Everything is big in Texas. Big hats, big ranches, big trucks ... even the houses are big. Right?
Well ... yes. But not always. This month, there's news of two Texas outfits who are going small. One is a startup producer of tiny manufactured house kits. The other, surprisingly, is a Dallas-area production builder who has had good success building big houses, but who now is developing a line of ultra-small dwellings.
In San Antonio, local micro-builder Rising Barn has a business startup model based on a kit-home concept, reports the San Antonio Business Journal (see: “Dignowity Hill home to micro-builder Rising Barn's first tiny home in San Antonio,” by Katie Burke). “The team for the San Antonio-based micro builder was joined this morning by city officials, the first unit homeowners and curious onlookers to celebrate the beginning of what the startup is hoping will transform urban infill development,” the paper reported. “On a lot spanning just 0.1 acres at 1008 Dawson in Dignowity Hill, Rising Barn — which offers kits and services to build micro units ranging between 80 to 800 square feet — will get to work on three separate units, with the largest at just 800 square feet and the others as a garage and separate spare room.”
But in Dallas, the latest tiny home builder in the market isn’t a startup — it’s an established builder with a long track record building much larger houses, reported the Dallas Morning News (see: “Bored with the big ones, Dallas builder turns to 'Harry Potter-looking' tiny homes,” by Steve Brown).
“Builder Rudy Rivas’ newest house would fit inside the master bedroom of the custom homes he constructs in North Texas,” the paper reported. “The average new home being built in America is more than 2,700 square feet — the biggest ever. So why's a Dallas custom builder starting a 180-square-foot house? It's part of the “tiny house” movement that's catching folks' fancy all across the country. “I guess I’ve gotten bored building the big ones,” joked Rivas, whose M. Christopher Homes built more than 59 houses in North Texas last year. Most of them averaged 4,500 square feet or more and sold for almost $1 million. Rivas’ first tiny house, now under construction in Lucas just east of Allen, will start in price at around $40,000 but could cost a lot more depending on what features a buyer wants. He plans to use the first model on Southview Drive as a sales office to peddle other of the Lilliputian homes.”
Tiny houses are unlikely to displace monster mansions as the typical Texan’s top choice — “It’s very creative what they are doing but it’s not related to what we are seeing in the overall market,” NAHB market researcher Rose Quint told the Dallas Morning News. But who knows — there may be some folks looking to trade in their palatial residences for something a little more modest, as the oil price crash works its way through the Texas economy in the next year or two. According to another report in the Dallas Morning News, bankruptcies surged in Texas last year as oil prices dropped — and indications are that next year’s bankruptcy rates will hit a new record (see: “Texas business bankruptcies may double: 'The carnage is going to be terrible',” by Mark Curriden).