With a couple of feature-length exceptions, a majority of the video tours and profiles filmed by Kirsten Dirksen for faircompanies tend to clock in somewhere between the 10- and 20-minute mark. After all, the dwellings she tends to document are of the decidedly diminutive variety. No matter how ingenious/unique the home in question may be and no matter how chatty/insightful the person living inside of it is, there’s only so long that you can spend filming inside of a 150-square-foot bachelor pad-on-wheels or a Manhattan rental apartment that’s roughly the size of a walk-in closet.
The latest release from faircompanies, however, is one of those exceptions. Running a little over an hour, the video is an in-depth profile — a proper documentary, if you will — of the inimitable Brad Kittel, founder of Tiny Texas Houses and the fearless leader of the “Rubble to Riches Renaissance.”
Based outside of Austin in the Central Texas outpost of Luling (a town best known for its annual watermelon bonanza), Kittel and his company have gotten a fair amount of local and national press over the years — and for good reason.
A seasoned practitioner of so-called “salvage mining,” Kittel abides by a philosophy that he refers to as Pure Salvage Living. That is, every tiny home handcrafted by Kittel — the “Willy Wonka of tiny houses” as faircompanies dubs him — is built with a staggering 99 percent salvaged materials, all reclaimed from his “mining” expeditions: doors, floors, windows, siding hardware, you name it — nearly everything that goes into his work has been plucked from a demolished barn, home, factory or long-abandoned outbuilding. The only components of a Tiny Texas House that haven’t been salvaged are things like nails, screws, plumbing, electrical parts and the like. Even then, Kittel avoids plastics, off-gassing paints and adhesives, and other toxic or potentially health-compromising materials.
Kittel explains on the Tiny Texas Houses website:
I believe that there are presently enough building materials sitting on the ground to build much of the next generation of housing. All it takes to make it so is pure human energy, spirit, and the desire to build something that will last for several lifetimes. Tiny Texas Houses have been designed and built with the best trees ever harvested, the best hardware ever made, and great salvaged materials to demonstrate that it is possible to reduce our carbon footprint, simplify our lives, and live in a healthy house that will be energy efficient as well as beautiful.
Do plan on spending some quality time with Kittel — and his mighty impressive forearms — to learn more about the fine art of architectural salvaging, the intricacies of humanure toilets, the joys of underground exploration (and fish farming), communal living, survivalism, scraps, building codes, the real cost of stained-glass windows and so much more. Kittel goes a mile-a-minute and Dirksen is happy to let him go … so have a notepad at the ready to capture all of his antecdotes, insights — “living tiny, I believe, this is our path; we just have to create a product that we’d be proud to hand off to our children” — and priceless nuggets of wisdom.
Related on MNN:
- A home built from scraps salvaged from the old east span of the Bay Bridge
- Cattle bones reborn as decor at funky Texas artists' residence
- Beam me up, Mounty: Earthships invade Canada