Carpenter builds his first tiny home

Scott Heffley of Monticello has been hooked on home building since he helped his parents build a log home in Mahomet at the age of 18.

“That’s originally how I got started in construction — building that log home. It was quite the learning experience,” said Heffley.

Thirty years later, the carpenter who works on high end home construction is jumping on the tiny home bandwagon, finishing his first house on wheels and forming Pin Oak Tiny Homes.

Heffley and his wife Lisa are now empty nesters, and although both still work full time were looking for ways to get away on weekends.

The possibility of an RV came up, and then Lisa mentioned the idea of a tiny home, which are defined as houses of less than 400-square-feet that are on wheels and can be moved.

“A light bulb went off in my head. Heck, I could build them to sell,” said Scott.

His first effort was completed on Aug. 17 and will be difficult to top. The 386-square-foot structure includes two lofts — one of which can hold a king sized bed — a large, octagonal feature window in the main living room, cedar shingles, a second floor outdoor wood deck, birch wood throughout the interior, spray foam insulation to keep heat and air conditioning in as well as stabilizing the structure when it is moved, a full standup shower and kitchen.

Oh, and his prize and carpentry-oriented joy: A curved wood door on a track for the shower.

“Everyone does a barn door, but do they do one that curves?” said Heffley, noting it was one of the most admired features when he and Lisa took the home on a 2,000-mile road trip to a tiny home convention in Austin, Texas shortly after it was completed. About 12,000 people went through his first tiny home, which weighs in at 16,000 lbs.

“I went a little over the top to show what I can do,” he said of his first tiny home effort. “ It might be a little expensive to sell, but it’s more of a show home.”

He built it as time and money allowed so it took about 18 months to complete, but Heffley thinks he could knock out three smaller ones per year if Pin Oak becomes his full-time vocation.

“It’s so much fun to be creative, and this is what I really want to do. But it will take time,” he added.

The advantages to a tiny home? The small footprint, and the ability to be fancy and carefree with the option to move (they have taken it successfully to RV parks). And though small in square footage, nearly every space multi-tasks — a dining room table doubles as a work space, storage is included under the stairs that lead to the pair of lofts, and a couch folds into an extra bed.

But even the larger ones are small, so occupants typically need to scale back. You will also need at least a 1 ton truck to pull Heffley’s masterpiece.

Financing is a bit of a challenge as well, mostly because the concept is relatively new in Illinois. If demand grows, Heffley is confident that will change and that financial institutions will borrow procedures that have worked in tiny home-heavy areas like Oregon, California and Texas.

The concept increased in popularity with the housing market collapse of 2008 when potential homeowners began looking at lower-cost options.

But the idea has roots that go back more than 150 years, when author Henry David Thorough published “Walden,” chronicling his experience over two years, two month sand two days in a 150-square-foot cabin he built near Walden Pond outside Concord, Massachusetts.

And even though the tiny home was Lisa’s idea, she admits it’s just a little small for her tastes.

“I’m OK with downsizing, but this is not something I could do,” said Mrs. Heffley. But she does see the appeal to young couples, or to widows and widowers who want less space and minimal upkeep.

But for Scott the builder, it’s not a future housing plan, but a creative outlet; one he hopes to do full time in the future.

More information on Pin Oak Tiny Homes is available at www.pinoaktinyhomes.com or on the business’ Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PinOakTinyHomes/.

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