Honey, I shrunk the house!
For sale, for a good cause.
Builder Gerald Rowlett, owner of Westlake Development Group, wanted to do something more for Oregon Veterans at this year's NW Natural Street of Dreams event, so he disrupted the showcase of super-sized homes and had a 204 square-foot tiny home built to benefit Oregon Veterans.
Go big or go home? Not always.
The tiny home will be auctioned off during the show, and online bidding is underway. Make no mistake, Rowlett and Westlake Development also have a 5,200 square-foot European farmhouse, Fairway Manor, on this year's tour.
Rowlett, whose company is based in Happy Valley, is a long-time Street of Dreams backer who has participated in Northwest Natural's annual homebuilding showcase since 2008. It was he who first suggested to organizers that they set aside a day to honor Veterans, which this year was held August 7. On this day, active and former military and up to three family members received complimentary admission to the Street of Dreams and lunch.
Approximately 60,000 people are expected to attend the Street of Dreams, located at the Vendage Master Planned Community at the Reserve Golf Course in South Hillsboro. Just six people will fit inside at at a time to view the tiny home, but the line to get in will be shaded.
To pull off the tiny home project, Rowlett enlisted help from Michelle Bredeson Boyle, a tiny house expert and designer who started Empty Nest Tiny Homes, an Airbnb village in Sherwood. Boyle squeezes a lot of style, fun, and color into her small spaces, which all exude a carefree charm free of loads of stuff.
Rowlett and Boyle had less than five months to design and build a tiny luxury home. So they called up an army of help from a long roster of building industry professionals and contractors, all of whom donated time and materials. So far, materials are valued at $140,000.
Every home on the Street of Dreams is powered by NW Natural gas, and the tiny home is no exception. The one-level abode has both a four-burner gas stove and a gas fireplace. "It's the first tiny house of its kind ever plumbed with gas," said Rowlett. Most tiny homes run on propane, but this one has high-end appliances that are field convertible so when it's off the grid it can run on propane.
From inside the tiny home's light and airy kitchen, as finishing touches were applied, Boyle said, "Framing is obviously very important in building, and lumber always has a natural crowning, so we're adding a bit of fill here on the flooring in order to get it just right." She's especially proud of the pitched roof, which adds a feeling of space and light in the kitchen.
"The predominant feature for this floor plan," she said, "was to get the Great Room effect of the big houses, as well as a living room and an office."
The living space is doubled when the front doors are open because the deck is exactly the same square feet as the house.
Another challenge of building tiny houses on wheels, she explained, is that they have to be built to withstand both a hurricane and an earthquake simultaneously. "All the tiling, the flooring, everything!"
Portland's Tiny Innovations and Brittainy Tiffany Design are other key collaborators on the tiny home project. Bliss Roofing; All Fuel; Chown Hardware; George Morlan Plumbing, Globe Lighting and Macadam Flooring and Design are among the many builders and suppliers who donated their time and expertise to the project.
"Building tiny homes gives our industry another chance to give back to the community," explained Rowlett. "My goal is to increase awareness of veterans and their families and connect that cause to local homebuilders. It's not always about building the big homes."