it was supposed to benefit us, right? It was supposed to help people with the affordable living problem, because we all have horrible, affordable housing problems. Everybody does, right? I talk to everybody in all kinds of different states, right? I'm in the tiny house movement. And in the industry. I'm a tiny house consultant. So I work with lots of different builders across the United States. And we're all hearing the same things. We're all going through the same things. It's not just California that has a homeless problem, homeless living problem, it's Colorado, too. And it's not just Colorado, Texas is starting to have it. A lot of other states are starting to have it too. So now that everybody's all listening to each other. Right now, it's time for all of us to work together. We need to work together to make this easier for all of us. And so that's kind of what I feel Colorado did is let's talk about the bill. So this is what the bill is designed to do. Ethan, three focus areas. One, as a consumer, or a tiny house person that's going to live in a tiny house. You need to either buy a Colorado certified tiny house. All right, okay. Or as a DIYer, you have to build it to code. And you can, okay, you can follow the same process as me. Okay, DIYers You guys can follow the same process as us as builders. And you can also have a Colorado State Certified tiny house. Okay, so that's,

Ethan Waldman 19:16

Colorado has set up its own certification, or do they recognize they recognize like, Okay, if you're our RVIA certified, then we then your Colorado certified.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 19:27

So that our RVIA Pacific West as well as NOAH, yeah, are three certification companies that all inspect NFPA 1192 RV code, or ANSI 119.5, which is RV Park Model Code. So the state of Colorado is has their own inspections, okay. And their own rules that we have to follow. Wow. Interesting. Okay. Yes. Now they are working on allowing third party inspectors to go it like certified through the state or to qualify. So those companies can still do inspections. But I don't know if Noah or PacWest has made it through that process yet. Yeah, right now when I submit our first tiny house to the state of Colorado, that I'm getting ready to submit plans, okay. For our, one of our first houses that will have a dual certification, it's being built to ANSI 119.5, which is RV park model code, but we're also building it to the new Colorado State certification as well. Nice now. Okay, so that's number two is build your house to code. Number two is tied into the utilities. Hmm. So you have to tie in your plumbing, your electrical, your septic. So if you want to go buy a piece of land, and your land allows you to put a tiny house on it legally, meaning that you're not in an HOA, that's telling you you have to have a minimum of 1200 square feet, right? Sure. Sure. Because zoning is still in charge. Yeah, your land dictates what you're allowed to do with your property with your whether you can build a tiny house or not. So here we go, tied into the utilities. So I bought a legal certified house where I built one to Colorado specs, that was number one. Number two is I'm tying it into the utilities. So if I'm allowed to park a tiny house, let's say next to your house, Ethan, on your property in Colorado, yep. And your land allows for me to do that I need to tie in my utilities into yours, meaning I need to tie my septic in, I need to be able to have fresh water coming in. So I need to get a spigot out there by my tiny house, or some sort of way to get fresh water. And then I need to tie into the electrical. So that means the electrician needs to come out to your house and either run me a pole is what they refer to it or a pedestal you'll often hear people refer to it as an electrical pedestal. Or it could even be as simply as adding a 50 amp RV hookup into your garage. Okay, right. And my cord fits because I'm parked right next to your house. Okay, so you have to be able to tie into the utilities correctly. That is number two, are these new rules. So tie into so be ready to tie in to the utilities, but they're gonna let you park it, which is no living off grid? Well, I didn't say that. So there they welcome solar. Okay. Also, there's a lot of pieces of land, even in Colorado where you don't have well access, I can't dig a well, I will never get to so there are places in Colorado where we have water cisterns. You know, let's say you have 1000 gallon water cistern and your water gets delivered to you. Okay, that's okay. Okay. They just want to know that you are tied into the utilities because there's land here in Colorado where you can't get water but just delivered. Well, Rainbow Valley up until our counties one example. Okay. So they are aware that there is some land here in Colorado expressed especially in like hartsel, and some of those rural areas where you're not going to be able to get water or you're not going to be able to get electricity. So they understand that there's going to be some off grid. Okay. But it still needs to be approved by your local jurisdiction. Now, notice, I didn't bring up septic on that. There's one thing I left off, I just said water, yes. With a water cistern and deliveries and I said, solar. That'll be your local jurisdiction. That'll give you the thumbs up on your solar just like you do regularly anyways. Okay. Yeah. But the septic, you guys, they don't want number one and number two in the ground, no compost toilets, right. They don't want. They're not