During the past couple of years, I’ve been watching Lazrin Schenck’s tiny house build take shape here in Vermont. Lazrin built her own tiny house, moved it three times, and recently purchased land to live on. Working at a job that has the flexibility to accommodate her projects, Lazrin has been constantly improving her surroundings in some pretty impressive ways. I hope you enjoy her perspective and persevering spirit as much as I do!
In This Episode:
- Financial freedom from the tiny house
- Interior features Lazrin loves
- A garage setup you may want to copy
- How to build skills and tackle the hard projects
- Future challenges she’d love to tackle
Links and Resources:
Lazrin is an entrepreneur, traveler, and tiny house builder who lives in Vermont. It was during an expedition on the Yukon River that the inception of the building a tiny house took shape. At the conclusion of the trip, she decided to design and build her own. She spent a year and a half researching, planning, and building it from the trailer up. Since its completion, she has used it as her own home at times, as a long-term rental at others, and as a short-term rental while she travels. Beyond the freedom that the house has provided beyond what she ever thought, the skills and knowledge she gained throughout the process of designing, building, and owning a tiny house (and now land) have been instrumental in how she’s able to work less and play more.
This Week's Sponsor:
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Lazrin bought land to park her tiny house on
Her garage is essential to her utilities setup
She improved the layout of her yard quite a bit!
She loves to entertain
She has a full-size fridge under those stairs!
Her countertops are nearly indestructible!
Lazrin built her own shelves and cupboards
She has plans to build a sauna!
She stores her personal belongings in her garage when Airbnb guests stay in her tiny home
Stairs, rather than a ladder, were important to Lazrin for safety
Lazrin Schenck 0:00
One of the biggest features that I have found in a lot of videos was the last step is twice the rise that of all the other steps. So it forces you to go into a Neil cuts for loft in my opinion it makes it very easy, convenient transition.
Ethan Waldman 0:15
Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 263 with Lazrin Schenck. Lazrin is an entrepreneur, traveler, and tiny house builder who lives in Vermont. We actually met in person here in Vermont, and I watched Lazrin's Tiny House build take shape over the course of a year or two. And I've just been so impressed with what she has accomplished in the time since building your tiny house, it's moved a couple of times. She has purchased a piece of land for it and gotten really into working her land and using equipment to do that and just is constantly improving her surroundings and her home. I think it's a really great attitude and a really cool lifestyle and I wanted to share it with you.
Are you looking for a fully customizable tiny home that stylish, comfortable and extremely well built? Look no further than the VIA tiny homes by ATOMIC Homes. With over two decades of experience constructing sets for live events for top brands like the Super Bowl, and WWE, ATOMIC is bringing their technical expertise to the tiny home market. The homes themselves are designed by Liv-Connected, a team of architects and designers, and these homes are fully customizable and come in three finished levels - Standard, Modern, or Farmhouse. Add a bonus loft space, built-in storage, washer/dryer units, or even a fireplace. The VIA Park Model RV is engineered to ANSI 119.5 standards and built with truly innovative techniques for increased stability, quality and comfort. If lack of financing has kept you out of a tiny home in the past, ATOMIC Homes has you covered with conventional financing options available. Visit AtomicTinyHomes.com/THLP to customize your design today. Again, that's AtomicTinyHomes.com/THLP. thank you so much to ATOMIC homes for sponsoring our show. That website again is AtomicTinyHomes.com/THLP.
All right, I am here with Lazrin Schenck. Lazrin is an entrepreneur, traveler, and tiny house builder who lives in Vermont. It was during an expedition on the Yukon River that the inception of the building of a tiny house took shape. At the conclusion of the trip she decided to design and build her own. She spent a year and a half researching, planning and building it from the trailer up. Since its completion, Lazrin has used it as her own home at times as a long-term rental and others and as a short-term rental while she travels. Beyond the freedom that the house has provided beyond what she ever thought the skills and knowledge she gained throughout the process of designing, building and owning a tiny house and now land have been instrumental in how she's been able to work less and play more Lazrin Schenck, welcome to the show.
Lazrin Schenck 2:36
Thanks so much for having me, Ethan. I'm really excited to be here.
Ethan Waldman 3:19
Yeah, so excited to have you. And I feel like this is like, for me, this is like the culmination of of like, your tiny house journey in my mind because like, I knew you before you built your tiny house and then kind of watched it take shape. And now you've like far surpassed me in terms of skills, like you've bought land, you you own an excavator. You're, you're like, you're really taking it to the next level. But I want to like rewind back to that expedition on the Yukon River and just ask, you know, what, like, what was going through your head? And what made you kind of realize that a tiny house is what you wanted to do?
