The N1 model by Escape. Courtesy of Escape Homes
High prices and low inventory continue to squeeze Americans looking to buy and rent homes.
Tiny-home makers believe they offer affordable, sustainable, and even money-making options. We compiled 14 tiny-home and accessory-dwelling-unit (ADU) startups shaking up the industry.
In today's housing market, the list of reasons to buy a tiny home stands tall.
Whether you're a millennial or Gen Z buyer facing record-high prices, a current homeowner looking to live with less, or a city dweller whose lifestyle shifted during the pandemic, tiny homes can be filled with promise.
Tiny homes can range in price and aesthetics, but typically remain under 600 square feet. Last year, the median size of a new single-family house in America was 2,273 square feet, according to the Census Bureau.
In 2020, over 56% of Americans who responded to a recent survey by Fidelity National Financial's IPX103 said they would consider living in a tiny home. As builders move to meet that demand, the tiny-home market could reach $5.8 billion by 2026, according to iProperty Management, a research site.
But it's not just individual tastes driving demand. Tiny homes are also at the center of efforts to address climate change and affordable housing. Their often-modular approach can help reduce construction costs and make housing cheaper as a result. From all-electric homes to optimizing backyards in Los Angeles, the future of housing may look smaller.
They can also be money makers. Petite, picturesque Airbnbs are popular with Instagram-savvy travelers. In states like California, homeowners are tapping companies that plop prefabricated structures down in their backyards. In one model, a startup collects rent from the tenants of the accessory dwelling units, or ADUs — and pays out a portion to the homeowner.
We've compiled a list of the hottest tiny-home companies on the market, all shaking up the industry in different ways. Here they are, presented in alphabetical order.
An Abodu home. Courtesy of Adobu
Abodu helps homeowners make use of their unused backyard space with accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. The Redwood City, California-based company, founded in 2018, promises customers none of strings some of their competitors require, such as splitting rental income.
"We don't do any sort of land lease with the owners," John Geary, Abodu's co-founder, said. "Our biggest view is that homeowners should feel free to use their backyard as they see fit and not have it tied to us as a company — or any other company."
Instead, Abodu makes its money on customers' initial purchases of its tiny homes. Studios of 340 square feet start at $228,000, though the average purchase among all its offerings is closer to $280,000, according to Geary. Abodu also offers one- and two-bedroom homes in the relatively generous sizes of 495 square feet and 610 square feet, respectively.
The company has raised $23.5 million to date, according to Geary. Geary declined to provide Abodu's revenue but said it increased nearly five times in 2021 from 2020 and is on pace to do the same this year. It already placed 100 units in backyards as of this year, and has more than 100 more units in production.
A Boxabl unit. Courtesy of Boxabl
Boxabl's factory-built homes may be tiny, but the Nevada-based company is scoring big endorsements from some of the most recognizable names in the homebuilding industry and beyond.
Earlier this year, the company landed an investment from DR Horton — the largest US homebuilder by volume. The company didn't disclose the financial details of the deal, but Galiano Tiramani — a cofounder and director of Boxabl — said the company has now raised more than $100 million, the vast majority of which has come through crowdfunding. That puts the company's valuation at roughly $3 billion.
Boxabl delivers its 375-square-foot "Casitas," which the company builds on an assembly line in Las Vegas, to sites via shipping containers and assembles them out into full-fledged homes in less than an hour. The unique assembly method has swirled up interest on social media and helped generate a waitlist of more than 100,000 names, according to Tiramani.
Each unit sells for $50,000, not including the cost of installation. Boxabl has produced about 200 homes so far, 156 of which have gone to the Department of Defense for military housing. Boxabl is ramping up production at its existing factory and has secured land next door for an additional facility. Once both are running at full speed, they'll be able to produce about 5,000 units a year, Tiramani said.
A Casata unit. James Rodriguez/Insider
Why rent an apartment when you can lease a tiny home? That's the premise behind the Austin, Texas-based tiny-home company Casata, which earlier this year debuted a community of 66 microhome rentals in the fast-growing Texas capital.
Residents — who pay between $1,400 and $1,865 per month — quickly snapped up the homes, which range in size from 378 to 758 square feet. Casata, which launched in 2020, is now planning larger projects in other Texas cities such as Houston, San Marcos, Bastrop, and College Station, while eyeing national expansion in the future.
Champion Homes built the inaugural Casata units in a factory near Dallas. Future Casata communities will feature custom floor plans Casata designs and use modular construction, Aaron Levy — the CEO of Casata — told Insider. This means Casata will still build them in a factory, but the homes will sit on foundations like traditional homes and meet the same building codes required for homes built on-site.
Casata has raised roughly $2.1 million from a range of investors, including the family office of Adam Neumann — the founder of WeWork. In the next five to seven years, Casata aims to have 30 to 40 communities, which would equal a roughly billion-dollar portfolio, Levy said.
