And, to be honest, not all tiny homes are created the same way. When Peter Huggler launched Indigo River Tiny Homes, he sought to fill a small but increasingly important niche in the North Texas housing market. The veteran-owned firm, based in Garland, specializes in custom tiny homes on wheels that bridge the gap between pricey prefab and DIY jobs. Not only are they building beautiful, functional, and energy-efficient tiny homes on wheels, but they’re also starting to build tiny homes on permanent foundations, too.
That’s good news for Dallasites who want to take advantage of changes to the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations in Dallas that now allow for homeowners to build income-producing space on their property with full kitchens and baths as a way to hedge against our growing affordable housing problem.
Right now they have two spec models ready for purchase: Baby Blue (pictured above, $55,500) and Big Blue (below, $68,500). These two models show just how customizable Indigo River Tiny Homes are, with Baby Blue offering more of a stripped-down, minimalist aesthetic with bright white, streamlined interiors. Big Blue, on the other hand, features gorgeous custom finishes in a variety of wood tones, with a bent-wood spiral staircase and beautiful butcher block counters laid in a chevron pattern.
When you talk about what’s beneath the really fabulous finishes, you’ll be impressed, too. The company uses an innovative construction method using dense Styrofoam encased between layers of dense fiberglass. It’s durable, light, and has an outstanding insulation — which means you have to run your air conditioning less. It’s just one of the creative features Indigo River Tiny Homes sport, making them well-suited for either year-round occupation or as a lakeside weekend getaway spot.
Founded in January, the company is a partnership of five veterans who have rallied their talents to build tiny homes that are safe, stylish, and green. All Indigo River Tiny Homes are built to NOAH (National Organization of Alternative Housing) certification standards. Much like when you pull a building permit with the city, NOAH certified tiny homes are inspected at critical stages of the building process to ensure their safety following the 2018 International Residential Code for tiny homes.
“It establishes regulatory minimums,” said Kyle Becker, a United States Marine Corps veteran who runs marketing for Indigo River Tiny Homes. “These standards basically make construction of these tiny homes more legitimate and more safe.”
However, Indigo River goes a bit above and beyond, using construction methods that withstand interstate speeds, earthquake safe, and still attractive. It’s no wonder that Huggler and his team have been busy. Though you can buy their current inventory (Big and Baby Blue) going the custom route is pretty appealing. Want to bridge the gap between factory finish out and a total DIY? Buy a shell, which allows you to choose your windows, doors, appliances, and more.
“From what I’ve experienced, there is a huge demand for tiny homes, and huge number of people who want to build tiny houses, but there are a couple of hurdles,” Becker explained.
Specifically, tiny homes on wheels are in a gray area between full-fledged single-family home and recreational vehicle. It’s lack of a permanent foundation makes it a tough sell in cities who have minimum size standards for full-time occupation. Many cities lack code amendments that would make tiny homes on wheels — or even tiny homes on foundations that don’t meet minimum proportions for single-family dwellings.
However, the tide is changing. With Dallas’ recent amendment of the accessory dwelling unit ordinance allowing tiny homes on foundations, it might not be long before tiny homes on wheels are considered more cottage, less trailer park. Though, having a tidy park full of NOAH certified tiny homes on wheels does sound quite appealing — a Tiny House Village — and it’s an idea that the City of Garland has entertained.
The other major hurdle is financing. These homes are custom built from the platform up, so they couldn’t be financed through traditional mortgages. It’s a toss up trying to get an RV loan, as the building standards are a bit different and the rates are sometimes higher. And who wants to take out a high-interest personal loan? There are a couple of options, says Becker, with whom Indigo River is partnering with.
Of course, a lot of people are attracted by the financial independence that living small can afford (pun intended). With many tiny homes costing between $20,000 for a DIY job and $80,000 for one of the fully kitted out Indigo River models, it’s a far cry from the new “affordable” in Dallas — a single-family home priced at $200,000 and skyward.
After touring both Big Blue and Little Blue, which have 13.5-foot ceilings, I can tell you that tiny living doesn’t have to feel small.
“A lot of people go inside and say, ‘This is a lot bigger than I thought’ ” Becker offered.
And wouldn’t you know, while touring Big Blue at Indigo River Tiny Homes in Garland with Becker, plus Rosy and Conrad — two among the growing number of tiny house-curious Americans — I found myself in that lot.
Want to see for yourself? Indigo River Tiny Homes is located at 209 Austin St. in Garland.