- Associated Press - Sunday, September 21, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - For Sarah Trahan, home is where the wheels are. Right underneath, actually, just back of center; four of them on a double-axle.

“It all started with Sarah. She wanted to buy an Airstream,” said Wilson Savoy. “And I said, ‘Don’t buy an Airstream. Build you one.’”

Before Savoy, a Grammy-winning musician, could pull a note out of his accordion, Trahan bought a trailer that would become the foundation, so to speak, for the tiny house where she’ll live while attending college in Arizona.

“It was a trailer for towing cars, so the back half of the trailer was tilted down,” said Savoy. “It was a little bit of a trick; we had to build up that part of the floor.”

With Savoy as foreman and lead carpenter, construction began Aug. 1 as a community effort that included Lily Wimberly, Mac Rees, Micah Schott, Katie Cummings, Camille LaHaye, Bubba Cormier, Leah Graeff and Travis Conques to name a few.

“It’s been a whole bunch of the local community. A lot of her friends. The Blue Moon crowd, I like to call them,” said Savoy, adding the whole process has been on Facebook. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of excitement people get over that,” he said. “They just like the idea about building a small house to live in.”

Downsizing is a growing trend in the U.S. and tiny houses with up to 500 square feet of living space are leading the charge, according to a story on newsday.com. They range from primitive 96-square-foot huts to award-winning displays of sustainable architecture with elegant streamlined design. While many are built on wheels to avoid regulations, mobility isn’t the main draw.

Savoy’s tiny house is just about ready for the 1,384-mile ride at the end of the month to Tempe, Arizona, where Trahan will attend the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences.

She’s now been educated in home construction.

“It’s so cool,” she said. ” It’s something I thought I could never do. I had no experience at all with anything construction - I built a picture frame before - that was it.”

Trahan said she was “deathly afraid of the miter saw until we’ve been using it.”

There wasn’t a blueprint. Trahan said an architect was consulted for basic info about height, width and weight limits.

“We made everything work as we went. I don’t know if I’d do that again,” he said.

The plan is to have a tractor-trailer haul the house to Tempe. That’s where Department of Transportation regulations come in at 13 feet, 6 inches tall and 8 feet, 6 inches wide. The tiny house is 20 feet long.

Savoy said about $10,000 has been put into the project and there’s another couple grand to go.

In rent-stressed Lafayette, where a one-bedroom apartment can go for $675 to $945 a month, savings can be had with a tiny house.

“For less than $15,000, you can build yourself a very comfortable house,” Savoy said. “And then when you’re done, you have this beautiful work of art that you’ve designed yourself and you can do what you want with it.

“You can sell it. You can keep it as a guest house,” he said.

After the insulated subflooring was completed, “it was just like building a house” - walls, windows and doors had to be framed. “So, it’s going to be like an ice chest when it’s finished. Spray foam and everything.”

An arched door the entry is just one of Trahan’s ideas.

“She has a lot of cool ideas,” said Savoy. “She tries to reuse as much reclaimed stuff as we can; a lot of old windows, a lot of old wood and beams.”

Material came from home improvement stores and from antique and reclaimed wood shops.

“It’s win-win because not only are you using wood that otherwise would’ve been tossed or burned, or just destroyed with a crowbar, they take care and take it down slowly, remove all the nails,” said Savoy. “So you’re saving, not wasting new wood and you get something that looks really great and really cool and it’s already dried out.”

Lack of a solid, level foundation was a source of consternation.

“The front and back are counter-levered over the axle, so when you’re working on it, it’s moving a little bit,” Savoy said. “And if you’re trying to use a level, it never looks right. … Your weight on the trailer affects everything.”

He said, “That was probably the trickiest part, the part that gave me the hardest time.

“Other than that, just the heat,” he added.

The tiny house will have a window air conditioner and a space heater. A tankless water heater runs on propane mounted on the outside.

“I’ve always liked the challenge of working with constraints,” said Savoy. “Working with the max height, the max width, the max weight, even the max electrical: you can’t exceed 50 amps,” he said. “Most houses have 200 amps of electricity. … I like that challenge of how are you going to wire this thing up correctly, the most efficient way. I enjoy problem-solving.”

Keeping the building together during its trek meant screws instead of nails on everything, including hurricane straps on the rafters. “We figured when it’s going down the road it’s going to be hurricane winds hitting the thing, so we braced it for a hurricane as well as we could,” Savoy said.

Bouncing down the road would crack sheetrock, so the walls are wooden boards and the floor is bamboo.

Savoy, who built his own home with help from friends, said carpentry is his other passion, along with music. He cited Jesse Leger, “a great accordion player who rocks on accordion” and then can be found on the weekend working with his hands.

“They look very at peace,” said Savoy. “They’re working with old wood. Using their artistic side. Problem-solving.”

___

Information from: The Advertiser, https://www.theadvertiser.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide