Professor Dumpster's 'small homes' go on sale Friday

Taking a look inside the Kasitas

AUSTIN - Jeff Wilson is taking the concept behind a "casita", Spanish for "small house", to a whole new level.

"It's the smartest home in Austin, maybe one of the smartest homes in the world," Wilson says while standing outside the prototype for his line of homes called Kasita. 

"Generally you've got your, you know Alexa, you have these smart bulbs, you maybe have a Sonos system but it all doesn't talk together," Wilson said. 

Instead of building a house and filling it with smart technology, Wilson and his team built a home around technology. 

Kasitas have one app that manage the entire home. It can show you who's at the door and let you talk the person outside or change your home's settings.

"Your 'welcome home' button flashes on all the lights. It puts on the fan," said Wilson. 

If you want to set the mood, there's a button for that. 

"If you hit 'date night' on the app," Wilson said as he hit the button. Marvin Gaye's "Lets Get It On" started playing and the lights dimmed.

If you're looking to do something more casual with friends, Wilson recommends selecting "movie time". This causes the television to rise out of a cabinet and start playing.

The Kasita prototype is a much nicer place to live compared to where Wilson was sleeping back in 2014  

Back then, the Huston-Tillotson professor was known around town as "Professor Dumpster". He was teaching his science students about sustainability and minimalism by living in a 33 square foot dumpster for a year.

"While I was in the dumpster, I had the thought that why don't we think about homes like iPhones," said Wilson. 

Meaning why don't people make them on a manufacturing line and design them in a way that ensures every inch of space is utilized. 

The couch in a Kasita turns into a queen size bed. The stairs are really storage. All of the windows in the home dim with the touch of a button or go completely clear. 

There's no denying the tech innovations inside Kasitas are cool, but for Wilson, the real purpose is to make housing affordable and accessible.

"We're not just looking at making cheap housing, we're looking at how land works, how the whole financing system works, how energy works. Coding and permitting and all these things tied together is what 's brought us into this housing, it's not even a crisis, it's a catastrophe," Wilson said. 

His homes offer middle class people and couples an affordable option to live small. Wilson says they are ideal for someone who likes to travel or someone who enjoys spending time in their community rather than in the house.

The Kasitas go on sale Friday for $139,000. They can be reserved with a $1,000 refundable down payment. The units are 352 square feet and can fit in a back yard or small lot. They also can be stacked on top of each other. All of the homes are built in Austin, Texas. 

Wilson said he hopes to one day use Kasita to address homelessness and even have larger units for familes. 

Click here to read more about Kasita

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