Saturday, August 12, 2006

Small Houses Can Make Your Rich?

Jay Shafer Story

Bigger isn't always better. Just ask Jay Shafer, founder and owner of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company (, who lives in a 70-square-foot freestanding home. No, that's not a typo-his entire house has less space than most people's bathrooms.

"I had a hard time finding a place that suited my needs without exceeding my needs," says Shafer, who built his first tiny house in 1997. "So many American houses are so huge-they're oversized for the actual needs of the occupants."

Longing for less space, Shafer first designed a 100-square-foot house that was recognized in a home of the year contest by Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Exposure from the award prompted Shafer to go into business-suddenly he found a market for miniature mansions. Today, Tumbleweed offers more than 20 floorplans ranging from 70- to 500-square-feet. Half the customers use the buildings as their primary residences. Others buy them as freestanding additions to their existing homes, for use as an office or studio.

"Almost no assembly is required," says Shafer. "The houses arrive in one piece. All you have to do is connect the utilities."

A bonus to living so little: It forces you to be neater, says Shafer, who even works out of his 70-square-foot abode. Downsizing also makes you reevaluate your concept of home sweet home.