Stone Canyon Cabins (Brilliant)
The Maker: Kevin Miller, general manager
A large number of tiny homes are built in a small Alabama town.
Stone Canyon Cabins is producing the tiny houses in a 150,000-square-foot factory in Brilliant in Marion County.
The smaller, portable versions of houses have become popular in recent years among those looking to decrease their life’s footprint or looking for a more affordable lake home or getaway. Television shows devoted to tiny houses have caused the market to explode in popularity.
“Our owners, their passion was in the tiny house business,” said Kevin Miller, general manager of Stone Canyon Cabins. “With it being more popular on TV now, they decided now was the chance to do this. This factory actually came up for sale and they thought they would take the chance, and they have loved it.”
A dealer network across the country takes orders for the homes in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina but also in faraway places like New Jersey, Minnesota and Utah.
Miller said they’ve sent a home from the Alabama plant as far away as New York.
There are sales lots for the homes that aren’t pre-ordered.
“Once we get them out there, they turn in about a month,” Miller said.
At the Brilliant plant, 43 employees put the homes together in an assembly-line fashion.
“We have wall builders, we have floor builders, guys who build the roof and as it moves to their station they do their part and it goes on to the next guy,” Miller said.
For custom orders, all finishes, appliances and other amenities are added at the plant.
“Once we seal it up, it’s ready to live in,” Miller said.
The largest home they’ve built is 400 square feet. That causes a different approach than a traditional site-built home.
“We have to take that space and use it the best we can,” Miller said.
Things like storage, layout and plumbing all have to be approached a bit differently. Plus, buyers still want the latest technology, gadgets and amenities one would expect in a modern home.
Lately, there have been a number of requests for solar energy in the homes, which is an area Miller said the company is exploring.
“In site-built homes you design by the square foot,” Miller said. “We have to design by the square inch. Every bit counts in these.”
While the homes are small, the business is big and Miller said there are plans for growth.
“We are doing everything we can to grow the business,” he said. “We’re hoping to build 350 homes within the next year. If we do that, we’re going to need more capacity.”
That would require adding more employees.
“Right now, we’re building three a week,” Miller said. “With the folks we have on hand right now, we can build one a day or five a week.”
Most of the homes sell for between $70,000 and $80,000 depending on size and amenities.
Although they are portable, Miller said most buyers put them on sites on lakes, beaches or in the mountains. There are even tiny home communities.
“More and more people are finding they can have the comforts and conveniences they’re used to in a tiny home,” Miller said.
The product: Tiny houses.
Take home: A custom-built tiny house (average price of $75,000).