Home on the range: Rochester native's 'tiny house' gets airing on HGTV
Rochester native Alex Gore and his business partner stayed busy this summer building a tiny home that will be featured on HGTV's "Tiny House: Big Living" on Monday at 8.
It just goes to show how unpredictable life can be. Several years ago, Gore was working for a prestigious New York design firm, building a career amid soaring skyscrapers, and really the last thing on his mind was tiny-house architecture.
But then the recession happened, Gore got laid off, and his career veered in a different direction. Today, the 2003 Century High School graduate is a partner in his own growing design firm in Longmont, Colo., and tiny homes have definitely become a preoccupation.
The one featured Monday night on national TV, however, takes the tiny home idea in a new, mobile direction. Gore and his business partner, Lance Cayko, created a hybrid between an RV and a tiny home — more a movable cabin for vacations and tailgating than a place for permanent living.
"We wanted to take a different approach and take the craftsmanship from the tiny-house world, and then apply it to the RV world, because tiny houses aren't really designed to be moved that much," Gore said.
Fascination with the tiny-house movement took off in the aftermath of the 2009 financial meltdown. Many people are intrigued with radical downsizing, living in homes no bigger than 400 square feet (The average-sized American home is 2,600 square feet). The homes are also considerably cheaper and ecologically friendlier.
As a 30-year-old millennial, Gore appreciates how changing economic times and anxieties have boosted the appeal of tiny homes. People of his generation no longer assume their lives will have the same job security as those of previous generations (his dad, for example, worked at Rochester's IBM nearly his entire adult life), and the shattering effects of the recession drove that point home.
"I think it was a backlash against the system," Gore said. "You used to have a house for 30 years and a job for 30 years. Well, that doesn't happen anymore."
Yet Gore feels that tiny houses will never be more than a niche market. One way they can be improved, he says, is outfitting them with the mobility of an RV. His idea for a hybrid home, he says, was sparked while on vacation with friends at a national park in Montana. When it started to rain, everybody crowded into an RV. Holed up in claustrophobic vehicle, Gore was struck by the ridiculousness of the situation.
"I thought, 'Holy cow, I'm in one of the most beautiful places in America and I'm stuck in an RV with no windows, with fake materials," he said.
Gore said his and Cayko's vision for a mobile tiny house began taking form in 2012, but the project largely stalled due to a lack of money and resources. At a Denver home show one day, Gore filled out a form indicating that he and his partner intended to build a tiny home. That's when HGTV came calling. By that time, their firm, F9 Productions, had grown from two to six people.
"We were a little bit more financially stable, so we said, 'Yeah, we can do it.' And then they started filming and we created it," he said.
They call their home "Atlas" as a nod to the road atlas and the mobility it implies.
The tiny house that will be on national TV was constructed with steel, wood and glass. Very little, if any, composites or "fake" materials were used. It features a large window wall that guarantees exposure to the outside world regardless of the weather. To protect the window wall while driving, another wall was put in front of it. The bottom of that wall can be folded down into a deck; the upper part folds into an awning.
And the house has a bar.
The hope, Gore said, is to develop a niche market for their mobile tiny houses, and that tonight's show will get viewers thinking about them in a new way. The goal would be to sell one of the $90,000 homes each month.
"We have six employees," he said. "We don't want to ever lay anyone off because of financial reasons or recession. We're trying to build a sturdy foundation, and we think this idea can be one."
Alex Gore's tiny house, "Atlas," will be featured in "Tiny House: Big Living," 8 p.m. today on HGTV, channel 40 on Charter Communications' lineup in Rochester. The half-hour show will air several times in a row.
Get a sneak peek of the home online: www.atlastinyhouse.com .