A Cosmic ADU. Cosmic
This San Francisco-based startup creates accessory dwelling units equipped to generate enough energy to power themselves and supply energy to the property's main home. The company, which founder Sasha Jokic began in 2021, currently sells two styles: A studio starting at 350 square feet and $190,000, and a one-bedroom unit starting at 450 square feet and $370,000.
Cosmic's innovation is a prefabricated platform that draws its power from a lithium-ion battery and thermal energy. Cosmic constructs the carbon-neutral units on-site with sustainable materials once the platform is in place. From start to finish, it takes from six to eight months to create a Cosmic dwelling.
Although the units are small now, Cosmic envisions scaling up. "We'll consider ourselves successful once we tackle the problem of housing insecurity with the multifamily homes," Jokic told Insider in May.
Inside a Cover ADU. Courtesy of Cover
Cover has a premise. Companies today use an outmoded method to build homes, and they can apply technology they use to design, create, and predictably price products — like cars — to residential construction. Cover has gathered followers, and in October 2021, the company secured $60 million in Series B funding.
Cover customizes its backyard dwellings to each buyer and manufactures them in sections at its Los Angeles factory before assembling them on a dedicated site. According to Tech Crunch, the homes currently max out at 1,200 square feet with prices ranging from about $200,000 for a 400-square-foot studio to $500,000 for a three-bedroom house.
The production process is swift, taking about 30 days to build and install a home once Cover completes the foundation. As of October 2021, Cover had produced about 20 dwellings, though it expected production to ramp up after moving into its new 100,000-square-foot factory.
A Dvele unit. Courtesy of Dvele
Robots might, one day, build your home.
At least, that's if San Diego-based Dvele achieves its lofty vision. The company, which builds modular homes and assembles them on-site, just announced the closing of $15 million in funding to build an automated, robotic production line at its factory in Loma Linda, California. The idea is to give people the opportunity to personalize their home online, then feed orders to the smart factory, and transport the completed modules — essentially the building blocks of the home — to their permanent site.
Dvele doesn't just focus on tiny homes, or "mini homes," as the company calls them. Its floor plans range in size from 400 square feet to more than 3,900 square feet, and prices vary between $200,000 and $1.5 million. That doesn't include the cost of prepping the site, delivering the home, and installing it once it's arrived.
The company launched in 2018 and plans to produce about 200 modules this year, Kellan Hannah — Dvele's director of growth — said. While the mini homes require just one module, the larger ones are made of between three and five modules. Once the factory is totally automated and running at full capacity, the company's production should approach 1,500 modules annually, Hannah said.
For now, the company is mostly focused on delivering homes to California and neighboring states due to shipping costs, Hannah said.
The Traveler model by Escape Homes. Courtesy of Escape Homes
Escape Homes of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, has been selling tiny homes since 2014, but business has never been this hot.
"The pandemic was gasoline on the fire," Dan Dobrowolski — the founder of Escape Homes — told Insider.
Urban dwellers searching for greener pastures joined a movement that Dobrowlski says has been building across demographics and age groups. He's seen this in every region where Escape has built homes as large as 388 square feet over the past 8 years, from California to New York, and even in Hawaii. The cost of the homes runs from about $43,600 to $93,261.
As the pandemic deepened in 2020, Escape teamed up with the furniture giant IKEA to develop the outlet's first tiny-home offering. The 187-square-foot unit was Escape's Vista Boho XL model outfitted with IKEA furniture, and available through its website. Dobrowolski says the partnership was a "really easy match," with both companies aligned on environmental issues.
In other sustainability efforts, Escape has introduced some all-electric models. Other models were already close to being all-electric, but changing out cooking appliances, water heaters, and furnaces brought them to the next level, Dobrowolski said.
Escape is also trying to transform neighborhoods. Two years ago, the company opened its Escape Tiny Home Village — a cluster of 10 homes in a converted Tampa Bay, Florida, trailer park. The homes only take up about 20% of the acreage, leaving room for ample green space. Dobrowolski calls it a "neighborhood of the 21st century."
"It's a much more efficient use of space, but at the same time gives you what people still think of as the American dream," Dobrowolski said.
A Getaway cabin. Courtesy of Getaway
This tiny-abode-hospitality company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has created nature-filled experiences without common amenities like WiFi or TV in an effort to help people — especially big-city dwellers — unplug.
At a base price of $109 per night, guests can stay in these tiny homes in 19 outdoorsy environments from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia near Washington, DC; to Mount Vernon, Washington, near Seattle. The 780 cabins of up to 200 square feet are stocked with bedding, cooking supplies and an outdoor-camping setup.
"Growing up in rural Minnesota I was always surrounded by nature," Jon Staff — a cofounder and the CEO of Getaway — said. "When I returned to nature later in life, I fell in love with the idea of living simply in nature and making frequent disconnection part of my routine."
The company announced in June that it would add 9 new locations including places in Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Ohio; Greenville, South Carolina; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The expansion would boost Getaway's offerings to 1,000 cabins.
In 2021, Cerates led the startup's Series C funding, in which Getaway raised over $41 million.