Art Cormier is one of those unique, multi-talented guys who grew up surrounded by building projects. Almost two years ago, he built a modified Tumbleweed Elm using SIP walls and roof, 100-year-old Cypress wood for exterior cladding and nice interior finishes.
With obvious building expertise, Art soon teamed alongside our lead designer Meg Stephens to host Tumbleweed’s step-by-step construction video. In 2014, Art has agreed to lead several Tumbleweed workshops in the Southeast and attendees are in for a real treat. Let’s see Art introducing his tiny house by video, and then ask him a few questions.
1. What’s your background? I grew up in south Louisiana, with three sisters. My father was from the Acadian people and culture whose French roots are still very alive. French was often the first language. My mother was from north Louisiana, Scotch-Irish and very not French. We were working class, both my parents worked and my dad in the oil field as a draftsman/driller.
My father was also a carpenter often as a way to make money, but always as passion. He built boats for duck hunting, houses for friends and furniture for just about anyone. My first job helping my dad was mixing the glue for the wooden boats that occupied our carport most weekends. His passion for building, conservation and giving influenced me greatly.
2. What’s your professional experience? In college, I bounced around between computer science, engineering and exercise science. I have still not decided which one to pursue! My working career was even more scattered, from carpentry and electronics repair to law enforcement and climbing gym owner.
3. Where did you live before your current home? I have lived in Louisiana, Ohio, Washington DC, and Yosemite National Park — and in trailers, tents, cars, houses and apartments ranging from 2000 square feet to 18. I have owned two houses, one I self-contracted and built.
4. What are you favorite climbs and why? What else is on your bucket list? I have difficulty picking favorites. If pressed I would say the last one I climbed as it is the closest to now. My favorite place to climb is Yosemite. The beauty would be enough but, coupled with the climbing history, it is inspiring. [My bucket list would be to] experience the Northern Lights, trek Nepal and many others.
Tiny Living in the South:
5. In the South, how has tiny-house living evolved? In south Louisiana the original houses would have qualified as tiny. The Acadian style house was small and designed to work in the semi tropical environment here. Since cheap power was introduced the south, like most of the country, began building bigger and bigger houses. Tiny houses in the south are more of an oddity now than in other more heavily populated areas of the country.
6. Are municipalities more or less open to tiny square footage? Are they granting variances or exceptions for RV living? There is some movement in that direction, as the devastation from hurricane Katrina brought awareness to what people need in the way of housing. Now RV living seems to be illegal but not enforced unless there are complaints.
7. How would you describe trends in tiny living? Swimming against the current. Too many Americans are just going with the current, the unconscious force that drives us to consume, compete and separate ourselves from others.
Art’s Tiny House:
8. How long did it take to build your tiny house? I have no precise answer, by the calendar approximately 4 months. I worked on it part time. With some weeks not at all and approximately 80% by myself, it did feel like a long time.
9. Do you have an never-ending list of improvements? I have a few improvements on my list. I decided to move in without some of the details of shelves, curtains, cabinets completed. My thoughts were to live in it a while and let the need for those details present themselves. Since then I have installed a few shelves, just large enough for the earthen ware bowls and plates made by my daughter. And recently I installed curtains. Making additions based on actual need rather than what I thought would be nice to have has kept my space simple yet comfortable.
10. Where do you spend the most time in your house? Since I sleep about eight hours per day, it would have to be the loft. With a tempurpedic mattress and a down bag with a small window above my head, it’s a great place to sleep.
11. How does it feel living within SIP walls? The SIP (structural integrated panel) structure is quiet, as there are no creaks or squeaks even when pulling it on the road. Inside if the windows are closed, it is peaceful and warm.
12. Where is you house parked? Have you relocated the house since the build? The house is parked behind my business, in a field of fruit trees that’s in the shade of an oak tree. It’s only moved once, from the site of the construction to its current location.
We welcome Art to our Tumbleweed team! Please learn more about his tiny home and latest activities at his blog: www.tinysiphouse.blogspot.com.