Bemidji state prepares to sell small house built by students to fund scholarship

The Department of Technology, Art, and Design at Bemidji State University may have you covered.

Students from Bemidji State worked on the planning, design and construction of a green and elegant 206 m² building. foot tiny house since 2017. The project has been delayed a bit due to the pandemic but is now fully completed and ready for residents.

The university is preparing to sell the pint-sized mansion – which will be auctioned off to the public in August. The funds from its sale will go to a scholarship endowment fund.

About the house

On Wednesday, July 14, Professors Dave Towley and Tim Brockman gave the Pioneer a tour of the house, touting its functionality and amenities.

The tiny house features energy efficient windows and structurally insulated panels that will lower utility bills as well as rooftop solar panels for off-grid living. However, it can be connected to the electrical network if necessary.

It has a full-size mattress, as well as a sofa bed. The kitchen has full-size cabinets, a full-size refrigerator, a three-burner stove and an oven.

What are the advantages of living in a mini-house? Towley said some have raised the idea of ​​using it for recreational purposes, such as a cabin, an Airbnb and even a remote work desk. Of course, living there like a normal house – just smaller – is also an option.

“During the pandemic, people were buying hangars for remote offices. People were buying (tiny houses) for distant offices. It could certainly be a remote office, it could be a leisure property. Some people saw it and they said, “Oh, what a great Airbnb, you could buy a lakefront lot and put it on the lake lot,” that sort of thing. Other people say, “It would be a big (house) reduction for two people. “

Professors Dave Towley and Tim Brockman clean up the small house the students built for a public presentation on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, outside Bridgeman Hall at BSU.  (Hannah Olson / Pioneer Bemidji)

Professors Dave Towley and Tim Brockman clean up the small house the students built for a public presentation on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, outside Bridgeman Hall at BSU. (Hannah Olson / Pioneer Bemidji)

Years in branding

The project began in the fall of 2016 when students from the School of Technology, Art and Design taking classes with Tim Brockman, professor at TAD, and David Towley, assistant professor at TAD, were tasked with developing design concepts for a small house.

The design concepts for the house were produced by students of Sachel Josefson’s Building Systems course, and the project was coordinated by Towley’s applied project management students.

The construction was carried out by students in a course on the built environment under the direction of Tim Brockman. The course focuses on the technology used to create an artificial environment.

“It was a student idea,” Brockman explained. “In one of my classes, one of the local churches contacted us and told us they needed to build a performance hall. They bought all the materials and we could help with the design and construction. We took it as a community service project.

“When the students were building this little playhouse – which was very cute with a porch, railing, and shutters – they said, ‘Brockman, why don’t we just build a little house?’ It got them excited about the possibility of designing it. We worked with the students to reach out to other areas of design students and faculty. It got the project going. Then it was the will of the department and from the university to say, “we will provide the initial $ 25,000 to complete the project.”

The small house in the state of Bemidji was on display during Art in the Park on Saturday, July 17, 2021, in the parking lot of the Watermark Art Center.  (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

The small house in the state of Bemidji was on display during Art in the Park on Saturday, July 17, 2021, in the parking lot of the Watermark Art Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Most of the actual construction took place in 2018. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in Bemidji State on Earth Day 2019 to celebrate the nearly completed project and the many students who participated in its construction. .

“We had planned that this would be done last year, but of course with the pandemic we couldn’t have students on campus to complete it,” Towley said. “We did a few things, as the base of the table was finished, Dr Brockman and I just put a table top on it. Basically, everything here is student work. We just did touch up paint and that sort of thing.

The house was almost entirely designed and built by students, which was a great learning opportunity for them.

“The main benefit is the education of the student, the secondary benefit is funding for scholarships,” Towley said of the project. “If you go ahead (the BSU website) and look at the virtual renderings, they are very close to what we actually built. There are subtle differences, but that’s basically what they designed.

“They learned the spatial references. They actually put the footprints from the chassis that is below here on the floor in Bridgeman Hall with duct tape. Then they used different cutouts of cardboard and so on to try. to get a feel for spatial relationships in a relatively confined space, and from that point on, they moved on to the design phase.

