As the cost of living continues to skyrocket, people are beginning to look for alternatives to renting or buying traditional homes.
Sativa McGee created her own business to offer one such alternative to prospective homebuyers in Clark County.
Tiny By Design is a newly established construction company based in Vancouver that designs and constructs tiny homes and accessory dwelling units in order to create more affordable and sustainable housing options throughout Portland and Southwest Washington.
A lifelong resident of the area, McGee is excited to use her new business to give back to her community, hoping to help create a better housing market for the next generation.
“Southwest Washington is the only place I have ever called home. We are surrounded by natural beauty, and I understand why people want to move here, but the increasing population has caused skyrocketing rent and home prices that are unattainable for many locals,” McGee explained. “By starting Tiny by Design, I hope to slowly make a difference in providing truly affordable housing options without tearing down more of our beloved forest and farmland.”
While her business is new, McGee’s passion for design and construction goes back to her teenage years, when she interned with a design firm in Longview as part of a high school program for underprivileged youth. McGee went on to attend the Art Institute of Portland, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in interior design.
Her specific interest in accessory dwelling units and tiny homes came about when her mother experienced her own housing crisis. A recent health diagnosis left her unhoused and unable to find accommodations that she could afford on disability payments. McGee decided to take matters into her own hands by building a home for her mother.
Knowing that her mother’s situation was not uncommon, McGee also launched her business.
“My work allows me to empower people. I can create spaces that allow people who would otherwise have to be moved to a care facility to be able to stay in their homes,” McGee said, “whether that’s simply creating small affordable homes, or building a space specifically catered to someone’s disability needs with wheelchair access and other accessibility accommodations.”
As the owner of a new small business, McGee manages the customer service and does the paperwork. She oversees quality control, too. McGee’s daily work includes meeting with and interviewing prospective buyers, developing and sending designs to clients, and visiting job sites, overseeing subcontractors as they build each home to uniquely fit each customer’s needs.
In addition to supporting the adults in her community, McGee also wants Tiny By Design to support and uplift local students by creating learning opportunities through workshops and internships, similar to the internship that sparked her passion for construction.
“I want to empower teens and especially young women to get into this trade I love so much,” McGee said. “I got into this through a high school internship and would love to connect with our local schools to offer the same thing. College isn’t for everyone, and girls are rarely encouraged to go to trade school, which provides an incredible independent living wage.”
For those looking to have their own tiny home or accessory dwelling unit built, consultations can be made with McGee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Prospective clients are also encouraged to check out Tiny By Design’s previous designs and builds on its Instagram and Facebook pages, both under the name Tiny By Design LLC.