Tiny houses, which are like regular houses, but smaller, have been taking the United States by storm, and have even worked their way into a tiny town such as Hillsboro.
Brandon and Jana Voth, Tabor College graduates and Hillsboro residents, are working on building their own tiny house.
“Two years back, we were still working at Ebenfeld, and we got a sense of unrest like that wasn’t really where we were called to be at,” Brandon said.
“We were enjoying it, but there was still something that felt off,” Jana added.
Brandon and Jana felt they were being called to something else, but it was not until they heard about tiny houses from their friends Kyle and Danae Schmidt that they felt the call to build homes.
After hearing about the Schmidt’s tiny home, the Voths felt it was a movement with values they could get behind.
“To live more simply, to be mobile, to have more time for family and community, to be with people instead of taking care of a big house, less strain on the environment and your budget,” Brandon said. “Those are some reasons why.”
Before building for others, Brandon wanted to build a tiny home for his family not only to get production mistakes out of the way, but to experience the lifestyle.
“We wanted to live in one first so we could say ‘Hey, we know what it’s like, this is what it’s like, join us in it,’ rather than ‘You should do that. I don’t know what it’s about, but you should do it,” Brandon said.
Brandon wants to build tiny houses as either a business or a ministry.
“We thought a lot about the homeless community,” Brandon said. “This might not be the end all, be all goal for them, but a tiny house could be a good temporary solution for giving them a place of their own off the streets that’s much more affordable than trying to find an apartment or normal size house.”
The Voths also chose to build a tiny house so that they could have a place to call their own.
“I think we’ve lived in four or five houses here in town over 6 years,” Brandon said, “so we were tired of picking up and moving.”
Brandon does most of the work on the home, but has had some help along the way.
“We have some friends that come and help,” Brandon said. “(My 3-year-old son) Malakai helps a bit too.”
The frame for the tiny house is built, however, it still needs siding and the inside finished.
“I’m most excited to get the inside finished,” Jana said. “The outside’s exciting, but I’m most excited to see how the inside takes shape, for the stairs to go in and the counter goes in so we can see what it’ll actually look like.”
The process for creating a tiny house was challenging for the Voths, due to the work in building it, plus the slimming down of their possessions.
“Everything in a tiny house has to at least serve two functions,” Brandon said, “so we’ll have stairs that serve as storage, and a couch that serves as a bed. Lots of items need to do lots of different things.”
Even though the house is tiny, it’s big enough for the family of three, with one on the way, to be able to still have a washer and dryer, shower, microwave, oven, and stove.
“It’s going to feel a bit more like a normal house,” Brandon said. “It’ll feel more like that than some of the more simple tiny houses out there.”
The Voths have been thrifty in their tiny home, getting second hand material from friends and family.
“We had a lot of lumber we reused, and got a floor from a guy I worked with,” Brandon said. “We got all of his vinyl tile for our floor. We got a reused sink and a couple windows and things like that. We try to help the budget and help other people take stuff off of their hands.”
The Voths do not have a specified end date, but are hoping to be finished with their tiny home in a year to a year and a half.
They also have been considering where to locate once it is finished, having talked to people around the Hillsboro area with extra land to park it on.
“We’ve also considered moving closer to my folks (in Washington),” Brandon said. “We want our kids to grow up close to family. Malakai sees his grandparents once a year, which I don’t think that’s enough growing up.”
The Voths receive many questions about their adventure, and their advice for people wanting to take the leap includes “research and planning.”
“Build for you and figure out why you’re doing it,” Brandon said. “Hold onto that, because it’s very easy to lose sight of why you’re doing it and to start thinking ‘Oh, it’d be nice to have this and do that,’ but if you’re trying to live simply and buck the materialism, it’s easy to lose sight of that.”