By JACK WEATHERLY
It is a market he helped to create.
Appointed by then-Gov. Haley Barbour as housing commissioner for Gulf Coast rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Fred Carl Jr. oversaw the designing and building of cottages in a traditional style as a better alternative to trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Association.
The so-called Katrina cottages contributed to the “tiny house” trend.
Now in a crowded field – with cable television shows and magazines touting the little spaces – Carl believes he has found a niche.
Carl founded in the mid-’80s Viking Range, maker of one of the premier brands of residential cook stoves and other appliances.
He and other investors sold the Greenwood-based company to Middleby Corp. of Elgin, Ill., in 2013 for $380 million. Middleby sued the owners in 2015 for $100 million in a case that is still pending.
Now he has launched an equally upscale line of small dwellings.
Carl announced his new company, C3 Design Inc., two years ago. Carl said he would build what he called “modular” homes.
Instead Carl has introduced its first product line, the Retreat Series. Looking for all the world like houses, they are technically recreational vehicles, according to the company’s website, C3spaces.com, which was launched last week.
They are small, no more than 399 square feet not including the porch, which adds another 120 square feet.
Yet they are not really tiny houses in the usual sense.
Classified as “park models,” they are built “in compliance with Standard A119.5 of the American National Standards Institute,” the website states.
The website puts some space between the Retreat Series and tiny houses.
“There is no code or standard governing the design or construction of ‘tiny houses’ mounted on wheels, nor is there an established definition or specification for ‘tiny houses,’” the website says.
Chris Galusha, president of the all-volunteer American Tiny House Association, confirmed that there is indeed no such category.
Galusha said in an interview, however, that the International Code Council will include an appendix in the 2018 edition in the International Residential Code that will define a tiny home as any site-built home that’s less than 400 square feet of “habitable space,” excluding bathrooms and closets, Galusha said.
ANSI 119.5 is for part-time and recreational use, Galusha said. And something built to that standard, with third-party inspection and certification qualifies for insurance.
The Foremost Insurance Group, for example, does insure temporary homes, such as built by C3 Design, as well as modular and manufactured homes, which are considered permanent, said Chad Seabrook, owner of Chad Seabrook Insurance Agency in Ridgeland.
And it can insure tiny homes, he said.
The C3 website states that its park models are designed for temporary recreational use and for moving from one site to another. That means that insurance is generally cheaper for them than for fixed-place shelters, Seabrook said.
But the Retreat Series comes with a hefty price tag.
They start in the “mid-50s,” said Jane Crump, director of public relations and communications for the Greenwood-based manufacturer.
Looking at the price by square foot is the wrong way to price the units, Crump said. “It’s a lifestyle item,” she said.
“They’re definitely an upscale purchase,” Crump said, “for people with discretionary income.”
Standard features in the one-bedroom dwellings are a bathroom and a combined living and kitchen area and stainless-steel appliances and heating and cooling units. Upgrades are possible, such as quartz or granite countertops.
Crump said the company is in the early stages of distribution.
About a dozen have been sold, Crump said. The company has about a half-dozen for sale in Greenwood and Starkville.
Otherwise, they are built when ordered, she said.
“It’s a very measured process . . . to build a business from the ground up,” she said.
Crump would not discuss what C3 Designs future plans might be.