The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.
Topher Thomas is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Topher Thomas, and I’m many things, mainly human, but I’m the founder of an affordable housing company in Durham, NC called Coram Houses. We focus on helping neighbors house neighbors by building tiny homes in backyards.
What did it take / how did you get started?
The story started with me as a high school teacher in 2018 with a family and 2 young kids and realizing that we weren’t making it financially on a teacher’s salary. We had this small unused area of our yard, and this idea came one day: “build a tiny house in that spot and rent it out”. That idea was followed by a million reasons not to do it, but In 2019 with my family on board we built a tiny 96 sq.ft tiny home in our yard. That house failed. It wasn’t permitted, the city was notified, and the project came to an end in March 2020. The pandemic and shutdown gave me time to learn building code, learn the permit process, learn a little architecture, and learn a little engineering. I wanted to get a feel for every aspect of a build from start to finish. From March 2020 to August 2020, I demolished the first tiny home, designed, permitted, funded, and built a new tiny home. And a neighbor being priced out of the neighborhood hood moved in to our backyard. With affordable housing growing scarce, and access to the capital and the knowledge to build ADUs tough to find, I felt compelled to start a company that did just that. We would connect homeowners to funding, build them an ADU, and help connect them with a tenant—and for a year we’ve been on a journey doing that.
What does the future look like for you and your hustle?
Hopefully, we get tiny homes in a ton of backyards, we making sharing a cultural phenomenon, and society is more connected because of the work we do!
What drives / motivates you?
Living in a world I like. A world where we see the inherent worth of every person. A world where what’s better for you is better for me. A better world.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
Make sure you protect parts of your time to center down, and continually inspect your biases.
What has been the hardest part of the hustle?
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
Color of Law Brave New Home Race for Profit Sacred Economics
Side or full-time hustle?
List the founders
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
# of Employees?
When did you start?
How much did it cost to launch?
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
Strategically asking folks I knew believed in the vision & 200K
Any call to action?
You can donate here: https://bit.ly/3unqrFd
Funding is our biggest need—we have a vision and a way to do it, it’s just a matter of funds.
Check out our website: https://www.coramhouses.org/
Go to your local city meetings, know what’s being developed and how that affects the community, find ways to support local affordable housing efforts. Affordable housing is tough, and it needs supports.