The tiny house craze claims to save prospective house owners a lot of money. But most tiny house owners have to put up over $10,000 in initial building costs. While that amount is only a fraction of a standard home cost, it’s still not within the budget of the average college student. Two college students decided to challenge that dilemma.
Amy Andrews and Ethan Van Kooten attend Central College in Pella, Iowa. They opted to build a truly sustainable home for their biology class on a tight budget. They stripped back their budget when they couldn’t get the $3,350 funding. In the end, they only spent $489.
Andrews and Van Kooten based their entire project on reusing materials that others already planned to throw away. Luckily, these two Iowa students were able to reclaim a 52-year-old granary, placed on skids, as the base of the home. Van Kooten told Central College, “My great-great grandpa, great-grandpa and grandpa built it for shelled corn.”
What started out as a rickety outbuilding took on a charming new identity in the following 10 weeks. Anya Butt, the two students’ professor, was even skeptical they could build anything with that time frame and budget. “They blew me away with how much work they did,” she admitted.
They rescued old lumber, insulation, cabinets, counter tops, and an old hog feeder from going to the dumpster. They also installed a loft space, a kitchen area, and a small stove for heating. Van Kooten recruited his knowledgeable father to help solve problems and create a dream space over the 10 weeks they worked.
However, the two students’ tiny budget did not allow for many of the conveniences higher end sustainable homes boast. No hot water or comfortable composting toilet are present in the furnished cabin. But they both say it is a work in progress and that it has spurred on ideas from family and friends about the kind of projects they could create in the future.
Andrews even came out with a new addiction to scavenging for materials. The duo continues to evolve their tiny house, and hope to soon get rain barrels installed for an even more eco-friendly space.