Lazrin Schenck 3:57
Yeah, I lived out in Colorado, that's kind of where I kind of left to do this Yukon trip and rent is just expensive. And I was feeling the sense to have like a home but I wasn't sure where I want to buy. Because I just lived in Colorado for four years, I had just moved back to Vermont. I wasn't sure where I'm going to settle and but I was sick of paying rent and never having anything at the end of the year after paying, you know, a lot. And then also something to call my own. I was kind of young, I never really went to the traditional school route. And so sitting in a canoe for eight to 12 hours a day, gives you a lot of time to think.
Ethan Waldman 4:33
Yes, it does.
Lazrin Schenck 4:34
Yeah. So just like got to thinking and, you know, the tiny house movement had definitely already started at that point. I think it was kind of still in the more beginning phases, I would say comparative to where it is now. And the idea was just really appealing. You can have a home you can create how you want you can be you know very specific while also not tying you down to a specific plot of land. And that's exactly what this house has allowed I've moved it three times now all within Vermont, but I've been able to move it three times. And now like you said, I do own land. And so now it's on land that I own. And it just feels really good to have something of myself that I can, you know, I own straight out and then also continue to grow and develop the assets that you know, have the Airbnb and the tiny house allowed me to acquire.
Ethan Waldman 5:22
Nice. Can you tell us about the house itself? Like kind of the the specs like, you know, What size is it? How was it built those kinds of things?
Lazrin Schenck 5:31
Yeah. So I did a 24 foot long trailer, 8.5 feet wide, I think I smacked it out 13x3 for the height, just to not really push that 13x6 envelope that they limit you to.
Ethan Waldman 5:43
Lazrin Schenck 5:44
And then I bought a trailer that allowed the insulation to be sprayed into the crossmembers. So I didn't have to build a sub floor on top of the trailer base, which was really nice. And it actually allowed me to get like, I think it was an R-52 of spray foam in the in the floor, which I'm sure everyone on this that listens his podcast know, tiny houses is our bridges. And you know, it's cold underneath. So that was really nice. And then I did 24 on center studs for the framing.
Ethan Waldman 6:12
Lazrin Schenck 6:12
I did spray foam throughout the whole thing. And then I did 2x6 rafters for the ceiling. And so that's R-52 top as well.
Ethan Waldman 6:20
Lazrin Schenck 6:21
And then for interior, I kind of did more, like I said, you could say the cheaper route. So I just did a quarter inch plywood on for the siding and the ceiling. And I kind of regret that decision now. But it was you know, lesson learned and I can always go back and either add another layer of you know, different shiplap kind of siding.
Ethan Waldman 6:43
Lazrin Schenck 6:44
And and stuff like that. And then I designed it and with with a lot of intention and focus on the kitchen. I love to cook I love to host.
Ethan Waldman 6:55
Lazrin Schenck 6:55
And you cook three meals a day, right? So I didn't want to have a kitchen and especially the sink be a deterrent for me not to enjoy the space. So actually have like 13 feet of counter space in my house with a like a 36 inch sink.
Ethan Waldman 7:09
Lazrin Schenck 7:10
And for me, that's, that's really valuable and important. Like actually last night, I even had six people over for dinner. And you know, we all were cooking so awesome, I've been able to kind of like, find that balance of even though it's a small space to be able to capitalize on what I love and, and cooking is part of that. Which is great. I did the traditional loft over the bathroom approach for where the bed is. And I love it. You know, ideally, you want to be able to stand up in your room. But as everyone knows, you can't always get that with a tiny house. So for the setup, it's great. And then in the bathroom, I feel like even though it is a pretty low ceiling. With a pretty big windows, it still feels pretty open and big inside nice, which again was important for me.
Ethan Waldman 7:50
Nice. And you've shared a really nice set of photos that I'll put on the show notes page for this episode. So people can kind of take a look. And they don't have to just use their imaginations. You have. It's not a ladder access loft, which is I think such a nice thing if you're going to have to be in a loft to not have to climb a ladder.
Lazrin Schenck 8:10
Yeah, yeah. And I was when I first built it. I don't really, I don't think I thought about rental. Maybe it crossed my mind. But I was just thinking about times like I'm groggy in the middle night getting down to have to go to the bathroom. I didn't want to risk that. And then I also have a little nephew that I was kind of thinking on in the back of my mind, even though I'm sure he would have loved the ladder. But yeah, yeah, so the stairs was really hard. I think that was maybe the most challenging piece of the build to try to picture as people see in the photos. I have a window really close to the stairs. And so it's like, okay, how do you get the rise and the run? But how do you not hit the window? But then how do you lose leave space for the fridge underneath the top step?
