By JENNIFER SLAYDEN
Lazy days in homemade forts constructed out of cardboard boxes, piles of blankets, or scrap lumber from my dad’s construction sites evoke some of the most powerful memories of my childhood. Perhaps it was because the labor of building forts with my siblings gave us a sense of pride and accomplishment. The forts were a place for all our friends in the entire neighborhood to let our imaginations to grow as wide as the Montana sky. As an adult, I still enjoy playing “house” every summer in a vintage camper. There is something very enjoyable about having the playground of Montana outside my 20 foot bumper pull, and all that I need tucked inside a camper filled with creative crannies and nooks.
This same big pride for tiny is one that Brian Daigle had when he opened up Montana Tiny Homes.com in July of 2015. Like many of us, Brian also grew up building forts as a child, and now that pastime has turned into a successful and ever- growing company.
I met Brian on a gorgeous sunny day in Missoula over at Karl Tyler Chevrolet where one of his mobile units is on display. I heard his enthusiastic voice booming from inside the Tiny Home on wheels before I even saw him. He was chatting zealously with some customers who were admiring the floor plan of the unit. When I did meet him it was with a firm handshake and a warm welcome. We sat down at a nice little table that reminded me of sitting in a quaint coffee shop. I could immediately tell Brian was energetic about sharing his story and vision for Montana Tiny Homes.com.
Brian grew up in the Lolo creek area and graduated from Sentinel High School. He served in the Navy for eight years, being on active duty and deployed overseas. After being honorably discharged from the Service, he worked in the telecom world for several years and then opened up his first business, Alpine Canine. You have probably seen his dog bus around town, picking up packs of dogs for day hiking and fun.
Brian continued building various things as a hobby. But a pivotal point materialized upon hearing the frustration from his employees who couldn’t find affordable housing, Brian was inspired to contribute his skills to help be part of the solution. He said, “sustainable living is important and on the rise so I wanted to contribute to other people’s passion.” It just made sense, then, to turn his construction hobby into another business. He had support and excitement from his mom and dad, wife, kids, extended family, and the employees from Alpine Canine, who would all become part of the process.
“It’s all about teamwork,” says Brian. He explains that all the employees from Alpine Canine are crossed trained to help out with Montana Tiny Homes. “Having the whole family involved and the employees is what makes this successful.”
So who buys a tiny home? Brian states they are becoming popular for folks who are retirement age. Many retirees want to travel but still have a low maintenance home to hang their hat in Big Sky Country. What a perfect solution! Resort and guest ranches are finding the Tiny Homes a viable and affordable housing option for their employees in addition to being impressive hunting and fishing cabins.College students are another target market, often looking for aesthetically pleasing options they can afford in and around Missoula.
The options are numerous between the mobile and stationary units. As their website states:
Whether your interest is in a mobile tiny home, small garden shed, guest house, disaster relief shelter, cabin in the woods, waterfront retreat, beach house, or a full one or two story small home, we have the model for you.
Locally owned Beaudette Engineering will be working with Montana Tiny Homes to ensure safety and code regulations on any site built homes that are sold. As for the homes on wheels, Karl Tyler Cheverolet will be offering financing, since the homes can be titled as an RV.
The mobile units can also be rented. It works much like a vacation rental, and many people have taken advantage of the little house on wheels to provide extra housing during family reunions or anytime they are needing more space for guests. The house can be delivered and set up on site. The mobile units contain a shower, bathroom, loft area and fully functional kitchen. The units are tight and warm, fully contained, and use infrared heating. When I sat in the mobile unit, the high ceilings and efficient use of space gave the home a very spacious feel.
When I prompted Brian about his long term vision for Montana Tiny Homes, his big heart shone through. He informed me his goal would be to use his tiny homes to provide affordable housing for disabled veterans, many of whom need a place that they can feel safe and secure.
He continued to tell me he would also like to provide a place for homeless families to come and enjoy a wonderful Christmas dinner in the display units that are available. It is obvious that his little homes have big meaning to his family in more ways than one.
As the Egyptian saying says: “A small house can lodge a hundred friends.”
A Montana Tiny Home can be a wonderful option for those looking to live life outside, live sustainably, and feel the freedom from a hefty mortgage. Just like the forts of our youth, the tiny homes can be a place for the imagination to run wild.
It was an honor and delight to meet Brian Daigle. He exemplifies how a little bit of MissouLOVE can make an enormous difference in the lives of others.
*For pricing, models, and more information about Montana Tiny Homes, please visit their website at montanatinyhomes.com
Jen Slayden wears many hats: Mother, Real Estate Agent with Main Street Realty, teacher for the non profit music program Center for Music, UM alumni, runner, and supporter of all things local. Her RealChange program dedicates a generous amount of her Real Estate commissions to be given back locally to organizations of her client’s choice. You can find her on Facebook, or give her a call at 406-370-0300.