Every young person needs a good foundation. Lila Bossi spent her life savings on hers, quite literally.

The high school senior is building a tiny house using materials she’s gathered from friends, scraps from her father’s construction business and yard sale deals. But she paid about $3,000 (“my life savings”) for the custom-made flatbed trailer she’s building the movable house on. “I really didn’t want to skimp on that because it is going to be holding a lot of weight, and I figured it should probably be new.”

We called Bossi up to ask how she got the idea for this project and what she hopes to do with a tiny house of her own.

IT’S ACADEMIC: Bossi is a student at Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport (formerly known as Merriconeag). Her tiny house wheels started turning late last winter when the faculty there announced that rising seniors should come up with a big project. “I have always been intrigued by tiny houses, but I never thought about doing my own until we started thinking about our senior project for school.”

CURB APPEAL: Some students might do an oral history project involving great-granddad or take a crack at writing a novella or something. What appealed to her about a tiny house? Creating something with her hands, for starters. Bossi comes from a creative family – her father, Adrian, is a builder, her mother, Lisa, is a color specialist, designer and book illustrator – and she and her younger sister had a childhood of shared projects, “building little tables or very rudimentary dollhouses.” But on a deeper level: “The really simple minimalist lifestyle and the freedom to really take your home with you wherever you go.”

CONSTRUCTION CHALLENGES: The hardest part was conceptualizing the Scrap Shack, as she’s calling it. An architect who is serving as her mentor recommended design software, but the tool he suggested cost around $700, she said. “That scared me.” Instead she downloaded a $10 app. “I tried that and it was so frustrating, I decided, I am just going to go old school and take scissors to paper. And I found that incredibly helpful.” She’s let herself be led by the items she’s found or been given.

THE KITCHEN SINK: Such as? Pine boards for the flooring, a mini fridge from a yard sale ($10) and an oval sink, appropriately tiny, “that my neighbor showed up with one day.” The house features some very cute windows, “quite a score,” courtesy of a Marvin Windows and Doors salesman her father knows. He was upgrading his samples, which included a bright yellow model. “I don’t know how popular yellow windows are.” For the less intriguing beige windows he offered, she found some chartreuse paint in the basement, and her mother gave her the thumbs up. “She is really helping me in consulting and refining my ideas and telling me which paint is OK to use.”

WORK IN PROGRESS: Bossi makes a point to work on some aspect of the Scrap Shack every day, even if that means sanding one board. “It’s a good way to keep me motivated.” She has a ways to go on the interior of the house (you can follow her progress on her blog, lilastinyhouse.wordpress.com) although it is weatherproofed already. She’s working on a plan for heat. “I have been talking to people who are knowledgeable in that field and I’ve arranged to meet with one to come consult with me.” Propane is a likely fuel candidate, but she won’t need much. “We are going to try to insulate it really well.” She’ll also have to wire it herself.

THE ELECTRIC COMPANY: That sounds like a major challenge. She laughed. “The whole thing is a little daunting to me because it is all so new to me. It has been such a learning curve. Like way more than I have anticipated, but I have enjoyed that aspect of it. I feel so much connection to the project because I have got to work on it with my own hands.”

ON THE ROAD: Bossi would like to take the tiny house on the road at some point, including a trip to Brooksville to visit her grandmother, who raises goats and makes goat cheese on her Sunset Acres Farm (available at places like Whole Foods in Portland and Morning Glory in Brunswick). On visits, Bossi has watched her grandmother at her work, but she’s hoping to use some down time after high school to do more than just hang around in the cheese room picking up “little snippets.” “I think it would be really interesting to spend a month with her or something to really learn her trade.”

DORM LIFE: Her college plans are up in the air, but she knows she doesn’t want to go any farther than New Hampshire. What about the college down the street, Bowdoin, where her parents met? “I know that people say when you are at college it doesn’t really matter where you are, but it just seems a little too close to home.” When she gets wherever she’s going (she was off to an interview the day after we talked), will the house come with her? “At least for my first year of college, wherever I end up, I will want to live in campus housing just to meet people and not be the loner that is living in her own house. But maybe eventually?”

GRADUATE HOUSING: What happens to the tiny house post-college? “I really hope that it will be a place of my own that someday I can live in.”

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