friendly. We're not compost friendly. In Colorado. Yeah, we're really not. Yeah, there's some RV parks in the state that were grandfathered many years ago, but most RV parks, even though there's some that were grandfathered, still don't let compost toilets come in. It's the same thing with land. Now. There are exceptions to every rule, because I'm sure somebody is gonna listen to this podcast and say, Wait a second. I have a compost toilet in Colorado and I'm approved. Yeah, I've seen some get approved. Ethan I really have. I have a customer. She's out east. She's got a couple little tiny houses and she has compost toilets. The local jurisdictions, her county came out and they helped set her up for success. They basically filter that if she had a compost box, where she could show where all of her composting went and it was dedicated to going that they would allow for her Airbnbs to use the compost toilet. So when I say no compost in Colorado, I'm saying we're not compost friendly here in Colorado. But I have seen some exceptions. Okay, you need to work with your local jurisdiction. But I'm going to say and I don't really know this statistic, but I'm going to just take a guess and say nine out of 10 times they do not want compost, right. They want you to flush Yep, So that's number two, you got to tie into the utilities. And number three, are parking your tiny house legally in the state of Colorado with these new laws? Number three is you have to place the tiny house legally. What does that mean Tracy? So with the state of Colorado, when you place a mobile home, in a mobile home park, there is a state certified what they refer to as an installer. So Oh, yes. So there is a company or companies out there, and they're listed on the website, you guys I already had to call to try to find an installer for a customer that I have going out in Durango. And so I was looking for an installer for her. And so there's a list of them on the state of Colorado's website. Out on our Facebook page, I have listed the Dola website on our page at Tiny building experts. So if you need this link, go out there and look for it. You guys. I have it already posted. But there's a list of installers. So you would have to have your tiny house installed, according to your local jurisdiction. What does that mean? Tracy, it means. So we put some tiny houses in downtown Colorado Springs for our community that we helped develop, along with Shelley and the we fortify nonprofit. Yeah. And the city told us how we had to place the tiny houses, so we had to have hard packed land, we had to strap the tiny houses down permanently to the ground. So we use the rings and strapping mechanisms and we put Jacks underneath the trailers and we stabilize it, and we kind of like strap them semi permanent, okay. And so the city will tell you how they want you to place it. Sometimes you're going to have to pour concrete. Sometimes you're going to have to pour an RV pad, or maybe strips are where your wheels go. Have you guys ever seen where RVs were required to have like cement underneath the wheels? But yet, you don't have to have it. I have seen that. Yeah. So that's all based off your local jurisdiction, okay, if you're going to try to put a tiny house, you guys on the side of a mountain, you're going to have to get engineered piers to be able to place that tiny house on that side of the Mount makes sense. That's what I mean by placing it legally. So wherever you're going geographically located in the state of Colorado, whether you're on soft land, hard land, mountain land, by the river, by a lake, whatever your local jurisdiction is going to dictate how we place your tiny house. In a lot of cases, you're either going to have to put something underneath your wheels, and you're probably going to have to strap it, which isn't hard. It's not costly to do. It doesn't get costly until you have to start pouring cement. Right, and that is costly. Well, that's where I was spend money.

Ethan Waldman 27:45

You know, I wrote I kind of wrote down, you know, I'm taking notes. I'm kind of thinking of my next questions. My how the tiny house industry has grown up and my how expensive this all sounds.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 27:55

I know Ethan, and I'm sorry. So you're right. It made me sad, I guess. So there's the con. Right. So there's pros and cons to everything. And I'm going to tell you guys right now, I fought with every bit of my heart on that team. And I said it a million times on every one of those calls. This felt like punishment for builders that were doing it the right way. Because I saw all of the costs that were adding up that I was about to have to pass on to my customer. Right? It felt like it didn't feel good. Okay, it felt like, okay, now I have this annual. I have trust accounts now that I have to do to protect customers, I now have, you know, certain rules that I have to follow, I have to submit plans which cost money, I have to get a blower door done test blower door test done now, which cost money, I had to increase your R value by an R four on your roof. Because it starts making us it's going to cost us a little bit more money. I'm going to have to move to two by six framing and my roof instead of two by four. I'm not happy about it. It's going to cost my customers more money. So there are things that I don't feel we want on. But I can say that we needed to start a path for legalizing because right now. They're just not legal. Right? You can only live in a tiny house in an RV park right now.

