Downeast Maine Veteran’s Tiny House Placed on Foundation – Recap: Photos and Videos

MILBRIDGE, ME — On a misty Monday morning, August 3, a tall yellow crane is suspending a new tiny house in mid-air while carpenters guide the building onto its cement foundation. Four years ago this tiny house was an idea sketched on a paper napkin. The idea grew and attracted support from four partner organizations, several sponsors, and many volunteers.

Partner organizations Downeast Community Partners (DCP) and Maine Seacoast Mission were already working together — with volunteers — through the Mission’s Housing Rehabilitation Program to make homes in Downeast Maine safe and warm through home repairs and home insulating.

Neither DCP nor the Mission had ever tackled a tiny house. But perhaps tiny houses could serve as a new way to provide safe, warm housing to the elderly, low-income individuals and families, and military Veterans?

Word reached Mission Housing Rehab Program Manager Scott Shaw that a Washington County disabled military Veteran named Ryan needed a place to live. Ryan’s situation was a perfect reason to build a tiny house.

Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Massachusetts, the third partner organization, offered to build and donate the house. Doing so would be a great hands-on opportunity for 9th and 10th graders supervised by Lead Teacher of House Carpentry William “Bill” Italiano, to build a real house, bottom to top.

Maine architect Jeri D.W. Spurling of Spurling Design offered to design the tiny house according to Ryan’s needs. Pro bono. Ryan also helped with financing and sweat equity.

The fourth partner organization, C.F. Adams Charitable Trust, agreed to fund the project which was dubbed by the partner groups the Downeast Maine Tiny House Project.

The Project was not without setbacks. Originally meant to be in Cherryfield, ME, a lot in a new Milbridge subdivision was ultimately chosen as the new location.

In December 2019, with the help of expert volunteers, a hole was dug, the foundation was poured. The septic system went in. A drilled well was added. Then all that was secured and protected against Maine’s harsh winter weather, awaiting arrival of the tiny house.

In March 2020, in reaction to Covid-19, the Downeast Maine Tiny House Project stopped. With the end of the house’s construction phase in sight, Assabet Valley HS closed, students and teachers were sent home. The school year ended. No one, including House Carpentry teacher Bill Italiano, was allowed into the school building.

Finally, in July, Bill Italiano was given permission to enter Assabet Valley H.S. to finish building the tiny house. With the help of a couple of local craftsmen, and also, Maine Seacoast Mission volunteer extraordinaire Lee Watrous from Connecticut, the tiny house was readied for transport to Milbridge.

Thursday, July 30, again with kind-hearted volunteer help, the tiny house in MA was shrink-wrapped, wheeled out of Assabet Valley HS, and placed on the back of a transporter. Scott Shaw from Maine drove to Massachusetts with the Mission’s box truck and filled it with tiny house appliances and other parts. Then, with a very welcome police escort, the three-vehicle caravan drove to the house lot in Milbridge.

On August 3, principals from Downeast Community Partners, Assabet Valley H.S, and Maine Seacoast Mission were on hand to place the Downeast Maine Tiny House on its foundation. Architect Jeri D.W. Spurling was there too. So was the new homeowner, Ryan.

A giant crane drove onto the house lot. Workers prepped the tiny house for lifting, wrapping a hoist under and around it. Then, very carefully, the crane engine revved, the house was raised a few feet off the transporter, while workers re-inspected everything.

Someone gave the okay. The engine revved again. The house was lifted higher. The crane operator swung the house, very carefully, over to and above its foundation.

Workmen instructed the crane operator to lower the house so two corners rested lightly on its foundation. Using their hands, workmen aligned the house perfectly. Then another okay signal. The crane operator fully lowered the house onto its foundation. What was once a tiny house napkin drawing was now a reality.

DCP Executive Director Mark Green said, “What a difference a strong partnership makes. This work would not have been possible without the expertise of Mission and DCP employees, the folks at Assabet Technical School, the many volunteers, and perhaps most importantly without the generosity of the C.F. Adams Foundation. Thank you so much to everyone!”

Bobbi Harris, DCP Housing Services Director agreed. “This project is a shining example of partnership and hopefully the continued future of building more Tiny Homes for our communities.”

“This project is a win-win,” said Scott Shaw. “It’s the first such project for the four partner organizations. We’re very excited about it.”

Learn more about Downeast Community Partners Home Repair programs and Maine Seacoast Mission’s Housing Rehabilitation Program.


