North Bay structural engineer gives students valuable construction skills – CBS San Francisco
SAN ANSELMO (KPIX) – With big skills and small homes, a San Anselmo man has devised an innovative way to tackle the shortage of skilled workers, create job opportunities and give back to the community.
Structural engineer Sean Ticknor teaches participants with no previous construction experience how to build a 24-by-eight-and-a-half-foot house from scratch in just nine months.
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“Everything you see here they touched. We started with a metal trailer and a bunch of sticks, and they built it all up. So they tried everything,” Ticknor said.
The San Anselmo man founded Big Skills Tiny Homes in 2016. The nonprofit is working to build its fifth home in three years.
Ticknor trains four participants at a time in an outdoor classroom in Fairfax five days a week, where they learn everything from carpentry and cabinet making to electrical and roofing.
Graduates benefit from career guidance and follow-up for five years.
“Everyone who completed the program was offered a job in the trade,” Ticknor said.
Most of the tiny houses went to people in need, like wildfire survivors and the homeless. A pair of structures went to house young people at the Tiny Homes Empowerment Village in Oakland.
Mateo Litras knows the project he is working on will go to a family of three who lost everything in the Butte County wildfires.
“Like, we are building a sanctuary; a house for someone. It’s amazing,” he said.
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For the current build, Ticknor is partnering with Alyssa Nolan of the Tiny Pine Foundation, which is building homes for wildfire survivors.
Nolan says Ticknor is an expert craftsman with a generous heart.
“Every time I call Sean and say, ‘Hey, do you think you can build one more? or ‘Hey, do you think we can handle this?’ he is always ready to come to his side and help. It is a great blessing,” she said.
Ticknor says it costs $40,000 in materials to build a tiny house. The association relies on donations, both financial and material, and nothing is wasted.
Indeed, the wood in the master bedroom of the current Tiny Home comes from office furniture donated during the pandemic. The closets were once offices.
Ticknor answered questions from as far away as Korea on how to replicate his model.
He hopes his program will help alleviate the housing crisis.
“It just makes me feel fantastic. I just like the idea of “if you build builders, builders will build,” he said.
So for building big skills and building small homes, this week’s Jefferson Bay Area Award goes to Sean Ticknor.
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Big Skills Tiny Homes is accepting applications for the next cohort of students in Fall 2022. The application deadline is April 15. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, have an interest in construction and have health insurance.