SmartPads has evolved and is now making mark with luxury homes

In 2018, partners Ryan Cox and Darrin Fryer introduced SmartPads to Routt County with the delivery of 10 tiny homes to Hayden, based on the idea of providing timely construction that did not come in over budget.

“We continually saw residential construction of homes were over budget and way over the timeline,” said Fryer, who explained that SmartPads was started from a real estate perspective. “The modular concept idea was to build high-design, great quality homes made for the mountains that are offered at a fixed price that people could trust.”

Five years later, the concept remains the same, but these days the idea has grown from tiny homes in Hayden to building luxury homes in mountain communities like Steamboat Springs, Stagecoach, Winter Park, Fraiser, Leadville and Telluride.

“It was a launching pad, really, where we got started, got our feet wet and were able to do a project,” Fryer said of the Hayden project. “From there, it’s completely evolved and now we’ve got 20 plus staff, including 15 in Vernal, Utah and five up here. Steamboat is the hub for the administration and the marketing.”

SmartPads’ homes are built in a climate controlled,12,000 square-foot indoor production facility located two hours and 46 minutes west on U.S. Highway 40 in Vernal. Fryer said the facility gives SmartPads more control over the production timeline by avoiding the weather delays that often plague on-site construction. The homes are built to meet local building codes, and Fryer said the home often exceeds those standards.

Once finished, the sections are transported by truck to the building location, at which point the sections (most houses consist of more than one section) are placed on top of a foundation and garages that were being built while the house was being constructed in Vernal. They are then stitched together and the siding is completed. The whole process from planning to completion takes between three-to-five months.

Katie Stassen, SmartPads Sales & Operations Manager, said the planning process for a home takes approximately two weeks, with the staff working with customers to select finishes for the home. Once those plans are locked in place, the customer doesn’t have to worry about making further decisions throughout the process.

SmartPads has evolved and is now making mark with luxury homes
SmartPads outilizes modular technology to build upscale homes at a feasible price.
SmartPads/Courtesy photo

“The homes are premium quality with curated finishes,” Stassen said. “The process is simplified and less stressful. It’s all done very efficiently and the fixed cost portion helps protect customers against a good portion of potential overages. Basically, customers who choose SmartPads can trust the budget and timing compared to all the variables that come with a fully site-built approach. The homes are delivered with all kitchens, bathrooms, flooring, paint, lighting, most of the siding all finished out completely — it’s amazing to see it arrive finished out to that level.”

Depending on the customers design choice, the homes can range in size from 800-4000 square feet. One SmartPads home in Sunlight recently sold for $2.4 million.

“We complete our homes basically to the highest level that we can,” Stassen said. “The majority of our floor plans will be essentially 100% complete in the interiors. When we get to some of our larger, more luxury homes, at that point, there may be some site-built components, but still will complete all of your interior finishes in the plant like all of your cabinetry, countertops, painting, can lights, as well as all of your plumbing fixtures that will all be done in the facility.”

The SmartPads team meets at the production facility in Vernal, Utah.
SmartPads/Courtesy photo

Fryer said that SmartPads offers customers a chance to invest in a quality home at a more affordable price that ranges from $255 to $265 per square foot for a custom home.  He believes that SmartPads can build a quality home at 5% to 10% less, and said that his clients can avoid many of the usual home-buying headaches as they pursue their dream home in the mountains.  

“We are continually attracting people that want custom high-design homes made for the mountains without reinventing the wheel,” Fryer said. “Our homes hold a very high resale price point — a recent sale in Steamboat around $2.4M in the Sunlight subdivision. The homes are highly engineered and built to meet each local county’s building standards. Our design style delivers super tall ceilings — not common in other modular companies — as we use low-sloping shed roofs, which allows for a much more vertical space, allowing for bigger window sets and a nice airy and spacious feel.”

Fryer added that SmartPads still does some tiny homes, but has expanded from its roots.

“People still ask ‘are you the guys that build all those tiny homes?’” Fryer said. “That was like 2018 and what was our legacy is way deeper now and what we’ve done for people and single family, which is the message we really just want to share: it’s an option that’s really worth looking at.”

This home on Red Hawk Circle was built by SmartPads at its production facility in Vernal, Utah, before being transported to Steamboat Springs, where it was placed and stitched together.
SmartPads/Courtesy photo

John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.