Homegrown Business: The Abode by Craig Thompson and Martin Muhs

Craig Thompson and Martin Muhs, Co-Founders of The Abode, about how they provide an additional, defined and dedicated personal space.

The Abode

What is your business called and what does it do?

Our business is called The Abode. We build and install Backyard Studios for people to use as an office, gym, meditation space, or just a space to escape.

What made you want to do this work?

When the pandemic began, we immediately realized the importance of dedicated personal space, as most people did! Martin has young children, so all of a sudden his home became a grade school, where he and his wife also needed to work. Craig’s university-aged children came home, creating bandwidth issues, and everyone needing a quiet corner to hold calls or attend meetings and classes.

The Abode was the perfect solution! The Abode provides a defined additional space that you can step into, and then step away. This can have a huge impact on productivity, as well as physical and mental well-being.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

Permitting can sometimes be a deterrent, as can managing the process of building, contractors, etc. The size of The Abode (9×12) is perfect for two reasons: it doesn’t require a permit, and it doesn’t require a lot of land – about the size of a regular parking space. It’s also completely customizable on the inside – so you can use it as an office, playroom, workout space or whatever you’d like. It’s your space, just steps away. Plus it’s usable year-round, making it a great investment. It’s your new commute.

The Abode

Who are your clientele/demographics?

Anyone who owns a home or a property can benefit from an Abode. As long as you have a 9×12 space on your property, you’re a potential client.

Urban homeowners and buyers can struggle to create and find the perfect home because house selection and size can be limited. The Abode provides flexible extra living space with a minimal footprint and no permits required.

Many cottage owners are extending the time they spend at their second property because they can now work remotely. Adding an Abode can provide that dedicated extra office space so they can take full advantage of being away from the city and in their happy place!

How does your business make money? How does it work?
We offer 3 different models of Abode, so people can find the one that fits their lifestyle and budget. We start with Model 1, which we call the DIY Kit, and go up to Model 3 which is a higher-end design with a wall of windows that creates a spacious room that makes you feel like you’re outside. Each model has the option to be as high or low-tech as the customer would like.

The process to get an Abode is actually very straightforward. We meet to review the model options and upgrades that best suit your needs. Once we finalize the quotation and receive the deposit we start to manufacture all of the components of your Abode offsite. Delivery to your home address is 5 weeks later and another 5 days for installation. No mess, no fuss.

Where in the city can we find your profession?

Backyard offices can be a great solution no matter where you live. The Abode is available in all areas of Toronto, the GTHA and across Ontario.

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

Our customers typically want to know 4 things:

1) How long does the process take?

Just 6 weeks from purchase to installation (which is completed in 5 days)

2) What is included in the standard model?

Our models include as standard: helical piles, low-E windows, R30 insulation, LED lighting, EVR air exchanger, aluminum siding, vinyl plank flooring, shiplap interior, and an awning window.

3) What time of year can you install an Abode?

Year-round! Our modifications are completed in a temperature-controlled shop and with the engineering science of helical piles (rather than a concrete foundation), your Abode can be installed 12 months a year – even on the coldest day of the year.

4) Is a permit required?

No.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part of what we do is helping customers solve their space problems, by creating a year-round space that provides them with peace and peace of mind. And it’s usually in an underutilized area of their backyard!

The worst part is not being able to help condo owners or renters.

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

I have this great construction joke, but I’m still working on it. I have to hammer out a few kinks and nail the delivery. I just don’t want to screw it up.

Where can we follow you?

EVERYWHERE!!

Website | LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?

Martin: My family loves to visit Brooks Farms in Mount Albert. They’re open 365 days/year and have a bakery, outdoor vendor markets with local crafters and artisans, farm animals, pumpkin patch, corn maze, festivals. It’s a great way for the kids to learn about farming and just enjoy the outdoors.

Craig: I’d like to give a shout-out to Cloud 9 Smart Home Solutions which is a company we’ve gotten to know as we’ve launched the Abode. Cloud 9 is based in Leaside. They do a great job creating “smart homes” – providing anything you need from technology to wireless speakers and more. The technology package for your Abode can include features from Cloud 9.