Ethan Waldman 8:49
Lazrin Schenck 8:49
Yeah, so that wall got a lot of staring for many days in a row I'd say. And I love the stairs there are still a little you know, quirky for sure.
Ethan Waldman 8:59
Lazrin Schenck 9:00
But with the railing and like you can kind of grab on to the windows, the window sill that's up top and it's it's great. And then one of the biggest features that I have found in a lot of videos of tiny houses that I watched before I built was the last step is twice the rise of all the other steps.
Ethan Waldman 9:16
Lazrin Schenck 9:17
So it forces you to go into a kneel when you're on that last the second to last step basically so you're not having to step up and crunch down your head at the same time and so it makes cars more loft in my opinion it makes it very easy convenient transition to a kneeling level that you have to be in the loft area. So I like that feature that I
Ethan Waldman 9:37
Lazrin Schenck 9:38
when in my design process.
Ethan Waldman 9:42
Now did you have this all kind of drawn out like did you have the stairs like fully designed or did you kind of build the house and then as you said, like, there was some staring involved like you kind of had to work it out in the space.
Lazrin Schenck 9:55
It definitely worked out in this space. I think For the most part, I mean, I had the design, I probably went through 30 different designs before I settled on it. And I just basically had an architect approve, approve the design before, you know, to give the effect that it wasn't going to cave in with, you know, a foot of snow on the roof kind of thing.
Ethan Waldman 10:15
Lazrin Schenck 10:15
And so I definitely made a lot of tweaks throughout the build that we're different than what the original plans called for.
Ethan Waldman 10:21
Lazrin Schenck 10:22
And the stairs was definitely one of them. And I the stairs, I knew going in that I was going to determine that after I figured out my window trim and how much space I would actually have. And then also, the last step that I have in my house underneath it fits my full fridge.
Ethan Waldman 10:38
Lazrin Schenck 10:38
So it's also I wasn't sure what fridge I was going to have. So it wasn't sure the width and the depth and all that kind of stuff. So I had a few different puzzle pieces to have to put into place before I could have the accurate numbers to be able to determine the rise and run.
Ethan Waldman 10:51
Nice, nice. And I want to just quickly back up to the kitchen. Tell Tell me about your cabinets. Did you custom build them? Are they are they IKEA? Are they from a cabinet shop?
Lazrin Schenck 11:01
Yeah, actually, the cabinetry was one of my best, most probably rewarding pieces of the build and I did them from scratch. So I made the yeah made the the boxes. The fronts and, and the whole the whole thing. And that was the probably the first time that really like true carpentry skills of mine were kind of put to the test. Everything else, you know, you can cut a 2x4 easily, you know, zip siding is you know, pretty easy to have to manage. So it was the first time I had to be really clean cuts, you know, there has to be square, you know, one of the drawers isn't square, so it doesn't quite slide that easily, right? So a lot of time, but it was it was so rewarding to get down with the first box, mount it and slide it in and it's it's you know, it fits like a glove and you're like, "Okay, I did everything right." And for a first time builder Yeah, you know, I was second guessing myself along the way all the time. And I don't I don't regret it like some of them you know, there's like I said a few of them have worked to him but again first house and it's never been an issue and they still slide and everything like that nice and the beautiful thing of of a small space is like I'm going to redo the fronts this summer actually
Ethan Waldman 12:09
Lazrin Schenck 12:10
to choose a better quality well that's a little harder.
Ethan Waldman 12:12
Lazrin Schenck 12:13
And there's there's enough that there's enough to make it like a day's worth of a project but not enough to make the price tag intimidating. So I like to be able to tweak and play and swap things out. As I've lived in it and see the wear and tear that takes place.
Ethan Waldman 12:27
Yeah. And what did you do for countertops?
Lazrin Schenck 12:30
This isn't another feature that I love that I came across I did stainless steel actually. So I went and actually I had the cut out of what the countertop was I just did a cut out of wood and I dropped it off at an auto body shop actually and they formed the shape of the counter to the wood piece that dropped off. And it's so versatile and again because it is such a small space you're putting everything on your counter all the time. So you know when I first got it, it was pristine obviously but now it's scratched up but it doesn't look - it's you know just looks has character right gonna put hot hot plates on it. Actually I had an Airbnb guest like burn a burn it and after two months it was gone.
