It is wonderful to see our students do well. And Elizabeth has done very well. Congratulations on this article that appeared in The Eagle-Tribune on June 4th. And given Yestermorrow's strong current and historic ties to Yale and the fact that my father is also a graduate of the Governor's Academy (nee Governor Dummer) make it even nicer. We look forward to seeing more of this series!
TINY HOUSE: Wanted: 132 square feet of home Governor's Academy alumna has blueprint for a project that's warm, green — and snug
By Victor Tine, Staff writer
This is going to be one busy summer for Elizabeth Turnbull.
The 2000 graduate of The Governor's Academy in Byfield is working "almost full time" for O'Neil Fine Builders of Beverly, a build-and-design company. And she's also building the house she will live in when she goes to graduate school at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., in August.
The thing is, she's building the house in Byfield. On the grounds of her alma mater. On a flat-bed trailer. When she's done, she's going to haul it down to New Haven and find a place for it to go.
It's going to be tiny — the interior living space will be just 7 feet, 4 inches wide by 18 feet long, or 132 square feet. That's a snug fit for Turnbull, who is 5 feet, 113/4 inches tall.
And it's going to be green — energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
"I am going to be studying urban ecology and environmental design and, without sounding too hokey, I'm interested in living that experience," Turnbull said. "This is an opportunity."
"Also, I don't love the idea of paying rent," she said.
She has set up the used trailer she bought at the academy's maintenance area on Middle Road and took delivery of the lumber late last week.
The 25-year-old Turnbull has never built a house before, but she took a furniture building course for three years at Colby College in Maine. "I loved it," she said. She has also taken a two-week home design and build course at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Warren, Vt.
She's pretty excited about the project, and she hopes other people will be, too. Between now and her departure for Yale, she's planning five "TinyRaisings" work parties. She'll invite people to help her work, maybe take a break for a swim at Plum Island, and then treat them to a barbecue afterward.
"It would be really cool to get community people involved," she said.
Turnbull estimates it would cost her about $14,000 to rent an apartment for the two years she will spend studying for her master's degree in environmental management at Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. At first, she thought she could build her tiny house for a comparable sum, but she's learned eco-friendly materials can be more costly than conventional construction. She is looking for donations of building materials and tools.
Her lumber has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a nonprofit organization that encourages responsible and sustainable forest management. Certified lumber costs about 17 percent more than conventional board.
She plans to set the house's studs at 24 inches apart, rather than the usual 16, to save on weight and building materials.
She expects to use recycled and reclaimed windows. Since they have already been constructed, it consumes no additional energy to make them. That reduces what she called the "embodied energy" of the building.
Turnbull also intends to use nontoxic paints and adhesive wherever possible.
"It's hard to find those materials and hard to afford them," she said, estimating that a can of paint without toxins costs twice as much as regular paint.
The tiny house will be solar-powered and well insulated with natural materials.
"If it's a cold winter, I expect to spend $200 for heat," she said.
She will use LED and halogen lights, which, she said, "sip very gently on your power supply."
The Governor's Academy has been highly supportive of her project, giving her the space to work and encouragement. "Everybody has been unbelievable," she said.
Turnbull doesn't expect the tiny house to be 100 percent completed when she leaves for grad school. Some things, plumbing for example, will depend partly on the site she chooses for the house. But she expects the house to be "eminently livable" by August.
After she gets her degree in 2010, Turnbull said there are a number of professional job possibilities.
"I would like to continue exploring and improving the built environment," she said.
But she thinks she'll want to hang onto the tiny house. She might use it as her office.
"I don't think it will ever be done, that it will ever come to a point where I say nothing more needs to be done," she said.
The making of Tiny House
This is the first in a series of stories on the Tiny House. The Daily News will be following the progress of Elizabeth Turnbull and her green house every two weeks until August when she leaves for Yale with her new home.
Turnbull has also started a blog about the project — www.turnbulltinyhouse.blogspot.com — to let people know how it's going.
The Turnbull File
Grew up in West Virginia
Moved to Massachusetts after freshman year in high school
Lives in Beverly
2000 graduate of The Governor's Academy
2004 graduate of Colby College, Waterville, Maine
Has worked at alternative energy consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
Campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004
Has bicycled across the United States and Europe
Elizabeth Turnbull is inviting anyone who is interested in helping her build her house to five weekend work parties. The schedule is:
June 21 and 22
June 28 and 29
July 12 and 13
July 26 and 27
Aug. 2 and 3
E-mail her at [email protected] to sign up.
Forest Stewardship Council-certified lumber
Studs 24 inches apart, rather than 16
LED (light-emitting diode) and halogen lights
Nontoxic paints and adhesives
Insulation with natural materials
Minimal reliance of fossil fuels