Jaak from ÖÖD is an easy-going person.
He wants to go to the woods, but not to carry hiking gear or spend the night in a standard cabin, which is inevitably wet and cold and there’s a good chance of meeting other hikers.
The requirements for the ÖÖD house were born from the idea of a personal comfort zone:
“4-star accommodation in the middle of nowhere,
at least as comfortable as your home”.
There was no such product on the market...
Wherever hotel room – the birth of the ÖÖD concept
Having a vacation should not come with the constant hard work that is required to live in an old farmhouse. The maintenance of this kind of house would take the entire holiday.
ÖÖD houses are ideal as summer cottages. In 18m2, they can accommodate everything necessary.
ÖÖD will really let the owner rest and, when you are not using the house, you can rent it out.
Thanks to services like Airbnb, today is really easy to rent out a small property.
It is an entirely new way of earning extra income and is convenient because everything can be controlled remotely.
People are increasingly re-thinking their lives: they don't need a big house or fancy apartment to live a good life, they would rather invest their time in other activities.
This concept of small rental properties appeals particularly to investors because the ROI is very high.
How much money does an ÖÖD house generate?
The ÖÖD guys installed a demo house in Jõelähtme, a beautiful location about 30km from Tallinn (Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, where ÖÖD was born).
The little demo house is used as a rental cabin.
The cost of that installation house was 45 000 EUR.
Last year, the revenue for rental of the ÖÖD house in Jõelähtme was 44 000 EUR.
This little house has great potential. Under the right conditions, it can earn its cost back in just one year.
This makes for a very good business model.
At the moment, February is sold out, so the occupancy of over 70% from the previous year has already been beaten.
Such sales figures immediately lead to the idea that for 10 houses, the turnover will be tenfold.
Most likely, the success of a single ÖÖD comes from its uniqueness... and it does reflect in the price of renting.
Compare it to the Hilton Hotel for example:
- cost of one night at Hilton in Tallinn is about 140 euros (breakfast included);
- cost of one night at in an ÖÖD house (20 minutes drive from Tallinn) is about 175 euros... with no breakfast.
The analysis of the customer profile shows that the average client spending the night in the house is 25-35 years old, either single or part of a couple.
The customers are not looking for accommodation, but rather for a special experience. Some come to use it as an inspirational retreat, like the writer who rented it to write a book in one week.
Increasing the number of houses would also change the profile of the experience. With a number of houses in the same location, there would inevitably be a social life.
The ÖÖD special experience
When you are inside an ÖÖD house, you get to really enjoy bad weather.
Stretching in a warm bed while the snow blows against the glass all around you, gives a very special feeling. You get to experience the true power of Nature.
Yes, when talking about ÖÖD houses, the big glass windows are the elephant in the room... well, out of the room.
The question of whether birds fly into the windows has been asked many times.
Since the ÖÖD reflects what is around and does not create the illusion of a continuation of that space (as with clear glass) no bird has yet flown into an ÖÖD. Also, the ÖÖD is too low for their trajectories.
In addition, to keep birds at large (and windows clean), model owls are installed in key places on the roof.
Speaking of wildlife, having mirror walls makes the house "invisible" and gave to guests the possibility to experience close encounters with storks, raccoons and other animals.
How does getting an ÖÖD work
The ÖÖD team consists of 4 to 5 people who subcontract construction works and engineering services.
The delivery model is flexible – the house is sent to the destination in pieces and it is assembled on site.
The owners are free to choose the interior design, according to the intended use (office, winter garden, hotel).
This approach distinguishes ÖÖD from all competitors, whose houses are fully prepared in the factory.
The ÖÖD concept allows to build in places that are less accessible. In this very moment, an installation is being prepared for an ÖÖD house on a small island in the Pirita River, in Estonia.
ÖÖD technology development
The ÖÖD team works with the Estonian Innovation Academy, which chose this architectural form to test the concept of an autonomous house.
Autonomous houses make use of features such as self-adjusting foundations, drinking water that is processed from the air, grey water that is steamed to clean it and solar energy that can be harvested from the glass surfaces, etc.
There is always a question of how far to go when making a house ‘smart’.
Of course, there must be a ventilation system with a humidity sensor if the wet room is directly in the living room. But at the same time, people should be taken into account when planning smart solutions. A balance has to be found between smart devices being helpful and generating problems.
The experience in the house must be simple and comfortable for the owner so as not to cause headaches.
Water and sewer connections are the easiest: you can always use a septic tank fed by gravity. At the moment, five houses have been transported to the USA and will be set up off-grid using bio-toilets. They will form a village (three hours from Los Angeles) where you can spend a week at a camp with no smartphones or computers.
Other than that, ÖÖD houses are not (yet) suitable for full-off-grid installations.
The large glass area dissipates much more energy than a conventional wall, therefore more energy is needed to keep the house warm.
Generating heat with electricity would require considerable power installed. Large solar cells would be needed for energy production and the roof of the ÖÖD is not large enough... this, of course, holds true if you are not located close to the equator in a very sunny location.
If it were possible to collect heat from the glass surfaces, the ÖÖD could produce all the energy needed for heating and cooling locally.
At the moment, the main direction for marketing and sales is the boutique hotel.
Initially, the company thought that hotels would be their main customers. However, it turned out that most hotels still adhere to old models.
Steve Hilton was interested in getting ÖÖD houses because of plans to build a modular hotel in Canada. This shows that the stars of the hotel business are starting to think in new directions.
However, the ÖÖD team decided not to make houses for Hilton because their demands would have changed the building's design and structure too much.
Instead, ÖÖD's intention is to consolidate the current solution, ‘clean’ the design further and get rid of the joints between the glass panels, creating a continuous glass surface without interruption.
In the meantime, the real estate development at Kalev Panorama (in Tallinn) will put an ÖÖD to a rooftop to provide a luxury environment to serve coffee and sign contracts for the purchase of new homes.
Buying a new home is an important event and making it a memorable experience will benefit both the business and the company’s overall image.
Flexibility and the minimal need for space will open up new business opportunities in different places.
As for other usage examples:
- rental of dental offices is popular in Sweden where many dentists are freelancers who rent premises and travel with their equipment.
If and when Estonian law allows it, the ÖÖD could also offer such possibilities. And why not hairdressers, makeup artists, manicurists, etc.?
- an ÖÖD has already been used as a radio station during Tallinn Music Week in 2018, with a concert by Nublu on the roof.
In 2019 ÖÖD houses will be installed in Africa, the USA and Asia.
In Europe they are already in Ireland, Germany, and the UK.
2019 will also see the first installations in Norway and Iceland.
At the moment, the sales network includes 8 countries, in 2019 that number will increase to 15 to 20.
As of today, there have been more than 5,000 requests from 62 countries.
In other countries business administration and local laws are also complicated and slowing things down. But times are changing and moving towards simplification because of market demands, and also because our environment is in a state of rapid change.
For example, California is often devastated by fires, 400 or 500 families lose their homes at one time. ÖÖD is one of the options for temporary housing: during the construction of their new home, the family can stay in this small house next to the building site, staying in their own neighborhood and using the same schools and other amenities.
Of course, there are other solutions on the market that could solve that kind of problem, but ÖÖD managed to get the marketing right and they have now the visibility to do great things.
This article is based on an interview with Jaak Tiik, co-owner of ÖÖD houses.
Interview by and article Karin Bachmann.
Photos by Oliver Soostar.
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