Midwest Sustainable Conference at GRCC: Tiny Homes

Midwest Sustainable Conference at GRCC: Tiny Homes


>>Hey, first, I’d
like to thank you all for letting me
come here today and share this
project with you. It’s been about a
year in the making, so I’m really excited that we’re finally kickin’ this
thing and getting started. So, I’m gonna share with
you about Sparty’s Cabin– it’s a project at Michigan
State University to build a tiny house
on campus. But I will also talk
to you a little bit about the lifestyle that
comes along with this. And so, I’d like to
start with asking you to visualize what you think
the American dream is. So to many people, it
looks something like this. (all laughing) It’s having a family, and being
able to provide for them, and get them
whatever they want. And you know,
with this, you start accumulating
a lot of things. So where do we put
all of this stuff? We put it in our
gigantic houses. Preferably a four bedroom,
three bath, two-and-a-half car garage,
maybe even a pool. But although this is
what a lot of people hope to get and aim for
through their lives, we can all admit
that this is living far beyond
our means. So, since the 1950s,
the average size of the American home
has been growing. And today, it’s over
2,600 square feet. And this is really
interesting, because although our homes
are growing in size, the amount of people
in them are decreasing. So, instead of spending
time with our friends and our family,
making memories, we are spending that
time maintaining our gigantic house
and all of the things that we’ve
accumulated. And even though
we know that this is just taking our
time and our money and depleting our planet,
we continue doing this. But fortunately, there
are people who realize that this is toxic and that
this is a vicious circle. So, this is where the idea
of minimalism comes in. So who knows what
minimalism is? Who– keep your hand up if you
consider yourself a minimalist. Great.
(chuckling) So if you don’t know,
I can summarize it up really quickly, that
minimalism is filling your life with experiences
and not things. So having stories to tell
rather than things to show. It’s really interesting
because a lot of Millennials consider themselves
to be minimalists. And there’s some
research going into why is this generation identifying
themselves as minimalists? And some believe
that this is because we’ve grown up
through the recession, and we’ve learned that
we have to pare down, and we can’t have
everything that we want and that we would rather
have richer, fuller lives, full of these
experiences. So although minimalists
may prioritize living a simpler way,
they still prefer to live larger
than life. And this is where the idea
of the tiny house comes in. So it’s not about
this small structure, but it’s about
this lifestyle and having a home
that can promote it. So, a tiny house
is a home that’s 400 square feet
or less. And in a little bit
I’ll show you the tiny house
that we’re building, I’ll tell you it’s
177 square feet. Most tiny houses are
built on a trailer or some kind of
mobile device because they are so small,
it’s not legal to build them on the ground. So this is how you get
around these codes and laws. However, tiny houses
are gaining popularity for many reasons, and we’ll go
over how they’re being used and what– how they can work
into your life possibly. But because
it’s growing, you’ll see so many TV shows
starting to come on. And just to name
a couple– “Tiny House, Big Living,”
“Tiny House Nation,” I think there’s like,
“Tiny House Hunting” now on HGTV, and you’re seeing more
tiny house communities. So with this
movement growing, we’re finding people want
to change these codes. They wanna be able
to build a house that suits the lifestyle
that they want regardless
of the size. So this is a current image
from tinyhousemap.com. This was from
this morning and these are people
who identify themselves as a part of the
tiny house movement. And this is just in
the United States. The tiny house movement
is a global movement, and it’s really picking
up in the East Coast which is really
interesting. And I wouldn’t be
surprised if we see it continuing
to move over. So, why would you
wanna go tiny? There is a lot of
freedom that comes with being in
a mobile home. So you can take your home
wherever your job is. You can take it wherever
you’re going to vacation. You don’t have
to always uproot and leave everything behind when
you do wanna make a change. And of course, having
a smaller house and living with these
simplistic lifestyle values, you are reducing
your carbon footprint. And of course, it
takes less materials and less energy to take
care of your tiny home. And that also goes along with
the decreased maintenance, which means that you’re paying
less to take care of your home. And it’s very popular
among recent graduates because it’s an option
to be debt free, to not be drowned
by a mortgage and to have this
financial freedom, as well. So what are some uses
for tiny houses? Maybe you don’t wanna
live in a tiny house– it’s not the answer
for everybody– although some people
do live in it with, you know, a husband,
a wife, two kids, a dog. People do do it, but
that can be too extreme for probably
most people. But that doesn’t mean
that you can’t incorporate the lifestyle of living in
a tiny house and minimalism into your life, or you
can’t have one at all. So we could look at using
it as a vacation home. Or using it as
a guest home. A lot of people are
calling them “granny pods” and putting ’em
in their backyard so you can just have your
guests stay over there. But you can also use
it for creativity– as an art studio,
a “man cave,” or who’s heard
of a “she shed”? Okay, I’ll show
you some pictures– that’s my personal
