While the Tampa area’s real estate market catering to a clothing-eschewing client base
seems to be in adequate health, down in South Florida another type of niche housing has truly taken off with great success: tiny green prefab cabins.
While these miniscule, factory-manufactured abodes aren’t necessarily just being sold and installed in the Miami area, the Miami Herald
reports that a small, five-year-old company specializing in the design, development, and manufacture of "prefab micro-housing" has been doing gangbusters as of late, selling over 20 of the structures and amassing over $1 million in revenues in just the first six months of 2012.
Based out of a 12,000-square-foot warehouse in Miami’s Little Haiti district, the boutique company, Cabin Fever
, is the green-minded
brainchild of industrial designer Andrew Kelly and his furniture designer wife, Gayle Zalduondo. Dan Owens serves as the in-house architect. Although Cabin Fever does manufacture prefabricated single-family homes
, their bread and butter are petite and endlessly versatile structures ranging from 120- to 800-square-feet and costing in the ballpark of $20,000 to $80,000.
Cabin Fever’s two ready-made models — a permit-exempt, owner-assembled ADU sold as a DIY kit called the Zip
and a more spacious cabin/cottage complete with clerestory windows and signature curving roofline called the Maxwell
— have been used by clients as backyard guest cottages and offices, yoga, music, and art studios, man caves, and off the grid vacation retreats. Although not standard, Cabin Fever cabins can accommodate add-ons like rainwater catchment systems, composting toilets, back-up generators, wind turbines, solar systems, etc. In addition to the optional bells and whistles that allow for optimum self-sufficiency, Cabin Fever structures can be fully customized
, upgraded, and expanded to the owner's exact specifications. They can also be built to both Hurricane and Earthquake codes.
According to the Herald, completed and in-development projects include a ferry station in Homer, Alaska, a cabin near Mount Shasta, a structure for a campground in San Diego, worker housing at David Copperfield’s resort
in the Bahamas (is it just me, or did anyone else have no clue that the magician had his own resort?), and a New Mexico escape for, in the words of Kelly, an “off-the-grids, tear-up-the-credit card” type of client. And then there was one of Cabin Fever’s early projects, a custom cabin, personally delivered by Kelly himself to a 15,000-square-foot oceanside lot in Santa Monica owned by some guy named Bob Dylan.
One of Cabin Fever’s biggest cheerleaders, a developing manager with CC Residential
named Andrew Frey, calls the company and its creations “forward-thinking, progressive, handcrafted, innovative and right in Miami” and adds that the business of designing and manufacturing prefab homes benefits local job creation:
It doesn’t matter where demand is. This is a great business model because you’re not relying on any one geographic region’s broad-based recovery. You’re saying I’ll take my recovery where I can find it. One of the things Miami does really well is construction and development and there are people struggling and suffering and going out of business. Everyone wants to get back to the old normal. But maybe there’s a new normal, a new system and a new ecosystem.
Given their success, I think Mayor [Tomás] Regalado should be on their doorstep saying, ‘How can we help you? What can we do to help you grow locally?’ Do you see anyone else creating jobs in Little Haiti? These are 21st century, good, creative, solid jobs.