Last year, Liberation Tiny Homes, a very successful tiny house builder in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, took a calculated risk.
“We really started to focus on making tiny houses more affordable for people. We had a lot of people who came in and loved our houses, especially our most popular model, The Farmhouse, but they couldn’t quite pay $60,000. They challenged us to build a 24-foot house for $45,000,” said Matt Meshey, a sales and marketing rep with Liberation.
A lower price point was fine with James Stoltzfus and his wife, Rose, who started Liberation in 2015, so long as the solid construction and beautiful designs that helped their company grow quickly wouldn’t be compromised.
“We used alternative products and made our building process a lot more efficient. That saved on labor and materials,” said Meshey. “We source many of our products from local, small businesses and manufacturers.”
James’ cousin, Marcus Stoltzfus, joined the company early on.
“James, who grew up Amish, and Marcus have been in the building industry for years. Building things seems to be in Amish peoples’ blood. They’re really good at it,” said Meshey. “The thing is, they take pride in their craftsmanship and the quality of things they make. They won’t cut corners. It’s not who they are.”
A new, very popular, 24-foot model, Rumspringa, is what resulted.
“This year, we will build about 35 homes. We really ramped up production, and nearly doubled in size. It’s been a good year for us,” said Meshey.
The Rumspringa is built on a double-7,000 lbs.-axle, custom trailer and features Anderson 100-series windows, an on-demand water heater, a propane 3-burner cooktop, a 10-cubic-foot stainless steel refrigerator, and oak butcher block countertops. It also has lift-bed, fixed-loft, and Murphy bed options, according to Meshey.
“Until this year, 24-footers were the most popular size, but now 32-foot homes are just as popular,” said Meshey. “I’m not sure exactly why that is.”
“Our houses ship all over, but we’ve recently sent quite a few to Tiny Estates in Elizabethtown, which is near Hershey, Pennsylvania. We are proud that it’s now the largest tiny house community in the country. They currently have 24 tinies with room for a lot more. We built five for them to use as nightly rentals. We also build for people to park and live there fulltime,” said Meshey. “Other than that, our homes are going all over, many in the northeast, but also out west as far as California and elsewhere.”
“Interest in our shells is growing, too. We offer two options to be finished by the buyer. Stage one is framed up on a trailer. Stage two is a finished exterior with water-tight windows, doors, walls and roof. All of our trailers come with 7” of insulation in the floor,” said Meshey.
Financing and Insurance
“It’s been difficult for buyers to secure financing. Most of our clients who have financed homes got them certified as RVs and then obtained loans through local banks and credit unions,” said Meshey.
“We have done NOAH certifications in the past, and we are not RVIA participants, but we do RV certified builds through Pacific West Associates,” added Meshey. “Lenders have accepted that certification.”
“The RV route makes insurance easier. Currently we are referring customers to a Farmers Insurance agent named Michael Carmona, who is based on the west coast,” said Meshey.
“We are excited about bringing our Rumspringa model to the expo in Maryland in October,” said Meshey. “We look forward to connecting with past and future customers, and other members of the tribe.”