When driving down Byfield Lane in Greenwich to visit Craft & Sprout, a startup builder of tiny houses, it is not difficult to wonder whether the company is in the right place. After all, this section of Greenwich is known for its surplus of XXL-sized homes that are the antithesis of the XS-sized structures that create a residential property on a significantly smaller scale.
But according to Ken Pond, who runs Craft & Sprout with his wife, Tori, tiny houses are welcome in this unlikely area. “People here in Greenwich use them as accessory offices, pool houses, suites, cottages,” he said. “And we also have people living in them full time, as well, in marinas and RV parks.”
Ken Pond has run his own construction company for two decades while his wife has worked as a property designer. Their interest in tiny houses was born out of a zoning concern in their backyard.
“Our pool was built about 40 years ago,” Ken said. “The wetlands people came about 30 years ago and put a line around our pool. We can’t build a real pool house next to our pool. So, Tori said, ‘Why don’t we look at one of those tiny houses like we see on TV?’ We did some research and found that in Greenwich you’re allowed to keep up to a 30-foot camper or RV on your property. Instant pool house!”
The Ponds registered their tiny house with the Department of Motor Vehicles, which enabled them to bypass home building regulations. “It never comes off the trailers,” Ken continued. “It is always on the wheels. That’s a key thing people miss all of the time. As soon as it touches the ground, it goes into the world of building codes and regulations. We stay over in the RV camper world.”
The Ponds’ tiny house-turned-pool house went on their Greenwich property about two years ago, but a visitor to their home-based business became enamored of their creation and offered to buy it. Recognizing that they stumbled on a new business idea, the couple began visiting tiny house festivals in the Northeast with their creation.
“We attended a show at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in New Jersey,” Ken recalled. “We had over 20,000 people through the house over the weekend, with 2.5-hour-long lines waiting to get through the house, like a ride at Great Adventure.”
“And we won Best Builder, so we knew we were doing something right,” Tori added. “When we sold it, we knew that we had to set up a real company.”
Craft & Sprout officially opened in 2016, with Tori noting the company’s name was deeply personal. “Craft, because everything is handcrafted, and Sprout for our four little kids,” she said, referring to the sons who are 10-, 7-, 5- and 2-years-old. The Ponds stated the boys help in the building of each tiny house, although two adult staffers actually carry a greater labor burden.
Each Craft & Sprout tiny house is custom built, with Tori noting they try to keep the design to “the sweet size around 300 square feet.” To date, the company has completed six tiny houses and are contracted to create nine more.
As with any RV, the tiny houses can be connected to water and electrical outlets and use propane fuel for heating. While the property does not qualify for a mortgage if it is on wheels, financing can be obtained as either an RV loan or a home equity loan to cover an accessory structure. Craft & Sprout can also create the shell of a tiny house and have the buyer create the interior separately.
“A fully built home can cost from $45,000 up to $100,000,” Ken said, adding that pricing depends on what the buyer is looking for. “You can always spend more. It can be compared to any home remodeling project. You can spend $500 on a bathroom or $5,000 on a bathroom: same bathroom, different finishes.”
The Ponds have fielded inquiries from developers seeking to create tiny house developments in the Northeast, with one ski resort operator wanting to use them as Airbnb rentals while a campground owner proposed making them available on his property as either rentals, rent-to-own or for-sale units. Even Hollywood has noticed: The Ponds recently shot a segment of the HGTV series “Tiny House, Big Living” that will air this summer, while the couple are in talks for additional appearances on other tiny house-focused television programs.
Moving forward, the Ponds are planning to take construction out of their backyard and into a standalone facility. “We are hoping to find a space within a half-hour of our home,” Ken said. “It’s a little bit tricky because you need a 14-foot high overhead door because tiny house regulations are 8.5-feet wide and 13-feet 6-inches tall, and you can play with the length.”
However, Ken observed that delivering the tiny houses will not be a problem. “You can get in a truck and drive our tiny house down the road as long as you have a valid driver’s license,” he said.