When Less is More

Tiny Houses Appeal to Growing Niche Market


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American Tiny House in Longview builds homes in a variety of styles, customizing the amenities to suit the needs of customers seeking to downsize and declutter their lives.

For many people, the notion of simplifying life focuses on efforts to clear the clutter, throw stuff out and invest in attractive storage bins to hold the excessive goodies crammed onto shelves and into closets and rooms. 

For others, it involves a giant lifestyle change, like a decision to downsize and move to a smaller abode — jettisoning a large percentage of worldly goods in the process. Often, this means trading in five bedrooms for three or moving to a condo or townhome from a large, traditional family homestead. But, some people take the “less is more” view of the world a little bit further.

Tiny houses are a small-but-growing phenomenon in the housing market, and Longview builder Andrew Pleban claims this novel, niche segment is a trend whose time has come. As the owner of American Tiny House, he has dedicated close to two decades to the craft. 

“It’s a real lifestyle choice, and people who buy tiny houses do so because of a commitment to a different way of living,” he says. “Most people report that it gives them a real sense of serenity because they’ve cleared away the clutter and streamlined their lives. It’s very freeing to not have all of the useless things none of us use all around us anymore. Instead, you have everything you do need and nothing that you don’t.”

Pleban believes the tiny house market is here to stay and “is a billion dollar industry that’s in its infancy. The reason I say that is that the RV market is already a billion-dollar industry, and tiny house buyers have a very similar mindset to RV owners.”

Recently, Pleban was working on a deal with the city of Longview to create a tiny house community, although the original site fell through. Still, he remains optimistic about locating this type of unique community in the Longview area. “It’s going to happen. It’s just a question of how soon,” he says. “We just need a new location and to work out some details.”

In the meantime, American Tiny House builds several models of 400-square-foot tiny houses for a nationwide customer base. Costs start at about $50,000, and his company offers slightly larger styles as well. Each home is built at his Longview location, attached to a custom trailer and then transported to the customer. The typical timeline is about 11 weeks. To be “street legal,” he explains that the home dimensions are limited to an 8.5-foot width and 13.5-foot height.

Pleban has built more than 100 tiny houses through the years and several of his projects were featured on TV on channels like HGTV and FYI and shows like’ Tiny House Hunters and Tiny House Nation.  He says tiny home buyers have a variety of reasons for this level of extreme downsizing, with mobility, reduced or eliminated mortgage payments, low energy bills and even nonexistent property taxes.

“Some people buy them to put in the backyard for grown kids or extended family. Others want to live off the grid or drastically lower their expenses,” he says. With 400 square feet, you don’t even have to pay property taxes, so that’s a huge savings. And some people just rent land and move whenever they wish.”

While the average American home is about 2,300 square feet, a tiny house is defined as 400 square feet or less, Pleban says. He adds that the American Tiny Homes are designed with gourmet kitchen islands and good-sized baths, “so there’s plenty of elbow room.” And the designs are innovative and styled to help people make use of the outdoors as “external living spaces.”

For information call 903.930.8500 or visit americantinyhouse.com. 

Designed with elbow room in their kitchens and baths with sleeping quarters and storage situated in lofts upstairs, tiny houses make every inch count. Courtesy photos

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