Professor Dave Towley admires the work inside the small house built by the students on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, outside Bridgeman Hall at BSU.  (Hannah Olson / Pioneer Bemidji)

Professor Dave Towley admires the work inside the small house built by the students on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, outside Bridgeman Hall at BSU. (Hannah Olson / Pioneer Bemidji)

Student takeaways

Besides obvious construction and design skills, students learned a lot about the ups and downs of real-world construction. Manage deadlines, budget constraints and other people.

“The students went through a lot of frustration and a lot of difficulty getting over this with problem solving. It is the reality of life as we know it today; American businesses expect you to fix the problems, ”Brockman said. “Communication is important. Communication and problem solving can keep frustration at bay. And it was a difficult lesson for some of our students to learn.

Brockman said the best outcome was to see how the project was a successful learning platform for students as well as faculty.

“It gave them real experience,” he continued. “It’s one thing to talk about managing a build, it’s quite another when you see how dysfunctional it can be at times. These are experiences that are extremely valuable because when you get into the build. industry, you will know what to expect.

Towley said his project management students were tasked with learning how to lead one another without being too bossy.

“It was a great learning platform,” Towley said. “We have students who have used this anecdotally as a reference. Something when you go to a job interview they ask, what did you do? The little house captivates the imagination. And I had a few students who told me they talked about it.

“We learned our lessons, I would say it would be fair to say so, about this house. He was a pilot. Will the things we do differently next time? Probably. But I’m very proud of what the students have done, ”Towley added.

The kitchen and loft of the student-built cottage are pictured on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, outside Bridgeman Hall at BSU.  (Hannah Olson / Pioneer Bemidji)

The kitchen and loft of the student-built cottage are pictured on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, outside Bridgeman Hall at BSU. (Hannah Olson / Pioneer Bemidji)

Community effort

Both inside and outside BSU, the little house was a community affair.

Besides TAD students, students in sustainability programs helped ensure the project was efficient and environmentally friendly, and marketing students helped promote housing.

“There are a lot of people behind this,” Towley said. “We have received full support from the highest level of the university, throughout our department, and we could not have done it without this support. “

Many companies and industry experts lend their time, expertise, materials, or finances to the home.

“It is wired by licensed electricians. It’s done by licensed plumbers, but the cabinets and shelving, that was our students, they built it all for that, ”Towley said.

The following companies contributed to the project: Frontier Electric, Wanzek Construction, a MasTec company, Marvin Windows and Doors, Northwoods Lumber, Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence, Extreme Panels, Dick’s Plumbing and Heating, St. Cloud Refrigeration, Inc, Done Right Drywall LLC, Sherwin-Williams Store, Potlatch Corporation, Simonson Design, Bemidji Welder Supplies Inc., Milwaukee Tools, Acme Tools, Frizzell Furniture Gallery, BSU Alumni Association, Twin City Discount Granite, Pleasureland RV Center in Brainerd, Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, KB RV Center in Bemidji and LePier Shoreline and Outdoors.

Professor Tim Brockman shows off the insulation boards used in the small house built by the students on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in BSU's Bridgeman Hall.  (Hannah Olson / Pioneer Bemidji)

Professor Tim Brockman shows off the insulation boards used in the small house built by the students on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in BSU’s Bridgeman Hall. (Hannah Olson / Pioneer Bemidji)

Going forward, Brockman and Towley said that thinking about a successful project, they would like to do something like this again.

“Now that we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, it was definitely worth it. The students really enjoyed it and learned a lot from it, ”Towley said.

Brockman said he didn’t see the potential for this to become an annual project, but said he hopes he and his students can work on more multidisciplinary projects in the future.

“I see the potential for the department to come together and complete projects,” he said. “I think with the result of that, we see the benefits of these multidisciplinary projects that span over a year, maybe two years. Whether it is a small house or a project is as interesting as the discussions of TAD, it is in the future to decide.

The tiny house will be offered for sale to the public through a sealed bidding process starting at $ 50,000, which will cover the university’s $ 25,000 direct expenses and $ 43,000 in-kind donations. All bids must include $ 5,000 in serious funds and will be accepted on a rolling basis starting August 9, with the highest bids posted on www.TADTinyHouse.com every Friday. The winning bid will be announced on August 24.

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Lois Mendez

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