“This whole thing got started about five years ago when I built my own tiny house in upstate New York from Tumbleweed plans,” said Chris Schapdick, owner of Tiny Industrial, a tiny house custom builder based in northern New Jersey. “I started with their Linden model and turned it into a two-bedroom by encroaching a little on the living area. That experience made me want to recreate the process and build more. Now, here I am.”
Schapdick worked a 9-5 job in New York City before quitting it to launch his Tiny Industrial brand.
Although Schapdick (pictured) is fully capable of building conventional tiny houses, he also offers variations on the standard themes.
“I just finished a tiny house for a someone in Brooklyn who has land in upstate New York. It’s a 16-foot house on one floor that he is renting out as an Airbnb. I’m also dabbling with marketing-related structures for companies that want to make an impression on customers. I recently sold a gypsy wagon to a woman who makes hats and sells them on Etsy and at craft fairs. I’m also in discussion with a distillery that wants to tow around a shack-like structure for use as a marketing magnet at events,” said Schapdick.
Some of Schapdick’s camper builds are “not full-featured,” meaning they may not include a bathroom or some other element that THOWs typically have. Often components are left out to save weight and conserve space. But, “In the end, it’s whatever the customer is specifically looking for.”
“There are stories of people who buy tiny houses thinking they are going to travel indefinitely only to discover that towing a 15,000-pound trailer isn’t as easy as they thought it might be. I offer some models that are easily towed and meant for touring the country. I build on double or single axles with 15-inch rims intended for highway use,” said Schapdick.
For gypsy wagons, offices, teardrops and campers, Schapdick often uses off-the-shelf utility trailers. “Picture what your landscaper would have. They are nice, highway-worthy trailers – not Harbor Freight $300 ones for sub-45 MPH use. They come with a mesh back which I usually take off to cut weight. Typically, they have 3,000-pound axles and I try to keep the total weight under 2,000 pounds so they can be towed safely without needing electric brakes.”
“I get a lot of response on Etsy, especially for my gypsy wagons. My most recent build was a silver metallic aviation-themed teardrop (pictured) that garnered a lot of interest from hobbyists and artisans,” said Schapdick.
“I was approached by a publisher earlier in the year and asked if I would be interested in writing a book about tiny houses,” said Schapdick. “I agreed, and the book will be out in 2019. I plan to hit the tiny house festival and expo circuit when it’s published.”
Schapdick is scheduled to exhibit and speak at the Mid-Atlantic Tiny House Expo in Maryland, October 6-7. “I have one teardrop ready to go and will bring it if necessary,” he said, “but I’m working hard on a gypsy wagon that I hope to have ready in time for Maryland.”