Housing — Thimble Homes making inroads into a growing nationwide specialty industry

A local builder that has dabbled in the tiny house market is expanding that side of the business, joining a growing industry emphasizing scaled-back living nationwide.

Since completing its first tiny house, which serves as a sort of model home for the company, Newberg-based Thimble Homes has received a number of inquiries about the micro-residences.

Some of the questions are general, about the industry or zoning issues, but one topic comes up more than any other.GARY ALLEN - Newberg-based Thimble Homes is getting into the do-it-yourself segment of the tiny house industry.

“I probably spend two to five hours a week talking to people about do-it-yourself (projects),” owner Luke Nodine said.

More customers are taking up the challenge of building their own tiny houses, and while that may mean less sales of pre-build houses, it opens the door for other sales of materials and kits.

“We’re trying to appeal to that market and trying to get people started and go from there,” Nodine said.

Thimble Homes was scheduled to receive its first set of materials that go into a DIY kit this week, and Nodine said it’s akin to a larger version of a Lincoln Log set.

Besides carrying the materials to enable home-carpentry of tiny houses, the Newberg contractor is getting into what lies beneath the house as well.

The business has partnered with a Colorado-based manufacturer of custom trailers that serve as the foundations for tiny houses, and will be selling the company’s products in the Northwest.

As far as a local market in Newberg, Nodine said his feeling is people are waiting to see how things play out with local building and zoning regulations. As is, it’s still a gray area with few specific provisions detailing the small semi-mobile residential units. It is also unclear how they fit into different zones and where they are allowed to “park.”

But while some regulations would solidify tiny houses’ standing in terms of where they can locate, others could change the industry completely: with DIY, Nodine said, one of the concerns is safety.

Tiny houses are not RVs, generally remaining in the same location for a longer period of time, but they are transported similarly. Often built on trailers, a tiny house like the one Thimble Homes completed last year weighs roughly 11,000 pounds and can easily be towed behind a three-quarter-ton pickup truck.

When a tiny house is being transported on the freeway, it’s important that it remain intact – and therefore, that it’s built well.

“You are going to need a little bit of skill, but what I’m trying to bring to the market and grow with Thimble Homes is, we can help a DIY-er by giving the proper pieces to do it right,” Nodine said. “If we can be part of the movement and make it safe without being overregulated, then that’s what I’m all about.”

Whether home-built or pre-constructed, the profile of micro-living is on the rise in Newberg and beyond and it’s presenting a number of business opportunities.

“We want to make this industry something feasible for people to do,” Nodine said.

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