The co-owner and operator of a "tiny hotel" in Waco, Texas, is a 25-year-old man.

French used to run a cloud-based accounting business. He told Insider that he wanted to take advantage of the hot real-estate market in the area in the late 2020s.

The idea of creating a modern Scandinavian housing concept in Texas was something French had been working on.

As a child, French worked in his father's construction business, giving him the experience he needed to execute his idea. He purchased a 5-acre plot in March of 2021. The cabins were built in the style of the Scandinavians.

The Live Oak Lake has generated more than half a million dollars in bookings since it opened, according to the dashboard analyses. French got his business up and running.

French turned a 5-acre empty plot in Waco into a luxury tiny hotel in 9 months

French saved money to purchase the land. The cost of building his tiny hotel was projected to be about $1.6 million. French's father, two brothers, and father-in-law joined as minority partners in order to get a construction loan for 80% of the cost of the build.

French was able to use a line of credit from his father's construction business to cover additional construction costs. He said that when he first started out, he was confident that the property would be worth more than the cost, and that he would take out a bigger mortgage against the value of the property.

Live Oak Lake took a long time to finish. The general contractor for the project was French. He said the price went up because of labor shortages and soaring lumber prices, as well as additions like a pool and hot tub.

The property was valued at $3.1 million four months after opening, and French and his family did an 80% cash out refinance. Insider indicated that French received a loan of 80% of the property value.

French said it was important to show Live Oak Lake's selling point as an experience in order to get the construction loan.

French was able to pay off his construction loan and line of credit thanks to a new amount of funding.

French used online resources and videos to learn about the short-term rental industry. Robuilt is a channel run by a short-term-rentalentrepreneur. French asked friends of the owners of the short-term rental management company for advice. He said that automated property-management systems had been an important part of his success.

French wanted his guests to feel like they were in an oasis

Aerial Map of Live Oak Lake
A map of Live Oak Lake.
Isaac French

Live Oak Lake has a common area with a dock, picnic tables, and kayaks.

Each cabin has floor-to-ceiling windows and two floors with two bedrooms, one bathroom, an open-plan kitchen, and a living area, along with a washer and dryer, a private entrance, parking space, and an outdoor hot tub.

White Rock Cabin at Live Oak Lake
The White Rock cabin. Each house has a private entrance and parking space.
Aaron Anz
Cedar Brook cabin, Live Oak Lake
The Cedar Brook cabin. The front of the cabins have floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
John Kreye

"It was very high cost per square foot because these are very high end, and we chose very nice finishes," French said.

French loves design. When I was young, I wanted to be an architect.

He wanted the hotel to have a village feel but also be lost in nature. The tiny houses are a couple hundred yards apart and surrounded by trees, but the string lights between buildings reflect the water.

Cedar Brook cabin, Live Oak Lake
The Cedar Brook cabin.
Jon Kreye
Shadow Bend cabin, Live Oak Lake
In the Shadow Bend cabin, an open living area leads into the kitchen and the staircase to the bedroom.
Corey O’Connell
Lakeside North, Live Oak Lake
The Lakeside North cabin. All the cabins are decorated similarly, in a modern Scandinavian style.
Paul Clarke
Shadow Bend cabin, Live Oak Lake
In the Shadow Bend cabin, the second bedroom and bathroom are opposite the kitchen on the first floor.
Corey O’Connell

The cabins are similar in appearance and price. On the weekends, a night in one can cost as much as 500 dollars. The nightly fee can go up to $1,200 per cabin during busy periods, such as graduation weekend or high school football.

To set prices, he uses an app called Wheelhouse, which can automatically implement price increases and discounts and standardize them across his accounts on and other websites.

When customers book through a specific platform, the pricing software allows French to add markups to reflect what that platform charges hosts. French can access more information about his guests, such as their email, if they book directly from Live Oak.

bathroom in one of the cabins, Live Oak Lake
The bathroom in one of the cabins.
Isaac French
White Rock cabin, Live Oak Lake.
The White Rock cabin. The master bedroom is on the top floor of each cabin.
Shelby Wilray
White Rock cabin, Live Oak Lake
The exterior of the White Rock cabin.
Shelby Wilray
Couple lounging on a hammock, Live Oak Lake
Each cabin has a Yellow Leaf hammock.
Corey O’Connell
Dock at Live Oak Lake
The dock at the Water's Edge Common is available for all guests to use.
Corey O’Connell
Shadow Bend cabin, Live Oak Lakes.
Kayaks are also available for guests.
Stephen Miller

Almost 70% of bookings come from Live Oak's website and the remaining 30% come from and other websites, according to French.

Social media is used to market the hotel. He said that Live Oak's account gained traction by partnering with travelinfluencers and doing giveaways.

He said that the main funnel for booking was on social media.

Hot tub at Live Oak Lake.Lakeside South, Shelby Wilray.
Each cabin has its own hot tub.
Shelby Wilray
Lakeside South cabin, Live Oak Lake
The Lakeside South cabin.
Shelby Wilray

French thought Live Oak was in a good position to weather the downturn. He said he'd seen an influx of wealthy or middle-class tourists from cities like Austin or Dallas who were choosing to vacation closer to home for short periods.

"We're already using that," French said, "but I think there's so much more opportunity here in Texas."

If you're an owner of a tiny home and would like to share your experience with other people, email kfields@

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