When it comes to cable television programs, a person can find a plethora of “do-it-yourself” shows. For Dillon Johnson, one show got his attention.
A 2014 Osage High School, Johnson, who is currently enrolled in Iowa State University’s Industrial Engineering Program, decided to build his own tiny house.
“I first saw these kinds of houses on the television program ‘Tiny House Nation’,” he said. “I then went to a convention in Dallas, Texas. I liked the designs of the tiny houses they had at the convention. I had always wanted to build my own house. Doing it this way I don’t have to worry about the bills.
“The advantage of these homes is you can take them where you move. They are energy efficient and you save money down the road.”
After seeing designs, Johnson created his own design for his 38-foot by 8-foot tiny home on wheels.
“I estimate it will cost close to $30,000 to build, but it takes a lot of time and effort to do it,” Johnson said. “Building this myself will be about one-fourth the cost of buying a new one.”
Johnson is spending the summer with his parents, Vicki and Steve Johnson, on their acreage, south of Osage. He has the advantage of using their large shed to construct his home. “My parents have been helping me too rough in the structure, but from here on out it is mostly a one-man job. The finish work will take the longest,” Johnson said.
To construct the house, Johnson first had a goose-neck trailer built to specs in Georgia. The trailer has 16-inch bracing used under the house’s wooden floor, along with three axles to carry extreme weight.
Some of the features of the 13-foot tall structure are closed-cell insulation for the floor, walls and ceiling. It will have heat and air conditioning, a sliding patio door and main door, will feature two loft beds, a bathroom with a small washer and dryer, a convection oven and an electric fireplace. The tiny house will also have a kitchen, a small dining area and a living room area by the fireplace.
Because the building is mobile, certain precautions must be taken in construction of the home. “We have to leave some wiggle room around windows and the door to allow for travel,” Johnson said. “We also used tempered glass in the nine windows because it is stronger. We will use steel for the roof and siding, because as you travel shingles could blow off. We also have brakes and lights on the trailer and we will have to license it.”
Johnson hopes to have most of it completed by the time college starts in the fall, but added, “We have had to do some tweaking and I suspect we will have to do some more.”