what customers are saying about Tiny SMART Houses
Ramsey, from California
“I can’t say enough good things about working with Nathan and the Tiny Smart House team. They made sure every detail of my tiny house was thought out and built to perfection.
The quality of Tiny Smart House’s work can be observed in the woodwork of the vaulted ceiling. The ceiling makes you feel like you’re inside a cathedral. (Just your own, tiny cathedral. And honestly, it doesn’t feel that tiny.) The inside of tiny house itself is richly textured with excellent carpentry. The kitchen and bathroom boast premium fixtures and appliances. And honestly, it doesn’t feel tiny.
The Tiny Smart House builders approached everything with enthusiasm, creativity, and skill. Everything was custom. Nothing was impossible. For example, Nathan and his chief carpenter designed a built-in piece of furniture that almost defies physics. They made the towing tongue detachable (I’d never even heard of that). And they helped me think through the best layout for the windows, doors and utilities. Nathan even checked out my location and the orientation of the space to come up with the most light efficient and wind efficient use of windows and doors. We had a really great time coming up with everything.
Nathan also helped to establish a budget and stick to it. We chose certain places we could save money, and certain places where it’s worth it to go premium. (A little granite goes a long way!) Everything was delivered as promised, on time and budget. And my tiny house is an absolute dream. Thanks, Nathan!”
— Ramsey, from California
Heather and Zach, from Kentucky
“In response to the earlier reviews of Tiny SMART House, Inc. based in Albany, OR, I would like to post mine. I think it’s important for us as a community to get a complete picture of a builder’s work, and of what the transition to tiny living is like. All observations about what it takes to realize the tiny house dream for a family are from our own experiences, and should not be read as inferences or judgments about anyone else’s journey.
When we contracted our house in April of 2013, I was still deployed in Afghanistan. My husband was three hours from the build site, and able to check in periodically. I corresponded via email and photos until I returned to see the frame and start of the siding in July. You can see photos on the company website and the evolving plans from this phase in my shared album, “(Finally!) Going Tiny.”
I want to underscore how it is easy to underestimate the transition to tiny life: after my return from deployment, downsizing and leaving active duty required our weekly attention for about nine full months. Sometimes we doubted whether we could (or should) be doing this. With a master list of what we would sell, give, pack, and keep, we reduced our possessions from 11,000 pounds of stuff to less than 5,000 pounds.
During most of our build, we were also expecting a baby, and wanted to prepare our three-year-old for all the coming changes. She was used to sleeping and playing in her own space. We wanted to have a bit of growing room, without becoming a repository for toys and baby gear. Constantly honing our priorities in this area has remained our biggest challenge, and greatest reward as a family.
My review of Tiny SMART House, Inc’s role in this major transition has four points:
1) We couldn’t beat the customization for the price this company offers. We love that we got 90% of what we asked for in our 38″ gooseneck model. Having two private lofts was a dealmaker for us raising kids, and I can report that the lofts insulate us from each other’s sounds and provide needed solitude when people just need a break. This is so important, as we went through potty training, adjusting sleep routines, several days of early and active labor, and bringing a new baby home. For us, a great antidote to asking for the impossible in house plans was the sense of humor expressed in a kids’ book, The Animal Builders. The Penguin Family wants to have everything they’d ever dreamed of in their house, and as you might predict, this causes challenges for the builders. As with any custom build, it’s important to prioritize what’s essential, and what’s pie-in-the-sky.
2) Although our house was delivered two months late, the builder ensured that it was presentable, comfortable, and liveable. Our delays were a combination of custom changes, financing snags, and weather setbacks. After reading the review posted by the company’s first clients, I can report that Tiny SMART House has worked hard to learn from its startup lessons and to get this right. In addition, the builder visited our house three times after the delivery to finish decorative trimwork. We had to adjust our priorities and expectations a few times because when you are dreaming, everything is pie-in-the sky, until you see the price estimate. I will expand more on financing in point 4, below. Winter weather interfered with several deliveries toward the end of the build. This timeline shift made it difficult for us to follow through on open-house opportunities we had agreed upon, due to the imminent arrival of our newest family member. The company was respectful of this time and reiterated that we were under no pressure do make these events happen, so that we could focus on the birth of our baby.
3) This company demonstrates a desire to do each job better than the last, and to learn from customer feedback. We even saw improvement during our build. At the beginning, the company didn’t update modifications to the plans in our contract regularly. However, we knew we were working with a startup and when we gave feedback about miscommunicated details, they got into the habit of revising our contract and taking accurate notes of our priorities. This made it possible for my husband to come and help work on the house and to relay messages where the work needed to be handed off. This was especially important given the amount of hunting we did for custom or salvage pieces that had to be worked into the house. When we visited the site, the crew seemed to always be learning and adapting from other projects, and we felt that they took our future home seriously, correcting mistakes and adjusting to our feedback in a timely manner.
4) Finally, this company had more flexibility than I expected from a startup, in terms of financing. When we contracted, they were still trying to get RV financing set up from a local bank, but we were able to generate about 2/3 of our own financing up front. The final third was a steeper climb, as we worked to sell belongings and downsize to make our final payments. The company worked with us on a payment plan for the final third and continued to work with us even though we fell behind due to drastic income changes and moving across the country after the Army. Financial transactions were communicated promptly on both sides – as soon as we ran into an obstacle, or as soon as the company did, we communicated it and worked through it. This helped build and maintain trust that we would not be left high and dry even if there were setbacks, and that the builder would finish what we’d agreed upon. When the company asked to focus for a few weeks on an emergency project to retrofit a tiny house for a family who had just lost their site-built home, we knew this was affecting our timeline, but we were aware of this and were able to plan accordingly.
The best recommendation I can make if you are considering a tiny lifestyle change is to give yourself a reasonable timeline, and work with your builder to evaluate and adjust your deadlines regularly. We were thankful to have enough of a buffer that we could move into our house and get settled 90 days before our baby was born, when I had maternity leave and time to focus on all the transitions. Our builder took that deadline seriously, too, and it made all the difference. I was born moving in the military, transitioning every two years of my life. I know what it takes to move, yet I underestimated some aspects of this move.
We have lived in our house for a full year now, and it has given us time to reflect on what we did well, and what we would do differently in hindsight. If you choose to transition to a tiny lifestyle, I recommend giving yourself a buffer of at least two months, because stuff happens. This is a major life change, and it is easy to underestimate the packing, selling, moving, and final touches that will need to be made for it to work. We try to operate in any business transaction with these little-known words in mind: “Be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.” We live in an imperfect world, and so must negotiate boundaries and redress mistakes in any exchange. We felt privileged to negotiate the potentially fraught purchase of a tiny home with Tiny SMART House.”
— Heather and Zack, Kentucky