Skip to main content

The Yankee Express

Tiny house a big deal for lifelong adventurer

Kurt Kauppinen (second from left) with his two brothers, mother and grandmother in front of the tiny house he built.


When Kurt Kauppinen of Charlton decided to build a tiny home, he was thinking how cool it would be not to pay rent but after the completion of his small but mighty housing, it has turned out to be yet another adventure in his amazing history of accomplishments and worldly expeditions.
He is not quite thirty years old but has already forged a personal tale of exciting journeys to remote parts of Mother Earth. Call it wanderlust, the love of travel, the need to roam, hike, and experience more than what most of us will ever see or do but average is not what Mr. Kauppinen is all about. He’s a seeker of experiences that many of us will never know and his quest for those experiences is what sets him apart from most of us.


 Mr. Kauppinen consulted YouTube and worked with local materials suppliers to build his tiny house.

“When I was living in Peru with the native population, I got the idea about building a tiny home,” he said, “and the local people’s living quarters were compact and practical. A tiny house seemed just about right. I felt that building a house this size also meant I could build it with wheels so that if I wanted to move, then I could. It was the freedom that attracted me and how I could also learn to build a structure of this size.” 
Mr. Kauppinen began his project by reading a book about tiny homes. He researched extensively and continued to review information about these modest living quarters. “I sat down and designed the home while educating myself on house framing, specifically on the 2 x 4 framing in the construction process. YouTube was very instrumental in my learning process. You know, we’re looking at a new age of learning and if you’re willing to research, you can find what you need.” He borrowed tools from friends and was able to procure framing wood from a Winchendon lumberyard at a great price. He also wanted to buy local and not build from a kit.
He began by buying a properly-sized trailer that would be able to carry the weight of his new home. He then cut and welded the metal pieces to the specifications of his own blueprint plans. The wooden structure began to take shape. By the way, Mr. Kauppinen has no experience in carpentry. His tutor was strictly YouTube and the confidence he had in himself to learn and to finish his project. He enjoys working with his hands and feels that “if someone else can do it, so can I.”  He said he never thought about quitting but it helped if he thought about the project in small chunks so as not to be overwhelmed by the entire job. He focused on framing first, then roofing, and after the wiring was done, it was smooth sailing. 
He spent six months on his workmanship. “I began in June 2022 and finished in January 2023,” he said. “I learned so much. I had to fix my mistakes. I learned how to make Shaker-style interior cabinets with live edge slabs. The interior colors were the hardest. I’d walk through Home Depot and check out appliances, furnaces, water pumps, hot water heaters, and electrical plugs. No microwave oven for me though. Everything will run on solar power with a whisper generator for backup in case my solar power runs out on a cloudy week. I have three 100-watt solar panels. 
As an experiential education major, Mr. Kauppinen has attained a Bachelor of Science degree in Adventure Education. I would imagine that a bit of his college days were spent mountain backpacking and some in a classroom-learning environment with a few things certain—continuing to learn, to educate, and to experience life’s offerings. He is an educator at an agency that assists young single moms from the street life. The agency’s and his goals are to lend a hand to benefit those in need to get back into productive society. Mr. Kauppinen appears to be in the right place at the right time. Life is a challenge for most of us and for some, more arduous.
“When I was in college I decided that I wanted to stop paying rent,” Mr. Kauppinen said, “I actually lived in a tent for a month by a river but one day the river overflowed its banks. One of my friends joked that I should just get a van and live in it. I just wanted my own spot. Since then, I’ve lived outdoors in Utah, Mexico, Nepal, and Peru. I didn’t visit the major tourist areas but chose to experience and live with the local indigenous people. In the Amazon the husband would build the home and the family would live in it. I spent one month in the jungle harvesting Brazilian nuts. We hunted, fished, and ate local foods.” Did he eat insects? “Yes, I did taste/eat some of their insect diet. The taste was metallic,” he said. He has also enjoyed the fruits of the protected Costanias tree. The nut pods are as big as a coconut and once broken open will yield about 25 individual nuts. The Costanias tree is a member of the chestnut tree family.
Mr. Kauppinen has learned that patience and taking smaller steps to attain a larger goal is the key to finishing anything in life he enjoys. “I learned from my own running and jogging routines to keep things in perspective by taking each part of a long run and breaking it into smaller pieces. Instead of thinking about running fifty miles, I would tell myself to concentrate on running 20 miles and then keep going.”   Would he ever build another tiny house? “Yes, but not alone,” he says. “I’d do it again with a friend or family member.”  
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."  
– Lao Tzu