Tuesday, January 27, 2009
So WAY back in October, I was in Texas for a friend's wedding and made my way over to Luling to interview Brad Kittel. I would love to post some excerpts from the hour-long interview I did with him, but the truth is, I haven't even listened to it. Chances are that I won't get around to it for a while yet. But since I've finally gotten around to editing a lot of these, here are some of the photos of the Tiny Texas Houses and the man himself.
The thing that sets Tiny Texas Houses apart from a lot of other small houses is their use of almost exclusively reclaimed materials. Brad Kittel has worked in architectural salvage for many years and has people calling him from all over the country with leads on buildings which are soon to be destroyed.
In 2006, Kittel began building little houses with these materials he'd spent years and years gathering together. I have friends and family who had visited his Discovery Architectural Antiques in Gonzales long before Tiny Texas Houses was born.
When I interviewed him, Kittel said that essentially he has a short attention span. He gets going on something and gives it his all until he is able to turn it over to other people. In a very short amount of time, he has been able to put together one of the biggest tiny house companies around.
The project that Kittel has his sights on now is a tiny-house village. He wants to give workshops where people come out to an area right by the warehouse and learn to build a tiny house from the ground up. The houses would stay on site and eventually be sold to residents to live in on site. Chapels, stores, a post office, etc. would follow. When enough people were living there (I believe the magic number was 40), then the residents could vote to be declared their own township. If this went through, then the town's residents could vote on which building codes they wanted to follow, thereby releasing tiny-house building in that area from the myriad restrictions that new homes have to follow almost anywhere else.
Kittel comes across in many ways as a mad Texas scientist. His Stetson hat, round wire-rimmed glasses, tan skin and gaunt figure combine to make a really interesting man that you wouldn't expect to be building houses.
He has grand plans about how the small house movement will play out, and he mostly hopes to be a catalyst who enables the momentum to grow. Ideally, he'd like to have warehouses in every state that gather salvage material so that nearby residents have the ability to find and drop off reclaimed materials for building. Kittel uses dirty words like "barter" when talking about the ideal scenario for enabling others to build by donating time and energy to gain materials and knowledge.
Many people would be surprised to learn that Kittel doesn't live in a big, or even small, house with the money he's made on these houses. He tries to reinvest as he goes back in the business. In fact, Kittel lives in a small apartment in the warehouse for Tiny Texas Houses.
If you're not paying close enough attention, Brad Kittel can definitely come off a bit like a snake-oil salesman, until you realize that the main thing he's getting out of it is the knowledge that he's opened someone else's eyes to what is tiny, and possible.
Posted by amanda at 9:15 PM