Tesla Cybertruck-Inspired Micro Tiny Home for Homeless: Q&A With Alekz Londos (Part 4)

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We began this series with the simple goal of building only one Micro Tiny Home for one homeless man. This project has been all about Keep it Simple Silly (KISS). However, with the magnanimous amount of donations being made, we have now decided to build five micro tiny homes, which will enable us to improve the design and building methods! We would like to thank all those the made donations, shared the Gofundme, and participated in the discussion in the comments! Every interaction, positive or negative, has breathed more life into this pilot project.

In case you missed previous parts to this series here are the links: Prequel, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Along with the generous donations, we have received a tremendous amount of feedback and many great questions. Accordingly, I decided to have the builder, Alekz Londos, answer those questions.

What led you to create the micro tiny home? 

After living in Santa Cruz, California, for the last 30 years, I have seen the homeless population drastically increase. I also realize it is not just a problem here; it is a problem throughout California, throughout the United States, and around the world. I have seen the homeless struggling to survive without the basic necessities, especially during the winter months when it’s extremely cold and rainy. I have also seen them repeatedly sleep in the downtown Santa Cruz bike lockers which is often their only chance they have to escape the cold wind and rain and have some sort of security and privacy. 

This Micro Tiny Home Pilot Project shows that they don’t need a large house, affordable housing, or even a tiny home. What they need is immediate shelter; a simple, safe place to escape the elements and protected from the dangers associated with living on the streets. In an EMT course, my fellow students and I learned about triage, which is helping the most amount of people in a short amount of time with the resources that we have. This project is not a long-term solution; it is similar to doing triage. There is a massive homeless crisis in the United States as a direct result of consumerism. We will continue to see the homeless population grow as does the divide between the rich and the poor.

Are you afraid it will be confiscated?

No, I’m not concerned about it being confiscated. The odds of it being confiscated are very low considering the pandemic and the fact that shelter-in-place laws are allowing tents and makeshift structures throughout our community. If the police or law enforcement did take this from a homeless man in a wheelchair there would be social repercussions and a wide-range of negative press.

What was your favorite part about building the micro tiny home?

When I assembled and secured the sheets of plywood onto the frame and was finally able to see the shape.

What do you do differently after building the first one?

To pre-cut all of the sheets of plywood and assemble them together with L brackets, eliminating the need for the frame. This will reduce the cost, expedite the construction time, minimize the weight, and increase the interior square footage…. while still maintaining stability.

What do you have in mind for the next version?

The next version will be the same size and dimensions although excluding the internal frame. It will be built mainly with plywood, L brackets, and insulation.

Why did you go with wood?

I did consider a lot of other materials, rigid insulation, plastic, concrete, or a wood frame with plastic or tarp siding. I chose wood because it is one of the more sustainable, less toxic materials that are internationally available and universally standard.

What other modifications could you make to it?

Additional modifications or accessories would be to install a solar panel on the roof with a standard USB outlet. I would consider installing a small window on the side or on the door. In colder regions, the floor could also be insulated.

Do you want other people to copy it, why?

Yes, I definitely want other people to copy this concept and even the specific design. I will soon make the design schematics and angles of the plywood cuts open source. Homelessness is an international problem and we need international solutions.

Could it be made bigger, and by how much?

Yes, it could be made bigger, but that would interfere with the overall concept of the project. It could be made exactly twice as large while maintaining all of the same angles.

Could it be made smaller, and by how much?

Yes, it could be made smaller, although I would not reduce the overall size by more than 25%. 

How did you come up with the name?

Honestly, I’m not sure where I came up with the name. I’m not sure if I came up with it on my own or saw it while searching the internet. I do love how the name or title mostly summarizes the entire project.

What other materials could it be made of?

I have considered other materials; acquiring recyclables, grinding them up, and pouring them into a mold of the same shape. I realized the plastic would off-gas toxic chemicals, therefore I decided against that option. I considered using rigid insulation although it is not durable enough. I have not excluded the idea to create a mold, incorporate wire and pour concrete into the mold, and observe how it functions.

What was difficult about the building process?

The most difficult thing about the building process is the Skilsaw I use — it is heavy, powerful, and hard to cut flawlessly straight lines. I would like to get a table saw in the future.

Do you think the average person could live in one or is this just for the homeless?

I don’t think the average person could live in one of these, but I do feel a large percentage of people would value the benefits after staying in it for a few days. Especially during summer when you were outdoors more often, enjoy nature, gardening, or working on a homestead.

Do you think this could be put in someone’s backyard for a homeless person? 

Yes, in the future I hope people build one for a homeless person in their community, placing the unit in their backyard, side yard, maybe their front yard, or garage. 

Where can repurposed wood be found?

There is a lot of wood available at construction sites and the recycling section at the city dump. A portion of the floor was built using wood from an old dresser I broke apart.

Could something be made from pallets?

Answering that question is difficult, if you have all of the supplies necessary, the strength and energy to break apart pallets, and construction experience then yes, you can make micro tiny homes out of pallets. Although, it is much more work to seal up all of the cracks and make it waterproof. Sealing up all of the cracks would use more toxic resources and potentially off-gas toxins back into the structure.

Could it be made from plastic?

Yes, it could be made of plastic, although I’m concerned about the off-gassing of toxic chemicals and would not want to subject anyone to that.

Could it be made from concrete?

Yes, I am brainstorming ways it can be mass-produced with concrete.

What could cities that are interested do to help?

The main thing the city could do is provide a location for them that they will not be bothered by city officials.

What other questions or comments do you have about the Micro Tiny Home pilot project? If you would like to donate or see more conversation on the project, here is the link to the Gofundme. Finally, here are some sequential photos of the micro tiny home as it was built.

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Kurt Lowder

I am a jock turned wannabe geek. I fell in love with science later in life thanks to the History Channel show the “Universe.” Having taught middle school science, I strongly feel Astronomy should be taught every year because nothing excites students more than learning about the cosmos. I became an avid cleantech fan because it gives me hope about the future. My wife, my dogs, and I live simply because we love to travel the world backpacker style.

Kurt Lowder has 58 posts and counting. See all posts by Kurt Lowder