favorite. (audience laughing) It’s like the feminine
version of a “man cave.” And a lot of people,
like the Baby Boomers, are looking
to downsize, so they’re finding
that tiny houses are a really great opportunity
for them to do this and then possibly
be able to travel and be closer to
their adult children. And actually, there’s
about like 65% of people who live in
tiny homes are seniors. And this is where I think
it gets really interesting, is using the tiny house
as a model to run your own retail shop or
a portable coffee shop, or some kind of extension
of your business. So say that you are living in
a highly dense, urban area– you can’t afford to
start your business in, you know,
a high-rent area, so you could potentially
make a tiny house and take it to where
your customers are. So one weekend, you can
go to the farmers market, and maybe, you know, the next
you can take it to ArtPrize. Wherever your clients
are going to be, you have the freedom
to find them and to take care of your
business in that way. And probably the
most noble use of a tiny house is using it
as a solution to homelessness. And I’ll show you
an example of that. So this is an image of a
tiny house coffee shop. So like I said, you could be
able to take this around to wherever you want or you could use it simply
as a marketing tool to show that, you know,
“My company believes “in sustainability and my
company supports this movement “and this kind
of lifestyle.” And it’s a way to
just promote the word about the tiny house
movement. This is a “she shed”–
so, it’s pretty darn cute. And this could be whatever
you want it to be. It could be a
space just to go and get away from your family
or your kids or whatever, or it could be a yoga studio
or art studio. And this is
Occupy Madison. Have any of you guys
heard of it before? Okay, this is a really,
really great initiative in Madison, Wisconsin where they’ve built
six tiny houses and also a community center
which has a kitchen and showers
and bathrooms. And so, the idea is that they
can help homeless people get a roof over
their head. And the tiny house is a
perfect model for this because it’s a
manageable, small space where they can practice
becoming a stable citizen and a part of
the community. Living in a tiny house
is a lifestyle and it is a
huge adjustment. So now that you know a little
more about the lifestyle, let’s start talking about what
it takes to build a tiny house. On average– and this
is a big span, I know– but it can cost between
$20,000 and $50,000 to build a
tiny house. Now, this number can be totally
different for everybody. Hypothetically, you could get
all of your materials donated, and, you know, some free labor
if you have some good friends and you could build your
tiny house for free. Then, on the
other end, you could put the nicest
materials in there and this thing could
skyrocket over $100,000. It’s whatever you
want it to be. So to build a tiny house, you
have to have an understanding of the local laws. It can be really
difficult for somebody to figure out where are
they going to build this, and where are
they going to live? Because, as you know, land
has very specific zoning and you’re gonna
have to figure out where does your tiny
house fit within that? Of course, you’re
going to need tools and there is a
very long list, but you can solve this
by borrowing from friends or finding a
local tool library. Or, of course, you could
look on Craigslist or other ways to try
to save some money. Helping hands– you know,
putting those walls up are– that’s gonna be pretty difficult
if you’re by yourself. you might want a friend there
when you’re doing your roofing and other things. And of course,
your trailer. I really wanna stress
how important it is to have a
quality trailer. So some people like
to go on Craigslist and find, you know,
an old trailer and try to make it
into what they need. A lot of times, if
there’s a dovetail, they’ll try to saw it off
and just, you know, kind of make it work, but it is really important
to invest in your trailer because it is the
foundation of your home. And as you can imagine, a house
that’s going to be towed between place to place goes through a lot
of different frictions and physics things that a
normal house doesn’t do. So there can be raking of
the walls and the ceiling and, you know, there’s
a lot of opportunity for some chaos. So having a trailer
that’s specially designed for tiny houses will really
help you feel comfortable in solving
these issues. So how long
does it take? This is– it depends–
it really depends on your skill level. So if you’re a beginner,
it can take– I believe the number was
170, like, labor hours, so that’s not counting all of
the planning and the purchasing of everything
you need. That’s just straight up,
like, hammer and nails, like, working
through the day. It also depends on
your availability. So if you’re
like most people, you have a job or some
kind of responsibilities. You may have children,
or even pets– things that are going
to keep you from being on the build site, you know,
9:00 to 5:00 every day. So a lot of people
build their tiny houses just on the weekends,
and, you know, not every weekend is free–
things come up. So it can start
taking a long time. And this also can be changed
depending on the weather. So, like in Michigan,
it can be really hard to build a tiny house
in the winter. You know– or anytime
of the year, really, ’cause it’s so
unpredictable here. But this can be solved by
moving your build indoors, so you can find a warehouse or
find a space that’s large enough for your tiny house, but
before you start building, please, please make sure
you check the height of whatever garage door,
or whatever door you’re going out through.
