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Tiny House. Big Impact.

Join A.W. Hastings and Marvin Windows & Doors in Helping a Student Bring His Project to Fruition!

When Rody Lipsom started thinking about what he would do for his capstone project at Hampshire College, he decided to go big. As a design student, he was interested in how people can successfully live with their environment. In contrast with many of his fellow students whose final Hampshire College thesis projects are creating a piece of art, writing a personal work or producing a piece of music, Rody found satisfaction in building things, though his experience in this area was limited. And, finally, he determined that he wanted his project to exemplify how we can create a more inclusive society.

The result of this reflection was his determination to design and build a Tiny House that would be environmentally sustainable and then donate this house to a Syrian refuge family who has been re-settled in Massachusetts, working to make a new life. It takes big plans to build a tiny house. And it takes a lot of relationships to make this kind of dream come true.

Through a fellow student, Rody was tuned into Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont. At Yestermorrow, students of all ages participate in hands-on learning in nearly 100 classes in sustainable building and design, construction, natural building, architectural craft, woodworking, working landscapes and ecosystems, energy efficiency, and building science. Hearing his plans, Yestermorrow President Michael Crowley suggested Rody participate in their Tiny House Design/Build class, which was soon launching at Spark Makerspace in New London, CT.

This class connected Rody with Builder Jon Day, who was teaching the class premiere at Spark Makerspace. Day’s firm, Day & Age, is a design/build/restoration company in Ledyard, Connecticut. Jon has worked as a designer, fabricator and exhibit installer for many galleries, as well as a craftsman on the restoration of the Charles W. Morgan, an 19th century whaling ship at Mystic Seaport. Rody’s big idea was opening many doors.

Since Rody’s entry into Yestermorrow’s class in New London was forced by the class date, which was fast approaching, he hadn’t fleshed out the actual design and building plans for his Tiny House. Enter Jon Day’s fiancé (Architectural Designer), Katie Scanlon, who met with Rody to understand his concept for this house and produced building plans and material lists to achieve his goals in time for him to enter the class at Spark Makerspace. Katie gave Rody a crash course in the concepts of Tiny Living, designing for human proportions and the importance in being flexible in the design of a Tiny House, where every inch counts and beds may become storage facilities when not in use.


As synchronity would have it, Katie and Jon are huge fans of Marvin Windows and Doors and had recently visited the factory in Warroad, Minnesota, with their A.W. Hastings Architectural Consultant Cathi McKenna Langan. With Marvin top of mind, Katie reached out to Cathi to see if AW Hastings might donate windows to the Tiny House project. The A.W. Hastings team enthusiastically took up the charge and donated Integrity windows constructed of wood and  Ultrex® fiberglass to help provide this Tiny House with beautiful light and ventilation. Katie Scanlon’s acumen with designing tiny spaces helped Rody position the windows in such a way to visually open the 8′ x 20′ space to the outdoors and make the Tiny House feel more expansive inside.

So, on July 6th, Rody started to build his Tiny House at Spark Makerspace, following the delivery of the trailer foundation. Just 12 days later, the framing was complete and the Tiny House was moved back to Hampshire College, where Rody will finish it this fall as his thesis project comes to a close in time for his December graduation. However, there’s still much to be purchased and much to be finished.

If you or anyone you know would be willing to help support this very special Tiny House, we encourage you to spread the word. The house must be completed before the refugee agency can identify the family to whom the house will be given and Rody would like them to be able to enjoy their new home for the winter.

This industrious college senior is looking for cash and material donations to finish the house. As this post goes up, he is still in need of roof shingles, a few solar panels, insulation, a compost toilet, kitchen and bathroom sinks, shower, small cooking appliances and several other items.

Check out his video here…

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Marvin and A. W. Hastings are proud to be involved in a project that shows that a young person’s idea can change the world when imagination, ingenuity and cooperation bring people together for a great cause.

Good luck, Rody! This is, indeed, a perfect capstone to your college career. Can’t wait to see this Tiny House completed!