Bob St. Cyr teaches construction and woodworking classes at Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School (KCI) in Ontario, Canada. Normally the classes might build sheds, but this year the 45 students ranging in age from 15 to 19 are building a Fencl. Not only will they be building a tiny house on wheels, but the project will raise the student’s awareness of environmental issues and consumerism. It’s the perfect assignment for students because it covers all elements of building: reading architectural plans, ordering materials, framing, exterior work, insulation, plumbing, electrical, roofing and interior finishing.
Bob has been busy putting together a materials list and ordering. Susan been busy figuring out what kind of cupboards, siding, finishes, etc. Do we get propane for the burners and fridge or just go with electric? We've got to make decisions about how to customize things and it is all fairly anxiety inducing. What if we make the wrong decision? Is it fixable? It is important to remember nothing is set in stone and learn to breath again.
One decision we made that is definitely right is to use a new trailer. We trekked out to a farm to look at a used one, and by the time we put on new tires, new suspension, new electrical, sandblasted the rust off and painted it, it would have cost only marginally less and since it is already at least 20 years old who knows what the true condition of the axle is.
The axiom -- a house need "good boots and a good hat" -- is true in this case. If the trailer represents the boots, it better be the best one around.
I've had lots of great discussions with students and teachers about why I'm doing this. The most common question is "why not just buy a real trailer? Second hand ones are cheap." Yes, but they're all metal and plastic and not remotely anything I'm interested in living in. I'd stick with a tent before I'd move into metal. Heck I've tented for 27 years on my gram's property and it is doable, but a tiny house on wheels will be a home.
Written by Susan with Kitchner-Waterloo