When pondering how to construct smaller homes that young adults and renters could afford, homebuilder Tom Hignite
attention from the land to the sea.
Cruise ships, to be exact.
studied how the essentials of living were shoehorned into a small space in cruise-ship cabins, then figured out ways to incorporate some elements - such as built-in bunk beds and wooden lockers instead of closets - into a house containing a little more than 1,000 square feet.
The result is what Hignite, owner of Miracle Homes
, calls the "Mi-Pad" - a home with three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and a fireplace for as little as $89,000.
"They're contemporary in look," Hignite
One model can be developed to have five bedrooms, Hignite
"These are targeted at renters.
There's a one-car attached garage," Hignite
"They are meant for people who have a no-car garage right now," he
"There's a large marketplace in rentals that could segue into this for the same cost as rent."
Mike Ruzicka, president of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors, said Hignite may be on to something.
"We kind of looked at repo prices and decided to create a product line that would compete with that sort of repo price area of $90,000 to $150,000 - and get you a new home," Hignite
Because of the Mi-Pad's small size, he
said, "they work well on urban lots" as well.
"There are little pockets around that allow it," he
has been known among southeastern Wisconsin homebuilders for sometimes quirky innovations.
Previous high-end models have included a movie theatre and themed children's bedrooms, for example.
Hignite made headlines six years ago when he hired almost a dozen laid-off animation artists from Walt Disney Co. to create Miracle Studios, which intended to make TV commercials and a feature film starring his company's mascot, Miracle Mouse.
The studio at his
Richfield, Wis., headquarters has shrunk to "one or two" artists, Hignite
said, but there still are plans to produce the movie.
"Of course our main business is still homebuilding, and everybody has a passion beyond their main passion or job," Hignite
The Mi-Pad houses on Gates Street in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin - which include extra features and finished spaces beyond the base-price models - are the only two in existence so far, Hignite
wants to see if they catch on before building any more on speculation.
"It's a launch, and we're looking to see whether the public will accept it, because there haven't been 1,000square-foot houses built in many years," he
Miracle Homes is developing tiny, 1,000-square-ft homes Miracle Homes' owner, Tom Hignite, pictured August 31, 2011, calls Mi-Pads to appeal to first-time homebuyers. They'll sell for $90,000 and they use what Hignite calls a " cruise ship design" that allows the owners to cram a lot of stuff into little space.
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