Tiny houses: Real estate's next great wave?

Author:Best, Allen

Gerald Cook used to build luxury houses in Douglas County, $5 million and up. His last one was 11,500 square feet. "Castles," he calls them. The recession found him over-extended in "dirt." Now, a divorce and bankruptcy later, he's starting to build a house for himself: 109 square feet. It's a tiny house--and h e says he hopes to build many more.

Tiny houses have been showing up from mountain towns to Front Range cities, even out on the Eastern Plains. The Aspen Skiing Co. purchased six tiny houses for placement in Basalt, to satisfy a painful shortage of housing for seasonal employees. In Brush, a farming town located 90 miles northeast of Denver, town officials recently spent four hours talking about tiny houses with Rod Stambaugh, the founder of Sprout Tiny Homes.

Stambaugh left California behind four years ago after tiring of the mobile credit device business. He had done business with La Junta and decided to set up his shop there. It's become a significant business. Last year, his company built about 25 tiny houses. One of his favorite projects: The Wee Casa, a tiny home motel community along the St. Vrain River in Lyons. From June through October, nightly rates range from $139 to $214, and they've been booked at 70 percent capacity, he says.

Now, Sprout is looking to relocate to the Front Range, partly to be closer to suppliers. Stambaugh says tiny homes will never be built at the scale of mobile homes, but his company is done building one-offs. He has talked with one of the largest developers in Colorado, he says, who believes that the current...

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