Ethan Waldman 13:14
Lazrin Schenck 13:15
So nothing has ever permanently damaged it and for short term rental even long term when I'm not here it's kind of peace of mind to not have to like Oh, are they you know, the laminate come up or anything like that. And it cleaning and cleaning so easy. You it's you know, you're never having to really scrub even if it's, you know, if the candle wax drips over, it's easy to come right up. So...
Ethan Waldman 13:36
Lazrin Schenck 13:37
I love it all around. I know some people that have them. They don't love - it's kind of cold.
Ethan Waldman 13:42
Lazrin Schenck 13:43
But in my house it stays really really warm. So I've never really noticed that but some people don't like the cold touch of it right off the bat. But for me it doesn't really bother me.
Ethan Waldman 13:53
Yeah, yeah. So the the piece of plywood that that they formed that countertop to, that that is is there. That's kind of the under that's the piece of base metal?
That's the base.
Lazrin Schenck 14:05
Yeah. And then because it's like 13 feet long. I just have one seam and I was able to basically hide it where my oven or my stovetop is so I really only see maybe eight inches of seam which is also nice that you don't have that like that massive line across you know the whole counter which is great.
Ethan Waldman 14:22
I love that just kind of creative thinking and also like going and buying you know countertop from a kitchen you know from a countertop shop is really really expensive. So anytime you can like go to an auto body shop instead or or like you know, use use somebody who isn't. It's kind of off label, you probably save save a lot of money. Do you remember what the countertop cost to do?
Lazrin Schenck 14:51
Yep, it was right around $1500. So it was more than I mean, I don't know I didn't even look at you buying a countertops anywhere else but I have a pretty good radius curve on one end of it. And I remember talking with the auto body shop, they were concerned about that that curve because when you're welding, it heats up and it causes the metal to bend.
Ethan Waldman 15:12
Lazrin Schenck 15:12
And so when I actually picked up the counter that one area of the counter was bent up probably at a 30 degree angle. And so there, they were just like, they warned me about that. But I made sure to really scar the bottom of the countertop really, really well. And I made sure to spread out the glue with a trowel with the notches and everything accurately and just clamped the crap out of it.
Ethan Waldman 15:32
Yeah. And it stayed?
Lazrin Schenck 15:34
Yeah, and it hasn't no issues with anything of the countertop. And I think if I wanted to do that radius and a different type of countertop, that would have been even added any more. And I think that radius alone was about probably about $500 of the whole $1500.
Ethan Waldman 15:48
Lazrin Schenck 15:49
And it's a 2x2 foot area.
Ethan Waldman 15:52
Lazrin Schenck 15:52
And it's that they actually use a thicker gauge steel for that area. The lip of the counter is actually twice as thick as everywhere else on the counter to be able to sustain that radius all the way around.
Ethan Waldman 16:04
Lazrin Schenck 16:05
Ethan Waldman 16:05
Very cool. Very cool.
Lazrin Schenck 16:07
Ethan Waldman 16:08
So we're for several years. You You rented land, and then you you bought like raw land like or did you buy a cleared property?
Lazrin Schenck 16:22
Yeah. The property I bought. I joke that I bought a snowblower and it came with a free house. So that the property I bought it actually has a garage on it already. And then it did have a single wide trailer on it. So the trailer was big they're normally like 14 feet wide by 70 feet long. Yep. And for maybe about 30 seconds I contemplated about fixing that trailer up and living in that while renting out my my tiny house full time on the same land. But the trailer kindly was in not good shape.
Ethan Waldman 16:54
Lazrin Schenck 16:54
You know, active leaks. There had been smoking in it. So which I definitely can't put up with.
Ethan Waldman 16:59
Lazrin Schenck 17:00
The sides of the trailer were sagging down. So there was a pretty decent curve to the floor. And it just didn't seem worth it to put any money into it. So...
Ethan Waldman 17:10
Lazrin Schenck 17:11
I, the last week of September, I rented an excavator and demolished the whole house. And I just was able to put it into three big Casella dump dumpsters. And then the land did have water, septic, it had all the utilities, which is why it was so appealing.
Ethan Waldman 17:29
Lazrin Schenck 17:30
And you know, how many people have a house, they can move, you know, within one day and have everything hooked up? So,
Ethan Waldman 17:35
Lazrin Schenck 17:36
I demolished the house, which if anyone has a chance to do it, it's great. It's a lot of fun, just to be able to destroy something with a big extra desert is great. And then I also took the opportunity to read landscape, it was pretty, pretty dense and not really taken care of in terms of just the overgrowth. It had been a rental property I think for almost 10 years and you know, definitely not not taken care of. So I probably cut down a 150 trees? 100 - 150 Somewhere in there, they're more sapling size. They weren't it wasn't like a ton of I mean it was still a lot of work but it wasn't like you know big pines here and they are everywhere.
