By Lloyd Jones
CONWAY — How much space do you really need to live comfortably?
Students in Paul Cail's advanced building trades class at the Mount Washington Valley Career and Technical Center at Kennett High School are out to prove you can get all the comforts of home in a tiny house.
Kennett is one of four schools taking part in the New Hampshire Lottery and New Hampshire Home Builders Association's Tiny House New Hampshire initiative.
Students are building a house from start to finish, doing everything from carpentry to plumbing and electrical work.
And they're having a blast doing it.
The tiny house, which will be completed in March, will be 8 feet wide by 24 feet in length, totaling just 192 square feet.
The students plan to outfit the home with a living room, kitchen, bathroom (with shower and toilet) and two sleeping lofts. Plans call for nine windows and making the most of storage anywhere the Eagles can find it.
The tiny house movement is sweeping the nation, with TV shows such as "Tiny House Nation" and "Tiny House Hunters" devoted to it.
According to Wikipedia.com, "a residential structure under 500 square feet is generally accepted to be a tiny home."
TheTinyLife.com describes "a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet.
"People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular reasons include environmental concerns, financial concerns and the desire for more time and freedom," the site continued.
The New Hampshire Lottery plans to launch a new scratch ticket game in January called "Tiny House Big Money." The winner gets $10,000 and the runner-up gets the winning tiny house.
The four tiny houses that don't win will be auctioned or raffled off. Cail envisions them selling for up to $45,000.
Kennett, Huot Technical Center at Laconia High School, Alvirne High School are each building one mobile tiny house, while Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter is building two.
Cail, the building trades teacher at KHS since 2012, floated the idea of the centers building tiny houses in 2014.
"I spoke with Scott Palmer of the N.H. Association of Home Builders in 2014 about the possibility of doing a tiny house project with the students," he said. "Scott grabbed the bull by the horns and really was the one who ran with this idea."
The schools received flatbed 8-by-24-foot trailers on Oct. 27 and have been hard at work ever since.
"I have found the enthusiasm with the students to be overwhelming," Cail said Thursday while overseeing the build. "They are staying after school, working during study halls, and completing assignments in other classes so they can come down and be part of this really cool project."
"I think it's coming along pretty well," senior Tyler Moran, lead builder for the project, said Thursday. "I love it. This is what I want to do (after completing college). It's going to help me toward going to college. I'm looking at an associate's degree in building trades and construction at Central Maine College."
While the building trades class is taking the lead on the project, other students are pitching in.
"Students in Joe Riddensdale's (computer-aided drawings and design) classes are working on plans and redoing them on a daily basis," Cail said. "Andy Shaw (machine tool technology) will be having some of his students helping out with the fabrication and welding of this tiny house. Principal Neal Moylan comes down at least once a day to see the progress and to visit with the students."
Moylan said: "It's amazing what they're doing. They're basically building a house from scratch and doing all of the work along the way. What really excites me is talking with the students and seeing the passion in their eyes."
Conway School Board member Mark Hounsell called the project "a big deal" at Monday's board meeting.
"It is my hope that all the staff at the career tech center fully appreciate the magnitude of the importance the opportunity to be one of five schools in the state to participate in the Tiny House project," Hounsell said. "In order to be received favorably by the N.H. Home Builders Association and the state agencies and, most importantly, the people of our communities, requires our utmost professional and joyous attention. I am thrilled for the students who will be working on this project. I am looking forward to seeing how well they do. I for one am quite excited for them and us."
The tiny houses will be displayed at the 50th N.H. State Home Show at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester on March 17-19.
"It's a tight deadline but manageable," said senior William Sheppard, assistant lead builder. "If we all put our heads togetherm we can do it."
Sheppard, Moran and Dillon Dascoulias did the bulk of the framing over the past two weeks. The floor was foam-insulated this week.
Dascoulias said: "It's a good opportunity to learn something new. I like that we get to try it on our own."
But Moran, Dascoulias and Sheppard can't see themselves living in a tiny house at this stage of their lives. "I'd need a little bigger place," Dascoulias said, smiling.
"It might be good for one person or maybe one or two people could do it," added Sheppard. "For a family, I think it would be pretty tight."
Classmates Garrett Chretien, Andrew Doherty, William Green and Neil Harrison joined the project last week.
One of the few hiccups, said Cail, has been funding. Sponsors are needed to help bring the project to completion. "Our budget has been eliminated by materials," he said.
Supporters so far are Scott Emonds of Superior Insulation; Gordon Cormack of Cormack Construction; Mark and Heather Sherwood of Silver Lake Hardware; Sal Massy of Chick Home Center; White Mountain Home Builders Association, which supplied plans, ideas and support; the N.H. Lottery, which purchased the trailer; and the building trades advisory board at MWVCTC.
The Eagles hope to put their own touches on the project as it nears completion. Cail would like to put a carving of Mount Washington into one of the beams and possibly an eagle.
One thing is certain, the teacher is proud of his students.
"It's just like a real job," Cail said. "The guys are being held accountable, they know what needs to get done. They're moving at a pretty fierce pace. We're trying to teach real life skills. Everyone is doing what they can to pitch in.
"The other day, two sophomores gave up their study hall to come and help. It's really cool as a teacher to see that sort of an investment from your students; it makes you proud."