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Move over McMansions and Meet The Tiny House Movement

Local home builder is changing and shrinking the face of home design.

What’s green, affordable and rolls on wheels? The “Molecule House” built by Jason Dietz and his father Michael in Felton.

I was sitting at the Scotts Valley Car Wash this summer when I looked over at the mobile home lot and saw the cutest cottage beckoning me over. At around $48,000, it offers a kitchen, living room, bathroom, and two loft bedrooms which can accommodate queen beds.

“These little houses are all built 'green,’” Dietz said. “We use as many non-toxic components as we can, so on the outside all the wood is sealed with vegetable oil, not harsh chemicals, and the inside is painted with all zero VOC milk paints.”

Dietz sources all his construction materials from Santa Cruz County, including the redwood lap siding from Big Creek Lumber.

“It’s a 2x4 construction built like a regular house, with copper wiring and double paned windows. The real wood will stand the test of time and there is no formaldehyde or off-gassing like you would get in a manufactured home.”

The Tiny House Movement started several years ago and really came into its own when Jay Shafer of Sebastopol launched his Tumbleweed Tiny House Company in 1997. Since then, Shafer has been covered by the national media and recently was featured in a story in The New Yorker magazine, “Let’s Get Small: The Rise of the Tiny House Movement.”

Last month, HGTV’s Design Star show chose three Tumbleweed houses in a decorating competition for interior design finalists. See the show at www.tumbleweedhouses.com/events/design-star/.

So why did Dietz decide to join the Tiny House Movement and create the Molecule House?

“I thought it was a really good idea to promote sustainable living. In this day and age people are looking to get out of the old paradigm, like the big mortgages and really downsize their life,” he said.

He says he believes that many of us are slaves to our work and possessions.

“This is just a great way to downsize for people and it leaves a much smaller carbon footprint on the environment. A little house can be put anywhere and you don’t have the enormous property taxes. They cost a lot less to heat and maintain, too,” he added.

The Molecule House can even be built with solar panels. 

“We’re gearing up for a model that will be 100 percent self-sufficient, electricity-wise," Dietz said. "You can position them anywhere you want to on the property so you get the maximum amount of sun.”

Concerning taxes, he said, “For example, you have a $50,000 piece of land where you want to put your Molecule House. Since your house is considered a travel trailer, you won’t pay taxes on it, just the $38 a year to register it. But if you have a standard house, you pay taxes on the appraised value of your land and your house. And it’s a $300 house payment instead of a $2500 mortgage per month.”

Unlike some other tiny home builders who offer stock designs, Dietz says, “We sit down with a client and draw-up a floor plan and build it to their specifications.” For instance, customers can design a downstairs bedroom and use the lofts for storage.

The Molecule Houses range in price from $18,000 to $60,000 and range in size from 8x12 up to 8x30.

Built on trailer platforms, the tiny house has many uses, including camping, guest houses, mother-in-law units and affordable housing. If you need to escape a wildfire, you just hitch up your house to a three-quarter or one-ton truck and take it with you.

To learn more about the Molecule House, contact Dietz at jason.dietz@yahoo.com or 831-335-4514.

Rick Santee August 03, 2012 at 11:18 PM
What does the bathroom look like? Any provision for washer/dryer? How about water heater? Thanks, Rick Santee

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