Emmett Linklater built his tiny home with help from his father. // Photo courtesy of The Spokesman-ReviewEllen Anderson
As Western students are experiencing the effects of the Bellingham housing crisis, one incoming freshman has turned a high school project into a housing solution.
Spokane native Emmett Linklater, 18, has spent the last four years building a tiny home that he plans to bring to Western in the fall.
Linklater’s high school, The Community School in Spokane, requires every student to finish an independent project in order to graduate. Some students take on photography, a garden, writing a book or even fixing a truck engine.
“I took that a step further than most people would and decided to build a tiny house,” Emmett said. “I’ve never really heard of people building them in high school.”
Emmett became fascinated with tiny homes when he learned how sustainable they are. His 210-square-foot tiny home has a loft, kitchen, bathroom and a couch.
“I’m going into the field of environmental science, and I love the idea of leaving less of a footprint,” Emmett said. “They are a lot less wasteful and it lets you simplify your life.”
He started building his tiny home by looking at general tiny home construction and designing it himself. Having only taken a few drafting classes in middle school, and through trial and error, Emmett came up with a design he liked.
His father, Scott, helped him throughout the process, as well as skilled community members.
“Neither one of us have any construction background,” Scott said. “Each step of the way we were learning together.”
Scott mentioned that although it was a collaborative process, his son took the lead and did the majority of the building.
Emmett finds himself lucky to have parents who could afford to build a tiny home. While they haven’t calculated the total cost of building the tiny home, Emmett estimates it to be a few thousand dollars. He said that it will cost less than four years of typical student housing.
“They are thinking of it as an investment,” he said. “They are building me a home so they won’t have to pay for room and board once I get there.”
Scott said Emmett is very disciplined.
“It’s a lot for anybody to do, so I was super impressed by his commitment to it,” Scott said.
Emmett said his family has no hesitations about him moving across the state to live in a tiny home.
“They know I’m independent enough to live here by myself,” Emmett said. “I think they are just excited for me.”
When Emmett made the decision to build a tiny home, he didn’t know where he would go to college or that there would be a housing crisis waiting for him when he got there. The benefits of moving it to Bellingham soon became apparent.
“Most people complain about the housing situation in Bellingham,” junior Elliot Scott said. “I think a lot of people want better quality for the price they are paying.”
Elliot said that most students pay around $600 a month for low-quality homes filled with multiple roommates.
“I know many places that have broken windows or a lot of gaps in walls,” Elliot said. “It’s always really cold in the winter and that’s never good or efficient.”
Elliot has a friend who graduated last year that converted his van into a home, and appreciates Emmett’s plan.
“I think that’s so tight,” he said. “I really enjoy the ingenuity and the idea of that.”
Emmett’s classmates think what he has done is really cool.
“Now that it’s actually happened, I think they are pretty impressed that I actually stuck with it for four years,” Emmett said.