Forsberg Real Estate makes big impression with Tembo tiny living homes

Eye-catching tiny homes for big thinkers are making their way to Lansing neighborhoods, starting with REO Town this summer.

T.A. Forsberg, Inc. unveiled its first completed Tembo home in late June, inviting the public to embrace a small concept with huge potential for providing attainable, quality housing in core urban areas. The compact design features one bedroom, cathedral ceilings, luxury appliances, quality fit and fixtures, energy-efficient systems and insulation, and a front porch.

"We saw a huge shortage of affordable housing in the region, and it was evident that we needed to focus on it," says Gina Pons-Schultz, Forsberg operations and project manager. "Traditionally, we've built homes for subdivisions. We wanted to diversify more, and this was it."

Pons-Schultz says the concept drew its name from the Swahili word for elephant—projecting a playful, gentle perception as well as the idea of a small home with a big welcome.

The 600-square foot model home at 127 Elm Street will rent for $850 a month. The company's goal is to build up to 50 Tembo homes within the next two years, ranging in size from 600- to 720-square feet. About five to eight of the slanted-roof homes will be built in REO town by the end of the summer, with plans for others with a slightly different design on Lansing's East Side.

Homes are built on-site, typically on vacant or infill lots purchased from the Ingham County Land Bank. The idea, Pons-Schultz says, is to enhance the quality of life within the community and to contribute to a sustainable, urban system.

"We try to get involved as much as possible and to interact with communities," says Pons-Schultz. "We went to people within REO Town before we even started building. That's how we like to do things."

Pons-Schultz says the REO Town Commercial Association has supported the Tembo project since it began about a year ago. Several merchants and artists provided furniture and artwork for the model home, including Vintage Junkies and Mary "Makeshift" Molnar.

Tembo Homes were the brainchild of the builder's CEO Brent Forsberg who worked closely with company interns for a year to tweak and test the design in a company warehouse. The Okemos-based builder celebrates 60 years of business in 2017, and was founded by Brent's grandfather Terry Forsberg.

"We're really proud of the Tembo concept house and want people to understand what our designs are all about," says Pons-Schultz. "We did a lot of research on the market, on spending patterns and on millennials. A lot of the concept comes from that."

Source: Gina Pons-Schultz, Operations and Project Manager, Forsberg Real Estate
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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