Compliments: Daily Camera
John Griffin is no stranger to small-scale construction.
During the past five years, the Louisville resident has built more than 100 elaborate, custom tree houses up and down the Front Range through his company, TreeHouse Colorado.
“I build tree houses, so this seems like a natural progression,” said Griffin, who recently completed his first microhouse project in his backyard.
At 138 square feet, Griffin’s microhouse actually comes in 6 liveable square feet smaller than the largest tree house he has built. It’s one-tenth the size of his modest Grant Avenue home. But a peek inside quickly reveals a whole new level of finished comfort and sustainability.
Griffin said the required attention to detail was painstaking at times.
“It’s a lot more challenging than building a tree house, or even a typical home, because I have to think of every single inch, every centimeter really, or things don’t fit,” Griffin said. “If you’re off an inch in traditional construction it’s not a big deal. In here, it can cause big problems.”
Complete, the microhouse measures 18 feet. 3 inches long, 8 feet 3 inches wide and 16 feet tall. The limiting factor was simply the flatbed trailer he bought as the “foundation,” Griffin said.
Griffin’s microhouse model cost roughly $23,000 in materials to build, using high-end materials including beetle-kill pine wall paneling from Lafayette Lumber and top-of-the-line appliances.
The tiny home features a composting toilet, a metal roof with a 40-year warranty, butcher block countertops, carpet and linoleum flooring and a mini-oven big enough to roast a turkey.
Electricity is provided by a regular 120-volt extension cord, water is supplied from a garden hose and the heater, water heater, stove and oven all run off a standard propane tank.
Griffin estimates that on the Front Range the annual cost to operate the pint-sized house would be around $400.
“People putting a smaller footprint on the planet is a big appeal,” Griffin said, though he added that much of the interest in the microhouse movement comes from “ultra-conservatives trying to avoid paying taxes.”
Griffin has been following the microhouse movement for some time and attended at workshop at Tumbleweed Tiny House Company in Boulder before launching his build.
With average price tags between $40,000 and $70,000 and virtually no construction requirements, Griffin said buyers should be cautious that their microhouse builder hasn’t cut any corners.
“The nice thing when you do something on your traditional home is the city makes sure you do it right,” Griffin said. “With tiny homes, there’s no permitting, no design requirements. It just has to be off the ground.
“I’ve never built anything before that was designed to travel down the road, so I was sure to bolt everything down twice.”
Griffin, who started construction on the tiny house in January 2013, erected the tiny house between trees and outbuildings on his property in downtown Louisville.
He said he constantly gets questions from people walking down the alley behind his home as to what the building is.
“People usually just say ‘What the heck is that?'” Griffin said. “(Boulder County is) a popular area for tiny houses in terms of interest. But I’m not sure there’s a lot of them sitting on the ground, yet. It’s really not even on Louisville’s radar.”
Griffin sold the microhouse to Lyons couple Kenyon and Juli Waugh, who plan to eventually use it as lodging through their company, Wee Casa Su Casa. The home is scheduled for delivery next week.
“I just like the idea of living small and the whole movement. My plan right now, and I’m trying to get it approved by the Town of Lyons, is to use it more as lodging,” Kenyon Waugh said. “We have over 200 weddings in Lyons each summer and we have no lodging. So this would serve more of a B&B purpose.”