DEPT NAME BY TKTKT TKTKTK
WITHIN THE LAST YEAR, Bay Area cities have
followed in the wake of others like Portland,
Oregon, which led the charge for affordable
housing solutions in crowded urban settings.
The Additional Dwelling Unit or ADU
ordinances in Portland allowed homeowners
to squeeze stand-alone cottages for renters into
their backyards within strict guidelines.
Lacking the large residential lots of North-
western states, several Bay Area cities have
instead gradually relaxed restrictions on in-law
units within existing structures.
NOW, THERE’S A NEW TWIST. In 2009, Jamie
Mackay, 40, of Jackson, Wyoming, where millionaires abound, tried to get a campground
rezoned for affordable lower-income housing
So instead, he looked to the Calistoga Ranch
resort in Napa Valley as a luxury model to
The small house syndrome goes upscale with dressed-up
Wheelhaus trailers in tony ski resorts such as Mountainside at Northstar
and a new concierge moving/storage company called Trove.
emulate: its stylish rooms designed by San
Francisco’s SB Architects are fitted into what
are essentially beautifully modified RVs in a
“The zoning hurdle was a blessing in disguise.
I learned about land use law and land planning
in Teton County,” Mackay says. “Their definition
of a recreation vehicle was broad — it had to be
400 square feet or less, built on a single chassis
with attached wheels and axles — and I thought
I could also build tiny affordable homes on a
chassis and park them on my land,” Mackay says.
A former landscape contractor, he knew how
to design and make the buildings himself.
Mackay’s RV-like metal and wood-framed
houses had electrical wiring and plumbing
built in, high-end appliances and Pella doors
and windows. They were tall enough for a children’s sleeping loft. “Only the chassis was made
in a welding shop in Salt Lake City,” he says.
Mackay then supplied steel wheels with rubber
tires of different dimensions and steel axles that
could carry up to a 6,000-pound load.
A year and a half later, when individuals
started to ask for homes to put on their own
land, the real-estate developer launched Wheelhaus, and today, from a 40,000-square-foot
workshop and an inventory stored on 50 acres
of land, he delivers tiny standard and custom
homes, mainly to Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado
and anywhere in the United States and Canada
where there is a wide-enough highway.
There are limits to customization: “I don’t
deviate from our recipe. If someone wants to do
something we find nauseating (design-wise), we
won’t do it,” Mackay says.
“All our models are LEED certified Gold, have
solar features and incinerating toilets. We will
soon have designs that are fully off the grid,” he
says. “That will disrupt the market, because they
trailers make chic
at Mountainside at
Northstar resort. They
have ready access to
skiing, walking trails and
views. A sloped roof
with a wide overhang
protects the porch. The
raised chassis allows for
additional decks and
outdoor living space