Following the success last year of Ness City’s mass production class and its GOdium — which won the multi-people project division of the Western Kansas Technology Education Fair and gained worldwide attention — Ness City Junior/Senior High School industrial education teacher Brent Kerr could have been tempted to take it easy this year.
However, Kerr and his students aren’t ones to back down from a challenge.
His construction classes, which include approximately 14 students, are entering the Western Kansas Technology Education Fair this year with an even larger project: a tiny house.
“Even though it’s a tiny house, it’s a much bigger project than last year,” Kerr said with a laugh.
In the past, Kerr’s construction classes have built sheds as their large projects, but Kerr and superintendent Derek Reinhardt thought the idea of a tiny home would be something really special.
“But we didn’t tell the kids that,” Kerr said. “We wanted it to be their idea. They just get more involved when they’ve made the decision.”
Kerr introduced his students to the concept of a tiny home, and they jumped on board and decided it would be a great project.
Kerr even took his students to visit the Tumbleweed Tiny House Factory & Showroom in Colorado Springs.
“After we came back from there, they got the whole house framed up in one day,” Kerr said. “They were just so excited to get started.”
One of the attractive aspects of a tiny house is that it’s mobile; therefore, the students even helped to build and weld the trailer on which the house sits.
“There’s just a ton of planning that goes into it,” Kerr said of trying to work with such a small space. “You’re talking 206 square feet on the main level. If you add the lofts, it’s 330.”
Kerr and his students had to figure out how to fit a stove, refrigerator, sink, cabinets, shower — everything that one would find in a traditional home — into that small area.
“And we didn’t want it to be this tiny shower either,” Kerr said of the 36-inch shower they fit into the tiny home. “It also has a regular size toilet. It’s got everything a home has.”
One loft has enough room to fit a queen size mattress while the other could fit a full size one. There are even plans to include a built-in “L” shaped couch which would pull out like a futon and could be used for sleeping.
While there is room to sleep that many people, Kerr said it’s still a tight space.
“If I were to live here, I would want it to be me and maybe one other person,” he said with a laugh.
Kerr said before next week, they still have to add the spiral staircase and countertops, as well as finish all the final touches, including the trim work.
The school’s art classes made curtains for the house and original photographs taken by students will help to decorate the finished product.
“I feel better about what all we have left to do than I did at the beginning of the week,” Kerr said.
The tiny house will move from Ness City to the FHSU campus Sunday as two seniors, Devin Brown and Logan Schlegel, will compete in the NetWork Kansas Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge with the tiny house as their project. The challenge takes place Monday in the Memorial Union. The house will remain outside Davis Hall until the Technology Education Fair on April 28, when it will move to Gross Memorial Coliseum.
The fair will take place from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. that day, and there is no charge to come and view the different projects.
“They have done it all,” Kerr said. “They’ve done the welding, building, electrical, plumbing, heating and air — you name it. It’s just been a great project.”
Following the fair, the class will complete any unfinished projects inside the home, and then it will be for sale.