Downeast ME Tiny House Arrives in Milbridge, ME

Crane for Lifting Tiny House Arrives

Crane Lifts Tiny House Onto Foundation

Attaching the Tiny House Overhangs

Visit the Downeast Maine Tiny House Project Blog for a complete list of sponsors, volunteers, and project updates.

Essex Bay Cabinetry Builds, Donates Tiny House Kitchen

CHERRYFIELD, ME — Scott Shaw, Maine Seacoast Mission’s Housing Rehabilitation Manager, is a partner with this Downeast Maine Tiny House Project. Thank you, Scott, for this update and photo:

Check out the great post by Bob Washburn at Essex Bay Cabinetry, Georgetown, MA. He has been a volunteer with the Mission Housing Rehab Program for years. Bob has built and donated all of the kitchens in our past mobile home rehab projects.

When I asked if he and his business partner would be willing to build the kitchen for the Downeast Maine Tiny House, there was no hesitation. He just answered “Absolutely.”

Progress Videos!

The students at Assabet have been busy building and recording. These videos show some snippets of how things are coming along on the Tiny House.

Sophomores from the Assabet Valley carpentry program, installing the drywall and final courses of roof shingles to the Tiny House. 

Video recordings by Bianca Diaz

Video Editing by Nycholas Almeida from the Design and Visual program

This Just In….

We’ve been hard at work on our Tiny House Project. Maine Seacoast Mission’s Scott Shaw has been busy keeping the job-site clean and clear of snow. The veteran who will be receiving this tiny house has been working hard to keep the site clear as well.

Assabet students are diligently working on the house in Massachusetts. We are very grateful for all of their hard work. We’re also grateful to the TV production students who are capturing all of this work via photograph and video. It is much more exciting to view the project through the eyes of a camera.

We are still looking for more sponsors. If you’re interested in teaming up with a great group of partners, please don’t hesitate to contact Scott Shaw or Bobbi Ann Harris. We’d be glad to use any materials or funds that are willing to donate. This house has been possible from the overwhelming generosity of our sponsors and the donated time from many of our contractors.

DCP, Assabet, Maine Seacoast Mission, and C.F. Adams Charitable Trust hope to have many more tiny house projects in the future. We believe in this project and the people’s lives that are being changed for the better.

Life’s Lessons

As the project continues to progress, I had the pleasure of interviewing eight Assabet Valley students this week. Each set of students represented a different trade and aspect of the project. The students are currently working on our Tiny House Project to benefit a homeless veteran in Milbridge, ME.

Jake Hudson and Joseph Cristobal are sophomores in the House Carpentry program at Assabet. This is their first time building a house. They have found that the project is way more complicated than they expected it to be.

However, they both really enjoyed framing the walls and installing insulation on the roof. Both admitted that there were challenges with this home. Jake is afraid of heights and Joseph stated that the walls were much harder to lift than expected.

The Biotech program was up next and was represented by Jack Raith and Lisa Brescia. This is the first time either student has worked on a project for someone with such severe corn allergies. They were tasked with researching each company providing material for the tiny home.

Both students have spent over two weeks calling each company to verify the materials used. This proved to be quite complex because most customer service agents couldn’t confirm the exact materials used. Jack was surprised to learn that they couldn’t trust the data sheets that were included with the materials. Lisa learned that it’s important to dig deeper.

Hailey Ducheine and Berin Bukow are both juniors in Assabet’s Plumbing program. Neither students realized that they had a technical side until they entered the Plumbing Program at Assabet. Both plan to go into the plumbing field when they are finished with school.

They believe the biggest challenge was making sure that everything was even, level, and lined up. They found that it was great to have a hands-on visual of the plumbing in the walls rather than reading about it in a textbook. Hailey enjoyed making sizing adjustments the most and Barren liked pressure testing the drains.

Tyler Dossas and Elizabeth Cormier joined me from the Electrical Program. Both are seniors who shared that drilling the studs and spacing wires was the hardest part of their job. This isn’t the first house they’ve worked on. Both participated in a Habitat for Humanity Project two years ago through Assabet.

They enjoy feeling like they are doing good and giving back while they work on this project. Tyler plans to be a residential electrician when he leaves school. Elizabeth hopes to become a vet tech. Tyler and Elizabeth will graduate from Assabet this spring.

All of the partners truly appreciate the hard work that the Assabet students are putting in on the tiny house. This house wouldn’t be possible without the technical programs offered by the school. The students get to experience hands on learning while learning the value of giving back to people in need.

