Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Jul 06th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Tiny Houses, Big Plans

news2 homeTwo locals plan to shrink eco-footprints by building small homes

The kitten wending its way around Jason Dietz’s and Gabriel Williams’ legs seems almost comically suited to its environment. The location is one of Dietz and Williams’ “tiny houses,” which is currently planted on an 8-by-20 foot trailer in a Felton driveway. A larger cat, one can imagine, might cramp the 160-square foot home.

Dietz and Williams are the founders, owners, and entire staff of Molecule Tiny Houses, a small Felton-based home construction company. The two brothers-in-law do almost all of the actual construction themselves, building each house to the customer’s specifications. With four tiny houses under their belts since they made the company a full-time endeavor in 2011, they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.

“We just built one and we got a great response [from the community],” says Dietz of the custom-built houses. “It just took off in popularity. People are looking to simplify their lives.”

Simple is a word that fits the tiny houses, though streamlined works just as well. With nooks, crannies and lofts keeping the house compact and efficient, the builders’ underlying environmental ethos shines through in every aspect of the house’s design.

“For me, the biggest obstacle was the width,” says Williams. “That’s the constraint that influences everything. [The house is] on an 8-foot-wide trailer, so to design a house that doesn’t feel like a tube is the biggest hurdle. You have to try to not bite into the width of the space as much possible so it still has an open feel to it.”

That’s an issue that Dietz and Williams have neatly worked their way past. Windows are everywhere in the small house, and despite its current location in the shade of redwoods, the display house doesn’t feel dark or cramped. Well-placed lofts and inset shelves do the rest in making the minuscule home feel spacious. Both Dietz and Williams have backgrounds in construction and artistic endeavors (Dietz customized hot rods, and Williams was a professional ballet dancer), and it shows.

Dietz and Williams aren’t the first to build tiny houses—they have drawn plenty of inspiration from others in the field (there’s even a Small House Society that brings tiny house builders together and promotes their message of sustainable lifestyles).

news2 home2Local brothers-in-law Jason Dietz and Gabriel Williams make and sell small, portable homes through their company Molecule Tiny Homes. “I’ve become infatuated with the whole tiny house movement,” says Williams, adding that they know of about a dozen other builders across the country. “We think that [tiny houses] are really a great answer to a lot of the problems that people are facing right now.”

Those problems are environmental ones. Dietz and Williams see the tiny house movement as an important stepping stone toward sustainability and carbon footprint reduction. The small size of the houses alone means that substantially fewer materials are needed for their construction.

“It’s kind of like a hybrid car,” says Williams. “Hybrids still use gasoline, so it’s not an answer, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. It’s a choice to use much less.”

This choice has to do both with the size of the house itself and the space within it. Less space means fewer possessions, and for the local builders, that brings with it its own sort of freedom. (Though, it should be noted that neither of the two men live in tiny houses themselves.)

“People who have lived in a 3,000-square-foot house, they come here and think ‘I could live here,’” says Williams. “It’s got kind of a Thoreauvian appeal, having your own little house on Walden Pond. It’s a way to simplify your life, to get rid of extraneous clutter that you don’t need, and to focus more on living as opposed to worrying about all the little details. I think simplifying is becoming a more attractive idea to more and more people. That’s the biggest positive factor that tiny houses have going for them.”

Ultimately, the pair says they are driven to build and promote these itsy-bitsy houses by a conservation mission.

“The whole reason we got into this was the sustainability aspect of it,” says Dietz. “We wanted to give the world an alternative because of the way that we’re extracting resources out of this planet. This isn’t by any means an answer, but it’s a really good alternative. Scaling things down, getting consumption under control—the amount of materials in this house versus a standard home is just a fraction. It’s a good thing.”  

Learn more at molecultetinyhomes.blogspot.com.

Comments (9)Add Comment
talk about tiny homes
written by montana, March 12, 2015
i,d like a number where i can reach you to talk about a tiny home
tiny houses in santa cruz county ca
written by victoria quine, October 31, 2014
My goal is to move back to santa cruz and purchase two tiny houses, for myself and my daughters, as well as finding a piece of land to purchase, to put them on.
Please help with any information you have on how to do this successfully.
Thank you, sincerely, victoria quine
(661)481-8391
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
How Come
written by Danica, March 01, 2014
Jason and Gabe never answer the questions people ask here online?
...
written by Jess Wolff, February 23, 2014
We would like more information please. Floor plans, prices, installation costs, etc
Call me at 850-570-0673
ms
written by Diane Ramirez, February 02, 2014
This is wonderful.I love the smaller idea. But my goal is slightly larger. You seem to be able to build a larger tiny mobile house. Though I wonder if the larger dimensions effect the width restrictions of the usual rv 8ft.6 inches. Do any the sizes buuilt require wide load permits to transport.
...
written by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , September 26, 2012
This is something I've been looking for. How much would this house in the picture cost? Can it be built on my property, or do you have to build it where you are? Does it come with wheels, or do you have it on wheels for showing?
...
written by AgTip, July 30, 2012
I LOVE small houses. My wife and I moved into a 9X12 cabin at first. Everything had to be built-in. Table folded up to become kitchen cabinet door. My daughter had a bunk right over the top of our bed. When I finally added at 12X12 onto the front of this little place, it seemed like our lives got huge and full of sunshine. I say start small.
...
written by Lori58, July 20, 2012
Would really like to see floor plans.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food