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Liberty Cabins, Crafters of Tiny Houses in Anderson

05/24/2017 11:00AM ● By Jon Lewis

Cabin Fever

June 2017
By Jon Lewis
Photos by Jen Womack

Arlin Mendoza and Dominic Velazquez are big on tiny houses, and their plans for their small manufacturing business are even bigger.

The Cottonwood couple operates Liberty Cabins from a shop in an Anderson industrial park, where they design and build unique structures known in the trade as tiny home RVs. It happens to be a very descriptive term: they are small homes (slightly fewer than 300 square feet of living space) that are on wheels. They can be towed down the highway and they’re right at home in a RV park.

The idea of livable, moveable homes (think tepees, covered wagons and yurts) is as old as recorded human history, but Mendoza and Velazquez have rolled the concept right into the 21st century with their tiny home RVs.

Soft, energy-efficient LED lighting, solid maple cabinetry and the use of computer-aided design to make the most of small spaces are some of the contemporary touches employed in the Liberty Cabins homes.

Just as important as the amenities and craftsmanship, the couple says, is the, well, liberty the tiny homes represent. “It’s all about freedom,” Velazquez says. “Your house is no longer a ball and chain.”

The couple envision tiny home RVs as a type of transitional housing: a credible option for recent graduates who don’t want to commit to a conventional home mortgage, and childless couples or small families looking to downsize and simplify their lives.

Although portable, tiny home RVs are intended to be more or less stationary and lived in on a full-time basis. Conventional RVs, like fifth-wheel trailers and motor homes, are designed with vacationers and travelers in mind.

Nonetheless, Liberty Cabins’ tiny home RVs have been inspected and certified by both the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association and Pacific West Associates, Inc., an engineering firm. Velazquez says the RVIA certification, in particular, makes it easier to insure tiny home RVs.

With some simple modifications, like a composting toilet and a small solar energy system, tiny home RVs are even suitable for off-the-grid country lifestyles. Mendoza and Velazquez have also recently reached out to nonprofit organizations to see if their tiny home RVs can play a role in providing homes for the homeless.

Liberty Cabins’ current model sells for $56,500 and, depending on credit determinations, mortgage payments usually range between $350 and $450 a month, Velazquez says. “We’re the most inexpensive tiny home company in the United States right now,” he boasts.

The couple started their business four years ago in Crescent City, where Velazquez also worked as a commercial fisherman and welder. Building tiny homes started more as a hobby, but as successive models showed steady improvement and interest grew, Mendoza incorporated Victory Cabins and the couple returned to Shasta County, “the epicenter of vacations with Mt. Shasta and all the lakes,” she says.

Mendoza and Velazquez have filled their tiny home RV with refinements and upgrades from stem to stern with the goal of enhancing the “home” part of the equation. They settled on an A-frame design with a cathedral ceiling to create a more airy and spacious feeling in the entryway and above the bedroom. A softly carpeted loft, accessed by a sturdy maple ladder, rests above the kitchen area.

“We changed the design several times to get to the perfect dimensions,” Mendoza says. The result is an RV that’s 8 1/2 feet wide, 10 feet high and 25 feet long. 

Interior walls are tongue-and-groove lodgepole pine for an organic feel and the flooring is a hickory laminate. The kitchen area includes a maple butcher block dinette table, a microwave, propane range and oven, an electric refrigerator and a double sink. The bathroom is lined with moisture-resistant western red cedar and includes a linen closet, toilet and a fiberglass shower. Solid pine pocket doors provide privacy from the bedroom and kitchen.

The bedroom also features lodgepole pine siding, foldable side tables, a storage loft and a bed platform that can accommodate a full-sized mattress. More storage is available beneath the bed and a 32-inch TV is mounted on the wall.

Velazquez uses local suppliers for his RV materials, including Gerlinger Steel, Weaver Lumber and Sierra Pacific Windows. By insisting on solid wood, stainless steel screws, Tyvek housing wrap and other top-of-the-line building materials, Velazquez and Mendoza hope to establish themselves as manufacturers of secure, sturdy and long-lasting homes.

“We don’t want these out there and then have them fall apart in five years,” Velazquez says. Much of the tiny home manufacturing field “is in a race to the bottom, to see who can be cheapest, but we’re staying on that fine line with quality and a low price.” 

The ultimate goal, the couple says, is to expand the business and create new jobs in the North State. “We want to be one of the largest tiny home RV manufacturers in the world,” Velazquez says. • (530) 356-7849