High School Students Build Three Tiny Homes

The Academy of Career Education (a.k.a “ACE” high school) in Reno, Nevada is not only embracing tiny homes as an alternative housing option but also as an educational tool for their students. Being a tuition-free charter school focusing on construction and engineering, each student at ACE becomes OSHA certified and is offered a variety of courses with hands-on training in home building. 

“We were looking for new projects,” ACE instructor Tony Clark explains, “and we happened to see a news story on a boy that built his own tiny home instead of a fort. After that, we did some research and found Tumbleweed.” After pitching the project to Tumbleweed President Steve Weissmann, Mr. Clark and his students were donated a set of Cypress 20 plans. Clark also attended a workshop last fall and purchased three Tumbleweed trailers. In January 2014, ACE students began building three tiny homes. 

“We have about 45-50 students taking the course, between the ages of 15-18 years old,” explains Clark. “All the traditional techniques for building a home are covered, and then some! There are more codes to follow when building a tiny home, as well as weight, propane and movement to consider. I think the biggest benefit is that it makes the kids better problem solvers.”

Justin Moore, a student taking the course, believes building a tiny home will make anyone a better carpenter. "Tiny homes are a growing trend, and learning to build off-grid housing is extremely beneficial." 

Ace High School

One of Clark’s favorite teaching moments was when two of his award winning carpentry students installed the shower insert. “They triple checked their work, but they forgot to make sure the trailer was level.” Clark chuckled, remembering. “They had to do the work all over again. It’s not something you would encounter in a regular home, and so it was an excellent learning experience for them.” 

Before summer break, the students were sheathing the roof and had started on electricity and insulation. They’ll pick back up when schools begins in September, with the goal of being finished by December 2014. 

“We have some interested buyers for two of the tiny homes, and we’ll keep the third on display.” Mr. Clark went on to say that all the money made from the sale will go straight back into funding the program. “I want to continue building tiny homes at ACE. The students have really embraced it.” 

Justin (Clark's student) agrees,  "I think tiny homes are very very cool. I could see myself living in one, but I would customize it to fit my lifestyle." 

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*All photos provided by ACE High School

*For more information on the ACE High School Tiny House project, click here.

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Jenna Spesard is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

Written by Jenna Spesard — July 29, 2014

Filed under: Academy of Career Education   ACE   Build it yourself   Cypress   design   High School   Reno   School   tiny   tiny home   tiny house   Tumbleweed  

Tiny House For Three

Family posed on the porch of their "big house" (above) and their barn raiser (below).

Meg, Brandy, and their 2-year-old son nicknamed "R.A.D." are about to dramatically shrink their idea of home. Having just received a Tumbleweed barn raiser, the family of three will be shedding approximately 3,000 square feet!

“Somewhere between growing to despise our huge mortgage and realizing we would never be able to take my mother on the Alaskan cruise she dreamed of, something just snapped in my mind.” Meg explains why her family has decided to downsize from their 3,193 sq foot home and nearly $2,000 a month mortgage payment.

“Losing my mom made us realize the ‘American Dream’ of the big house with the white fence was really just a pair of shackles preventing us from doing the things we really wanted to do.” Sadly, Meg’s mother recently lost a 17-month battle with cancer. Before she was diagnosed they had planned on moving the whole family from Texas to Washington. “The more I thought about the plans I was making with my mom, the more resolute I was that I needed this change. I was sick to my stomach with the knowledge that I let the big house weigh us down." It was then that Meg and Brandy finally made the decision to drop the big house, and travel around the country with a tiny home before settling in Washington for R.A.D to start school. 

With Brandy attending college and Meg working two jobs, the couple quickly realized that finding time to build was going to be a challenge. That’s when they stumbled upon Tumbleweed’s barn raiser - a professionally built skeleton of a Tumbleweed tiny home secured on a Tumbleweed trailer. The family chose the Cypress 24’ Horizon model, which will allow a private bedroom for their son as well as a loft bedroom for themselves.  

