Small-housing enthusiasts who don’t know about Kasita, the local startup dedicated to producing space-saving, efficient, and affordable housing, probably still know, indirectly, about what inspired the business.
The CEO of the the company, Jeff Wilson, was once known as Professor Dumpster. That is because he in fact lived in a 33 square foot (previously unused) Dumpster for a year to “test the limits of habitable space,” according to the Kasita site. The experience convinced him that one solution to Austin’s housing crisis would to create and produce small, efficient prefab homes that are beautiful, functional, and affordable.
After the production of a prototype, some adjustments of the original, and boatload (houseload?) of hustle, the Kasita—prefab, small, smart homes that Wilson likes to refer to products that create a user experience rather than conventionally built homes—now have an Austin facility where they will be manufactured.
The company signed the lease on the property—25,0000 square feet on Techni Center Road in the East MLK-183 area of East Austin—last week and will get the keys May 1, according to an email from Kasita President/COO Brian Tochman.
The facility is undergoing renovations that will continue through summer, he wrote, but there are plans to build the next couple of Kasitas there immediately. The company will enter full-rate production by the end of the year
While almost all units will be built to order, there will also be a good amount of research and development units being manufactured at the facility as well. It takes roughly eight weeks to build a unit, Tochman related. Since that’s faster than most customers can prep a site, spec units are not necessary for now.
In addition to working to produce affordable housing for a variety of environments, Kasita will also employee local workers. The company is currently staffing and expects to hire about 12 skilled trade employees over the next 60 days; it’s also working with a trade schools and community organizations to prepare for possible future employment as the company grows.
One a unit rolls off the line (we don’t really know if there’s a “line”), Kasita arranges transportation to the customer—a service that includes packaging, prep, and loading for delivery through our network of logistics providers.
Kasita hopes to roll out its first units built in the new facility in June.