Houlton Pioneer Times

Tiny Homes are topic for Houlton Rotarians

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary Club met for its first meeting of the year on Jan. 7. Spirits were high after a couple of weeks off around the holidays and also with many guests present. Rotarian Cameron Clark hosted his guests Josh Upton and Katie Sloat. Rotarian Annette Beaton hosted her guest Alison Gould. Rotarian Jane Torres hosted Houlton Police Chief DeLuca and Jerry York and Rotarian Scott Dionne hosted two guests Matt Polstein and the guest speaker, a Smyrna native, Corinne Watson.

Dionne introduced Watson who owns Tiny Homes of Maine with her husband Tom Small. Watson grew up drawing ideas on paper and with grit and determination became the first in her family to graduate from college in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southern Maine. Watson worked as a process engineer for Fairchild Semiconductor in Portland and for Idexx in Westbrook. In 2016 Watson founded Tiny Homes of Maine in Westbrook and has branched out to building tiny homes in Houlton at the airport.

The idea of having a small home on wheels is very appealing to a certain population of people and 95 percent of Tiny Homes of Maine customers are women. These homes are very accessible, affordable, provide flexibility and are easy to care for as well as environmentally friendly. Costs range from $45,000 to $120,000 with financing available. They are used for retirement purposes, situational changes, student housing, homes for aging parents, adult children with disabilities and, in a recent sale, for dressing rooms.

Tom Small does the drafting, design and makes plans and a 3D model that that customers can relate to as well as plans for the subcontractor. Basic construction involves the trailer, spray foam, well insulated walls, a roof framed with 2-foot by 6-foot lumber and covered with standing ridge metal along with the 400 series Anderson windows. There is solar power, a heat pump, a washer and dryer. One level living is popular though lofts are provided for guests such as grandkids. The trailer is the permanent chasse. A 50-amp cord provides power and a no freeze hose provides water and a grey water filtration system manages the Sun-Mar composting toilets.

Some of Watson’s challenges have been creating a MUBEC category for her product and working to have the code enforcement officers of larger towns accept the construction style. Watson needs a proper facility with heat, power and water in which to continue building during cold weather.

Employees are always needed with good skills and the desire to work. She also needs a local trailer source as the current selection comes from Colorado and shipping is pricey. Being close to needed inventory is important and she wants to implement lean management practices.

Watson said what separates her business from others is that the “in house design/build” provided by Small with his sense of combining the inside and outside look in a pleasing product, plus her ability to work with the customers helps to satisfy an important need and provides a beautiful solution to a tiny self managed home. Check out the Tiny Homes of Maine website for more information.

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