Kelly and Chris Breton are going on 20 years of marriage and want to devote the next chapter of their lives to becoming minimalists.
Toward that end, they’ve nearly finished building a tiny house in the backyard of their current residence on Mendon Road.
The home is 24-feet-long by 8-feet-wide and 13-feet-tall. The exterior is painted gray with a metal roof, gray siding with old barn wood details, and a pop of purple from the door.
The interior features a vaulted ceiling, a staircase leading to a loft that can fit a queen-size bed, a full kitchen with a small eating area, lounging space with a couch and TV, storage space, and a bathroom with a compost toilet and full shower.
The house has taken a lot more time and money than the Bretons anticipated, and it has attracted a lot of attention from neighbors. To satisfy their curiosity, the couple is planning an open house on Sunday, June 2, so people can get a look inside. A little later, the Bretons plan to move their tiny house to a campground in New Hampshire to serve as a vacation home.
“I’m so glad that it’s almost done,” Kelly said. “I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I’ve enjoyed working together on it. Now I’m just looking forward to relaxing.”
Tiny houses are generally between 100 and 400 square feet and peaked in popularity in 2008 during the mortgage crisis, as many singles and couples sought more affordable living options.
The Bretons said they were inspired by shows on HGTV about tiny homes and the people who build and live in them. They also began to attend tiny home conventions and festivals.
Last Memorial Day, the couple decided to build a tiny house of their own, and the work hasn’t stopped since.
The first step was finding a blueprint design that reflected their vision of the space. Then, they ordered a trailer that would act as the foundation of their tiny home.
“Then came the framing, and everything else followed,” Chris, 45, said. “But it definitely wasn’t easy.”
Before starting the project, the couple had limited experience in construction.
Kelly, 45, said her job as a secretary at Brigham and Women’s Health Care Center in Foxboro did not prepare her for the trial-and-error construction project. Chris said his experience in the construction vocational program at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School and his current job of refurbishing old furniture definitely came in handy.
“We basically did all the work ourselves,” Kelly said. “The only thing we didn’t do ourselves was some of the plumbing.”
Together, Kelly and Chris worked at least 15 hours each weekend on the project. But, when Chris was unexpectedly laid off from a job he had in IT about midway through the housing project, he decided to dedicate nearly every day to working on the 192-square-foot home.
From running raw wood boards through planer machines, wiring their own light fixtures, installing a metal roof, and painting the walls — the couple did it all.
“Once we started working, we just could not stop,” Chris said. “Although we faced difficult physical tasks such as installing the roof, I think the most difficult part was staying sane.”
What was expected to be a six-month project turned out to take nearly a year. And what they thought would run them $25,000 ended up costing nearly $40,000.
On June 8, the Bretons will move their tiny house from their backyard to a campground in Chocorua, N.H. For now, the couple plans on spending their time at the tiny home on weekends, and said they may eventually move in the house full-time later down the line.
“We built this house to last,” Chris said. “With two daughters in their 20s, we wanted to create something for our future that didn’t cost much, and allowed us more freedom.”