ROP construction takes on big project of building ‘tiny house’


Photo by Gavin Mancha

Senior Foremen, Jacob Sheidamen finishing up the third wall with the final screws as senior Devin Ghelardi supervises.

Gavin Mancha , Staff Editor

Central’s Regional Occupational Program construction class has started the huge project of building a”tiny house” under the instruction of East teacher John Custodio. The plans for the house are now complete, but construction is still in the initial phases. When finished, the house will be auctioned off and the profits will be rolled into a future instruction-based, construction project for the course

It’s taught me independence and responsibility.”

— Henry Gerhart

The project name is decidedly misleading considering the fact that it is no small endeavor. It comes with all the complexities of building a house from top to bottom, just on a smaller scale. Mr. Custodio and his students will take on the time-consuming challenges that come with the construction of any home, from structural integrity, to electrical wiring, to plumbing installation. A tiny home’s design is actually more daunting in certain ways, considering the fact that it must accommodate the demands of everyday living in just a fraction of the space.

The concept for the tiny house project was first sparked after a local business donated a trailer in 2016. However, after examining the trailer’s potential to serve as a mobile foundation, Mr. Custodio determined it could not bear the weight or size of a tiny home. This disappointment was circumvented  by R.O.P. Area Coordinator Anthony Ayerza, who provided the class with a second trailer that had the size and durability required. Paul Birrell, the Central Unified Director of 7-12 & adult instruction, along with the Central District and school board members, stepped in with the additional tools and materials to keep the project going.

This hands-on class venture has already provided valuable lessons for students in terms of practical experience. Even though he won’t be here to see the final outcome, senior Henry Gerhart says, “It’s taught me independence and responsibility.” The project has also prompted students to examine alternative design, construction and living standards. When asked if he would live in the tiny house he is working on, junior foremen Hayden Rodriguez says, “Yes, I would live in this tiny. You can take it wherever you want, and it’s cheap.”

The idea of living a simpler life in a smaller space may have first taken hold in American culture after Henry David Thoreau published “Walden,” his account of living in a 150 square foot cabin, but the modern tiny house movement gained momentum with the mortgage crisis of 2008 according to journalist Emily Nonko. With home foreclosures rising as high as 80%, many Americans began to question whether large homes were worth the cost. Environmental impact concerns over rapidly growing populations and housing developments also contributed to tiny house popularity. According to, “People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular reasons include environmental concerns, and the desire for more time and freedom.”

It’s difficult to project a completion date for this tiny house as it will depend on the the skill and dedication of several years of students enrolled in the class. Student error may require rebuilds or additional funding. In any case, this a rare instructional opportunity for students to truly learn what it takes to see a construction project through, beginning to end, as well as what’s required to make that project valuable to an actual consumer.