Core Housing Solutions, a tiny house builder based in Leesburg, Florida, was founded on the premise that tiny houses should be affordable.
“We started this business because there was a dearth of low-cost, high-quality tiny houses,” said Bruce Chatterton, a former city planner who is a partner in CHS. “Tiny houses should have always been, at least in part, about affordable housing. HGTV shows are focused on simplifying and downsizing, but they often feature $70,000 houses. In reality, there are a lot of blue-collar folks who need a quality home but can’t pay that much, and they often don’t need to simplify at all to fit into tinies. Our newest, 25-foot house sells for $28,000 – that’s about half of the typical low-end price for a similar home.”
Chatterton’s partners, Andrew Bennett, who is well-known in the tiny house industry as the founder of Trekker Trailers and co-founder of the tiny house certification company, Bildsworth International, and Bruce’s wife, Shari Chatterton, a real estate investor and entrepreneur, share his passion for affordable, utilitarian, well-built housing.
The company’s first offering, the Firefly (pictured), is a one-story, 200-square-foot THOW that is 12’ 6” tall and features a first-floor bedroom.
“We can customize the exterior some, but we build one floorplan. Customization can drive the cost way up,” said Chatterton. “We are able to sell houses for far less than our competitors in part because of Andrew’s excellent design. He specs a trailer that doesn’t cheap out but isn’t too beefy, no loft, and a shed roof because it’s simple and strong. We use materials chosen to help save labor. This includes metal SIPs sized to minimize the number of panels and seams.”
Although SIPs (structural insulated panels) are not new to the tiny house industry, metal SIPs are atypical. “Thin, powder-coated steel sheets are strong and light, and they look good and stand up to weather,” said Chatterton. “We use 3-inch-thick SIPs for walls and 4-inch for the roof. They have closed-cell foam between the outer sheets. That’s a lot of insulation.”
Affordable Riverfront Community
“We’re converting an RV park in a beautiful riverfront location into a tiny house community named Cross Creek Village,” explained Chatterton from the living room of the THOW that he and Shari call home. “We’ve been here about six months. It’s great. We sold several houses and got rid of just about everything. We’re currently looking for neighbors! We have eight rental units, and we are building four more, and we have room for 22 tinies total.”
These entrepreneurs are also looking for investors. “Tiny houses can be a solution for a number of different needs. Airbnb resorts. Vacation and seasonal housing. Emergency and transitional housing. The price point for most tinies is too high to make it feasible to buy houses for use as rentals and other similar things, but our houses solve that,” said Chatterton.
“As a consultant and former bureaucrat, it’s apparent to me that the American housing industry has failed to deliver on the American dream. Millennials, especially, don’t want to get stuck in the financial rat-race that comes with a typical house on a quarter acre. I hope housing in general is much more of a movable feast that can go with you where you need to go. I think we’ll see a new type of home ownership and more of a shared economy. Tinies can be part of that solution. If we’re successful, we’ll be disruptive in a good way. I hope tinies make housing available to a lot more people,” said Chatterton. “I believe in the missions of building officials – life safety and quality, but with that comes a lot of expenses. We need to make housing much simpler. It’s really time for a revolution.”
Trekker Trailers/Core Housing Solutions is bringing a Firefly THOW to the Mid-Atlantic Tiny House Expo in Maryland, October 6-7, 2018.