This month, tiny house enthusiasts from around the country are traveling to Colorado in their converted school buses, vans, and tiny homes on trailers.
Marcus Alvarado, organizer of the People’s Tiny House Festival, said he believes Colorado’s housing affordability crisis and the pandemic have led to even more interest in tiny living.
“Now, we have people who are looking at these as options to live in full-time, but we’re also looking at some of the baby boomers who are looking at this for recreational purposes,” Alvarado said.
Art Laubach, owner of Einstyne Tiny Homes in Denver, said the movement is getting so popular, companies that build tiny homes or convert vans have a wait time of over a year.
“They’re building new factories, they've doubled their size and employees. I'm a builder myself. I don't have any space in my schedule until 2023,” Laubach said.
Laubach organized the first Colorado Tiny House Festival in 2017. After calling off last year’s event due to the pandemic, the festival will return to Riverdale Regional Park in Brighton this weekend.
Some of the demonstrators at this year’s event got involved in the movement as a direct result of the pandemic.
Rob McGowan founded Otto Camping with his wife Tina after leaving the restaurant industry last year.
“We had been renting a couple of campers and I wanted to build my own and one thing led to the next, and this trailer more or less fell in our laps,” McGowan said.
He spent around $60,000 to renovate the inside of the camper, while leaving it mostly original on the outside. Otto Camping will focus on vintage vehicles, with upscale, modern interiors.
“They don’t make campers look as cool as they used to (on the outside), but then when you walk inside, it’s transformed. It’s the way you want your house to look,” McGowan said.
While McGowan is hoping to sell his campers, others at the festival are hoping to learn and create their own homes on wheels.
Josh and Vicki, who run an account on Instagram called @backroadbuslife, are in the process of turning a school bus into a home that will let them tour the country.
“This is the memorable part of life. These are the experiences that we like to look back on and that we remember,” Vicki said.
For those looking for places to park a tiny house long-term, that can be a challenge as it depends on zoning rules. Laubauch pointed to unincorporated El Paso County as one place that allows tiny homes to be the main dwelling. Several counties in Colorado, including Denver, also allow tiny homes as accessory dwelling units. RV parks and manufactured home communities also may allow them.