While crews were at work building the frame of a new Hutchinson High School education wing, another team was nearby tackling a much smaller project.
The project was only small relative to size, as the tiny house project made for plenty of work, and lessons for the school’s residential construction program. Since October, the juniors and seniors in the class kept busy along with some assistance from students in an electronics class, and others from Cornerstone Special Education.
“We built the frame up around a trailer,” said Zachary Wacker, an 11th-grader. “Once we had that up, we put the plywood siding on.”
Under the instruction of technical education teacher Daryl Lundin, the class added sheeting, window installation, installed stairs, lighting, a place for two beds and plenty more in teams. While one team would work on the interior, another would focus on the exterior. Because the class lasts all school year, mostly the same group of students was able to see the project through from start to finish.
The tiny house is 130 square feet on the main floor, with a loft that adds another 55. Despite its size, it includes a bathroom, a bedroom that could be organized into an office space, an upstairs space that fits a king bed, a kitchen, fridge and a series of shelves built into the stairs.
“It’s mainly going to be used for camping,” Lundin said. “It’s a more luxurious RV that can also be used to go completely off grid.”
He imagines it could be used as a home with the appropriate permits.
The electronics boast a full sound system with Bluetooth and a CD player. The tiny house and nearly everything inside run on 12 volts. The only exceptions are the fan and outlets.
“It’s ready so you can put a TV in there soon,” said 11th-grader Matt Binder.
As of this past Friday, the last day of school, the house was nearly completed. The solar panels are yet to be installed. But next year’s class can put on the finishing touches, and still have time to start on the next house earlier than the class started this year. In the meantime, the project will be visible in Hutchinson.
“We are going to show it off for about a year,” Lundin said. “It’s going to be in parades as a District (423) float. It’s going to be at the McLeod County Fairgrounds on display. We hope to take it to the Minnesota School Boards Association conference in Minneapolis in January. The date of sale is sometime after that.”
Money from the sale will go back into the program.
Before working on the tiny house, Wacker had taken on other construction projects.
“I had worked on a shed or two,” he said.
But this project came with special considerations such as size constraints and rules to stay compliant with recreational vehicle rules, and residential building codes. The tiny house project is a new undertaking for high school students. Previously, students in the residential construction program had opportunities to help build houses in Hutchinson by teaming up with the Housing and Redevelopment Authority. But students found the change interesting.
“I had seen tiny homes before,” Binder said, adding it might be fun to live in one. “I thought it would be cool to learn how one is built.”