Monday, March 16, 2009

Tiny Texas Houses

Brad Kittel is a 53 year old Texan entreprenuer. In 2006 he opened his latest in a string of start-up businesses called Tiny Texas Houses. A former Austin real estate broker who focused his energies on run-down East Austin, Kittel turned away from that business after about a dozen years.

"At that time, I didn't even know what the word 'gentrified' meant. But after the houses there had gone up in prices, then all of a sudden I was the bad guy cause I'd gentrified the neighborhood. I was blamed for raising prices and all the taxes going up,"recalls Kittel.

He then turned his energies towards dealing in salvaged home furnishings, and eventually landed on the idea of the tiny house. According to his website, Kittel began building the tiny houses "to demonstrate just how great it can be to downsize our carbon footprint, simplify our lives, and live in a house with a soul that will be energy efficient as well as beautiful".

Kittel is hoping that the idea of the tiny house will resonate particularly well during the economic downturn. He wants to position his company's product as a smarter alternative to the McMansion style homes that have been cropping up all over America in the last decade.

And the bottom line? Kittels' houses start at $38,ooo and go up. So while they're not exactly cheap, they are within reach for many first time home-buyers.

In addition to being energy efficient, the tiny houses are built almost entirely out of salvaged materials (seen above), save for plumbing, wiring, and some hardware. In the state of Texas, approximately a third of all solid waste in landfills is debris from construction and demolition projects.


But beyond the practical benefits of his houses, Kittel hopes to have an impact on an American mentality. With that in mind, there is an educational component to his business plan.

"My goal is not to build a million tiny houses, it's to teach people to build a million tiny houses," says Kittel. He hopes to establish an internship program at his facility so people can come learn how to salvage materials and build these houses themselves.

"We can't compete with Wal-Mart, and we're not trying to," says Kittel. "The built-in obselescence has become the mantra of the United States, and unfortunately people have come to accept the Wal-Mart mentality of cheap, cheap, cheap. Quality is not an issue. We've got to move away from that Wal-mart mentality. We as Americans have to say 'Hey, everyone here is not a pig' everybody here isn't glutonous and wanting to have it all. We're willing to save some for our grandkids and for the rest of the world. It's idealistic...in the sense that I'm not sure people will do that. But at least I want to put that banner out there and say there are alternatives".

13 comments:

  1. I really appreciate what you're doing here. I think this is an important time in our history to document, with the written word and in photography. These pictures will tell the story for generations to come.

    I write this experience and would love to connect with you and feature site on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great posting! Nice to see a new standard in Texas-size homes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a pretty cool idea. I actually dream of living in a small house. I'm sick of all the stuff and the wasted space! It just seems like $38,000 to start is a lot for an itty bitty house made of salvaged (free?) material...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have a house built in 1907, that the city of grand prairie is making me demolish...I would love for you to deconstruct and trade labor for materials. liesil@att.net or call 214.906.5753

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's almost unbelievable how somebody can live in this tiny houses, but that most impressive thing is find somebody interested in continues build them. Awesome pictures, I stayed fascinated with your blog. BTW is amazing the quantity of buy viagra blogs that I've had to fudge to find an interesting site.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a great post, I actually found it very thought provoking, you just never know sometimes when a golden nugget of information is going to land at your feet, thanks

    Personal Injury Attorney Houston

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. ♥ I love it!...
    Thanks so much for sharing this...
    I am designing my own tiny house wagon.
    Brad Kittel inspires me...
    ~Love and Light...
    ~Debbie:)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love this! I have a 16 ac. property outside Blue Ridge,Ga. that I want to put a Tiny home village on! Looking for like minded peeps who would like living in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in one of the top 3 outdoor adventure destinations in the country! Email me @ nanciheath@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love this! I have a 16 ac. property outside Blue Ridge,Ga. that I want to put a Tiny home village on! Looking for like minded peeps who would like living in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in one of the top 3 outdoor adventure destinations in the country! Email me @ nanciheath@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete