…Kevin Riedel of Richmond was inspired by the idea of living in “gospel poverty” and focusing on his spirituality when he built his 130-square-foot house four years ago.
The then-23-year-old also wanted “to have my own house but wanted flexibility in terms of where it could be, and I wanted something that was more affordable than getting a standard mortgage,” he says.
Though his grandfather had helped his dad build a house, the thought of constructing a large house was daunting. A tiny home on wheels was a great solution. His idea was to keep the tiny house on someone’s property, but when he couldn’t find a place, he bought the land where the house now sits. Instead of the freedom he sought, he now has some degree of responsibility as a property owner. As the only one of his friends who owns a place, he often hosts cookouts and gatherings around his fire pit.
His cabin-like house has a gable metal roof and is clad in western red cedar. The door opens to a spacious living area filled with a refurbished love seat. The other end has an L-shaped kitchen and bathroom tucked under the loft. Including the trailer, it cost about $20,000.
His parents insisted that he include a flushing toilet rather than a composting one because they feared he’d never be able to find a girlfriend otherwise. (Since then, Riedelhas decided to become a priest; he will attend seminary at Catholic University this fall.)
“Building a tiny house definitely isn’t a fairy tale,” he says, noting that some tiny-house bloggers romanticize it. The first winter, his hot-water heater froze and broke. This past winter, the water supply pipe to the toilet froze and flooded the home, so he replaced the pine floor milled by a craftsman in his home town of Little Washington, Va., with vinyl tiles that resemble wood. “You have to have some degree of determination to push through the upsetting, disappointing moments,” Riedel says.
Even the tiny-house movement can include the desire for more. “There’s a bit of pressure to build niftier, cuter, tinier, bigger, more cleverly, more artistically, etc.,” he says, which is something that he’s had to fight against. The house will remain on the property while Riedel, who is completing an internship at a rectory, attends seminary. A friend, Will Gilrain, is living there now. “It makes you realize how much — or how little — you need,” Gilrain says…