Last May, students from Western Albemarle High School  in Crozet, Virginia, under the leadership of Caroline Bertrand, a career specialist at the school, brought a tiny house that they built in shop class to the Mid-Atlantic Tiny House Expo in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  The group hoped to sell the house at the show. Fortunately, it sold, and the proceeds were used to build another tiny house.

Meanwhile, a second tiny house project was undertaken by Western Albemarle students and is now approaching completion. Bertrand and her students plan to bring it to the Mid-Atlantic Tiny House Expo in Maryland next month. It is currently for sale with an asking price of $35,000.

“I’m part of the class that’s building the tiny house,” said Jessica Walker (pictured), 17, a senior at the school. “We are working on the exterior and interior finishes, and it’s almost ready for buyers to come look and make offers.”

“It’s not quite finished but pretty close,” said Bertrand earlier this week. “The students did a lot of the work themselves, but they were supported by professionals on the installation of critical systems. We hope to get it finished by October 6.”

The Build

“This one has a different floor plan than the last one. Last year we built a single loft, this one is a double loft,” said Walker. “They can both be used for sleeping, but the buyer can rearrange things as they see fit.”

The trailer is longer by a couple feet and taller than last year’s build, according to Walker. “It has a bathroom with a full-size tub and kitchen.”

Walker serves as a project manager for the build. “I have done a little bit of just about everything from ordering materials to hands-on building to talking to all of our supporters – trades people, companies that furnished materials, and, in some cases, donated them. It’s been mostly a good experience, but there has been some politics and drama. There will always be drama.”

A company donated a red metal roof, and wood floors were donated by a graduated senior, according to Walker.
“In the first year we asked for donations, in the second year we bought more things,” said Bertrand.

“My favorite part is hands-on work. I’ve enjoyed installing the board-and-batten siding which requires a lot of blocking. We had to work together, and it was fun creating something as group,” said Walker.

“We are going with a dark grey exterior. That should go well with the red roof. I haven’t picked a door color yet. I want to wait to see how the siding turns out first,” said Walker.

“We are working with NOAH for certification at each inspection point, but since the house is not complete it’s not yet certified,” explained Bertrand.

Tiny Living

“If I was off by myself, somewhere deep in the woods, I would love to live in a tiny house. It would be great to just be by myself,” said Walker.

When asked about living in a tiny house in lieu of a traditional college dorm, Walker said “There are certain things about a tiny house that are perfect for college, low maintenance and solitude. If you get lonely you could fix that by getting someone to stay with you. I am not 100 percent sure what my college plans are. I may go to college or a military academy, or I may go to a military recruiting office and sign myself up. I come from a service-oriented family – both of my parents are fire fighters and I’m a volunteer fire fighter and EMT – so a career in the military would fit in well with that.”

Future

“We are now developing a system where juniors plan and design their house and then build it during their senior year,” explained Bertrand.

For more information about the project or purchasing the tiny house, please contact Caroline Bertrand, cbertrand@k12albemarle.org, 434-823-8700.