Thousand Palms, California

Founder Randy Woodman sees a tiny house revolution gathering steam in California.

Woodman knew the startup company he was working for was running out of money and he needed to find something else to do. He figured it out when he was walking his dog near a shipyard in Portland, Oregon, and saw tiny houses sitting on top of trailers.

After working for a few other tiny house companies to learn the business, Woodman started Cheeky Monkey Tiny Houses, which has since relocated to Thousand Palms, California.

Photos courtesy Cheeky Monkey Tiny House

Cheeky Monkey’s customers generally find the company through a Google search. They either call or email Woodman to start a conversation about how he can build a tiny house for them. Woodman walks them through timing, budget and finishes that will be used in the home.

“Most of those things can be done on our website,” he says. “It’s very interactive for people to use where they can pick their upgrades and I can put a quote together from that.”

Cheeky Monkey expects customers to pay 25 percent of the total cost when they sign the contract, which enables the company to order the trailer and framing package. Cheeky Monkey can start on the framing before the trailer arrives in four or five weeks.

The customer pays another 25 percent of the price after the frame is set on the trailer and gets a roof. That’s when Cheeky Monkey starts work on the insulation, electric, plumbing and cabinets. The next 25 percent covers the cost to complete the tiny house.

After the tiny house is complete, Pacific West inspects it to make sure it’s been built to code. After the house passes inspection, the final payment is due and it’s turned over to the buyer.

It takes about 75 days from start to finish for a production model; for custom tiny homes, the process takes at least 90 days, depending on how much design and intricacy is involved.

Most years, Cheeky Monkey builds about 60 tiny homes for its customers, but this year, it’s looking like it will be about 40. The company’s 12,000-square-foot factory can work on up to eight tiny houses at a time.

“This has been an unusual year with COVID,” Woodman says. “We pretty much lost the first half of this year. We built some, but not nearly what we could have or should have. Things have bounced back in the last three weeks.”

Challenges: COVID-19 is the biggest challenge Cheeky Monkey is facing. The pandemic is slowing the company’s ability to order materials and appliances and have them arrive on time. “A refrigerator took six weeks to get — they shipped it directly from China to us,” Woodman says. “Wood seems to be okay. It’s more appliances that seem to be the issue.”

Opportunities: Movable tiny houses became legal as accessory dwelling units on Jan. 1, 2020, making it legal to live in tiny houses on wheels within city limits. San Diego also recently approved an ordinance allowing people to live in tiny houses. “When I first started, there was no place where it was legal to live in tiny houses on wheels permanently,” Woodman says.

Needs: As more cities adopt movable tiny house codes, the industry needs accredited lenders who will provide loans for tiny houses. Woodman says he also needs for COVID-19 to end or a vaccine to be developed.

Cheeky Monkey also needs employees, with three hires in the works as of summer 2020.