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Ben’s Tiny House
(Fall 2011 – Summer 2012)
My name is Ben Norton. This is my tiny house story. A neighbor of mine was all excited about your blog and showed me lots of really cool tiny houses that people have built. I was hooked. I just said, “That’s what I’m going to do,” and I just started; buying materials as I had money. I don’t think anyone really thought I was serious because I was eleven years old at the time.
Growing up, my parents gave my brother and me skills that many kids don’t have. We worked on lots of different projects with real hammers, nails and wood. From an early age I was like a sponge and absorbed all I could about power tools, building, tree cutting, engine repair, and even asking the right people for advice and help.
One of the first things I did was sell some high tech toys and bought a couple of tools (thanks Justin). Then another friend gave me about $500 worth of Dewalt tools to encourage me (thanks Gabe). When I started framing the floor, another neighbor helped me get started and leveled the site (thanks Ed). That was right around my twelfth birthday. I showed my friend Lynne how to use a power drill properly and we put on the decking. (It’s a lot of fun when you get to tell an adult to start over when they don’t do things right!) Then school and life got busy and money ran out. The project was covered up with a tarp for a while.
Oh yeah, the size is 12 x 20 with 8 foot walls, so it’s not exactly tiny!
Spring came very early, so I was able to get back on the project and I bought a bunch of lumber. Tim, a seasoned builder and friend, brought the framing wood to me on his trailer and made a roof truss template for me to work from. Three good friends from up the road (Isaiah, Nathanael and William), came to help me build the roof trusses and frame the walls. They gave a lot of their time helping me and just being all around great friends. I decided on a gambrel style so I could get more space upstairs.
Word got out around my school that I was building a house. My teachers encouraged me. I’d get home from school and get to work on my house; sometimes with friends, and sometimes by myself. Once school was out for the summer, I helped Tim on his building crew for about 6 weeks. He taught me a ton and gave me a lot of experience. To catch Tim’s crew, I had to get up early and meet him just before 7 am. Not exactly the best way to “enjoy” your summer, but I wanted the knowledge he had and just went for it. The effort paid off and I still had several weeks to work on my own house. Since it was a hot summer, it really helped to have lots of places to go swimming and spear fishing each day.
My goal was to get the house dried in as soon as possible because I was about to move to a new school and would not be able to work on it again for a while. It was a very busy last 4 weeks and so many great guys came to lend a hand getting up the bubble wrap, trusses, metal and trim. I had worked with Justin on a couple projects and he was the main guy when we did the metal siding.
Many thanks to Justin, John, Ethan, Brodin and most of all my parents for being the first ones to put tools into my hands.
I’m happy to say that the place has been dry through rain, snow and high winds for the last seven months. I hope to get the second floor and windows in some time this year and will post more progress when it’s available.
Thanks for stopping by.
Good on you, Ben. You’ve done an impressive job on that house.