Solving the housing crisis, one Petite Home at a time

Microphone 10 36

Podcast Transcription

[00:00:00] Scott Dillingham: Thanks for tuning into the show today. I have a really special guest. His name is Michael hoppy. Really cool story.

He he’s a creative director of geo Pogo based in San Francisco, California. And he’s also the co-founder of petite homes right here in Windsor. So welcoming.

[00:00:17] Michael Hoppe: Yeah, it’s welcome. Good morning. So

[00:00:19] Scott Dillingham: How did all this happen? Like I’m curious, right? Someone being creative director and co-founder of a tiny home, manufacturing company.

How did all this happen? Did you have the idea did you know you wanted to do this when you were little or how did it.

[00:00:33] Michael Hoppe: I think everything, everything comes together over a long period of time. And it’s a series of opportunities that build on top of each other. Where you’re put into a position where you can do these things and then knock them out and test ideas and see what works and what doesn’t work.

But I’ll say everything, is a buildup over the last 10 years or so.

[00:00:54] Scott Dillingham: Okay now. Good for you. So did you grow up in California or are you local to

[00:01:00] Michael Hoppe: Windsor? Yeah. So give a brief overview. Canadian born in Vancouver grew up in a little town called Chilliwack. And then a little farming village called Greendale.

If everybody’s familiar with that and the family and I moved over to Windsor it was great eight for me. And so I attended Percy P McCallum, which is behind Herman high school. And I grew up in Windsor or teenagers in Windsor and and went to Riverside high school. And then St. Claire college studied architecture.

And and then as soon as I graduated, I moved to Timmins, Ontario and worked in Timmins for for a number of years with an architectural firm and pretty much designed everything from from houses to schools. We did some multi-residential and, just kinda everything else that comes along in the, in that line of work.

[00:01:52] Scott Dillingham: Okay. No, that’s awesome. And then, so how did you get to California?

[00:01:57] Michael Hoppe: That’s a big journey. I’m sure. Yeah. There’s a lot there and lot of risks. But I think a lot of great opportunities that came my way, I started, when I came back to Windsor, I think I was 25 and we started.

Our first startup called 3d F X. And effects was an architectural visualization startup that specialized in virtual reality. And so we were creating, architectural renditions, virtual renditions. And of course we were working with commercial and residential builders across Ontario. And and my work ended up getting noticed in California and specifically San Francisco.

Because of, I’ll just say It was quite new and a lot of companies out there are looking for that kind of stuff. And that’s exactly what happened. They reached out and pretty much said, do you want to do this here? And I was like, yes,

[00:02:50] Scott Dillingham: nice. Now 3d effects is that the same company that did video

[00:02:53] Michael Hoppe: card?

That is correct. Yep. Yeah. Some people might remember in the in the tech scene, in the nineties, there was 3d effects and they created the voodoo too. And we were all crazy about graphics and gaming.

[00:03:05] Scott Dillingham: My father showed me how to build my computer back then now obviously it’s cheaper to buy them, but back then it was cheaper if you built it yourself.

And we did, we had a bunch of different cause 3d effects. You guys had multiple series. So I kept upgrading as it went on. That’s awesome.

[00:03:20] Michael Hoppe: And video. I think it was sometime in the late nineties, early two thousands. And and so when we started, there was nothing registered in Canada and and we figured it out. Let’s keep, let’s continue on that legacy. And and stay true to the graphics and everything that we ever desired in architecture, anything that we ever wanted to produce in terms of visualizations.

That was our opportunity to just go all out. No. That’s

[00:03:46] Scott Dillingham: awesome. And so for you then, at least me knowing that you are part of geo Pogo for you, that was a natural transition.

[00:03:54] Michael Hoppe: Oh yes. And a lot of people are surprised when they hear my background’s architecture and I’ve, worked in architecture for a number of years, but how I see tech playing into architecture and specifically with geo Pogo is we are working on.

To fundamentally transform the visualization process for how buildings are experienced before they were built. And the technology we use and create is all centered around projecting and portraying the future and explaining to populations what the future of their cities are going to become.

Because that is the most effective thing we have, a lot of times cities and buildings and designs just kind come happenstance, it’s just whatever it is that happens. And we just accept it. When you have tools that allow you to visualize in situ the best possible outcome. Of what the future can be.

I think that is a great window of opportunity to really start taking control of what we are building and doing to this planet.

[00:04:56] Scott Dillingham: No, and I think that’s amazing. So for, because I know you I know what you guys do at geo Pogo at least to some extent, but for someone listening today, who’s never heard of geo Pogo.

Could you elaborate on what you guys do?

[00:05:08] Michael Hoppe: Yeah. So geo Pogo, we’re an architectural software startup and our specialty is augmented reality. And so augmented reality is a, how do I say this? We augmented reality digitally projects. How do I say this in the way that viewers can listen and understand I’m sure.

And maybe we have to do a quick snippet here. And we’ll reset.

