On June 27, the annual “Tiny House Cookout” was held at Roy Campbell Drive in Hazard, adjacent to the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) office at the Job Site Center. During the event, community members were able to tour seven tiny houses up for auction.
The tiny houses are part of the “Building it Forward” project sponsored by KVEC, in which participating local school districts build tiny houses that are showcased then auctioned off. This is the third year that the Tiny House project has been held in the region.
KVEC officials said the project is a long process, lasting the whole school year. Students get the trailers in August, work on them throughout the school year and then showcase them in April, said Danny Vance, a technical consultant with KVEC. Once the houses are auctioned off, Vance said, the money is then invested into new tiny houses. Each participating school receives a base of $15,000 to buy supplies with, then 80 percent of the final auction bid amount is given to the schools to make new houses the following year, Vance explained.
The project, Vance said, started out as a grant, and because of the way it is set up, it is self-sustaining and on-going. Other KVEC officials agreed.
“The project is designed to be on-going and sustainable each year,” said KVEC Strategic Partner Lead Ron Daley. “Building it Forward is an investment in creating a future story for students interested in learning skills for a real-world vocation.”
Vance said he has worked in school systems for nearly 30 years, and this project seems to be one of the most beneficial to be established.
“I’ve been in education for 29 years and this is without a doubt the greatest project I’ve ever been involved with,” said Vance. “It’s a really good project.”
Vance said he believes the project will help guide students with what they want to pursue, help teach valuable skills and better prepare students to be college and career ready.
“I appreciate that someone from KVEC had the forethought and took the initiative to secure grant money to start this project,” said Vance. “It’s been the best idea I’ve ever heard, because I don’t know of a better project for high school kids to give them pride about themselves, pride about their school, pride about their work.”
Many of the students, Vance said, become very involved with the process and feel a deep sense of pride and accomplishment upon completion of the houses. One Lee County student, Vance said, talked about how football players always strut with swag in the hallways, but now, the student said he feels like he did something equally important and has the confidence too.
“It’s really an accomplishment for them and they really take pride in their work,” said Vance. “It’s just amazing to watch them work.
“I think this brings a little more reality to people,” said Vance, explaining that the project lets the community see the importance of vocational and technical programs.
The following schools were participants in this year’s construction project: Breathitt County Area Technology Center/Jackson Independent; Floyd County Area Technology Center; Knott County Area Technology Center; Lee County Area Technology Center/Owsley County/Wolfe County; and Phelps High School in Pike County, which had two houses in the auction this year. One of the Phelps’s houses was originally sold in the first tiny house auction for $17,250 to a couple who was renovating their main residence. The couple has now finished renovations and donated the house back.
All of the 2019 houses were built on 8.5 feet by 24 feet trailers with two 7,000-pound axles, while the returned 2017 tiny house was built on a 8 feet by 20 feet trailer. Vance said each of the houses are different and unique, with none sharing the exact same layout, design or features.
The auction, Vance said, is pretty simple.
“It runs a lot like eBay,” Vance said.
Bidding, he explained, is made in $50 increments, and anything over that will be held as a reserve in case another bid is made. The minimum bid, Vance said, generally starts at material cost of the house, so it is usually around $15,000, however some schools received community donations, so their budgets were higher, resulting in higher starting bids. Many of the houses, Vance said, sell for just around the material cost, so they do not include the cost of labor.
“We just really enjoy and appreciate the fact that we have the project to do, so if we can just regenerate the material money for the next year, we’re fine,” said Vance.
The auction, Daley said, will end at 3 p.m. on July 16. Afterwards, Daley said, buyers will have 15 days to pick up their homes.
A guided touring on site will be available every Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each week until the auction ends, said Daley. Interested individuals can set up a tour date by contacting KVEC’s office, or view the houses online. If you would like to make a bid, visit, www.theholler.org/.