Tiny house brings big learning for students

Homebuilding class project up for auction May 30.

TIPP CITY – Tippecanoe High School’s popular homebuilding class continues to grow its projects with one of its tiny houses going up for auction May 30.

The 212-square-foot house built by students is on an 18-foot trailer. It features vinyl siding, a loft with queen-size bed, a bath with shower, small kitchen and a roof deck accessed via an exterior spiral stairway.

The auction will be 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, outside the high school at 615 E. Kessler-Cowlesville Road. The starting bid will be $28,928. Those interested should be able to walk through the tiny house the night of the auction.

High school instructor Jim Kitchen brought the homebuilding class to the high school in 2016. It has grown over the years to include 206 students this school year. Courses are open to sophomores, juniors and seniors to ensure there is enough room to accommodate interested students.

The students over the years have built two tiny houses sold or being sold at auction, a tiny house headed to a veterans program in New York state, two sheds to store equipment and more recently, a platform in an outdoor natural area, also at the high school.

Students have also helped build a living area in a horse trailer and now are working on a small barn.

During the COVID-19 pandemic when social distancing rules were in place, only a couple of students could work on a house at a time so other projects were introduced. Those included small furniture items and flags made out of extra wood. Those flags, once completed, are presented to police and firefighters.

While the first tiny house was built from recycled materials, the latest one was built using new materials. Information from research done on who is buying tiny houses helped in its design, Kitchen said.

Among that information was that buyers often are in their 20s to 30s or 50s to 60s. The older buyers want stairs versus ladders to sleeping lofts and slightly larger bathrooms, Kitchen said. Dual functionality of space is important where possible, he said, such as including a couch that can convert to a bed and providing a washer and dryer.

The auction of the tiny house May 30 will provide money for future projects and for transporting of red tiny house built by students for the nonprofit Veterans Ananda Retreat and Homestead program in New York state. The house actually is a micro house, a bit smaller than the other tiny houses the students have built.

Before the micro house can be moved, it will need a little work — including lowering its height in order to transport it without paying extra fees because of height, Kitchen said.

He said he is pleased with how the program has grown and matured over the years. “The class allows students to have a hands-on opportunity to learn various skills,” Kitchen said.

The various projects pursued, “also keeps it fun for me,” he said. “I think it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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