[00:05:33] Scott Dillingham: Okay. Yep. We can just continue and I’ll

[00:05:35] Michael Hoppe: just edit this part out. Maybe they’ll like it they’ll be okay. Cause I know some of the listeners, this is hard to associate. So at geo Pogo, Joe Pago specializes in augmented reality. And augmented reality is a new technology that’s coming up in the future.

And now where we can use multiple types of devices to digitally project things into the real. And so in our case, it’s architecture. And so using devices such as your phones, tablets, and now what are called AR glasses or headsets, viewers can either hold up their phones or put on these glasses and we can digitally project the entire building design right on site in full 3d.

That’s amazing. And the viewer. I can walk around and explore the entire design they can go inside. They can see from outside. They can see the building from all different vantage points and they can change the design of the building rate then in there. And that’s when you want to do it, you do not want to change things during construction, because that becomes very expensive.

But the paradigm that we’re trying to break is that nobody. Aside from architects and maybe builders can read and fully understand working drawings. Yeah, for sure. Working drawings are the. It’s an abstract it’s symbols. And if you don’t know how to read and decipher and piece together, these 60, 70 pages of working drawings into the conclusion of the building, you’re just letting it happen.

And you’re putting trust in the people that designed it for you, that they know what they’re doing, but we’re human beings and we all make mistakes. And we don’t know how to communicate abstract to each other in the same way, because we all put different pictures and images in our mind. Yep. This is an opportunity for us all to be on the same page.

And we can effectively point and talk about the same things. And this technology will fundamentally transform the design and construction industry.

[00:07:37] Scott Dillingham: No that’s amazing. So w we actually have to take a quick pause, but when we come back we’ll pick up where we left off, and then we’ll also talk about.

The new type of home that you’re building, that’s revolutionizing the whole market providing, affordable housing and fixing the housing shortage problems that Canada has. So we’ll be right back.

Okay. Welcome back. So yeah, so Mike I, or Michael, sorry. Let’s continue with the geo Pogo. Cause I’m actually really interested in this.

I can see, somebody building a new condo, like a developer, having your system in play so people can view houses or the condos like that. Same with new builders, having clients be able to do a potential walkthrough of their home before you even start building it. Is that something that you’re getting to that will become.


[00:08:28] Michael Hoppe: yes. And something we’ve experimented and explored here in California with a whole number of developers, because what we’re doing is ultimately building these systems, behaviors and foundations in place to really allow this to take off and scale across the industry. And. As the technology evolves, when we go from using cell phones and tablets and headsets as our medium and all of a sudden, you’re going to see things like safety glasses or eye glasses become augmented.

This is going to be a very exciting future for how we communicate design across the entire from design to construction, to client consultation. This is really big stuff and it’s a huge transformation. No,

[00:09:14] Scott Dillingham: that’s cool. So if there’s a builder or a developer listening right now in kindergarten, so I know you did this in California.

But if there’s a builder developer listening to this radio station, you would be able to provide them these benefits and features like right now, this is live and ready to go. That’s right. Perfect. That’s so cool. I I know a few developers that I’m going to introduce this to, cause I think it’s such a cool concept.

Especially with the buyer, right? If you look at the natural evolution. MLS photos. First it started with photos. Now they have the 360 photos, where you can go in there and take a 360 walkthrough, but that’s just from a photo. So what you have, it’s it’s live like you’re actually.

That’s right, which is so cool. I love that. So then, and I know you’re using this technology to help solve Canada’s housing crisis.

[00:10:06] Michael Hoppe: We’ve seen opportunity. On multiple fronts. The first one of course is affordability. And the fact that there’s so many people, in Canada and even in the United States who may never be able to afford a home the prices of homes in the major cities are just way too expensive.

And the second part in terms of technology. You start to look at a couple of things that technology can do. The first one of course has always cost reduction of construction. How do you how do you reduce the cost by making the process more efficient? The second part though is transforming how people buy houses.

And you’ve saw that with Zillow and other types of companies that they change the behavior. Of how people interacted with the process. And that’s ultimately what we’re aiming to do with petite homes is taking the technologies that we built with geo Pogo and integrating it into the home buying and construction experience.

[00:11:05] Scott Dillingham: Yeah. No, that’s so cool. So let’s talk about this. So you mentioned affordable homes anybody listening is thinking like, how is that possible in today’s. How do you get an affordable home in

[00:11:18] Michael Hoppe: today’s market? That’s right. And yeah, it’s a very, it’s a very challenging thing. You look at home prices and Windsor even rental prices have just skyrocketed.

It’s quite surprising. Nevermind looking at Toronto or Vancouver, or even here in San Francisco there’s entire generations that just may never be able to buy. A home, you just can’t do it. And so when. The city of Windsor and other municipalities across Canada, United States started to approve and their zoning in their bylaws.

The ability to build tiny homes, either as 80 use in people’s backyards, or you can build them on a fresh plot of land. That is an opportunity to create affordability simply because the reduced square footage will allow for homes to be. At a more affordable price for people, we don’t need these McMansions or homes that are four or $500,000.

We can build these tiny homes from anywhere from 90 to $120,000 depending on finishes. And one of the ways you keep costs down. And the reason we started with three units is because we can manufacture the units. Okay. We can build them in factories and warehouses. And that is part of the automation of the construction industry.

