I’m Kol Peterson. I’m the owner of this
place, Caravan, the tiny house hotel. It’s the first tiny house hotel probably in
the world, definitely in the United States. So we started this business back
in 2013 under the notion that we were going to provide a new hotel on this
street that needed it but also be able to kind of promote small housing. We
wanted to give a place for people to actually try out living in a tiny house
before they made that huge radical downsizing commitment and this
is a really great platform to kind of do that form of like subtle education. We’ve
had over 10,000 people stay here. People who didn’t know about tiny houses before
they came here oftentimes are like, “Wow, I could live in
a smaller space”, and a lot of people think they want to live in a tiny house
and realize they don’t want to and that’s fine too.
I think tiny houses are really cool and I think they play a role, but I think
from my vantage the bigger thing that we’re doing is kind of influencing
people to think about, “Do I really need to live in a 2,500 square foot house?”
like that’s kind of the ultimate you know mission I guess you could say. My wife and I live in what’s called an
accessory dwelling unit which is a secondary housing unit on a single
family lot. Small house in the backyard. Backyard cottage and we designed and
built that ADU back in 2010. Moved into it and it was done in 2011. We’ve been
living in that ever since. For me, one of the major motivations behind wanting to
build and live in that space was because the single most significant thing an
individual can do to reduce their climate footprint, carbon
footprint, energy footprint, is to reduce the size of the structure in which they
live and that’s because heating and cooling HVAC is the single biggest
energy hog in our residential structures so we
built that and kind of got really interested in small housing, in general.
My wife has a long background of living in funky small alternative structures.
You know garages and yurts and weird places like that. We’re eyeing this empty lot
which was a repo a lot like five years ago and this was before there was HGTV
shows on it about tiny houses. So tiny houses were known, but they weren’t like
quite the phenomena that they’ve since become. We kind of came up with the
idea of a tiny house hotel. What we’ve done with Caravan is we created a urban
design example of what a tiny house community might look like. It’s not
actually a tiny house community. People don’t live here full-time.
Our goal is to kind of feature the most interesting, diverse, beautiful tiny
houses we can get our hands on here. They’re all built in the Pacific
Northwest. There’s Rosebud which is 120 square feet.
It was built in Salem, Oregon by a guy named Hal. Then we have Tandem, which is a
hundred and sixty square feet, sleeps four people. We call it Tandem because
it has bike parts as art integrated into the architecture of the structure as
well as having two beds. Then we have Caboose, which looks like a train
caboose. Sleeps four people, it has three beds in it. Pacifica, which was built by
Abel Zyl of Zyl Vardos out of Olympia Washington and one of the design
challenges for this one that he built for us was we wanted to make a
basically ADA compliant tiny house one of the first that we know of. We have
a wheelchair ramp that we store beneath the tiny house and then people who are
in wheelchairs can access the tiny house. Then we have Skyline which is 160 square
feet. It’s 100% salvaged. It was built locally
here by a friend of ours who takes like scrap metal off of trucks and
creates art out of it. Skyline has interesting features such as a
triangular toilet that’s placed over the trailer tongue so it utilizes the space
over the trailer tongue which no other tiny houses do. And then we have Tango Blue which is our most elegant tiny house. It’s 170
square feet. It’s 21 feet long. It has a blue pine interior. It was built by our
Australian friend Ben. So those are six tiny houses. Each of them have a little
different feel to it. We wanted to go on a camping trip across
Canada in a teardrop trailer. We found out there was none to rent in the
entire Pacific Northwest. We started up a teardrop trailer rental business for
people to come and take a teardrop trailer and go camping and these are,
unlike tiny house on wheels which are 7,000 pounds and actually quite
difficult to tow on the road, teardrop trailers are extremely lightweight. Any
vehicle with a hitch can tow a teardrop trailer. They weigh nine hundred
pounds. The towing weight is like 80 pounds. They don’t have a bathroom, but
they have everything else. What we have right now mostly is not
affordable housing. Anything that you have to do to building code is going to
be by virtue of the fact that you have to meet all this building codes quite
expensive to do. The codes aren’t written with a poor intention. The accidental
result of that is lack of affordable housing and you could say the same thing
about planning, zoning codes. The planning zoning codes are basically saying we
don’t want homelessness happening really anywhere but we won’t let it happen in
residential neighborhoods and as a result it happens in the underbelly of
cities in places that might not be the best places for people to be sleeping.
It’s a bunch of accidental impacts that happen as a result of mindless
regulations that you don’t really get to understand until you see the results of
it, but there isn’t really a lot of conversation going on about this issue
and how we can tweak our zoning codes within residential areas and our
building codes to potentially allow for more affordable housing that is by the
way actually more efficient. The realistic way to get at small housing
right now is to fix your codes pertaining to accessory dwelling units.
So working on that front is a good idea and that’s something I do consulting about.
If people are interested I’m going to be coming out with a book pretty soon to
help people who want to advocate for better ADU codes and I also run a
website called AccessoryDwellings.org all about accessory dwelling units and
the best practices about them. Then on the other front the way I think about it
is all everything else that isn’t permitted residential structures i.e. tiny
houses on wheels, vans, campers, tread travel, trailers, yurts, in my mind also
fall under like a camping code. I think it would be cool for some cities to
start to think about whether there’s ways that they could allow for camping
on residential properties. Perhaps the provision is that the occupant of
the non permanent structure has to be able to gain access to the kitchen and
bathroom in the primary residence in order to be able to legally camp there.
They have to do it under a permitted program so the homeowner could get a
one-year provisional permit that allows for people to camp on the property and I
think there could be this whole new kind of housing economy that could sprout up
if that legal structure could be started. I’m sure it would come with a lot of
different interesting questions and conversations but ultimately the goal
would be to provide more affordable housing in places where people want to
live and they can’t afford to. If you want to come to Portland try to reserve
a room way in advance because we get booked out months in advance at this
point. If you’re interested in building an accessory dwelling unit, check out
AccessoryDwellings.org and maybe consider coming to Portland next time we
run a citywide ADU tour. We’re going to run the next one in September of 2017 so
that’ll be the next big opportunity. It’s the biggest small housing tour in the
country and it’s actually sponsored by the city, state and governmental entities
in Oregon. Thanks for watching this week’s film. If
you want access to more content like Behind the Scenes videos and Q&A’s,
things of that nature, head over to the Patreon page. Patreon.com/DylanMagaster
and help support the channel and also get access to those kinds of things.
Links to everything that Kol mentioned as well as the Patreon page and my
social medias are down below if you’re interested in any of that. Thank you
again for watching and I will see you next time!