Stoughton Man's Big Idea Is A Tiny House

By Toni Waterman

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Apr. 21, 2011

STOUGHTON — In a world of bigger-is-better, super-sized meals and McMansions, Derek Diedricksen is downsizing – a lot.
 
He calls himself a bizarre-chitect — so, not quite a fully-fledged architect — but Diedricksen is a master of cobbling together bizarrely-shaped, teeny-tiny houses that make downtown bathrooms look roomy.

One of Diedrikson's tiny homes sits in his backyard in Stoughton.

“This one’s only about 2.5 feet wide by 7 feet long,” he says, pointing at one of his first cabins, which he calls the “hick-shaw.”
 
“It’s a rickshaw for hicks,” he laughs.
 
2.5 ft. by 7 ft.? That’s about the size of a chaise lounge, which coincidentally, is exactly what the rickshaw is built on, making it easy to cart around single-handedly. At about 24 square ft., the gypsy-junker is a bit bigger, boasting a bunk bed and heater that runs on vegetable oil.
 
“This one more so than any of the other ones was an experiment where it’s made almost entirely from recycled or thrown away materials, expect for the roof,” Diedricksen said. “There’s a lot of storm windows, some incorporated wine bottles I cut with a tile saw, again free cedar wood.”
 
In fact, all of Diedrickson’s pint-sized house are made almost entirely from scavenged materials. Over the years, he’s amassed quite a quirky collection of curbside treasures.
 
“I’m always looking for the weirdest things I can to make into cabin window,” Diedricksen said, wading through piles of curbside pick-me-ups, like the front see-through door of a toaster. “Here’s part of an old toaster and I’ll use that. This is part of an old water cooler that I rigged into a solar shower.”
 
Nothing goes unused. Not even his old washing machine.
 
“People always get a kick out of this — this is the old side of my washing machine. I didn’t want to throw away the medal siding, so I made it into a little outdoor table, guarded by some weird garden snake,” Diedricksen chuckles, tossing a faded rubber snake over his shoulder.

Another Derek Diedricksen tiny house. 

The washing machine loader will get used too. He says he’s going to make it into a Nemo-style submarine window.
 
Diedricksen’s obsession with micro-architecture started young. When he was 11, he got a Nintendo, but his parents didn’t want it monopolizing the family’s one television. So he says he found a loophole.
 
“My brother and I decided, you know what, we’re building our own place in the backyard. It had insulation, it had heating, it had power, it had a platform bunk bed, hammocks, a little black and white TV we got at a tag sale. So we’d just sit there all day playing Nintendo.”
 
Twenty years later, his own backyard houses three micro-houses. There’s an even smaller, kid-sized fort in the front of the house. And while the cabins do have a homey feel, Diedricksen lives in a real house. He says he uses the cabins more as escape pods. 
 
“They’re micro-shelters for vacation or weekend use. If you don’t want to work in your drab little office room at home, if you work from home on a laptop and are looking for a change of scenery – they’re just great get away spots.
 
And at around $200 a pop, it gives a whole new meaning to “second home.”


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