The homeless veteran out of Milbridge is looking forward to receiving the house after the holidays. He has purchased land in Milbridge, and site work has been finished. Stay tuned for more updates as we move towards the finish line!

Electrical Program Student Tyler Dossas (Photo Credit- Lauren Gonzalez)
Plumbing Programs Students Hailey Ducheine & Berin Bukow (Photo Credit- Lauren Gonzalez)

Covered Foundation

This update was provided by Dale Basher, DCP’s Housing Services Operation Manager.

Roger with R&R Builders covered the Tiny House foundation on December 17th and he used the DCP Hammond Lumber account to purchase the materials.  Roger didn’t use pressure treated lumber.  Our plan was to use pressure treated and repurpose the lumber for the decks and entry stairs.  The foundation is covered and we feel confident we can find a way to repurpose the KD 2×6 lumber and 5/8” Advantech sheets.  

We ordered a 30”, stainless steel, ASHRAE 62.2 compliant range hood today.  It will be shipped to the school tomorrow for the Assabet students to install. Also, Pro Insulators has spray foamed the interior walls of the Tiny House. 

Last, we will order the Vermont Castings C3 wood stove from Evergreen Solutions.  Bill framed the Tiny  House in accordance with the stovepipe clearances of the Vermont Castings C3 installation specifications and code requirements.

Stay tuned for more updates and a blog featuring each division and students that worked on constructing the tiny home. Below are pictures of the covered foundation!          

WBZ News – Downeast Tiny House Project

WBZ news arrived to do a news story on our Tiny House Project. The news story can be seen via the video below. The video features many of the Assabet Valley Technical School students who are working on the project. We’re so grateful for the coverage and to be sharing our progress with the world. Stay tuned for more exciting news!

If You Build It, They Will Come

Our Tiny House Project is going slower than anticipated. Part of the delay is the fact that we are working with donated labor from contractors. We’re currently waiting on the insulation company to blow the insulation in the walls, and the Assabet Carpentry students are working on other portions of the home during this time.

Our veteran is aware of the delay. He is completely fine and secure in his current housing situation. The site work is complete in Milbridge.

The photos below are the current site. John Goodwin went above and beyond for all the site work and working with other contractors’ timelines. We’ve hired a carpenter to come to the property this weekend and enclose the exposed foundation and the new homeowner has agreed to keep the snow shoveled off.

Our veteran is anxious to see the house when it arrives, which we believe will be after the holidays. We’ve learned a lot about the tiny house process during this project. We hope to have many more homes built in the future.

A big thank you to the Assabet students for continuing to work hard on the home despite the delays. This project wouldn’t be possible without their determination, leadership, and carpentry program. More updates to follow!

From Massachusetts to Milbridge: Collaboration Helps Secure Home for Veteran

Milbridge, Maine (WABI) – “To see it drawn on a napkin three years ago and be a dream to being a reality, it’s pretty amazing.”

Scott Shaw is the housing rehab manager for Maine Seacoast Mission. When he looks at this construction zone in Milbridge, he sees the start of a new life for a veteran.

“Up here, we’re doing all the groundwork and foundation and well and septic to get ready for the arrival of it.”

Arrival being the key word. The house is being constructed in Marlborough, Massachusetts by students at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School.

“We’ve had a lot of donations, people stepping up, companies stepping up. Shannon Well Drilling, which is over there right now drilling our well. Jeri Spurling from Spurling Design. Al Rapa and Son Plumbing. John Goodwin Jr Construction. Keeley Crane. County Concrete. American Concrete. Cloud 9 Electric.”

“Scott contacted me about being involved in this project, and it was a no brainier to help.”

Jesse Lettinger and Mike Becker of Coastline Homes will help place the home and secure it to the foundation.

“We live and work in this community, and we really appreciate the ability to give back to others.”

Bobbi Harris, Housing Director for Downeast Community Partners, says the veteran is grateful.

“It’s gonna mean the world to him. He’s 100% disabled. His way of life is very difficult to lead, so the home itself is made for just his needs. He’ll be able to take care of himself which he really wants to do.”

The house is scheduled to be delivered to the site in December, and the veteran will move in soon after. But the work won’t end there.

Can You Dig It?

More excitement at the Tiny House site!  The well was drilled on Tuesday November 5th!  Emera showed up to discuss the power connections as well! We’re moving forward and happy with the project’s progress.

A huge thank you to Shannon Well Drilling for their hard work today!

Stay tuned for more exciting progress updates as the project continues!