[00:12:33] Scott Dillingham: Yep. And I was going to say, and I think that’s also how you can keep costs down. So I’m familiar with the bill process, which is incredibly cool, but I’d like you to tell everybody who’s listening today, how that happens in the factory with your laser guided. I’ll let you, I don’t want to steal the title, but why don’t you tell everybody how they’re built in these warehouses?

[00:12:53] Michael Hoppe: That’s right. So the process that we’re looking at starting is of course with consistent units that are built in mass to be sold across Canada, United States. But the process really comes down to streamlining and automating. So all three homes are all the same dimensions, all 300. Use the same things like cabinets finishes the same doors, the same exterior finishes, same shingles.

And that is what gives the opportunity to streamline the process. Okay. That’s what we’re going after.

[00:13:26] Scott Dillingham: No, that’s so cool. So then you build them in the warehouse, so that’s all built. How do you get it to the person’s a plot of land or as an ADU in their backyard? How does that happen?

[00:13:37] Michael Hoppe: That’s right. So of course the first parts delivery. And so the units are designed to fit on a flat bed and we can ultimately ship the unit to anybody’s property. And then the second part is you effectively create. The unit into place. And so we’ll pre pour the concrete pads sewer plumbing, hydro, everything’s all there, ready to connect, and then you effectively drop the unit onto the concrete pad and connect everything.

And you’re good to go from.

[00:14:05] Scott Dillingham: No that’s incredible. So for someone who’s looking to purchase one of these homes, what would be the rough turnaround time for something like this?

[00:14:14] Michael Hoppe: That’s a really good question. And as we are finalizing those details with Alliance construction I think we’ll be able to release that information.

Obviously we want the turnaround time to be much quicker and more effective than doing traditional stick-built. You could look at anywhere. Less than three months. And especially as the process starts to get quicker and we automate more and more, we would basically be able to deliver these homes like cars and and that’s the plan that we’re going up.

[00:14:43] Scott Dillingham: No that’s really cool. So I can see how it’s a lower cost, right? It’s a tinier home. It’s a smarter manufacturing process. I can see how it solves the housing crisis because people can add these units depending on their lot size and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe certain.

Property owners and sizes can qualify to have one of these in their backyard as a, as an additional rental or for their extended family to live in. Is that right? That’s correct. Perfect. Yeah. So see, there you go. So you’re adding more supply to the housing market. Can you tell me about like the warranty?

Is there any different than a regular new construction home or how does that work?

[00:15:25] Michael Hoppe: Yeah, it’d be the exact same warranty as as what’s required for your standard residential homes and yeah, we’re ultimately be back at the exact same deficiencies same standards effectively the exact same thing as if you were to get built by any other home builder.


[00:15:39] Scott Dillingham: no, that’s incredible. For the listener today that might want to look at your models where would you direct them to, to get started or

[00:15:47] Michael Hoppe: to see what’s available? So of course we have which is the web address. So And it’s where you can go on the website and you can start to explore the homes right from the get-go.

You can download the free plan. And we also have a virtual tour right on the website where you can walk through each model as a 3d walkthrough on your computer. And that’s a really great way to get to know the homes intimately before you commit to any. No,

[00:16:15] Scott Dillingham: that’s so cool. I love it.

And at least from a financing standpoint, I just want to speak on that because obviously that’s our expertise. Not every lender will finance the construction of a tiny home, but there are others that will now when it’s in place and done, usually the lenders will open up and you’ll have access to more lenders for our client.

So if you’re looking at this and you’re like, how do I find that? It’s best just to give us a call at Len city, we’ll do a quick strategy session with you. We’ll go over the options available and then we’ll help to maximize this cause the construction and the financing. I know that part is a little bit different than a traditional house.

Just that’s something to think of. So perfect. So Mike, so or Michael, so someone wants to buy this same website. They can purchase it right from there, or is there a different process?

[00:17:03] Michael Hoppe: That’s right. So the process that we’re working out at the moment of course, is everyone can start with a property assessment and and so you go on you basically fill out your details of the property that you want to build on and a $200.

Our team goes through and essentially reviews the property. We make sure that a tiny home can of course fit on it that the bylaws are in place, zoning, setbacks. And then from there we ultimately go and get permit approvals and that’s through our architect Stuart Miller with MMA architects, whom we’ve partnered with.

And so he’s able to serve all of Ontario and and that’s the quickest way to get the process. We introduce you to Chris Weller from Alliance construction, and go through the cost breakdowns assess the property for how we’re going to get services in water, hydro sewers and and once we signed on the dotted line and the buyer’s satisfied we get started.

[00:17:55] Scott Dillingham: That’s awesome. I love it. It sounds great. I really appreciate your time. I love what you guys are doing. I think the project is so cool. The technology’s cool. I love it all. Thanks. Thanks for coming on the show.

[00:18:05] Michael Hoppe: Thank you, Scott. Thank you for the opportunity.

[00:18:07] Scott Dillingham: All right. No worries. Have a great day, everyone.


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