“Having the professional builders do all the heavy lifting and, most importantly, the strapping and securing of the structure to the trailer was the decision maker in the build vs. buy debate for me.” Meg explains. “I’ve had nightmares of the house sliding off the trailer, so the peace of mind that comes with having professionals secure my house is worth it’s weight in gold!" 

Meg and Brandy ordered their barn raiser in mid-March and received a notification it was ready on April 22nd. The family set off to retrieve their new home - one that is equal in size of their current master bathroom! When they first stepped inside the tiny dwelling that would one day carry them off on an adventure, Meg remembers thinking it felt huge and tiny simultaneously. Check out their height charts: 

“Our son calls it his ‘Biiiiigg Hooose’, and it (the tiny home) will probably continue to feel big to him while he is little.” - Meg

How will this family cope with this dramatic downsize? Check back in for updates on Meg, Brandy, and R.A.D. as they finish their house and prepare to travel around the U.S.A. 

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All photos provided by Meg and Brandy. 

Follow this tiny house family on their blog here. Like them on facebook here.

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Jenna Spesard is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

 

 

 

Little House on the Ferry

Once upon a time, Arianne and Sean lived in two separate houses in Las Vegas. Between the two dwellings, the couple had over 4,000 square feet combined. So how did they end up spending “happily ever after” in an Alaskan abode surmounting to no more than 150 square feet? Well, it all started with a newspaper clipping… 

Arianne had always considered downsizing and living tiny, but it wasn’t until her mother sent her a crinkled photograph of a Tumbleweed featured in the Denver Post that she truly fell in love. “I used to dream about it.” Arianne admitted. “Sean and I wanted to live a greener lifestyle.” Her partner is an engineer in sustainable and renewable energy. Minimizing would help open other doors for the couple as well, including a big move to a certain beautiful and adventurous state. 

With an Alaskan tiny house on the menu, Arianne and Sean teamed up with Tumbleweed’s Meg Stephens to design their perfect abode - a modified Elm. The couple knew the main course of this particular tundra was best served cold, which meant a higher R-value insulation and electric heating in the floors. They also customized their house to have a galley kitchen, four skylights, and two lofts!

But once the house was complete, Arianne and Sean faced another challenge – getting their house from the Tumbleweed build site in Colorado to Anchorage. Their journey began with a cross-country road trip, including a stroll up the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway.

Next the couple took to the sea, as they boarded the Alaskan Marine Highway Ferry.“Most people were boarding cars, but we pulled up towing a house!

The workers were surprised to say the least.” Arianne chuckled, remembering. “They said it was the first house they ever loaded onto the ferry, and it barely fit!” She recalls seeing numerous whales along the swaying careen up the west coast of Canada and Alaska. Finally, they docked in Anchorage, and set out to begin their new life.

Now, half a year later, Arianne works locally for the Air Force piloting C-17s – a plane that could fit six Tumbleweeds inside! She and Sean are enjoying their new house, new location, and new neighbors – most recently a curious moose greeted them one morning, resting his head on their front porch!

Who knows, maybe he is interested in a tiny house with a little extra antler-room?

*All photos provided by Arianne and Sean

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Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

Written by Jenna Spesard — June 11, 2014

Filed under: alaska   Elm   green building   green living   Jenna Spesard   See a Tiny House   small house   Tiny House   travel   Tumbleweed  

Step Inside a Tumbleweed Cottage

Take a tour of this adorable 600 square foot home in Little Rock, customized from Tumbleweed Whidbey plans. 

Video courtesy of P. Allen Smith Garden Home

They might have the smallest house on the block, but one thing's for sure: Lyndsey and Tom's tiny cottage packs a lot of punch! As you float through the entrance, prepare yourself to be enthralled by a plethora of eclectic decor. From the vibrant couch pillows to the cozy lofted workspace, these tiny housers have created a feast for the eyes in this lovable little shelter. 