(laughing) So we had the option between
two build sites on campus, and the first one
seemed really great. It was at the
Turfgrass Research Center at Michigan State, and everybody there was so
excited about the project and they had tools
we could borrow and, you know, they were
gonna bring a space heater into the room. But their– I believe their
garage door was 12 feet high and a tiny house is
13-and-a-half feet high. And this is because
of the restrictions for when you’re
towing something. So if you want to
just not bother getting a
special permit, you need to keep your tiny house
13-and-a-half feet or below. So be careful
when you choose. I’ll show you a
picture of our site. I believe the garage
door was, like, 20 feet– we are not gonna
have a problem. Also, your
materials. So obviously, if you
get salvage materials or new materials, this is
gonna impact how long it takes because if, say, you want
a really cool salvaged door– for example,
I’m obsessed with the Detroit Architectural
Salvage Warehouse, and they have
a million doors and they’re all
beautiful and old and have so
much history, but it would take so long to
cut those down to the right size for a tiny house–
I believe the front door is like 19-and-a-half
inches wide, way smaller than
your standard door, and then you would
have to build the frame and everything
around it, and that will
take a lot of time compared to just paying
a little more money and getting your,
you know, custom door. So you have to remember that
a tiny house is a house. You have to fit every
single thing you would need in your everyday life
into a tiny house. So it needs to have
a kitchen, a bathroom, you know, a shower,
running water, and whatever your
lifestyle demands. So tiny houses
really end up being whatever the end user
needs it to be. Say that you want
to quit your job and start an online
company or a blog, you’re gonna wanna consider
putting a space in there for you to do your work
or an office. And obviously, you want it
aesthetically pleasing. A lot of people– you’ll
see a lot of tiny houses– they are really
symmetrical, so that really helps beginners
when they’re starting to learn how to design and do this to
make it visually pleasing. However, there
are limitations. Very, very serious
limitations when you’re building
a tiny house. So I already
mentioned the height, but you also have
limitations on the weight. When you’re towing
your house, if it’s too heavy, it
could damage your vehicle and cause a lot
of problems. So you may want
a beautiful shower– like the kind of bathroom,
you know, where the tile’s
on the wall and the floor and everything
matches and it’s pretty, but that’s probably gonna be
too heavy for your tiny house. So you really
gotta research and make sure you’re
picking materials that are lightweight, and aren’t going to cause
problems for you later on. So once you finally
have your tiny house, you need to figure out where
are you going to live? The easiest option is to
just own your own land where nobody’s going
to bother you or there aren’t going
to be HOAs that think it’s unsightly
in your yard. However, there’s–
like I mentioned– these tiny house communities
that are starting to pop up. And you can go online
and find maps of where they are
across the country and this is really
wonderful for people who do travel the country
with their tiny house. So instead of being
worried about where they’re going
to land next, they’ll know that
this location has a supportive
environment for them. And these often have
community facilities like a pool, or a gym,
laundry facilities, and, you know,
things that can’t fit in your house
normally. You also have to learn how
to take care of your waste and how you’re going
to get your energy. So our tiny house
that we’re building– and I’ll explain
why in a bit, but we’re starting it off being
just a traditional hook-up with all electric. We may retrofit
this in the future, but for our purposes,
now, that’s what we need. However, some people like
to take their tiny house completely
off the grid. Some people use rain
barrels to capture water, however, you have to have a
special kind of roof for that. If you have a corrugated metal
roof, you cannot do that. So be warned. I was– that was really
important for me ’cause I’m a major
hippie in the fact that I wanna save
every drop of water that falls on
my house, so. Yeah, you just
really learn, like, what are you
doing every day, and how are you impacting,
you know, your consumption and your waste. So this is the cover letter
to the original proposal for Sparty’s Cabin. I had this idea coming home from
the student conference last year in Cincinnati. There was a group and
they toured a tiny house and I just thought that
was the coolest thing. And it really got my attention,
and we were driving back… I was, like, trying to
sleep in the back seat but I just couldn’t
because I realized, like, I go to the
School of Planning, Design, and
Construction. And at the time, our
construction management program didn’t have a lab, and it just
really made sense that we bring this opportunity for students
to get hands-on experience while learning about this
sustainable lifestyle. So that night, I emailed
my Associate Director of the School of Planning,
Design, Construction. I said, “I have an idea,”
and I was really nervous because I was basically
about to go to her and say, “I know how we
can spend $100,000-plus “and not really get
