Each night, when the Sonoma County Fair closes at 11 p.m., everyone goes home.
Except Joel Fleck — his home is at the fair.
Fleck, a Sebastopol law student, is part of the tiny house movement, and he has brought his custom-built 150-square-foot house to the fairgrounds to demonstrate sustainable living.
Tiny Home On Display At The Fair
“I'm here showing how you can live in such a small space, and trying to get people to live simply,” said Fleck, 25. “It's kind of eerie walking around at night. If you had clown nightmares, it would be scary. I don't have clown issues, but I might after this.”
The tiny house movement was started more than a decade ago partly as a minimalist response to McMansions. One of the movement's founders, Jay Shafer, an Iowan who now lives in Graton, is showing model tiny houses at the fair.
“It's about the freedom of not having to pay for more space that you don't need,” said Shafer, who founded two tiny-home companies. “It's about being able to do what you want and not working your butt off to pay for a mortgage.”
Fleck had Shafer, who he calls “the god of my people,” sign his house: “Joel, Viva La Tiny — Jay.” He has parked his house among the model homes next to a sign that says “Tiny Town pop. 1.”
On Tuesday, the good-natured Fleck entertained a steady stream of visitors and their endless questions. He spent $25,000 and two years building the house, which usually sits in Sebastopol on a flatbed trailer.
From the outside, the cedar-paneled house looks like a scaled-down cabin with a tiny porch, aluminum roof and dormer windows.
Inside, Fleck has maximized the limited space with storage cupboards and shelves, making the house feel relatively roomy. He spends most of his time on the couch or studying at the desk next to shelves of law books.