Building Alternative Housing

After an introduction to tiny homes in Germany, a northwest Montana couple is working to build a simpler path to homeownership with Eureka Tiny Homes

By Maggie Dresser
Tiny home builders Julia and Adam Higgins pictured in front of one of their tiny homes in Eureka on Dec. 9, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

In 2014, Adam Higgins decided to fulfill a lifelong dream to travel to Eastern Europe. He booked a flight to Denmark and hopped on a train to Romania where he spent his first night in a hostel. Awakened by a loud snorer in the middle of the night, he stepped outside to get some fresh air, where he noticed a woman who had just arrived.

Julia Meyer, who hailed from Germany, had arrived at the hostel at about 2 a.m. after her train was delayed at the start of a spontaneous trip to Romania during her two-week break from school, where she was obtaining a degree in education.

Soon after, they started hitchhiking and traveling around Europe together until Julia returned to her studies. Adam continued traveling solo, but he always found himself back at Julia’s flat.

During the next several years, Adam and Julia bounced back and forth between living in Europe and the United States, utilizing the work visa system and they wound up in Hungry Horse, eventually getting married up the North Fork.

After a hiatus in Europe during the height of the pandemic, the Higgins bought property in Eureka last year and noticed how much northwest Montana had grown in their absence.

The interior of a tiny home designed and constructed by Julia and Adam Higgins of Eureka Tiny Homes in Eureka on Dec. 9, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

“What really shocked us is that we came back here, and the valley had expanded so much,” Adam said.

“We have friends that lived in Whitefish for their whole lives and had to sell part of their family’s property because they couldn’t afford the taxes anymore,” Julia added. “We have friends that live in apartments that they can’t afford.”

After seeing so many people become priced out of their homes in Montana, they came up with a creative solution for a simpler path to homeownership.

Growing up in Idaho, Adam learned carpentry skills from his father and had worked in the industry throughout much of his life. Working on mostly high-end homes during his career in the United States, Germany and Sweden, he decided to switch gears and he and Julia started a tiny home building business in Eureka.

The Higgins were first introduced to tiny homes in Margetshöchheim, a city in southern Germany, where Adam was working to renovate a barn built in the 1500s for a customer. While Julia was still in school obtaining a master’s degree in education, they lived in metal barn on the property that was converted into a 6-by-10-foot apartment.

“That’s how I got introduced to the concept of tiny homes,” Adam said. “I realized it was actually pretty comfortable and way cheaper.”

When Adam and Julia returned to Montana last year and saw housing prices skyrocket, they remembered the tiny home in Germany.

“We thought it’d be good to create something where you can have value, so you’re not paying rent for nothing,” Julia said. “You still can own something that’s not too expensive and you can still be flexible.”

Adam finished building the first $54,900 tiny home this year, a 272 square-foot structure that sits on a trailer and is about 13-feet tall from the ground, equipped with a bathroom, kitchen, common area and sleeping loft. The client can choose between an off the grid structure with a compostable toilet or it can be on the grid and connect to utilities. Amenities include electric heat, a propane oven and stove, an electric water heater, a full-size refrigerator and is fully insulated. A 10% discount is offered to veterans.

Although tiny homes are not regulated, they built the structure to adhere to California housing codes, which are the strictest.

In the future, they plan to work with clients to build custom tiny homes and they hope to grow the company once it becomes more established.

“It would be great to do what we love and also help solve a budget and housing problem,” Adam said.

For more information, find Eureka Tiny Homes on Instagram @eurekatinyhomes.

To contact the Higgins, call (406) 609-7033 or email them at [email protected].

The bathroom of a tiny home designed and constructed by Julia and Adam Higgins of Eureka Tiny Homes in Eureka on Dec. 9, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

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