Compliments of: The Denver Post
When it was clear that she had to evacuate her home in 2012, Kristen Moeller put her two dogs, Tigger and Roscoe, in her car first.
There wasn’t time to save much else as the flames from the Lower North Fork Fire were creeping closer each minute from the valley below their front yard. A friend threw some wedding photos in a bag and the pair scrambled to a waiting car.
When Moeller and her husband, David Cottrell, returned to the site days later, only a charred totem pole had survived. Their dream house, Cottrell’s extensive tool collection, their boat — all were gone.
More than two years later, the property remains scarred, with charred trees instead of a shady forest canopy. But they do have a new house — one that’s a mere 500 square feet — to replace the 1,200-square-foot one that burned.
Moeller, 48, and Cottrell, 49, are new members of a growing movement of tiny- house dwellers. Some actively seek the lifestyle, but some, like Moeller and Cottrell, are pushed by circumstances.
“The tiny-house movement is sort of an underground movement that more and more people are looking at as a viable option,” said John Weisbarth, co-host of “Tiny House Nation,” a TV show on A&E’s new network, FYI. Moeller and Cottrell’s house will be featured in an episode on Aug. 13 at 10 p.m.
Moeller and Cottrell decided to go tiny after almost two years of wrangling with insurance loopholes and struggling financially (they only recently received a payout from the government). They lived in two friends’ basements, several Airstream trailers and even a home in downtown Evergreen.
It was painful revisiting their property. Ashes blew around and it was hot with the shade trees gone. They almost sold it.
Then, through reading blogs, they eventually discovered the economic benefits of building a tiny house. Soon they were negotiating with Cabin Fever, a Miami-based company that suggested they apply to “Tiny House Nation.”
Prices vary for tiny houses depending on the size, the construction company and labor, said Gayle Zalduondo, creative director for Cabin Fever. The lowest prices at Cabin Fever hover around $20,000, while a customized option with features (bathroom, kitchen cabinets and drywall) can be upwards of $50,000. Companies like Tumbleweed offer similar prices.
And if you do most of the work yourself, it’s a lot cheaper, Zalduondo added.
Moeller pitched the couple’s story to “Tiny House Nation,” and within two hours they were contacted. After that, they needed to make a decision.
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