By the end of the school year, students at Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Bourne will have built a fully functioning, 128-square-foot tiny smart home on wheels on the school’s campus.
The project is the brainchild of the informational technology students but will also be worked on by students in the carpentry, plumbing, electrical, landscaping and horticulture shops, and will showcase each group’s capabilities.
“I’m really excited about how we’re going to come together,” said Joshua Burdi, a sophomore from Falmouth. “It’s such a unifying and cool experience, and I’m really excited to be a part of that.”
Teacher Kenneth Waite said his students were interested in the collaborative project because they want to know more about what the other shops are learning.
“Collaboration is important to me,” he said.
The home is going to be built on an 8-by-16-foot trailer that was delivered to the campus last week. The dimensions of the home will not exceed the area of the trailer.
Construction has not yet started, but students are planning out which appliances and amenities they will use in the home. With such a small amount of space every inch counts, so they are being deliberate with their decisions when it comes to everything from stoves to heating and cooling.
Among their considerations are small cooktops for cooking and a ductless heating and cooling system, as well as composting toilets that would keep the structure as “green” as possible.
They are also looking at ways to maximize storage space within the building. For example, a staircase leading upstairs to a lofted bedroom could double as storage space.
The IT students are looking at ways to make it into a “smart” home—one that is connected to the internet to operate the lights, thermostat and doorbell camera.
Joshua said they are looking at connecting those devices to Google Home or Amazon Alexa, but if that does not pan out, they might look at installing a touchscreen control panel powered by a Raspberry Pi—a single-panel computer device.
The budget for the project is about $50,000, and Mr. Waite said he is confident the final build will cost less than that. Technical Programs Supervisor Nolan LeRoy said they are working with some of their vendors on securing donations for the project, and Mr. Waite said he is hopeful vendors might also be willing to donate some of the appliances.
Mr. Waite said tiny homes have become popular in the past few years, especially among Millennials who want to stop renting properties but are struggling to purchase their own homes. They have also been used as an eco-conscious way to provide in-law housing, he said.
The fate of this particular project is still undecided, but the top choices are to have it remain on campus to show the community and prospective students what the students are learning in their shops, or to auction it to the community as a fundraiser.
Sophomore Emery O’Keefe said he likes the idea of having created a home that someone will be able to live in, particularly one that is built on wheels so that if a family has to move to a new town, they can bring their home with them.
“You won’t have to say goodbye to a house,” he said.