Two years ago, 17-year-old Taylor Williams of Hazard, Kentucky had a tough decision. Should she accept admission and scholarships to Harvard, Yale, Vanderbilt, or accept the Singletary Scholarship and attend the University of Kentucky?
Now as a 19-year-old pharmacy student at the University of Kentucky Taylor is deciding on how to downsize her belongings and decorate the “Tiny House” her family bought her so she can live near her school. Taylor’s dad, Dale Williams, a chiropractor in Hazard, is hopeful the Lexington Division of Planning will allow tiny houses to be placed adjacent to other houses in Lexington. He recently purchased a house near the UK Pharmacy School; however, tenants have a lease to remain in the house for another year.
Williams and his wife, Cindi, a Hazard pharmacist, bought two of the houses built by local students at the Area Technology Centers with plans to buy more and build tiny house village to help with housing in the Perry County area. Their son, Matt helped build the Knott tiny house, the one that Taylor has chosen as her new home. The other home they purchased was made by students in the Breathitt County Area Technology Center/Jackson Independent.
More than 9,000 persons from forty-six states visited the online auction and 376 visitors placed a bid on at least one of the houses this month in the auction sponsored by the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC).
Other buyers included a US serviceman in Kuwait who intends to move it to Virginia. Two of the houses were purchased by persons in North Carolina. Dedra Brandenburg, the tourism director for Beattyville and Lee County, purchased a tiny house so she can save money on housing.
Brandenburg says, “I am looking for land with a view. I want a view of our beautiful mountains and the Kentucky River. I plan to live in it and keep my housing cost low so I will have the funds to travel.”
Dale Williams, who has worked in construction and house building, says he is amazed by the quality workmanship and creative use of space making the homes very livable. He is pleased to buy homes built by students at a vocational school since his dad, Dial Williams, taught at the Hazard Vocational School many years ago. Dale’s other son Parker is begging for a tiny house now.
Taylor Williams says, “I am so excited to move into my new home and make my life simpler. It will be about the size of my room now.”
All six student-designed and constructed Tiny Houses sold for more than the base grant of $15,000 provided to the schools by the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative. Proceeds from the auction will roll back into the project to ensure sustainability and opportunity for each school to “Build it Forward” in the coming year. The tiny houses remain on beds with wheels suitable for towing or remaining stationary.
The goal of the Building It Forward Tiny House Project is to make learning engaging, practical and applicable to post-secondary success and become self-sustaining. Research shows that students who participate in hands-on learning remember the material better, feel a sense of accomplishment when the task is completed and can transfer that experience more fluidly to other learning situations
In the case of Tiny Houses, the saying “If you build it, they will come” is true and the impact of the project is evident in the quality of the six Tiny Houses built by students from Ashland ATC, Breathitt County ATC/Jackson Independent; Floyd County Area Technology Center; Knott County Area Technology Center; Lee County Area Technology Center/Owsley County/Wolfe County;and Phelps High School in Pike County.
The auctions were held on the KVEC’s digital learning platform www.theholler.org. KVEC is accepting applications from its 23 member K-12 school districts through August 10.
Meanwhile Taylor Williams and her family are hopeful zoning rules will allow her to live in her tiny house near the UK campus.