Ethan Waldman 18:13
Lazrin Schenck 18:14
And then use the machine to kind of level out some land some of the some of the yard that was pretty steep, which made like you couldn't really stand comfortably around a bonfire at this at the grade it was so I leveled it out a little bit and I built a rock wall to make a transition from two different stages of the yard. And then because I removed the house, I needed a place and I'm on a well, I needed a place to put my pressure tank from my well. So I where the water originally come up out of the ground that went up into the bottom of the trailer that I tore down I then had to dig a trench and I brought that trench all the way to the garage and then I hand dug underneath the slab and then hammer drilled through the slab and then brought the waterline up in through the bottom of the garage. And then the garage was insulated already. It's 2x6 construction in there with insulation which was great and then I just built a very simple craftsmanship is not 100% on it but just very simple threw it up and insulated that really really well and so I only have to heat a small room in the garage that supplies my water to the whole house which is great. And then I also have a hot water heater in there that specifically powers my washer dryer.
Ethan Waldman 19:23
Lazrin Schenck 19:24
And then this summer is I have plans to bring hot water out to outdoor shower and build a sauna so I'm trying to like make the land even more usable and more enjoyable. So once I brought the water into the garage, I then also redid all the electrical, the current electrical situation. Again it was far from what I would ever feel comfortable with. It was ratchet strapped into the ground with duct tape and it was it was pretty sketchy. So completely took out all of that. The electrical that was there and then just had the new completely new line run from the pole. Hold, which is at the very top of my road, which is right on my property basically, again, right to the garage. So now everything basically the garage supplies everything to the property that I have now. And then also within that week, of all the trees I cleared, I probably opened up probably 75 feet more of open space from the yard. And so I ended up there's a, there's a lot of springs that feed my property. And so I actually just ended up building a pond because I had the excavator and and so that's been fun. And so it's a brings deer and birds, and there's a lot of frogs.
Ethan Waldman 20:32
Lazrin Schenck 20:32
And it's just nice to kind of hear that water trickle I built kind of like a waterfall, the outlet. That's it, there's always it's always being fed.
Ethan Waldman 20:39
Lazrin Schenck 20:40
And I think that's like to go on off on a tangent here. That's one of the things I love about the tiny houses. It's small. I do love it, I love being inside it. But it forces me outside more. And so it's so fun to invest so much time and energy and money into the land. Because I enjoy it, my friends enjoy it. And so those are the little features that I've added. And I plan to do a lot more this summer. Just make you be able to enjoy Vermont what Vermont has to offer during the months that you can be outside. And I think that's one of the beauties of a tiny house. Is that because it's so inexpensive, that you can if you want to prioritize money to continue to expand what activities and enjoyment you can get out of the property if you do own it.
Ethan Waldman 21:22
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, somebody listening to this conversation might assume that you, you know, we're already a professional trades person based just based on what you've talked about doing to the property into the house? Did you have these skills before you started on this journey? Or how did you approach learning what you needed to learn to do all this?
Lazrin Schenck 21:47
Yeah, I definitely would say I did not have any of the skills that I think a lot of people might assume you'd need to do to be able to do this. I grew up in a very hands on active family, you know, my dad is very handsy and, you know, built a shed, and we helped him you know, we built a pool, chicken coop, like that kind of stuff.
Ethan Waldman 22:06
Lazrin Schenck 22:06
But I think really the first time ever, truly using all the tools tablesaw chop saw,
Ethan Waldman 22:11
Lazrin Schenck 22:12
you know, all the things was when I built the tiny house. And you know, the beautiful thing about this day and age is the internet, you can sit down and Google, YouTube anything. And you know, the also big thing too, is you have to have a network of people you can trust to lean on to and ask those questions that you don't trust Google to answer correctly, or YouTube to answer correctly. And so I just learned as I went, I really leaned on the individuals that like, I mean, I even reached out to you, Ethan, right when I first started. So leaning into people that do have more knowledge at the time. And you know, kind of pick your way through what everyone says, because everyone's gonna have a different approach slightly. And so you kind of pick what you think you can accomplish, or what's in your budget, and then go from there. So I didn't have any other carpentry skills that I do now. And it's it's a skill that I'm I'm so glad I do have you know, I don't have to hire anyone to do anything on my property except for really electrical, anything over 100 amps I don't really feel comfortable messing with. And then in terms of, you know, operating the machine and the landscaping, that came to me a little bit a little easier, I'd say as well. It's a lot of common sense in that sense. And also, when you can demolish a building, you can figure out the machine as you go if you if you hit the wrong wall, it's not the end of the world. Yeah, so I got pretty good with the machine and figure out, you know, to get more proficient with that. And so then I did the demolition of the house first. And I think that set me up really, really well to dig an even trench for the water, to dig that trench for the electrical. To build that rock wall, you you have to be pretty, you have to have a finesse with where you place the rocks and how you twist them. And it's nobody means perfect. But I think if I didn't have probably about 20 hours in the machine of demolishing a house, I probably wouldn't have been as efficient and I probably wouldn't have gotten it done in the time. I had allotted myself to have everything done by.