Ethan Waldman 29:24

If you're doing it if you if you want to do it legally.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 29:27

If you don't want to have somebody kick you out. Yeah. Yeah. If you don't ever want to get the knock. Yeah. Or the piece of paper that gets put on your door that says you've got two weeks to vacate. Yeah. And now you have two weeks to find out where you're going to place that tiny house. Good luck. You're going into an RV park. Right? So most tiny houses are in an RV park right now because we didn't have a choice, right? But now this gives them a chance to place it on the land legally. Now there's some benefits to it. Yes, you're right. It's going to cost a little bit more. It's probably going to cost a few $1,000 More perhaps I'm not happy about it. But at least I know my customer isn't going to get the knock. Right? At least I have customers that I know will be able to put their tiny house legally now in the state of Colorado, and that's a good thing. So from that perspective, I know it's gonna cost a little bit more. Yeah, I don't, I'm not happy about it costing a couple $1,000. More. I don't like it either. But I do know that my customers are gonna be able to buy a piece of land. Yeah, live the dream, place it legally. And here's the best part about those people that want to put it on a piece of land and place it legally, here's the benefit to you guys, you're ready. Yes, it's gonna cost a little bit more. And yes, people were like, but wait a second, now I'm going to pay taxes. If I put it on land, and I tied in Yeah, you're gonna pay taxes. But you also now have a house that's appreciating, right? Like a regular house on land. And you're not paying personal property taxes anymore at a higher percent, you're now paying real property taxes, which is at a lower percent. So there are some benefits to it. There's some pains to this. Yeah. But we had to start somewhere. And we had to try to help people place a tiny house legally. And I'm going to be honest with you guys, the tiny house builders. At first, a lot of us weren't really on board. We weren't really excited about it. All we felt was a bunch of regulations. We saw the costs, we saw the things starting to add up. And we weren't really excited about this at all. So that was very hard for us as builders. Yeah. So I'm not going to sit there and say, everybody, welcome to this because not everybody welcomed it. But I'm going to just tell you guys what I told everybody else. The reason why our company decided to get on and work really hard to make it onto the TAC team with the state of Colorado to write these laws is right, they were going to do it with or without us,

Ethan Waldman 31:46

you want to have a seat at the table,

Tracy Manchego-Baker 31:48

the state of Colorado. That's what it was Ethan is the state of Colorado was going to write these laws with or without us. So if we didn't get involved, we weren't going to be able to fight back against those costs for our di wires, or that pattern for people to live legally. So don't get me wrong, we fought tooth and nail against the cost and the whole time, right. And we did ask them to remember this was supposed to be about affordable living. So you know, we begged them through the whole process to remember this.

Ethan Waldman 32:20

I'll let you guys know how much it really costs. As I submit my first one. Yeah, and I you know, I saw that. There are speaking of costs there. The law definitely has teeth in terms of the violations for, you know, builders, who who violate the law, it looks like up to $20,000 per violation, and up to $50,000 per violation if the victim is an elderly person,

Tracy Manchego-Baker 32:45

Dude, so yes, these were hard, right? Yeah. So they did make some amendments, just so you guys know, they did make some amendments. Okay. There were some things that, you know, they, this was all supposed to be in the best interest of consumers, right. We had to protect consumers, getting builders to do things correctly, which is also needed in our industry. I love. I tried to help all builders, Ethan. Yeah. If somebody calls Austin, and trust me, we get these calls all the time. Yeah. And they want to ask as, as a competitor to him, just a fellow builder, he will take their call, and he will give them an honest answer of how to do something correctly. Because we would rather coach people in our industry to do things correctly, because it makes it easier on all of us. These laws wouldn't be so hard right now. had everybody did things legally and correctly. And unfortunately, there were some folks that didn't do things correctly. And so now we're all suffering those consequences. So I'm not happy about all of it, Ethan, but I will say again, we didn't have a choice. It was either we get involved and we help them make it better for us. But we sit back and watch them do it without us. And so that's why we chose to fight Yeah. and get involved.

Ethan Waldman 34:04

How does this and you know, I know that that you didn't write the bill you're you're just helping so incredibly helpful and knowledgeable about it. So anybody who's listening this isn't Tracey's fault if you don't like it, she's just the messenger don't shoot the messenger.

How does this affect builders outside of the state of Colorado? Who might you know, because people are like, Oh, I can I can work with a builder. In not in my state. I can work with a builder from another state. How does this affect somebody in Colorado, maybe who wants to buy a tiny house from builder outside of Colorado?

