By Chloé Morrison
Chattanooga carpenter and budding entrepreneur Travis Pyke is building a business around the idea that the American dream of homeownership doesn’t have to come with a lengthy, expensive mortgage.
“It really does make life simpler when you don’t have so many bills to pay,” he said.
Pyke and his wife, Brittany, live in a 200-square-foot home that Travis built. They spend $35 a month on water and power costs.
Their tiny home sits on an 18-by-8-foot trailer, so it’s mobile. It cost about $14,000 to build.
The Pykes and their business partner, Jeremy Weaver, are joining the tiny home trend with their business Wind River Custom Homes.
“I heard about [the trend] about three years ago,” Travis said. “My wife and I live here … [and] we both didn’t want to have a mortgage.”
The movement is also making news because leaders in Portland, Oregon, are considering building tiny houses for homeless and low-income citizens. Closer to home, the trend has begun in Rhea County.
Travis built his home for $14,000 because he got good deals on supplies, he said. For example, he purchased reclaimed wood for 75 percent off, and he bought a relatively inexpensive used trailer, which acts as the home’s foundation.
Without those deals, Travis estimates that other homes will cost between $15,000 and $18,000 to build. Add in labor costs, and customers could get a dream tiny home for between $30,000 and $40,000.
“You could pay for one of these in rent in about three years, depending on how much you pay for rent,” Travis said.
In addition to the low cost, there are other benefits of living in small spaces, Travis said.
For the Pykes, living in the smaller space means they spend more time outside in their garden. And Travis said a deep clean of the entire house only takes about 30 minutes.
The mobile homes can also make travel easier, he said.
They can be hooked up at campgrounds the same way RVs can, and, in many places, they can be parked on private property without special permits—although the rules vary depending on the area, he also said.