This Mobile Tiny Home Helps Children's Hospitals

Re/Max partnered with Henry Ford College to build and auction off a cute tiny home that supports children's hospitals.


May 31 2019, Updated 12:32 p.m. ET

Normally when you buy a house, the only person that profits is your realtor and the seller (as long as they bought the place in 1975). But thanks to an altruistic auction from Re/Max, charity just benefited from a new tiny home sale. The real estate company recently partnered with Henry Ford College to build an adorable micro home that sold this weekend, with the proceeds going directly to children’s hospitals.

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The Tiny Home for Tiny Tots project was designed to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a group of 170 hospitals in North America that treat kids with diabetes, cancer, and other illnesses. Re/Max’s basic idea was to design and build a tiny home from scratch, put it on the market, and sell it to the highest bidder during a two-day online sale. The final sum would go to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, with Re/Max footing the construction bill. 

The auction went live last week on Thursday, July 26, closing just before midnight the following Saturday, July 28. A user by the name of Jamie1970 claimed the home with a winning bid of $47,205.

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But how did this all come together? To start, Re/Max enlisted architecture and interior design students at Henry Ford College to draw up the specs and actually put the place together. They beat out professional builders for the bid, working over the course of two semesters to get the house done. Supervised by the school’s building science program chair Chad Richert, the group of roughly 40 students prepped as much as they could on campus. Then they assembled the entire house on top of a trailer, making the tiny home road-ready.

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"It was a challenge," Richert says laughingly, in an interview with Green Matters. "I think one of my students is a pharmacist and some of them are right out of high school, so to build a real house with students who haven't done it before? It's a challenge, but they did a great job."

The students also baked sustainability into their blueprint by incorporating bamboo flooring and reclaimed barn doors into the one-bedroom, one-bathroom home. Richert, who holds a bachelors degree in environmental design from the University of Colorado, says he originally hoped to get the house LEED certified. "But truthfully, it's a tough project with a little building like this," he concedes.

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Richert says they focused particularly on insulation to make sure the home was energy efficient in any temperature. "We tried to create a really tight shell," he explains. "So we sprayed foam insulation on the interior. On the ceilings and in the walls. It's a really insulated, really well-sealed box, so whether it goes to a warm or cold climate, it'll maintain the internal temperature a lot longer."

As you can see in the cute commercial Re/Max produced, the tiny house features a sunny living room with plenty of space to sit, including a plush window seat. Just beyond that is the kitchen, boasting butcher block countertops as well as a fridge, farmhouse sink, stove, and washer/dryer. The bathroom is in the back, while the bedroom is nestled in the loft up top, accessible via ladder.

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Although the sale doesn’t include the bright throw pillows or thriving houseplants seen in the promotions, Re/Max will be delivering the home and all its appliances via trailer from its origin point in Dearborn, Michigan, to wherever the winner resides. Richert says Re/Max is currently working with the buyer to nail down that location and get the delivery scheduled.

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As they wait on logistics, Richert is reflecting positively on the entire experience, which he considers an achievement as both an architect and educator.

"The amount of learning that happened on that building, for students to take something from a blank sheet of paper to a real, deliverable product was really, for me, pretty overwhelming," Richert says. "But it's also a really great little house. I found myself sitting in it as we were wrapping up. I thought, 'Man, I could live here' [laughs]."

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The article has been updated with original quotes and additional information from Chad Richert.

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