Big return on tiny home investment for HHSS

Come this autumn local high school students will have the opportunity to resume a unique learning opportunity by contributing to the production of a tiny home.

Haliburton Highlands Secondary School is one of several Trillium Lakelands District School Board high schools participating in the Tiny Build project challenge which was an idea presented to schools by the board’s superintendent Bruce Barrett in September of 2016.

An email sent by Barrett challenged schools to design name and construct a tiny home – part of a movement to be more sustainable by building homes that require fewer resources than a typical  American house which are more than 2400 square feet on average according to U.S. Census Bureau.

This challenge outlined a criteria that the homes be a minimum of 200 square feet and no more than 300 square feet; each must be able to house a queen bed; have a fully functioning bathroom including a toilet shower or tub; have a fully functioning kitchen and a heat source.

This home project encourages schools to use as many renewable or environmentally friendly materials as possible while adhering to the tiny home principle of being environmentally conscientious.

The project requires science math engineering art skilled trades green industries and business and marketing Barrett’s email said.

It promises opportunities for any student interested to get involved.

Each participating school is receiving $20000 from TLDSB Student Success for the core funding with no restrictions on additional sponsorship donations whether in the form of resources (windows have already been donated anonymously) or money.

How much more is needed is unknown but a composting toilet can cost close to $8000.

HHSS teacher and the business and technology department head Dan Fockler said this project is a “co-curricular” activity started in class and finished at lunch and personal time.

Like any real-life application the students are very motivated to learn he said.

“The learning that happens is pretty authentic in the [real] life outside the building. Finding interests and paths for careers is also really important and cool with a project like this” he said.

He invites the Haliburton Highlands Home Builders Association members to come and be “professionals” on site to connect with the students as well as share their expertise.

Fockler has a combined 16 years of experience in the trades and in teaching.

Another teacher helping Fockler is Chris Simpson who teaches custom woodworking and construction.

Community partners on the project include the Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre the Haliburton County Home Builders Association and Andria Cowan Molyneaux of ACM Designs has offered to do the interior design work.

The Pinestone has donated a trailer so the home can be transported.

Fockler said what is learned on this project could be applied to a conventional full-sized home.

“Our goal really isn’t to build the most efficient tiny home. We’re going to try and balance ecology and efficiency with skills that can then transfer to trades” he said.

This build he said will adhere to Ontario building codes despite it not exactly aligning with the concept of tiny homes.

He expects to construct the home near the parking area close to the science wing or behind the tech wing at the back of the Haliburton school.

The initial deadline was set for last spring however the deadline was extended to the spring of 2018 so that students can fully understand the concepts behind tiny homes.

Fockler’s Grade 10/11 students received lessons and formed teams to produce four designs.

“It was layered learning that had to happen. It took longer than we thought it would. It was all good. It’s really good learning. We didn’t have the pressure of having [to do it] at a certain time” he said.

His students were aware of the tiny homes concept from television shows and some had already created their own designs before this endeavour.

This will be the first tiny home build for them and also Fockler who is as excited about this prospect.

The final design chosen for the project will need to accommodate donated materials such as the windows Fockler said.

There is a hope to close in the home with walls and a roof before winter and continue with the interior of the build the rest of the year.

A showcase of all of the homes is expected in spring 2018. The time and place have yet to be decided.

The goal is to ensure learning doesn’t stop.

He plans to recoup the financial investment by the board from either selling raffling or auctioning off the home after the challenge.

“It’ll end up in the community somehow. Just not sure how that will happen yet. The goal is to recoup the money that was initially [given] so that we can go again with another real-life project whether that is a tiny home or whether that is something else. I don’t know yet” he said.