Tracy Manchego-Baker 34:36

So on on our Facebook page, and I need to get it up on our website, but the resources that I posted the state of Colorado wants you guys to go to them, literally. They said come to us. We will help you guys if you are let's say you already have a tiny house and it was built like I already got this question. I have a lady. Her tiny house was built in Kentucky well Tennessee, Tennessee. And we know that it's not going to meet snow load. And we know it's not going to meet our value the insulation values that you need here in Colorado. breaker panel location, there's just a couple of things that we know are just not going to meet code. The State of Colorado is welcoming those of you guys that already have tiny houses to go to them to see if they might be able to help you rectify, or fix what may be wrong. I don't know how costly it's going to be to fix framing or rip a roofer off or try to get more r value, I think it's going to be costly. I do think there's going to be people selling their tiny houses, yeah. But you're not gonna be able to sell that tiny house to somebody that's planning on living in Colorado, because they're not going to be able to park it here either. Right? So from an ethical perspective, ethics wise, I will say this, if you're a builder, and you're out of Colorado, you can still build the Colorado laws and follow all the same rules that I am as a builder. So the state of Colorado is not saying, hey, builders from out of state, you can't do this. That's not what they're doing. They're saying You are welcome. If you're a builder out of Colorado, you are welcome to build to the same rules that I have to follow in the state of Colorado. Okay. So whether you're a DIY, or whether you're an out of state builder, or whether you're an in state builder, we all have to follow the same rules, it doesn't really matter. So if you're an out of state builder, you could still build our codes. Yep, you still got to pay the same fees that I do. You still got to pay the annual registration cost, you still have to pay for your cross accounts, you still need to pay for your bond. Right? Right, I now have a yearly Bond put on my company. So they just have to follow the same rules that we do.

Ethan Waldman 36:38

Right, right. And then how does that work? For a DIY builder? Who's just building one tiny house? Do you have to do all those things or...

Tracy Manchego-Baker 36:46

Yeah, so that's, that's the kind of cool things, they could still do it, they just need to submit their plans to the state of Colorado, okay, they need to get it approved, they need to go through the inspection process, they'll pay for the blower door testing, they'll pay for their plans to get inspected, they'll pay for the inspections, they just won't have to do like a manufacturer like us, we're a factory built manufacturer now. So they won't have to pay that yearly fee. Right To Be A manufacturer. So there's gonna be some benefits to the DIYers, some costs, okay, that will be removed.

Ethan Waldman 37:19

All right, that all makes sense. And wow, this is you're clearly so knowledgeable about this, and so helpful. So I just really appreciate you you walking, walking me through it. I feel like I have my head around it. And I hope that somebody listening to this episode also kind of now has their head around it. Do you think this is going to become a template for for other states? Have you heard anything?

Tracy Manchego-Baker 37:42

I do. It's funny that you say that I was talking to a young lady. I was talking to somebody that I was doing an interview with yesterday out of Denver, and she's from Utah, and she says, you know, my state's behind. And I said don't worry, this is going to be replicated. I'm pretty confident that a lot of other states are about to copy

Ethan Waldman 38:01

Nobody likes tobe first,

Tracy Manchego-Baker 38:02

You know what I mean by that, literally copy and paste. Look at Washington, California. You know, those were two states that were kind of front runner in legalizing tiny houses or creating paths for their states. Colorado was in it to win it as well, just like other states are doing it. And I feel like all that's about to happen in the all of the other states is they're going to start copying and pasting our methodology.

Ethan Waldman 38:27

All right. Well, congratulations to Colorado for for being first.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 38:31

It's common. Yeah. Well, we appreciate the opportunity. I will say the fact that Colorado defined a tiny house on wheels, that is separate from an RV, separate from an RV park model separate from a manufactured home, separate from a tiny house built on foundation. It was really all about the wheels, Ethan and so kudos to Colorado for not trying to cut the wheels out, right? Because if you go and you look at all of the codes and everything, it was always that the wheels were left out. Now, this is where we're at everybody, you guys with me? Here's here's what I will tell you guys start talking to everybody you can if you're an enthusiast, start talking about the wheels to zoning. Now we need zoning to allow for the tiny houses, right? We've got the state's recognizing us, the states are now saying Hey, good job on your bill. You guys are building the code. We're happy you're tying it in, you guys are doing the right things. Now we need zoning to be a little bit more friendly. So that's kind of what I encourage everybody out there right now is follow the new state laws. But now let's start encouraging zoning to help us out too.

