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TRADART Foundation | Tiny Houses

Member Spotlight:
TRADART Foundation

Launched in 2016, TRADART’s Tiny Houses is a two-year program that culminates in a fully-functioning tiny home. The 200+-square-feet Tiny Houses built by Advanced Woodworking and Construction Technology high school students are part of a district-wide initiative program that supports learning craftsmanship and provides a Career Technical Education pathway. Following an initial $50,000 grant from the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, $25,000 from the Santa Barbara Unified School District, and TRADART’s supervision and monetary help, the Tiny Houses Program will be self-sustained by the proceeds of each individual sale. It is a great opportunity to have the tiny houses as a relevant application through which to teach craftsmanship. All three will be up for auction at “The Big Show” at Earl Warren Showgrounds on May 23, 5 – 7 pm.

Key Challenges & Solutions: Once TRADART received the $50,000 grant for the Tiny Houses High School Project from the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, the Construction Technology and Woodshop teachers had to figure out how to instruct high school students to build a tiny house. They had to learn about a construction schedule; how to create curriculum for their class; how to work as a team (as well as how to teach working as a team); and how to teach construction in 50 minute increments. One of the biggest challenges in building the tiny houses is the time constraint. Students have such short class periods and the woodshop teachers (Caleb Chadwick (Santa Barbara High School), Chris Mollkoy (Dos Pueblos High School), Justin Howe (San Marcos High School)) have to diligently work to ensure everything is done in time. With TRADART’s guidance, it was advised that the process of teaching the tiny house project turn into a two year-long progrmt where Framing and Rough Carpentry is taught in the first year and Finish Carpentry and Cabinetry is taught in the second year. And as with life, they have deal with natural disasters such as not having some of your team members on the job due to fires, floods, debris flows and school closures or days missed due to illness. The teachers were quick to adapt! They solved new problems and learned to share their professional needs and questions with TRADART.

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TRADART’s Expert Tip:

Working with students is an incredibly rewarding experience. Empowering them to succeed and preparing them for whatever is next, be it community college, the world of work, or beyond is a fantastic endeavor. It is revealing to see that the Santa Barbara Unified School District is adding more wood shop classes because of increased popularity, which stems from the Tiny House Program. Many construction professionals have joined the classes to volunteer and help get the project done on time. (Interested in lending a helping hand? https://tradartfoundation.org/volunteer/) There is a robust response from industry to come to the shops and get involved with the project. Many of the new students signing up for wood shop class are young women; some of them discover that construction is for them, others take it solely for personal knowledge. Students coming from the junior high school wood shop classes are ahead, in terms of skill sets, compared to the first year high school students. It is rewarding to see the eagerness and perseverance of students. Seeing students run into the shop and strap on their tools belts within the first 20 seconds of being in class is invigorating. They can’t wait to start working on their tiny house.

SBCA Members Who Participated in this Project

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