Students from Lee, Owsley and Wolfe county high schools come together daily at the Lee County Area Technology Center for vocational classes. However, the carpentry class this school year has not been what they expected! How many high school students have the opportunity to actually work on building a tiny house? At the Lee Co. ATC approximately 35 students have been involved in the project from the designing of the model to sawing lumber for the walls, nailing on siding and the metal roof, wiring, plumbing and all other aspects of the construction process. Carpentry, electrical and welding classes have been involved with specific task assignments.
Michael Ackerman, a senior at Lee County High School, explained how the students designed the blueprint in their engineering class using a 3-D online program. After tweaking the design about six times he said they knew “this one is golden and that’s the one you see right now.” He stated that the really exciting part has been how the teacher has explained what they would be doing before each aspect of the project (such as laying out the walls, rafters, plumbing) and then the students have done the actual work.
Michael discussed issues they have faced in the design process with the small amount of space and how they had to “be conservative in what they put where”. Some unique aspects of their model include completely waterproofing the bathroom walls and floors, installing a sliding ladder for loft access that will latch to the wall when not in use, and using the same sink for the bath and kitchen area.
Michael is convinced that the project has not only helped him with his current job of working at a greenhouse, but it has greatly improved his social skills. Making presentations and being interviewed by a variety of people has given him the opportunities to strengthen his communication skills. He plans to take elective courses in carpentry and construction in college. Looking back on the last year, since the design process was initiated, Michael expresses how “it’s nice to see the tiny house coming to completion and people actually wanting to buy it”.
John Radschweit, a senior at Wolfe County High School, has also been involved in all aspects of the tiny house construction. He states, “It has been a very unique learning experience. It’s had a lot of ups and downs, but it’s been fun.” John realizes he has acquired skills that will be useful to him in the future and is appreciative of the two years of carpentry courses. The staff at the Lee County ATC are hopeful that parking the tiny house in the community when the cliff-climbers are in their area this spring will spark the interest of the local community for future endeavors. Their tiny house, along with the other two being constructed by Phelps ATC and Knott County ATC, will be available for auction online beginning April 12, 2017 at noon. The three houses will be displayed at the Expo Center in Pikeville from the evening of April 11-April 12 for public viewing.