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Steamboat Magazine

Not Just Tiny Homes Anymore

08/25/2023 07:00AM ● By Stephanie Wilson
("The Winter Park" - A mountain-modern 4 bed/4 bath home by SmartPads. Photo Courtesy of SmartPads.)

Steamboat Springs, CO -  Business is booming in a big way for SmartPads – because they’re not just building tiny homes anymore. Recognized for their pioneering work in constructing a tiny home community in Hayden back in 2018, SmartPads, a Steamboat Springs-based company, has emerged as a game-changer in the industry, offering larger custom prefab homes that address the unique challenges of building in the mountains. 

Katie Stassen is SmartPads’ sales and operations manager and is a self-proclaimed construction geek. “While our first tiny home development put the company on the map, the larger single-family homes such as The Leadville 840 series and The Steamboat models have become our most popular designs,” she says. “Landowners are drawn to these models as they offer a building option they can budget for plus a much shorter build time.” 

While prefab homes have traditionally been sought after due to shorter build times and fixed costs, they were also concurrent with boring architecture, poor quality, and, in many cases, not built to withstand a mountain climate. The team at SmartPads saw this as an opportunity for a niche offering. They pulled from their 20+ years of ski town experience in real estate and building, along with a passion for specialized architectural elements and quality finishes, to design prefab homes that are built for mountain living.

("The Red Hawk" - A mountain-modern 4 bed/3 1/2 bath home by SmartPads. Photo Courtesy of SmartPads.)

Katie laughs as she recalls the number of times she’s explained to potential home buyers from out of town, “Snow load is our specialty.”  She says, “The team we have at our facility in Vernal, UT builds homes that are designed to withstand the rigors of high elevation living. Our homeowners are delivered a far superior product at a fixed price from a local company that is passionate about mountain living.” 

Driving around the Yampa Valley or other Colorado mountain towns you might spot a modest two-bedroom SmartPads home in one neighborhood while just down the valley you pass by a multi-module luxury home that also has the SmartPads stamp on it. The most efficient home is one module, but larger homes are made up of up to five plus modules. What gives them their unique architectural appeal is the way the various modules are stacked along with a combination of exterior materials. 

“The original tiny homes that made a name for SmartPads in the Yampa Valley are still a good option for developers building community or employee housing or vacation rental units,” Katie explains. “Where we see the most demand is from individuals who are looking to get in a home quickly and don’t have the time or energy to manage the myriad decisions that go along with a traditional home build.”

As build times seem to only be increasing these days, it’s surprising to hear from Katie that SmartPads is immune to this. “We have the capability for someone to order a home today and they could be in for the 2023 holiday season,” she says. 

Working with a reputable general contractor is a critical part of building a SmartPads home, as the contractor oversees the site preparation and the install. Chuy Garcia of Garcia Construction has a client currently building a SmartPads home. “The SmartPads process has given guidance to customers throughout the building process, which can be hard, overwhelming, and loaded with hundreds of decisions. The building process is always a journey. However, the SmartPads approach really streamlined many of the variables and is a great luxury option for homes starting from 800 square feet up to 4,000 square feet, and is perfect for mountain towns where costs can fluctuate and short building seasons can present certain challenges.“

(Open floorpan homes by SmartPads. Photo Courtesy of SmartPads.)

Currently there are 11 SmartPads homes in the Steamboat area, and other homes scattered around mountain towns of Colorado. The names of each model reflect some of the original builds such as the Leadville, Winter Park and Summit. Looking towards 2024 the company plans to expand into Montana and other Western states. 

The growth of SmartPads has allowed founders Darrin Fryer and Ryan Cox to assemble a team that manages the day-to-day operation. Hiring local talent in Steamboat as well as creating jobs for the community of Vernal, UT is important to Darrin and Ryan. 

“Our vision is for a company with roots deeply embedded in our mountain communities that is providing a unique option for those looking to build a home, whether large or small, in mountain communities,” Darrin says. “SmartPads is a lot more than tiny homes these days.”

To learn more about SmartPad and to explore design options, be sure to visit them online at