Tiny house is a big project for teens in Wilton

LYNDEBOROUGH – Tiny houses are in the news as the latest thing – so Jason Elder, a student at High Mowing School in Wilton, decided to build one.

“A classmate said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to turn one into a dorm room?’ “ Elder said recently.

He later was joined in the project by fellow rising senior Chaz Marie Rodgers.

That house is nearing completion at the home of their instructor, Philip Brooks, a timber framer and teacher at the school.

They’ve been building for about a month, Elder said, “But there was about six months of planning and getting the permits.”

The permits included an OK from the school, recommendations of Fire Chief Jim Cutler and approval from the town.

When completed, the tiny house will be attached to utilities at High Mowing and become an extra dorm room or a place for a summer resident.

The project was designed on paper “using a pencil,” Elder said, but later was checked on a computer to be sure the joints would fit.

“It looks pretty similar to what we planned,” he said.

“We had to adapt the plan,” Rodgers said, to such realities as the size of a building allowed on the road: no more than 8.5 feet wide, 24 feet long and 13 feet high.

“We are trying to get everything into the code boxes, and I think we’ve done it,” Rodgers said.

The tiny house is on wheels. It has a pine timber frame and is constructed of insulated panels.

“The framing wasn’t required with the use of the panels,” Elder said, “but we wanted to do the framing.”

All of the timbers were cut by hand.

“We drilled all the holes, chiseled all the joints,” he said.

“One cool thing we did: In the middle is a natural-looking post,” a piece of a dead pine tree they found, Elder said. “I think it’s beautiful.

“When the idea started, we were thinking less intense than now. We followed the lead of the Putney School. They built more like cabins on wheels. That really helped us. For the school, it eased their minds with another school doing it.”

The exterior will be clapboards, Elder said. But for the interior, Rodgers said, “I’d like to get some art students to paint decorations. The floor will be painted, and I’d like someone to

stencil it.”

Standing in one of the wide windows, Rodgers said, “The view will be the Frye Fields,” a recent conservation area acquired by the school. “Beautiful.”

The long-range plan is for students to build four tiny houses, one a year. Elder and Rodgers are keeping a daily log at hmstinyhouse.com.

“To help out the next builders, what we did,” Elder said. “It should help them.”

Elder said he plans to be the first occupant of the tiny house this fall.