For Jessica Hooper, part of the appeal of living in a tiny home is that “when you take the clutter and distractions out of life, you can focus your energy on what is really important.”
That’s what the Latrobe resident told readers of Tiny House Magazine, an online publication that features her little vacation getaway on the cover of the current issue.
The 160-square-foot structure fulfills Hooper’s dream of being able to afford a vacation home in the Laurel Highlands, where she vacationed with her family as a child and now enjoys hiking trails, mountain trails. skiing, paddleboarding and whitewater possibilities.
She calls the house “Eventyr”, a word with roots in Old Norse which means “an adventure, a fairy tale (a folk tale), something exceptionally great”.
She bought the house like a shell and spent 18 months working there, completing the project last April. She bought land at the Roaring Run Resort in Township Donegal, where it now sits in the middle of the woods.
Hooper, a mechanical designer for Elliott Group in Jeannette, said she is a member of the âtight-knit cottage communityâ online, where people share inspiration and information about the minimalist lifestyle.
The publisher of the online magazine saw her Instagram story and invited her to write about it.
Hooper originally intended to purchase a property before purchasing the home, knowing it might take time, given zoning regulations that often require more square footage for permanent structures. But before she found any land, she found the exact shell she wanted in Plymouth, Michigan.
Hooper and her boyfriend, Nick Song from West Mifflin, towed the shell to his home in Latrobe, where it piqued the interest of passers-by and even the Latrobe police.
Then it was time to get to work on the interior.
Trial and error
âI’m a self-taught builder so there was a lot of trial and error,â she said. “I really did a lot of over-engineering, making things a lot stronger than they needed to be.”
âThis build taught me so much about myself and challenged me in ways I could never have imagined,â Hooper told the magazine. âThere were projects that I finished, tore up and then finished again. Some days my nerves were at their breaking point.
The hull was wired and leaded, with finished rebated walls. The rest was a blank slate.
Hooper, with help from Song and other friends, built two mezzanines, one large enough for a queen-size mattress and the other for a double bed. The kitchen has a sink, full size refrigerator, open shelving, cabinets, and a four-burner propane stove with oven.
The living room area has an electric fireplace and can accommodate one person on a futon. The bathroom has an oversized shower.
The white walls are accented with touches of turquoise, brown and gold. Electric heating keeps the space comfortable in cold weather.
âI wanted a little rustic vibe, with modern touches,â Hooper said.
Courtesy of Jessica Hooper
Jessica Hooper’s cottage sits on land at Roaring Run Resort in Township Donegal.
She and her friends also destroyed a patio in about 4 hours during the summer. She plans to add benches to the deck and outlines around the foundation this year. Unfortunately the resort said no to a hot tub.
The long search for property finally came to an end when Hooper saw an ad for permanent campsites for sale at Roaring Run Resort.
âI was sure I had seen all of the Laurel Highlands campgrounds and none of them matched my vision or allowed small houses,â she said. âI immediately contacted the manager of the resort and shortly thereafter I was touring the property.â
It had everything she wanted including walking trails just steps away, proximity to other outdoor activities she enjoys, and on-site amenities.
âI just fell in love with it,â she said. âIt’s very private and stress free. There is a swimming pool and food trucks in the summer, mini golf and other activities.
After purchasing the property, family members told her of a Roaring Run connection that she was too young to remember. His uncle had been the manager of the resort in the 1980s.
There to stay
Hooper paid $ 30,000 for the hull and spent an additional $ 20,000 to $ 25,000 to complete the construction. She pays extra on the loans each month and plans to have the house and property paid off in five years.
She learned financial discipline from her grandparents, who raised her.
âI bought my house in Latrobe when I was 23,â she said. “My grandparents taught me that if you want something, you have to look for it.”
Shirley McMarlin | Tribune-Review
The sitting area of ââJessica Hooper’s little house.
Although the house is now closed for the winter, Hooper has helped pay off the loans by renting it out through Airbnb. It rents $ 160 per night, minimum two nights, and the resort takes care of reservations.
The opinions of tenants are positive.
âThere was only one person who said he was too small,â she said. âWhat were they expecting? They rented a small house.
Once paid, she said she could give up the rental – or else she would continue to rent and build another small house on nearby land.
“I never want to move it again,” she said.