Notice how the white paneling elongates the room, while a clever use of storage gives the couple's home a wide open feel. "Little House in Little Rock" is colorful, quirky, and classy all at the same time. As Lyndsey describes her house in detail, with materials partly coming from salvaged resources, it's obvious that this tiny houser has a special connection with her abode. A bond that only few home owners will ever know. That's truly the spirit of tiny living! 

The house glows as sunlight beams through a multitude of windows and skylights. Storage was a priority for the couple, and the house has no shortage of cubbies and shelves. But the space that really steals the show, is the couple's gorgeous open kitchen

At Tumbleweed we're always amazed at what "build-it-yourselfers" can do with our plans.

Our homes come in two categories:

  1. Our "House To Go" is on wheels and range from 117 to 172 square feet. 
  2. Our "Cottages" (shown here) are built on foundations and range from 261 to 884 square feet

After seeing Lyndsey and Tom's customizations, we felt inspired! One of our Whidbey layouts now reflects their idea of an open kitchen, which we absolutely adore! 

While the average home is triple its size, "Little House in Little Rock " perhaps has the bigger heart. Thanks to Lyndsey and Tom for inviting us into their charming home and for inspiring us with their tremendous creativity. 

Catch up with the Arkansas tiny home couple on their blog

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    Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

    Written by Jenna Spesard — May 12, 2014

    Filed under: Build it yourself   cottage   design   diy   home design   look inside a tiny house   small house   tiny home   tiny house   tiny house decorating  

    Erin & Pete's Tiny Farm House

    Many tiny housers fantasize about being completely self-sustainable or “living off the land” but never have the resources to reach that goal. Enter Erin and Pete, a tiny house couple with a drool-worthy 40 acre dream.

    With backgrounds in wildlife biology and forestry, the duo spent several years traveling and living on the road. When they finally decided to settle down, they returned to their home state, Michigan, and began the search for their forever home. Erin remembers one open house in particular with an enormous basement. “If we live here, we’re gonna fill this basement with stuff we don’t need,” she recalls saying to Pete. The couple had been considering a tiny house for years, but it was only in that moment that they decided to make their dream a reality.

    In May 2012 Erin and Pete bought Tumbleweed Fencl plans (now known as Cypress) and began their build with little to no experience. Two years later, the build continues at Erin’s mother’s house, over an hour drive from their apartment.

    “We make the trip almost every weekend to work on the house,” says Erin, “But we have to be done by winter.” With the exterior complete, the tiny house just received a heavy dose of wool insulation - a necessity for Michigan winters. Erin hopes to have their interior cedar panelling up in the next few weeks, as long as the weather is compliant. 

    Erin & Pete with their tiny house after a snowstorm. Photo credit: Big Lake Tiny House

    But what the twosome is really excited for, is the next big move. Recently Erin and Pete purchased 40 acres in Chatham, Michigan. The plan is to move onto the property this summer with the almost complete tiny house, building as they go. The ultimate goal? A fully operational farm complete with: dairy cows, chickens, pigs, bees, a veggie garden, and sugar maple trees (which already occupy half the property)!

    The couple also aspires to build a barn for the animals and a structural bath house. “We love to cook.” Erin explained, “A separate bath house will free up space to accommodate a large kitchen.” Plumbing in the tiny house will be minimal, the stove and heater will be propane, and electricity will run off solar power.  

    With their outdoorsy backgrounds and ambitious attitude, we bet Erin and Pete will have a cozy tiny house cloaked in a beautiful farm before long!

    Look for updates on Erin and Pete’s tiny house here.

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    Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

    Written by Jenna Spesard — May 05, 2014

    Filed under: Farm   Forestry   House   house plans   Lifestyle   Michigan   Sustainable   Tiny   Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny Houses   tiny kitchen   Tumbleweed Cypress   Wildlife  
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