By Jennifer Farnsworth
The trend of tiny houses–cottages of small square footage that give owners bare living essential–is being seen in home and garden magazines and on home improvement television shows, particularly over the past year. Now, it is making its way to the local region thanks to Clifton Park contractor Karl Schnitzer.
Building a tiny home model was not something Schnitzer created overnight. In fact, he said he spent over eight years researching them, looking for a blueprint that met all the amenities of a home, and all within a tidy 130-square-foot space.
In New York City, he met designer Jay Shafer, who is somewhat of an expert on building tiny houses. He bought Shafer’s blueprints and from those created a house that was fit for upstate New York residents.
Schnitzer recently showcased his tiny house model at an Earth Day celebration in April at the SUNY Adirondack in Queensbury. He also displayed the house at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs.
“A lot of the tiny homes you see on TV are more of a cape cod style, maybe something constructed for the west coast. I wanted to create something that was more of an Adirondack style, something specific to this part of the country,” said Schnitzer. “When you see them on TV you can’t get a real sense of what they are really like, they are really something to see in person.”
The cost of building the home was around $20,000, he said. The draw for people is to be able to purchase a single-family home at a very low cost. It allows people to be free of a large mortgage and the hassle of home maintenance.
It also works well for people with lifestyle centered around travel and adventure, because of the mobility of the homes. Schnitzer said the concept actually came out of California where contractors were becoming increasingly frustrated with building codes,so they took things into their own hands.
“These homes do not require foundations and are able to avoid a lot of building code restrictions,”said Schnitzer.
At 7,000 pounds, this particular model has a bedroom with space for a queen-sized bed and a bathroom with a shower stall, toilet and small sink. Schnitzer said this model is different from many others because the bathroom has an actual door, as opposed to other models that only have a sliding door or curtain.
There are also two lofts for additional sleeping space or storage, and a kitchen with a sink, refrigerator, cabinetry, a microwave and a portable cook top. A small dining space is available, in addition to a closet for storage.
Schnitzer said that tiny home living is not for him, but he can definitely see the appeal.
“There is something about living simply and not having an overload of things,” said Schnitzer.
As far as turning his model into part of his business, Schnitzer said he is open to the idea. He will pursue it if there is enough interest.
For more information Schnitzer can be reached in his Clifton Park office at 371-0693.