Ethan Waldman 39:37

How do we do that? I mean, I know that zoning is not something that's well I guess it is legislated at the state level in some ways, but it's more often a patchwork of every single town has their own zoning laws.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 39:51

So it's hard and I'm not gonna say that it's not Ethan but let me say this 10 years ago, when Austin first started in this industry, I started about eight years ago I started in 2016. And nobody would even talk about it like zoning was just absolutely wouldn't shut you down immediately. Okay. I went to all kinds of different counties. I know I remember getting the canned letter that says No way. And we're not accepting Appendix Q either. So no, don't ask right. So I remember all the knows for so many years. You guys are changing zoning. They're already doing it. Ethan, they're already starting it in other states. They're even starting it here in Colorado, just so you guys know, for the first time. We got to participate recently here in Colorado Springs. We joined a call it was last year right when we were working on these new laws, and it was for zoning, and it was about the verbiage that we were going to use for tiny houses in zoning. So we are now and I asked them to keep the wheels in the verbiage for zoning. We're are now in our states, I don't know all states, but I do know there's several of them that are working on it that are working on this new thing called Flex zoning. Okay, flex zoning is going to allow for more tiny houses and more areas. And so it's also going to allow for you ready, this is the big one you guys communities. So here in Colorado Springs, and in Colorado, we started to accept some communities, but not all communities. And so now Colorado is in the position where we have to define what we're going to allow from tiny house communities within zoning. So awesome. It's already being worked on. It's happening. And I'm going to tell you guys been for the last nine years or eight years of my career, whatever, zoning wouldn't talk to us, but in the last year, only talking to zoning now. You guys, this is the first time ever, ever in a decade, that zoning is listening to us. They're they're answering our questions, he then I am going to place a tiny house, I hope in the city in Colorado Springs in a backyard in an area that's normally not zoned for tiny houses. I'm going to know in the next probably two months of whether we're getting that tiny house placed legally in Colorado Springs nice, which honestly is going to be like miracle status. Okay, because for 10 years or eight years, it was just a flat out No. Interesting. So I'm saying that the new laws are helping us with zoning. But we all need to start talking about it again. So we're gonna follow the news Colorado State laws now Mr. And Mrs. zoning, folks, we need your guys's help, do nice. And that's where we're at.

Ethan Waldman 42:39

Tracy, I appreciate your time so much. And this is also exciting. Where can people find you online? It sounds like you you post a lot of resources. And I'd love for people to be able to connect with you there.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 42:51

Yeah, so we have a website. We don't do very well at marketing guys. We build beautiful tiny houses. I tell everybody all the time. We're terrible at marketing, but we're wonderful at building houses. So you can book a consult, complimentary consultation call with us on our website. It's Follow us on Facebook, we're trying to get better about posting more photos. We know that a lot of you guys like the educational photos. Yeah, just learning how to do different parts of the builds. We have a lot of DIY errs that are following us nice. And we also have a lot of new builders that follow us because we do offer consulting. So not only do we do consulting for DIY errs and people that want to build their own tiny house and people that build a tiny house with us. But we also do consulting for small businesses that want to have a tiny house business but do things correctly and they want to get set up legally and start that process. Nice. So yeah, just find us out on Facebook. Again. It's tiny building experts plural with an S. And we are out in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We have a tiny house shop. I'm actually joining you guys from one of the tiny houses,

Ethan Waldman 43:59

right? Yes. Nice. It looks great.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 44:01

Yeah, this tiny house won the People's Tiny House choice awards at the People's Tiny House Festival this year. Nice. So that was kind of cool. But we do have a shop down here in spring. So if you guys are ever in the area and you guys want to come and visit you're welcome to book visitation with us and we'll give you a tour and like check out the tiny houses and see how we build them. Sounds great.

Ethan Waldman 44:24

Tracy Manchego Baker. Thanks so much for being a guest today.

Tracy Manchego-Baker 44:27

Thank you appreciate the opportunity. Good lucky then you got you're doing a great job. We appreciate you. You too. Bye. Thank you

Ethan Waldman 44:34

so much to Tracy Manchego-Baker for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes at There you will also find a complete transcript, some photos of tiny building experts homes and links to all of the details about the new Colorado tiny house building laws. Well, that's all for this week. 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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