Learning to Build Tiny Homes in Prison

Dear Lloyd,

Well, the books you were kind enough to send to me, I put to good use, as I’m teaching a tiny homes class at the prison as an ACE class, which stands for Adult Continued Education program. I’m now on my second class. The first one had 16 guys and this one has 21 guys. It’s a 10 week class and each person has to design his own tiny home to scale and they have to pass two tests to get a certificate. The hope is that they will then be able to design a tiny home when they get out of prison.

Here in North Carolina, they just announced that they are building a whole village of tiny homes for the homeless. I think it’s a great thing and when I’m teaching, I tell these guys getting out of prison that it really is perfect for them also. If I can get even one or two guys to buy in and build one, I will be very happy that I’ll have gotten someone to improve his life.

I try and explain that when you first get out, you won’t have a good enough paying job or the work history for a bank to give you a home loan. Nor do you have a credit score that’s high enough. And with homeless rates rising, most people are a paycheck or two from being that way. I go on and explain that if you rent a one bedroom (the average rent here is about $550 or $600.) In 10 years that’s $66,000-$72,000 and if you spent $10,000-$15,000 on your tiny home you’d save over $50,000 in the 10 years.

So I thank you for my teaching gig now my friend.

Federal Correctional Complex, Butner, North Carolina

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

2 Responses to Learning to Build Tiny Homes in Prison

  1. DW….I am impressed. I wonder if YOU can attain some sort of official certification (maybe through a Community College, or a University etc associated with the Prison)….so that when you get out, you will have the Degree/Certificate which might allow YOU to teach/earn/get benefits at local Community Colleges/University etc..? With all of the actual and practical experience you are gaining in teaching and mentoring persons in Prison, seems like you might be one of the few persons in the country to be First Qualified to teach this type of course.(these places usually need a “Piece of Paper”….)

    Good job.

  2. Wow, super inspiring. What a great way to benefit those people and society at the same time. I would love to see programs like this spread and the results of those who decide to use this skill. Who wouldn’t? Great job!

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