any cash back on that.” (chuckling) So it really
worked out. She had an availability
in the morning and then she was leaving for
London the next day after, so that night, I typed up
a quick proposal, and, in that, I just kind
of did some research, how much does it cost
to build a tiny house, what are the basic
steps, you know, and even, like, going
into subdividing that, like what are the
steps of the roofing and just kind of
getting an idea of what this would look
like at our school. So, we met and
this was probably the most exciting part
is she just stopped me– I was like, “Oh, my gosh, she’s
just gonna tell me to leave,” like I’m wasting
her time. But she went
over to her desk and she got a big stack
of books, and she was, like, “I just bought
these yesterday. “And I looked at them and they
were all about tiny houses.” And she just happened to
start doing some research on tiny houses with some
independent student credits. So this is
our tiny house. This is a model
called “The Linden” by Tumbleweed. We went with a set of plans
that was made by an architect because at the School
of Planning, Design,
and Construction, we don’t have an
architecture program and our plan is that
this is going to be actually functional
and usable as a home and we didn’t wanna
risk anything. (chuckling)
So we went with a plan. And this is the
first floor on the left. You can see we
have a great room, a kitchen, and a bathroom–
a full bath. And then, upstairs,
we have a sleeping loft and a storage loft. So this plan is
177 square feet. So here’s some images of
what our plans look like. Our aesthetic is going
to be different– we’re going for more–
not totally modern, but we want it to be bright, so
we’re using a lot of contrast and white and,
in a moment, I’ll tell you about a special
feature of our interior. So, here’s looking
down from the loft into the great room. This is the loft. If you remember
in the video, they had that little,
teeny tiny, angled roof, and she was saying how
claustrophobic she was? So with this plan, we
have much more space and natural light
coming in and there’s a little
room for a tiny– kind of a little
side table, so this will be a
good option for somebody who needs a little
more space. Another view
of the kitchen. The front door– our door
is also in the center, and we have a full porch,
so, on the outside, it’ll extend from
side to side, which is about
eight feet wide. And this way,
maybe a couple or two people could
hang out on the porch. And I like this
picture a lot because it shows an example
of the creativity you have to have when you’re
planning your tiny house. So you can see
this table here has, like, the
leafs folded down, so when you’re not using
it, you fold them down, get it out of the way,
and use your space for whatever you’re
doing at the moment. But when you’re eating or
you wanna work on something you just pop ’em up and you
have everything you need. So, kind of a
view of the loft. And our tiny house also has–
uh, will have a ladder on a rolling system
just like this. And we have that because
there’s a closet that if the ladder
wasn’t moveable, we wouldn’t be able to
get into the closet. So everything has to
have multiple purposes in a tiny house. And every little space
needs to be used. So this is a tiny,
little spice rack. And just enough space
to fit those items. And if you go online and
look at what other people in the tiny house
community are doing, they find the craziest little
spaces to find storage. My favorite is the toe-kick
underneath their cabinets– normally, that’s
just a wasted space, but they turn them into
little, like, drawers so you can pull ’em out and you
can put your cookie sheets or, like, your muffin tins if
you still have those things. Yeah?>>(indistinct).>>Yeah, it’s really fun
trying to figure out where are you gonna
put all of your stuff? (chuckling) Just the kitchen. So you can see it’s pretty
narrow on the interior– it’s only
six feet across. Our trailer is
20 feet deep, so ours is a little bit bigger
than in the video that you saw. So on the left,
that’s the picture of the front cover
of our plans, and we went
with Tumbleweed because they offer
educational discounts. So first, they gave
us the plans for free– that saved us
upwards of $800. And like I said,
we felt very comfortable that it was designed
by an architect. And they also had a
workshop in Ann Arbor, so four of us
went over there and they offered us an
educational discount to go hang out
for two days and we learned the
whole entire process of building
a tiny house. And the best part of
going to this workshop was that we were
able to network with other people
interested in this movement and kind of, just, you know,
kind of create a safety net. So when we were trying to come
up with ideas for the design or, you know,
had an issue when we were going through
the planning process, we could just reach out to these
other tiny house enthusiasts and just ask them,
“What did you do? “What, you know, what did
your solution look like?” So there’s a lot of
information-sharing, which is really wonderful
about this community. We also went with them
because their plans match up to their custom
tiny house trailers which are engineered to take
care of your tiny house. Specifically– I’m
gonna try to use this– they have these little
rods on the corners that a lot of
trailers don’t have, so that just adds some
