Iowa-based Central College environmental studies majors Amy Andrews and Ethan Van Kooten decided to build a tiny house for their senior project. Thanks to a hand-me-down storehouse, combined with the pair's knack for salvaging furniture from scrap, they were able to do so at a cost of just US$489.

The original plan was for Andrews and Van Kooten to build a new tiny house from scratch with a budget of $3,350. However, when it became apparent that no grant money was available, they improvised and made use of a 52-year-old granary, originally built by Van Kooten's family, which was being used as a storehouse at the time.

To transform the run-down old shed into a tiny home, the pair sourced unwanted lumber, insulation, and furniture from local buildings in the process of being demolished. A total of four windows were donated, and kitchen cabinets were acquired free-of-charge. The students also used an old hog feeder to make a loft, which is accessed by a ladder that was once part of an unwanted deer stand (a hunting post).

Unlike most of the other tiny homes we've reported on, this dwelling doesn't boast the usual off-the-grid technology you'd expect, like solar power, or composting toilet, for example. Such gear would have raised the cost too high. However, there is a (donated) wood stove installed, and Andrews and Van Kooten eventually plan to add a porch and a rainwater catchment system too.

While perhaps not well-suited to full-time habitation in its current state, the project is a testament to the kind of ingenuity often displayed in the tiny house movement. Now it's finished, it will serve as a weekend retreat on some land owned by Van Kooten's family, where it currently rests on skids.

View gallery - 6 images