You may have caught him at BIFF‘s screening of Tiny, where his flagship model gave audiences a chance to experience the Tiny House phenomenon for themselves.
It was on this trip that, “Boulder found me,” says Greg Parham, founder of Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses. Traveling the Rockies from Idaho to New Mexico in search of design inspiration, Parham found inspiration in the modern-style face lifts appearing throughout the city.
Just over a year old, Parham’s business is finding a second home in Boulder. When I visited, the workshop was bustling with seasoned carpenters, their skin tanned and the hide of their hands, tough. Parham’s team was working on three models that would be used to test the insulation capabilities of a local blind company.
Though these three aren’t meant to live in, “there’s a market for [tiny houses],” says Parham, who is able to live completely off the grid on his plot of land in Durango due to the features of his custom home. He sources his energy from Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine and there’s plenty of room in his miniature house for a wet bath, closet, kitchen, a large work area with a desk, sleeping loft, storage loft, a small wood stove, and a retractable porch.
The latest trend in real estate, Tiny Houses typically run between 18-20 feet long and 7-8 feet wide to fit on the trailers used as bases. A maximum height of 13’5″ keeps the structures street legal, though Parham likes to build his homes just under the legal height to ensure no problems arise. Being on wheels allows Tiny Houses to work around modern building codes that usually include a minimum size requirement. Rather than obtaining proof of ownership through a title company, Tiny House owners go through the Department of Motor Vehicles to be credited ownership of the trailer.
A carpenter since 15, the owner constructs his Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses using traditional framing methods and Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS). Using panels cuts wall construction time from three weeks to two days. Though it’s a bit pricier, Parham says the SIPS create a tighter seal and better R-Value (i.e. better insulation).
In addition to carpentry skills, as a graduate of UT-Austin’s Architecture program, Parham recognizes that a sense of design and special awareness is crucial in all architecture and especially in a condensed space. Tiny Houses encourage homeowners to shed excessive belongings but utilizing every nook and cranny to store the remaining necessary items is key in Tiny House design. Parham says he usually starts with the floor plan of a house and has clients rank the importance of each space (kitchen, bath, bedroom, etc.) to customize the home to each owner’s needs.
Besides financial, mobility, and downsizing reasons, the Tiny House movement is a product of the increased awareness of the impact human lifestyles have on the environment. Parham’s personal Tiny House is constructed mostly of reclaimed wood, keeping in line with his attention to sustainability. Many tiny Houses use compost toilets and solar panels, and require owners to pay more attention to their water consumption due to their limited supply when living off-the-grid.
So, after living in his very own Tiny House, would he do anything differently?
“I’d make it a bit bigger,” says Greg, “I’d make it 20 feet so I could have a bit of open space in the middle to do yoga and stuff like that.”
With four Tiny Homes under his belt, Parham has plans to extend Rocky Mountain Tiny Homes’s collection to include Santa Fe, Leadville, Whitefish and Grand Teton-inspired dwellings as well as a log cabin Tiny Home inspired by Stanley, Idaho—population, 63. His 136-square-foot Boulder model sold in April for $27,350.
Interested in your own Tiny House? Contact Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses to get started.