extra stability to the home. So now, I’m gonna tell
you five easy steps to building a tiny house at
your college or your university. And it’s a little misleading…
(laughing) ’cause it’s a lot
harder than that. (laughing) First, you need to
create a proposal like the one that I
showed you the cover of. And you need to have
this, like, ready with all your trump cards
for any denial that you’re
gonna get. So just sit down
and think about, “Why would this make
sense for your school “to go forward
with this project?” So have an introduction
and write the outcomes, not only the
educational outcomes, but how you can
impact your community and your career– so kind
of like the USGBC students, you know, the whole–
is it bettering your campus, community,
and career? So you can use that to help
you guide your outline. And also, how is it going
to help the university or your college? How is it going to gain
maybe more students, prospective students
looking at the university? Or highlighting
how your university is a pioneer in a new
sustainable movement? And really find every
angle that you can to show them that
you need to do this. Address funding. My first proposal, I didn’t
do too much of this– I just said, you know,
we can reach out to alumni… you know, I found these grants
and applications on campus that we can
apply for, and other types of funding,
so that really helped. And then also within that,
I talked about ways we can save money. So at Michigan
State University, we have a surplus store which
is a wonderful resource. This is where, a lot of
the times, you know, a building will get
renovated on campus and the furniture
and a lot of items and sometimes even building
materials from that will go to the
surplus store to be sold. So I pointed that out
as an opportunity for us to take
advantage of, and that eventually
turned into a partnership with the surplus store, so we now have it where we
don’t have to pay for anything that we’re doing there because
we’re partnering with them and making this an opportunity
for everybody involved. The feasibility–
I looked at a couple of other universities that
tried to build tiny houses. There was one community college
and they did it through their homeowner’s
association, and then the other one
that really stood out was the Savannah College
of Art and Design, and… I did have a picture of one
of theirs on the slides– it was, like, the
blue chevron one, if you remember that. So I really like
their project because they use
tiny houses as an answer to all of this
abandoned urban area. They have a lot of
parking space in Savannah and they used this from an
urban planning point of view of, “How can we
make this useable “and a valuable space to
our community again?” So, you can see, you can
find the kind of angle that you need to present
this idea to your university. And then, of course,
put a general budget– and ours, I just had
real general, like, “It could be free,
it could be $100,000,” but it was just still
a starting point, just figuring out a range
because you will go through and edit this
and edit this until it’s accurate and
to what you need it to be. I included the
general process and then also the
contact information. And if anybody’s
interested, I’ll have my contact
information at the end, and I’d be more
than happy to send my original
proposal to you or any other documents that
have been created along the way. So second step is you need
to create your dream team. I have three of my
dream team in the back, over there–
wave. So, you can’t build a
tiny house by yourself, and I did not expect
this, going into this– I didn’t know that I would
need so many people to help. I knew, you know, students
would be building it, but I didn’t realize that,
on a university level, there’s so much
organization and planning that needs to
go into this. So our team started off
with four core people– myself, Kylie,
the Vice President, and one construction
management professor, and the Associate
Director of SPDC. It was very, very
important to make a close connection with
the Associate Director, Dr. Crawford,
because she helped– and whenever we’d get
stuck or we can’t see how is this really
going to happen? She helped guide us. She helped tell us, “All right,
you’ve done a great job on this, “now you have to do X, Y, and Z
and you have to, you know, “present that to this
person and that person.” And she really
helped us figure out the bureaucracy
within the university of how to get through
all these layers to gain our approval
for the project. I also wanna mention–
do not tell people that you’re building
a tiny house until you get the approval
from the highest level. We had to be very
careful about that because, you know,
just like anything else, there’s politics
and saying, you know, “President Simon heard that
we’re building a tiny house, “and she’s never
heard of it,” that might reflect
badly on us. So, it was really
difficult to wait and tell everybody,
but we had to, to make sure that this project
would really go through. So some of the people
that are on our team, which has now grown– there’s probably, like,
20 people that work on it. Like, meet every
single Monday– or we meet
Mondays at 9:00. So that team is growing
every single week, but this project has gone
through, you know, the office of probably more than
50 people at the school. Maybe more, ’cause I’m
lucky that Dr. Crawford takes care of a
lot of that for me.
