Why a backyard shed maker decided to pivot to making tiny homes and offices on wheels — see inside its $129,000 DW model

  • Backyard shed maker Modern Shed has unveiled the DW, a $129,000 tiny home on wheels.
  • The company decided to add this new addition to its product line during the coronavirus pandemic in order to "offer something that embodies agility, which is really something this year has asked of all of us," founder of Modern Shed Ryan Smith told Business Insider in an email interview.
  • The DW, short for Dwelling on Wheels, can be delivered as an office on wheels instead of a tiny home.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Backyard shed maker Modern Shed has added a newcomer to its product line: the DW, a $129,000 tiny home on wheels.

Modern Shed has been known to build backyard sheds that can serve as home offices and gyms, storage units, guest bedrooms, and more. But after almost 20 years of doing so, the company has decided to pivot this year amid the coronavirus pandemic to unveil a tiny home on wheels known as the Dwelling on Wheels, or the DW.

Read more: California's housing crisis is so dire, a startup just raised $3.5 million in VC funding to drop tiny houses in people's backyards

"We wanted to leverage that experience [of building sheds] to offer something that embodies agility, which is really something this year has asked of all of us," founder of Modern Shed Ryan Smith told Business Insider in an email interview. "The DW can do a lot — it's great for enjoying nature short-term, for off-grid living, or as a second, remote home."

Right now is also a strategic time to sell tiny homes as the movement has increased in popularity this year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on in the US, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

According to Smith, Modern Shed has already seen "a lot of interest" in the DW, especially as people continue to redefine their lifestyle and work choices during the coronavirus pandemic.

On top of this, tiny living has been growing in popularity as traditional housing prices continue to become more expensive in many large cities, according to Smith.

"I think a lot of people are finding that they are changing their lifestyle or their work options, and so they're moving to different areas, or consolidating family in ways where they might be able to live a little more efficiently," Smith wrote. "This concept, whether portable or a small room that can be added to a location somewhere, is I think a very strong one.

"That concept has been really amplified with this recent year, but I think there is a longer trend there that started a few years ago," Smith continued.

Smith says the company will continue unveiling more tiny homes in the future by creating new designs, both based on wheels and not.

Like other Modern Shed products, the DW can serve multiple purposes, including as a tiny home, home office, or studio.

This multitude of uses was Modern Shed's goal with the DW.

"With all our lives now often combining work and home much more into one space, it's interesting to think that that traditional separation of work, home, and relaxation are now merging into one thing, this year and perhaps next year," Smith wrote.

The tiny home version includes a living and dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and bed area. The office layout can instead include seating areas, work stations, and a bathroom.

According to Smith, the home design was "inspired by modern Pacific Northwest and Scandinavian architecture, using really beautiful materials to respond to the environment."

The DW tiny home includes unique features like a floor-to-ceiling window and a glass wall.

The tiny home is lined with sustainable linoleum floors, according to its maker. This matte black flooring contrasts the birch plywood-heavy tiny home's walls and cabinetry.

The DW can sleep up to three people with its two stacked beds. One of the beds is just slightly smaller than a queen bed.

There's also storage throughout the interior, including hidden units under the bunk bed and cabinets in the kitchen.

The kitchen also includes a refrigerator, induction cooktop, and sink.

The dining area's bench seat is built into the tiny home, but the table is removable.

DW's interior is brightened up with LED lights.

"The DW doesn't attempt to fit an entire house into a small footprint," Modern Shed wrote in a news release about the DW. "Instead, the project works with the unique opportunities that building small affords, conquering the challenge to create a space that feels right-sized."

To make the home appear larger, its maker included the glass-paned wall at the end of the home to "erode the feeling of the walls as much as possible," according to the news release.

Like many well-equipped tiny homes, the roof of the DW has solar panels with batteries. For a cold day, the home on wheels also has a wood stove and electric wall heaters.

The solar array and wood stove, along with optional water tanks and "composting units," allows the tiny home on wheels to stay off-grid.

But for those who don't want to live solely off-grid, the tiny home on wheels also has a shore power electrical hook-up point.

The walls are also insulated, and according to Modern Shed, this means the tiny home may not need additional heat when it’s in a “Northwest climate.”

The tiny home can also be delivered with an extendable deck for outdoor lounging when the tiny home is parked.

In total, the DW is 221 square feet and sits at 26 feet long and 8.5 feet wide

For those who want an on-site installed tiny home, the DW can also come at 10, 12, or 16 feet wide.

The home's double-axle trailer has a 14,000-pound gross vehicle mass.

Modern Shed decided to make the DW a home on wheels for increased flexibility.

"We wanted to show it as a portable structure to emphasize the flexible nature of what we do, the fact that it can be configured in many ways, and be at home in many places," Smith wrote. "We have thought about it this year as a solution to how people want to change where and how they live, of course."

The company has a lead time between four to 10 months, and the home now starts at $129,000.

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