So why did a 23-year veteran of the mobile electronic payment industry leave the tech world and pivot to the tiny house market?
“I took a big left-hand turn two and a half years ago,” Stambaugh, whose only construction experience was building homes in college, told Construction Dive. “I’d been studying the tiny home industry and thought it would be pretty big. I decided to see if we could dominate it…”
Sprout started looking for ways to improve its custom homes and the building process. “Along the way, we really decided to focus on building high-quality, high-end, chemical-free homes,” Stambaugh said.
Sprout switched to using structural insulated panels (SIPs) — a composite building material — to make the building process more efficient, as well as improve the final product. “It just makes the home stronger, greener, straighter,” Stambaugh said. “We also focused on a really paramount feature being chemical-free interiors.”
The strength of the SIPS panels allows the homes to be driven thousands of miles without experiencing cracks or structural issues…
Despite Sprout’s success in the individual custom tiny home market, Stambaugh said his clients kept lamenting concerns about where they would ultimately put their small houses. “Zoning wasn’t very friendly in various towns and counties and cities, so we took a step back and started working with different cities,” he said.
Walsenburg, CO, a town of 2,927 residents and the future home of one of Sprout’s tiny house communities, was the second city in the U.S. to change its zoning laws, which now permit buildings smaller than the previous limit of 600 square feet. “Once that happened, we said, huh, maybe we need to become a developer,” Stambaugh said…
Sprout purchased 4.6 acres in Walsenburg with plans to build a 33-unit development of tiny homes. Soon after, Sprout also bought 19 acres in Salida, CO, a town of 5,200 residents, and plans to build 200 tiny homes and 96 storage units. The company aims to break ground on both projects — which will offer tiny homes in the 260-square-foot to 760-square-foot range — this summer….
Stambaugh shrugged off any concerns that the tiny house movement is just a passing fad. He did note, however, that in his experience, most buyers aren’t millennials struggling to purchase traditional-sized homes. Instead, the majority of Sprout’s customers are baby boomers looking to downsize after their children left the family home.
“(The trend is) taking off because people are making lifestyle decisions and choices to live smaller. We see the market a little bit different than what you see on television. Most of our customers are baby boomers,” he said. “They’re still entrepreneurial, and they’re doing it as a lifestyle decision as opposed to for necessity. And honestly, that’s the kind of folks that these communities need. They’re still good contributors to the local economy, and they’re doing it by choice.”
He added that he believes the market “hasn’t even started to see the tip” of the tiny house trend.