(laughing) So, we have our
university liaisons, we have a scheduler,
so figuring out the timeline of our tiny house. Our build is going
to take 12 days, and this is actually
very generous. We’ve calculated that with
tons of learning curve time and your just general “messin’
around and havin’ fun.” So we’re on track
to start March 1st, and I know it’s on a Friday, but
we’re gonna be working Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,
from 8 AM to, I believe,
like, 6 or 7 PM, but we’re doing it in
shifts throughout the day. And there’ll be
four student builders, and one supervisor, and then whoever has the
expertise to properly teach the students whatever process
we’re doing that day will be there,
as well. So, we’re on track to finish–
I’m really excited about this– on April 22nd. Who knows what
April 22nd is?>>(indistinct).
>>Earth Day, yeah! So, we should have started
our build back in January. However, because we’re at a
university, we had difficulty ordering our trailer. Like I said, we ordered
from Tumbleweed and that was an issue
for the university that we were
sole sourcing and we were saying, “We want
it from just this company,” so we had to go back
and do all this writing and supporting evidence of
why we needed it from them and that really pushed us back
like, a month-and-a-half of our build. But I’m actually kind of
happy that happened because I would be
really overwhelmed, and now we finish
on Earth Day. And we’re partnering with other
student groups on campus, such as Sustainable Spartans, to have one big
Earth Day celebration with a ribbon-cutting. Other people on the team who
are media and communication– so that’s a group
within itself. We have about five people both
from the university and students working together on
promoting this project. We have our build
schedule manager who– and I didn’t even know
we were going to need this, but he’s taking care of anybody
who’s signing up to build and figuring out when
to schedule them, making sure we have
enough people every day, having a backup plan in
case somebody gets sick, or they just can’t
show up that day, and making sure that we will
always have enough people on site to get this
project done on time. It has to,
has to be done because most of us
and the USGBC students are graduating in May, and
we won’t be sticking around, so, yeah.
(laughing) We also have a rental
agreement manager. And this is my– I’m
really excited about this. So the idea is that we’re going
to build this tiny house, and then we’re going to use
it for education, of course, but then, during the
fall of next year, or, like, 2016 fall,
we’re going to use this as an opportunity to
create some fundraising. So we’re aiming at
some very elite alumni, and we’re offering them,
you know, spend a night in Sparta’s Cabin
on the Red Cedar, and it will be the
perfect tailgate for you. So, we’re figuring out
how we can allow them to rent it and we’re going to
charge a nice amount of money, a very nice
funding source, and, with this, they can spend
the night in the Sparty’s Cabin and they can– you know, we’re seeing if we
can have Sparty, you know, come take them
into the house, if we can get MSU to cater
breakfast for them, and just make it a really
unique experience. So we’re only doing this
for eight individuals. The idea is that we’ll
gain money from this, and advertising. So once we are ready,
we want to auction the tiny house, and then
take any of the proceeds, keep some for USGBC
students as a seed fund, then donate that
money back to charity to– in the greater Lansing
area to a charity that addresses
the housing crisis. So that’s where our rental
agreement manager comes in. Of course, we have our
build site coordinator, assisting ability department
and other campus partners. So this is our
build site. It’s very interesting– we’re
building at MSU Surplus Center. And here’s the big door
I told you about, and this is our
build site right here. They’re clearing it out,
but this is actually where all of the recycling
is separated on campus. Luckily it’s not too
late into the year so it’s not gonna smell,
you know, too bad– we get that. But we are going
to be, you know, in a nice, warm
environment. And then, also,
on this wall here, there’s a door and you can
kinda see the windows, and there is a really
wonderful lounge space with coffee and
refrigerators and computers and
even a training space that we can use to
prepare the students, you know, show them what
they’re gonna be doing the day before
we get started. So, MSU’s
Recycling Center has become one of
our main partners. This is probably the coolest
part about the tiny house. So normally, when there
is a building erected or renovated on campus, and
they’re doing an addition, they would take the trees
and they would chip ’em or burn them, and there’s
a new group on campus called “MSU Shadows,” and they’re a part of
the forestry department where they are
salvaging these trees and they’re turning
them into lumber, and then they find
local Michigan artisans to create them into
beautiful furniture, cutting boards,
anything you can imagine. So we’ve partnered with them,
and they’re gonna be helping us make our countertops
and some shelves. They offered a lot more “board
feet,” I believe they call it, like 500 board feet
for us, but we wanted to
highlight their skill and really make this
a feature of the house rather than just flooding
