Steamboat woodworking shop builds custom tiny home on wheels
February 19, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Safe from the weather, in a light industrial bay on the west side of Steamboat Springs, the three partners of Yampa Valley Woodworking were efficiently building a new "tiny" 300-square-foot home while a whiteout snowstorm blustered just on the other side of the garage door.
"We backed the trailer into the shop in the first week in January, and by the third week in January, we had the walls up," Chris Katers said. "It's all custom; it's not like it's a kit."
Katers and his partners Max Mayer and Tony Borean are building the little home on a trailer for a client in North Routt, who will use it part-time – he has a permanent home on his 70-acre agricultural parcel and will office in the trailer on the weeks he pulls a night shift in his healthcare/tech occupation, then sleep undisturbed by his children during the day.
The tiny home trailer was specifically designed as a camper, Borean said. It is permanently attached to a three-axle steel trailer, which is rated to pull 21,000 pounds. It will be registered with the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners revised regulations on camping on private property in 2015, creating maximum stays for some property owners but exempted "legitimate agricultural operations and rural properties with approved residences on them, where camping is deemed an accessory use.
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Routt County Chief Building Official Todd Carr spoke on the subject of very small homes on wheels in November 2017 and referred to them as campers during an event sponsored by the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.
The walls of the new home are structural insulated panels — SIPS — with an enviable insulation rating of R-28. The SIPS panels were manufactured in Fort Collins and specified to Borean's computer-assisted cad drawings.
The SIPS panels provided a significant time savings, not just in erecting the walls of the new tiny home, but also made it much more convenient to pull electrical wiring because the panels are pre-built with channels for wiring.
When complete, the home, with its shed roof, will afford room for a sleeping loft accessed by a "library ladder." The builders also found a way to add a second bed to the little house with a small couch that also includes a murphy bed. The ballpark figure for the construction of the house, Mayer said, is about $150,000.
That cost includes in-floor heat, numerous custom windows and a stainless steel farmhouse sink, soon to be set inside a beautiful stone counter. There is a tiny bathroom with a composting toilet, small shower stall and sink just big enough for hand washing and teeth brushing.
The interior of the home will be paneled with tongue-and-groove aspen boards from Southern Colorado, and strings of LED lights will be mounted on the ceiling’s exposed roof trusses. During daylight hours, three pairs of windows, set high in the tallest wall on the home, will allow abundant light and ventilation into the home, Borean said.
The bread and butter of Yampa Valley Woodworking is remodeling existing homes for clients including custom cabinetry. They won't be building tiny trailer homes on spec but are eager to identify customers for contract trailers.