Jamaica man turning cold storage into living space

Friday April 26, 2013

JAMAICA -- Domenic Mangano started out small and now he's been building tiny living spaces that have been intriguing people all around the country.

"After graduating from Green Mountain College and getting a B.S. in business, I traveled the country for four years with my dogs," he said. "Each place I was living in, I was doing carpentry. Each place, I was learning different ways of framing."

When Mangano got to Jamaica, he began putting dog houses out in his yard and sold each one for $50.

"I'd put a few out there," he said. "Then people started asking me for sheds."

That's how Mangano's business, the Jamaica Cottage Shop, started in 1995.

"All I had was a Subaru and a skill saw," he said. "I knew I didn't want to build the shed on their properties, so I built the first shed not knowing how I was going to move it."

It took six hours, a trailer, a bob cat and six men just to move that initial shed.

"It was quite an ordeal," said Mangano, who now has three shed trucks, one shed mule, 3 shed trailers and a tractor trailer. He can move a building that is as big as 14 feet by 40 feet.

After the sheds became popular, customers began asking if Mangano could build a small building they could live in or work in. Most commonly, people use his structures as rental cabins.

"My designs are very clever, very unique and very different from what you'd find in a big box store," said Mangano. "I started retro-fitting these sites so they could live in the buildings instead of locking it up and walking away. Essentially, I'm turning cold storage sheds into living spaces."

The uses for these living spaces range from pottery studios and home offices to second homes, hunting cabins, man caves and year round, full-time living situations.

Mangano told the Reformer that if a customer rents out one of the tiny buildings, they should be able to have their money back in three years and then have an income after the initial investment is received.

The buildings range anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000. If a customer wants insulation, they can double whatever the initial building cost then double it again if they want running water.

For someone who wants to live in it full time, the cost would be about $20,000.

Native rusts are used on all the building material and all the lumber comes from a 50 mile radius. For wood, the Jamaica Cottage Shop uses hemlock for the framing and kiln dried wood for the sides of the buildings.

Mangano is still very involved in his business.

"I'm out to production daily and overseeing the guys, writing plans and doing the orders," he said.

The Jamaica Cottage Store factory is located in Londonderry. Currently, Mangano has 18 employees. 15 of them are full-time employees.

"(The Factory) is the best place to come and see the buildings being put together and take the factory tour," he said.

There are three retail yards, which include one in Hoosick Falls, one in Middlebury and one in Queensbury, N.Y.

There are 80 fully assembled buildings at the factory now, along with 50 pre-cut kits and 130 buildings in inventory.

To learn more about the Jamaica Cottage Shop, visit jamaicacottageshop.com or facebook.com/jamaicacottageshop.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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