Ethan Waldman 24:04
Yeah, I love it. So it's really like kind of learn as you go and build build up your skills on kind of easier projects first, and then you know, tackle the harder ones later.
Lazrin Schenck 24:16
Yep, yeah, and I think a lot of it too, is I was the week I had the machine. I had to get everything done because I I started work like that next Tuesday. Okay, and so I needed a house and I needed internet and I needed a place to stay. So I And that's I think a lot of my story is is I don't have a choice. I just have to do it. And when you just have to do it, you don't have time to second guess and think like, oh, is this is this the best way or do I not? Am I not really skilled enough and you just you just do it and I think that's credit to you know how I was raised my parents, you know, or is like you know, just just go do it figure it out. Yeah. And so that's definitely a mindset that I have and I think you know, when you live more of an alternative lifestyle, I think more people are inclined to have naturally
Ethan Waldman 24:58
totally A so yeah, let's let's actually shift into the lifestyle that because you I know you travel a lot, and you do house sitting gigs?
Lazrin Schenck 25:11
Ethan Waldman 25:12
So tell me about how that all works like what's what's like a, like an average year in the life of Lazrin?
Lazrin Schenck 25:21
And um, you know, I'll start from December of last year. How about that?
Ethan Waldman 25:27
Lazrin Schenck 25:28
So since December of last year, December 1, up until last night, I spent six nights in my house.
Ethan Waldman 25:36
Lazrin Schenck 25:37
Yeah. And so that's a combination, probably 95% of those days was house sitting. And so house sitting can mean a lot of different things for many people. And when I say I mean, the house either has animals or no animals but I'm usually there to take care of animals. For the most part, most of my clients have animals, usually dogs.
Ethan Waldman 25:56
Lazrin Schenck 25:57
And so I get to stay at their houses when they travel. And I've done this for 20- or sorry, 12 years.
Ethan Waldman 26:05
Lazrin Schenck 26:05
And so my, I've established this network of clients that A, really trusts me, and that's something that I really value. Their beautiful homes, I really value the homes I get to stay in. And so they they usually travel for long periods of time. One of the clients since December, I've been at his house for two months of those have since December.
Ethan Waldman 26:24
Lazrin Schenck 26:25
And then another client had been there for a month. They're not always, you know, a full month at a time. It might be a week here two weeks there.
Ethan Waldman 26:31
Lazrin Schenck 26:32
And so when I'm local, and I'm house sitting, it's all local. I don't travel outside of Vermont for it yet. It might change. But I can stay at the house. I'm house sitting and then I short doing short term rental on my Airbnb. Yeah, at the house I have at the tiny house. And I it's it works beautifully. So Vermont has a massive housing issue. I'm not sure how familiar everyone is but finding a place to rent in Vermont, you have to basically give up your left arm and still pay, you know, a lot for a not nice apartment. So I've always kind of felt bad about just renting it out on Airbnb. And then if I went and took another apartment to live in, I would kind of feel bad about that, you know, Vermont's even changing laws around short term rentals.
Ethan Waldman 27:19
Lazrin Schenck 27:20
But because I the house would just be vacant. When I house sit, I feel comfortable about it. And I truly love sharing the house with others. You know, I've had some great relationships come out of Airbnb, people that are, you know, just curious, they're going to do it themselves. They just liked the design, they want to talk about it. So I do love that, that interaction that that creates. And, and it's like a win-win. And so I don't, I don't have to work that much, which is like everyone's dream, right. And I've actually like kind of been pinching myself since basically October of last year. Because that's when I really did this intentionally. And I have one job, I have to commit to three days a week, it's about 15 hours at the most. And other than that I can pick and choose when I want to do because my house sitting in Airbnb lines up so well.
