Fraser man thinks big, builds small
January 15, 2015
FRASER — Josh Warren is a do-it-yourself kind of guy.
As a kid, Warren would scavenge construction sites for scrap wood to build his own skateboard ramps. A couple of years ago, he bought a sewing machine and made his own sleeping bag and garments for a road trip. He still has an insulated vest he made for a trip through Europe.
"I've always been that type of person," Warren said. "If I can do it, I'd just rather build it myself."
Now Warren, 29, is working on what may his most ambitious project so far. And you could also say it's one of his tiniest
“Everything takes longer than it should, even though it’s so small.”
Tiny home builder
In a small lot on Mill Avenue, just off of Doc Susie, Warren is building a home. But it's not your average home.
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Warren's particular home, which he designed himself, is a touch more than 200 square feet in total.
It's called a tiny home, and it's part of an increasingly popular trend in sustainable homebuilding, one that puts a premium on smaller and more efficient structures.
"I definitely like the renewable side of it," Warren said, sitting among a congregation of tools and wood scraps in his home. "I've pretty much sourced at least 90 percent of my materials from reclaimed lumber."
The inside of the home feels surprisingly open and habitable for a structure not much bigger than a tool shed. And despite its diminutive size, Warren's home looks like a home. It has a gabled roof, a loft and even a front porch.
There's a quote that Warren recalls which embodies his home perfectly.
"To me, with the ideal house, the outside draws you in, and the inside draws you out," he said.
Tiny house, big benefits
In a society that's so often occupied with building bigger, more extravagant structures, tiny homes seem almost iconoclastic by nature.
But there are real benefits to building smaller. Tiny homes are both quicker and easier to build than traditional homes, and their construction produces less waste. Warren started building his in October 2014 and designed it in less than week.
They're also much cheaper.
Warren estimates that he's spent around $5,000 on the project, not including labor and time spent acquiring materials.
And the smaller structure makes it easier to sustainably power utilities.
Warren's house is solar powered, uses its own water tank and has a composting waste system.
Of course, building a tiny home came with its own set of unique challenges for Warren, who has experience in both construction and drafting.
"Everything takes longer than it should, even though it's so small," Warren said. "On a normal construction site, you start building everything slowly, and then you get in the groove. With this, once you start getting in the groove of something, you're already finished."
Though Warren is nearing completion on his home, zoning in the Town of Fraser still prohibits him from living in it.
Because the home is built on a trailer, it's considered an RV, which the town won't allow Warren to inhabit.
"Obviously, it's kind of all the rage everywhere," said Town Planner Catherine Trotter, referring to the tiny home movement.
The increasing popularity of tiny homes has pushed many towns to reconsider their zoning. It's a conversation Fraser may have in the future, Trotter said,
"We've just had kind of a general discussion on it, but at this point, we're not moving forward with changing any codes," she said. "We're just kind of looking at what other towns are doing right now."
Warren said he hopes to work with the town in the future to change zoning codes to accommodate tiny homes within the town limits. He said he also hopes to build more tiny homes in the future, and possibly pursue the novel concept of a tiny home community.
To learn more about Warren's tiny home, visit http://www.tinyhousebigproblem.com.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.