Weed High School students enthusiastic about their tiny house

Lauren Steinheimer
Weed High School construction class students and the frame of the tiny house they're building as this year's class project.

The skeleton of a tiny house on wheels rests in the large shop classroom at Weed High School. It’s this year’s construction class project, built entirely by high school students.

A tour through the house so far involves standing in the center of an 18 by 8 foot frame and pivoting around to view the zones that will soon become the bathroom, kitchen, sleeping loft and living area.

As the junior builders and designers enthusiastically describe the plans, it’s easy to envision this school project as someone’s future home.

Construction teacher Damon Zeller hopes the tiny house will be complete by the end of the school year and ready to sell over the summer.

“The students have been working on it about four hours per week since the beginning of this school year,” he said.

Revenue from the sale will be put toward purchasing materials for next year’s construction project.

Weed High School construction students typically take on one large project per year. Zeller said they’ve built sheds and greenhouses in the past, but this is the first time they’re attempting to build a tiny house.

School counselor Kristin Carter said she’s pleased with her greenhouse, which was a construction class project from a previous year.

“These students are learning shop safety, plan reading, framing, plumbing and electrical,” Zeller said as he reminded one student how to properly coil an extension cord.

A couple of students worked cooperatively to install a drain hole where the shower will be while another gave a tour of the tiny house plans. A large opening for a window indicates where the kitchen will be, and plans for a living room nook are underway.

A sleeping loft covered by a triangle roof can be imagined resting atop the frame.

“This class is really cool because we all get to work on our own small projects, but it comes together for this bigger project,” said Heaven Mason, who proudly added that she’s the only female student in the entire construction class. “My favorite part of this class is watching the progress. It’s cool to see what we’re capable of doing.”

Mason explained the project she worked on earlier that day, cutting an arch in the side sheeting with a jigsaw to make room for the trailer fender.

“After this, I really want to work on the living nook or the loft,” Mason said.

“I love construction,” said student Richard Rivera. “Shop classes are always the most fun.”

Kyle Gonzales added, “Any class where you can work with your hands is really excellent.”

Though clearly enjoying themselves, the students agreed that building a house, even a tiny one, requires a lot of patience and hard work.

Zeller said by the time it’s finished, the structure will be approximately 18 feet long by 8 feet wide by 13.5 feet high.

Tiny houses built on trailers have increased in popularity over the past several years as a simpler and more affordable option to building a larger, permanent structure on a foundation.

Zeller said he attended a Tumbleweed Tiny House workshop this year and purchased official building plans from that company. However, the trailer he bought to build the house on was different dimensions than the one used in the building plans, giving students the opportunity to learn how to make adjustments.

Aside from the trailer and plans, Zeller said almost all of the materials for the tiny house were purchased locally from Solanos Hardware. He estimated $20,000 to $25,000 in materials have been purchased so far.