Ethan Waldman 28:07
Lazrin Schenck 28:08
And then a lot of times too. So you know, what was it last? I think maybe the first week of March, end of February, of March, I had about 10 days in between house sitting clients. And I was like you know, I kind of want to get out of Ron, I would just kind of leave that time of year it's everyone knows a little dark, it's kind of cold and gray. It's not very unpleasant to always be here for winter.
Ethan Waldman 28:29
Lazrin Schenck 28:30
And I just went to Iceland for 10 days and still rented out my house on Airbnb because it was more financially feasible to go travel for 10 days than it was to just live my own house and stay in Vermont. And so that's that was the first time I really did Airbnb while I traveled and I'm fortunate enough to have a sister close by who jumps in and does the cleaning for me and she's someone I can call or something, you know, an issue rises up. So I have that that network there which is which is amazing. I wouldn't able to do it without that. And then you know I do I do have to be mindful that I actually do have to live in my own house to get stuff done. And so I actually blocked off these next two weeks to be at my house. And I actually just bought an excavator so I have like a lot of projects to do. I feel like redo the driveway and I'm actually gonna change my pond, change the fire pit and then actually have access to mountain biking trails right out my back door now so...
Ethan Waldman 29:23
Lazrin Schenck 29:24
But I had to be yeah, had to be very intentional about actually living in my house. Because it's so easy to just house it and travel. But then like all the projects just pile up and I it's not, it's not worth it at the end of the day. And I do love where I live, which is something that I wasn't sure when in my life I'd be able to say that. But ever since I built this and bought moved it to this land, I genuinely enjoy coming home, sitting in my house working from my house working on the land, which is at my age, I didn't think I was going to be able to attain quite yet. So it's really nice.
Ethan Waldman 29:57
That's awesome. And I just want to ask Like a follow up question about the house sitting gigs are you getting paid to do the house sitting? Or is it just kind of like you get to be there for free in this beautiful house? Like kind of like that's that's your payment?
Lazrin Schenck 30:11
Yeah, no, I get paid. And yeah, and it's, it's not cheap. I'll say that.
Ethan Waldman 30:17
Lazrin Schenck 30:18
So and that's why I like doing Airbnb and house sitting I hit my financial numbers and which is why I don't really have to commit to a job nine to five and that's one thing I also love is I love giving my time and the skills I have learned, I love be able to give that back. And so when I have you know, four days off, I'll go help my friends you know, build something on their house or a friend of mine is doing like a homestead out in Starksboro and they built a timber frame house from all the woods like he felled the trees he did everything and so you know, I went helped him raise it did the siding, and it just feels good to give back and I genuinely love it. And to be able to sit there and play with sawdust and get gross and dirty and sweaty and learn and do a different type of construction that I got to do is always is always a blast. And it makes it's a feel good moment for me for sure. So it's definitely a selfish endeavor.
Ethan Waldman 31:10
Nice. Yeah, that's that was one thing that I struggled with in the tiny house and also like my current home is also quite small, which is that like I don't have a place for a table saw and a chop saw and like a space to do those kinds of projects. I'm guessing you get to use your garage for that though.
Lazrin Schenck 31:29
Yep, yeah, my garage is the saving grace. I have acquired probably too many tools at this point since I bought it. Yeah, but it's nice to have a zone that's I don't want Airbnb guest access. I lock it up when I leave. But it's a zone that can be really messy can store everything I need to do store extra Airbnb stuff, store my own personal stuff when I have to move out. And so garage I couldn't live or I would have to build a shed the garage is a saving grace, especially the the lifestyle live with the amount of toys I have activities I do. Garages is definitely necessary. And then also in the winter in Vermont, it's nice not to have to shovel your car. So that's a plus.
Ethan Waldman 32:07
Yeah, very nice. As long as you've you've left the garage empty enough to put the car inside of the garage.
Lazrin Schenck 32:12
Always. I have always told myself that I will never allow my garage to get full enough that I can't fit a car in it because that defeats the purpose.
Ethan Waldman 32:19
Nice. Now does the excavator live on the property with your tiny house? Or is that is it somewhere else?
Lazrin Schenck 32:25
It currently is we I mean I literally picked it up yesterday from from the dealership. So it's definitely like a little kid on Christmas morning yesterday. So it's parked here for now. But the my business partner who I went in on it with. He has a shop down in Ferrisburgh. And so once I do most of my work, it'll live there in between myself using it him and then renting it out. It'll that's where it'll kind of live. But who knows, maybe it'll end up here more often than not? I wouldn't be I wouldn't be too bad with that.
Ethan Waldman 32:54
Yeah, I mean, you got to get the waterslide built.