it with their lumber. So, if you get a chance,
Google them. They have amazing,
amazing furniture and really quality
craftsmanship. I think this is
really exciting because not only are we
building this on campus, but it is going to
incorporate wood that’s grown right on
Michigan State’s property. Which will also attract the
attention of alumni, hopefully. (chuckling) So the third step
is to spread the word. You need to create
a social media plan because if you
don’t advertise that you’re building
a tiny house, you’re not going
to find sponsorships, you’re not going
to find builders, your project’s just
going to get stuck. So you have to make
sure you have somebody that understands how
social media works and make sure that
they stay on it. We have a website– it’s
spartyscabin.weebly.com, and you’ll see it on a
slide in a little bit if you need help
spelling it. But we’re gonna have
students blogging about their experience
throughout the entire build, so then we’re
adding information back into the
tiny house community and growing the knowledge
that’s available. We’re also–
we’ve done newspaper, television, radio interviews
to help spread the word, and a really interesting
thing that we’re doing is we have two cameras,
and we’re having them set up to just kind of perch
and watch the build, and it’s going to
film the entire thing from start to finish. When we’re done,
we can create a time lapse video
or, like, stop motion or do a bunch of different
promotional things with this footage. We’re also using
student photographers and any student
that has a talent can come and bring it in,
use the tiny house as an opportunity to
stretch their creativity. And, of course,
gaining funding. You need to
gain funding ’cause it’s very difficult to
pull this off if you don’t. And the more people
hear about it and the more they
spread the word around, you’re gonna get more emails
and more phone calls of people saying, “I
would love to help.” And so, there’s three areas
where you can ask people for help in. You can ask for cash,
materials, or expertise. So obviously
cash upfront, that’s so we can
go to the store.
(laughing) And then, materials–
we are partnering with some local builders and
other people in the area that can donate
the lumber and help us accommodate
for those costs. But also expertise. Not everybody that’s
at the university knows how to build,
you know, a home or do certain
aspects of this. So we’re asking
people to come in and spend the time
with the students to show then how to do
this properly and safely. So for example, we have
a carpet manufacturer that is a MSU alumni, and
he heard about the project, and he was just so
excited about it, so he’s offered
to spend the day showing the students
how to lay in carpet. So on the loft, we’re
using carpet tiles, and he was very– he helped
us through that decision by telling us why carpet tiles
may be more sustainable and be a better
option for us since we are trying
to incorporate that throughout this
entire project. So he’ll come in and
spend his own time with us, showing us how
to do that. Step number four,
the build. Like I said, we’re
gonna take 12 days, three shifts a day,
four builders, one supervisor, and
one “expertise educator” if you wanna
call them. And we’re not there yet, but
we’re starting in 10 days, so I can’t imagine
how many more leaders are going to be
added to the team or what else
is gonna come. Though I will say,
this entire project has grown so organically that
I’ve never had a problem figuring out what
step’s gonna come next, ’cause it just kind of
presents itself to you, and it’s surprisingly been
pretty easy in that aspect. So many people are
interested in this and wanna be
a part of it, and a lot of the people
that are stepping forward are leaders in
sustainability, and so they’re making great
additions to our team. And step five
is to educate. So once we’re done, we’re
going to use this on campus and in the community
to share it and show, you know, “This is
what a tiny house is,” and to many people
in the area, this is gonna be a
totally new idea, and we’re going
to also use it as an opportunity
for students to, you know, have some
creative experience, put something different
on their resume, and just show what the
lifestyle is in a tiny house. You don’t have to live
in a tiny house to live a
sustainable life, but, you know, you can learn
just from looking at one, what are some aspects
that you can incorporate into your daily life. And finally, you
need to consider who the end user’s
gonna be. So, maybe for
your campus, you want to keep it,
and use it as a showcase, and, you know,
maybe keep using it as a rental opportunity or maybe
you have the funds and means, just donate it right to charity
and give it to someone who does need a home and help solve this
homelessness crisis. But you need to consider
that right from the beginning. So, I guess what I want
you to take away from this is that you
can do this, and you can
start it today. You can reach out
and ask somebody who does have
tiny house experience or even just somebody
in your class that’s interested in it,
how can you guys start this? And I like to share one
of my favorite quotes– “Each one of us can
make a difference, “but together we
can make a change.” So I really wanna stress
that having a team for a project like this will
really help you succeed. If you wanna stay updated,
