Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

It’s no secret that rent and the cost of living have skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic. According to Dwellsy, Albuquerque’s rent has increased 20 percent this year to date. Livlab Studios, a company that specializes in building tiny houses, hopes to combat this problem by providing people the option of downsizing into a smaller, simpler, more sustainable living space. 

Located in Albuquerque’s Old Town, the headquarters for Livlabs is a frenzy of activity. According to co-owner Christophe Blaz, the company has seen interest skyrocket since the pandemic hit. When asked why there has been such a dramatic increase in interest in tiny houses, Blaz responded that, “I think that people are interested in having simpler lives. Everything is so complex now.”

To refer to one of several housing models that Livlabs produces as “tiny” is an injustice to the design and engineering invested into the craft. From the outside, the homes appear to be the stereotypical tiny house that one could easily find on Pinterest. But once inside the interior opens up into a spacious, modern and, above all else, simple living space. 

Blaz attributes increased interest in tiny homes to the stress and complexity of modern life. His customers are often seeking to eliminate unnecessary distractions and find peace in their everyday lives. “Our house should be a quiet, safe place to be. I think a downsize to a smaller, affordable house is the way to go.”

So what would the average 400 foot home cost you? About $95,000. Similar to other industries, the greatest challenge for small businesses is acquiring materials while still providing an affordable living space. Due to an interruption of international shipping and difficulty in maintaining materials, especially metal, Blaz and his team have had to get creative in maintaining the current prices that they offer. 

Livlabs employs eight people and is run by Christophe Blaz, Steve Miller and Blaz’s partner. Before launching Livlabs four years ago, Blaz’s occupation was a builder, while Miller was an architect and owned his own tiny home business. Blaz’s wife and business partner focus on the direction of the company and other behind-the-scenes work. 

You can customize your tiny home with some modern amenities as well. Check out their customizations online. Livlabs has a listing of their pricing and availability of various models (including a house on wheels) on their website (livlabstudios.com). 

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Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.