Published in the Weaverville Tribune, January, 2016
By Heather Berry
Buncombe County – If you think a high rent or mortgage is your only option when it comes to shelter, it’s time to think outside the box.
The Big Ivy Community Club held its monthly meeting Monday with a focus on alternative housing. The community room, filled for the free lecture, featured local builders and co-owners of Barnardsville’s Blue Ridge Tiny Homes (http://blueridgetinyhomes.com) , Sean McDonnell and Greg Zocher.
“For this project,” McDonnell said while describing one tiny home project, “we combined modern with an Appalachian look with cedar posts, locust handrails and cherry. What’s fun about this business is the fact, anything you dream up, we say, ‘Sure! Let’s try it!” “We are trying to customize the builds to what people want and how they will use the home,” added Zocher.
McDonnell and Zocher provided photos and details of the tiny homes they customize for clients around the country. Prices for the company’s tiny homes begin around $15,000 for a home approximately 20-feet-long. The company cautions folks to factor in all the extras and labor, before assuming the price will be under $50,000.
While the length of the home may top out at 24-feet-long, then builders emphasized to the group the ability to customize tiny homes to any specifications. Some tiny homes include lofts, storage, pet housing, porches, bookshelves and other extras.
Zocher and McDonnell devoted a good part of the lecture describing cost-saving and energy-saving appliances and construction methods. “This hot water heater is smaller than a suitcase and on-demand,” McDonnell said as he pointed to small white box in a photo of a completed tiny home.
“Some of the stuff we use, because it’s a smaller size and so efficient, it’s fun to read the energy guides. The cost for this water heater comes to $5 to $6 per year.”
According to McDonnell, the water heater mentioned is usable for a two to three people in a space measuring 8 x 20 with a loft. Some details of the tiny homes are surprising given stereotypes attached to such construction, explained Zocher.
“We have people ask, ‘How and why are you going to put 13 windows in an 8 x 20 tiny home?’ Once they get inside the tiny home and realize the windows provide cross-ventilation and daylight, which makes the space feel bigger.”
Each tiny home project, said Zocher, has closed-cell foam insulation and metal roofing, along with environmentally-friendly construction supplies. “Right now, we are looking at a turn-around time of three months for completion of each tiny home,” said McDonnell, “from the time the trailer comes into our shop to turn-key.”
Blue Ridge Tiny Homes are constructed on wheels for easy transport. Some members of the audience asked about the logistics of trailering a tiny home from place-to-place. “We use awning windows so there isn’t a big overhang,” explained Zocher.
In order to keep the tiny homes street legal, the width of the homes must stay at 8-foot-6-inches wide or smaller. Anything larger becomes an oversized load. In addition to Blue Ridge Tiny Homes, Patrick Beville, an engineer with IonCon from Boone, spoke about shipping container housing. One of Beville’s clients, Ryan Naylor, of Asheville, discussed the container home he constructed last year in Asheville.