you can follow us on Facebook, so
just slash “USGBCmsu,” or our website is
spartyscabin.weebly.com and just remember,
“weebly” is W-E-E-B-L-Y– some people were
getting confused. This is– you know, we’re
trying to get this paid for totally by
donation, so we’re being
very serious about where we spend our money
and where we don’t, so it just makes sense
to have a free website because it works. So thank you very much, and
if you have any questions, I can take ’em now. Yes?>>(indistinct).>>Oh, yeah– so to
start, we’re– because we are planning
on using this a rental and a source
of funding, we’re having just a
traditional hook-up and there’s places
on campus for that. We don’t need a generator
or anything like that, and our infrastructure
and facilities team is helping us figure out where
are the places on campus where we can do this. And some ideas of where
we’re talking about having our tiny house
for rental is along the Red Cedar, which
is just totally gorgeous, and, you know, it’s part
of our fight song. (chuckling) We’ve even talked about having
it in the Breslin Center. And my favorite– it’s
on the 50-yard line. And these are actually
possibilities. We’re finding that
a lot of people are excited about this, and
they’re being open-minded, and a lot of it is just
giving them presentations similar to this
and showing them what does the tiny house
lifestyle look like and what
does it mean and why is this important
for our university to be a part of it. Yeah?>>(indistinct). I– when we were
at the workshop in Ann Arbor, we
met a lot of people. There were about either 100
or 150 people who were either
building a tiny house or looking to
build one, and a lot of them were talking
about some of the efforts that they’ve seen and that
they’re a part of to change. However, because
our project– we don’t have
issues with codes– we’re building on
private property owned by the
university, that isn’t something that
we’ve had to look into, and, for now, we’re
pretty thankful for that, ’cause this is
a pilot program and we need to keep it
as simple as possible. Now, also with that,
I’ll add that the university is looking
at a model where we build for one year,
rent for a semester, auction it in
another semester, and then, in the
spring of 2018, start the build again, and do
an every other year process. Any other questions? Yes?>>(indistinct).>>Mmm-hmm.>>(indistinct).>>I’m sure if you did
research on it online– there are so many people in
the tiny house community, I’m sure you’d be able
to find something. But we’ve known
from the start that this isn’t going
to be accessible, or at least this house isn’t
going to be accessible since, you know,
like I said, it’s a pilot and we’re not ready to
start modifying things and doing
things. We’re just working off
of a pre-done plan, but I think that’s a
wonderful question and something that
I’m gonna look into ’cause I think that would
be a really great addition. So I just remembered that I
saw something really recently about the
granny pods. And so, they weren’t
tiny houses on wheels, and they weren’t as small–
I think it was maybe– still under 1,000
square feet, but maybe it was
around 800 square feet, and some of the
features they had were like those cranes where
you can help assist you get into the bed, and then they also had
special surveillance cameras that only looked
at an ankle level so the occupant would
still have their privacy, but if something
were to happen like they were to fall,
that the system would be able to notify
and get help for them. And it had other–
maybe like 10 features similar to
that, yeah. Yeah?>>(indistinct). Mmm-hmm.>>(indistinct).>>I think it really depends
on what your lifestyle is and what your
goals are. So, kind of like
how I talked about the American dream,
how, you know, a lot of people
imagine this big house with a white
picket fence. Tiny houses, I think, are a really great
“in between” from that. So although they
do take up land in that they don’t
build vertically, it is stepping away from
all of that consumption and it would be a
good step for those, possibly, like, the Baby Boomers
who are wanting to downsize, but just aren’t comfortable or
ready to move into an apartment or a multi-family
community. Does that answer your
question a little bit?>>(indistinct).>>Yeah.>>(indistinct).>>Yeah, yeah. I guess it just depends
on the kind of lifestyle that you’re
looking for. And you know,
you may have– a lot of you may have
experience with this with living in apartments
during college is that a lot of times, you
don’t get to know your neighbors or who lives even right next
door to you on your floor, but, with a tiny house,
you do get to have that connection to
the outdoors more, and you’ll be able to
connect with your neighbors in that way, and then there’s
also the community center, so I guess it just depends
on what you personally want out of your living
arrangement. (computer making noises)>>(indistinct).>>All right, that
was a wonderful way to wrap it up, so if you
guys wanna look those up and find some more tiny houses
or some inspiration, get on Google and start
lookin’ at those things. But I’m gonna finish up
and give it off to the next presenter. Thank you, guys. (applause)>>We’re gonna take
a five minute break if you want, real quick,
so we’ll start back up at…


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