Lazrin Schenck 32:57
Ethan Waldman 33:02
Well, do you have? Is there a next tiny house or a next house build in your mind? Are you kind of sticking with what what you've got for now?
Lazrin Schenck 33:12
Yeah, I definitely miss, I missed the challenge of it. There's I think if you talk to my family and friends, they might push me on the fact that I enjoyed the builds. Because there's definitely moments when you're in it, you get frustrated, and it's a lot to do by yourself. Every decision falls on you, every design choice. It's you can't look at somebody like can you help me with this? Or I'm really frustrated, can you make this cut? There's definitely moments I am like, "Okay, I definitely did not enjoy that day." So I would love to i the the idea to be involved in building or creating something is definitely on the horizon. And I think for me on the on the personal side, I'm going to be building a sauna. That's something that I've always loved. And then where my how my property is set up. It's really private. And with the pond and the clearing I made, it's just a very serene place to be. And then also thinking about kind of a business standpoint, if I build a sauna and I let Airbnb guests use it, you're like, "Okay, can I get another $25 per night for that?" Right? So even though it's a personal endeavor, it benefits me on the professional side, the financial side as well.
Ethan Waldman 34:16
Lazrin Schenck 34:17
I kind of did the calculations that I think after 10 months at $25 more per night, it would pay for itself.
Ethan Waldman 34:23
Lazrin Schenck 34:24
You know, more or less. So that's something on the horizon. And then back to like the, the housing shortage in Vermont. It it's kind of been tickling at the back of my brain for the for the last few months and maybe a few years at this point is, single family housing is not sustainable. You know, especially in Vermont, especially, you know, in the whole US, we don't build efficiently here, period. You know, I think this was a while ago, but I remember listening to a podcast or reading an article. On average, one person in the US lives in 1000 square feet of home.
Ethan Waldman 34:58
Lazrin Schenck 34:59
Which is a lot of space. For one person, and the one thing I love about the tiny house is that it is movable and like when I do pull it off the land I'm not really leaving a mark, there's no foundation, there's no I mean you could put helical screws in or something like that. But you're not disturbing everything and you can either trash it you know, if it gets to the point where you know, it's like 20 years old, you know, and you can really use it it's not worth saving. Or you can just move it on to the next one and buy another piece of land and so kind of in my mind it's like what would it look like to buy property, do the land improvements as necessary to have a house so a septic or connect to town or add water all that kind of stuff? But what would it look like to bring the tiny house lifestyle more front and center to people in Vermont that you know, it's happened to across the country, you know, Colorado, California, Montana, Washington, they're pretty popular. But being able to offer someone a chance to live in Vermont with a reasonable rent and build a you enjoy the land and why a lot of people move Vermont is for the the peacefulness and the green and the mountains and the water. So kind of in my mind is like okay, how do you what would it look like to basically make a tiny house village, but also be very intentional with the design of where you place the houses so that they feel secluded, they feel private, but yet, you're you don't have to pay $5,000 to get this seclusion, this privacy this, this picturesque Instagram bowl, you know, Vermont lifestyle that I think a lot of people moving here are trying to achieve.
Ethan Waldman 36:26
Lazrin Schenck 36:27
And that challenge is fun. You know, I've never had to put in a septic tank. So what does that look like that's kind of goes to my mind. I haven't, I've never, you know, had to pay for well to get dug or I've never had to connect to a main water line. And that learn, I've learned that I love learning more about construction and the whole process. And I like getting dirty. I like getting sweaty, I like getting down and dirty with it. So that's that's potential on the horizon. There's a lot, you know, contingent on that. State laws, county zoning laws, all kind of play a role. And then also, the financial backing is key as well.
Ethan Waldman 37:05
Lazrin Schenck 37:06
Banks are still kind of uncertain on what to do with tiny houses. You know, land is hard to buy with a loan. But that's kind of in the works. That I'm I'm definitely gonna be pursuing pretty actively this whole summer.
Ethan Waldman 37:19
Nice. Well, maybe there's a listener who, who has some some financial resources, who wants to back a project.
Lazrin Schenck 37:25
There you go. Yeah, I'll take it.
Ethan Waldman 37:27
Nice. Nice. Well, Lazrin Schenck, thank you so much for being a guest on the show today. I love your lifestyle. And I'm just I really admire everything that you've accomplished.
Lazrin Schenck 37:36
Yeah, thank you so much, Ethan. Thanks so much for having me on. It was blast.
Ethan Waldman 37:40
Thank you so much to Lazrin Schenck for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes, including photos of Lazrin's house and a complete transcript of this episode over at thetinyhouse.net/263. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/263 Well, that's all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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