The DCHS Construction Technology (building trades) program will start building “Tiny Houses” soon hoping the concept will be a big hit with the public.
Brad Leach, Career and Technical Education Director, said the first “Tiny House” should be completed by March with plans for it to be shown in Cookeville during an Expo at the Hyder-Burks Pavilion. “This is a new project for us that we’re experimenting with just to see how the market is for them,” he said.
The 8’ x 20’ “Tiny House” will be built on a modified trailer that can be anchored or moved from place to place. “It will have a sleeping loft, a bathroom with probably a compost toilet, vanity, small shower, sitting room, and a kitchenette. It’s just the bare essentials,” said Gary Caplinger, Construction Teacher at DCHS.
“Of course it’s not for a family of four or six people. It is a very small home. It’s 8’ x 20’ and the height of it from ground to roof cannot be over 13’ 6 inches unless it’s permitted. The trailer is specifically designed and modified for a Tiny House. You can’t just use any old trailer. You have to have a modified version. The trailer we have is capable of handling the weight of the Tiny House as well as the floor joist that are already built into the trailer where you can put the house right over the top of it,” said Leach.
Because it is small, Caplinger said much of the early construction can be done indoors. “ The first stages of it will be built inside the shop so we won’t have to take the trailer out until we get to the roof system. That’s when we’ll have to bring it outside. But the majority of it can be done in the shop. We’ll start roughing in the plumbing. That stage will have to be completed before we put down the subfloor and that will be permanently attached to the trailer with metal screws and anchors,” he said.
Caplinger said a Tiny House is handy and can be used in different ways. “You can use it like an RV. You can move it from place to place. You can anchor it permanently or you can travel with it and use it like a travel trailer. A lot of people are doing that. We had one family who actually talked to us about it. They were interested in having something to put in their back yard so when they had company, relatives could stay in it while they were there,” Caplinger said.
In recent years, the program has primarily built mini-barns for the public and they remain popular. Caplinger said plans are to continue building those along with the Tiny Houses.
“We’ll probably do a mixture of both because we have a big demand for those utility buildings. A lot of people want those. In fact we have a couple more of those to do this year. I would really like to have the “Tiny House” finished by March. They have a show in Cookeville. We plan to take it over there to market and show it off at the Hyder Burks Expo Center. Maybe we can get some interest from people who want to buy it,” said Caplinger.
The first Tiny House project will begin once a design has been selected and work is finished on the latest mini-barn under construction. “We haven’t settled on the design yet but we’re just going to build the first one in a way we think most people would like and then try to sell it. Later, if someone is interested, we could possibly customize a Tiny House to their liking. We do the utility buildings that way on a percentage basis. We build them upon request and the customer pays 10% above our costs,” added Caplinger.
“We would probably sell these like our utility or mini-barns. If someone comes to us and says they want us to build a Tiny House for them, then we will work with that customer. As for this first one, it’s up to the Board of Education how it will be sold. They may want to do sealed bids or sell it straight out,” said Leach.
For years the DCHS building trades classes constructed homes on lots purchased by the school board for this purpose. This meant that students in the class and their teacher would have to load up on a bus and travel back and forth between the school and the construction site each school day until the project was completed. The homes were then sold by sealed bids with the money put back into the program.
The on-site construction ended in 2011 in favor of an on-campus program, in which students began building 1,400 square foot homes at DCHS. When they were ready to be moved, the homes were sold with the owner also paying for costs of moving them to their own lot. Since the homes had to be moved, some finishing work was required by the owners after relocation. The program later started building primarily mini-barns.