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Tiny houses have become big business

Derek “Deek” Diedricksen, AS’00, has used his love for building and an eye for detail to construct a career manufacturing small homes, outdoor offices, and treehouses.

In a career in which he’s done a little bit of everything – disc jockey, home inspector, author – Derek “Deek” Diedricksen, AS’00, has found his niche in constructing small homes, outdoor offices, and treehouses. Coming from a family laden with do-it-yourselfers, building, repairing, and repurposing seems to be a natural inclination.

His work has been featured on HGTV’s Tiny House Builders and in online episodes for HGTV and the DIY Network. He also has a popular YouTube channel YouTube channel which features more than 250 videos and nearly 96,000 subscribers.

Diedricksen regularly updates his blogs at Relaxshacks.com, and Tinyhouseliving.com and crisscrosses the country hosting workshops and participating in home and garden shows. He recently returned from an event at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

“I go from Fargo to Sydney, Australia, and pretty much everywhere in between,” he said.

HGTV recently ceased production on Tiny House Builders, but Diedricksen isn’t exactly sitting around juggling handsaws. He continues writing – his second book, “Microshelters,” was published in August 2015, a follow-up to 2012’s “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts.”

And, of course, he continues to build unique structures.

“We work hard and it can be pretty intense getting these projects done,” Diedricksen said of he and his crew, which includes brother, Dustin. “But when it’s completed you step back, take a look, and say, ‘That’s pretty cool.’”

Diedricksen builds many of his structures out of material he salvages.

“I use pretty much everything I find,” he said. “Junk and weird stuff I find on the side of the road, discarded windows, blown-over fences – anything I think I can use comes home with me.”

View one of his videos and you’ll find everything from a spaghetti strainer used as a shade on an overhead light to shelving made from shipping pallets.

Simply put, Diedricksen is not afraid to admit he’ll grab nearly anything he finds, but it has to be functional.
“I’m not a hoarder – everything I get, I use,” said Diedricksen, a former DJ at Northeastern’s WRBB-FM and legendary Boston rock station WBCN.

It seems the wheels are always turning for Diedricksen, who estimates he has more than 200 tiny house and microstructure books in his home alongside a pile of his own ideas jotted down on loose-leaf paper and cocktail napkins.

“I’ve taken the drawings and sketches I made in high school, when I should have been paying attention in class, to make them three-dimensional pieces of art,” Diedricksen said.

He’s been his own boss for about 10 years and truly loves what he does. He wouldn’t do it any other way.
“I could make a lot of money by building a ‘McMansion’ every few years, but how much variety would you have with that? I can build 20 structures in a year and every one of them will be different.

He’s not sure when the tiny-house bubble might burst but he’s appreciating it while it lasts.

“I’m doing something I really enjoy and I think I’m pretty good at. Sometimes I think, ‘I get paid to do this stuff? This is pretty awesome.’”

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published March 2016