MARIETTA, Ga. – Like many kids getting ready for summer, 12-year-old Sicily Kolbeck was looking for a project.
Instead of playing around on the Internet, she decided to create a tiny house so she could have a space of her own.
Sicily decided to be the architect and the builder, while her mother would serve as the project manager for the plans.
Sicily’s dad, Dane Kolbeck, would help with the hands-on work.
He used to be a woodworker but he’d never built a house, especially one in which a middle-schooler was in charge.
Sicily launched a blog and a fundraising campaign to raise $1,500.
When her goal was met, the father and daughter team made blueprints and small models before starting on the massive project of building a tiny home.
The first few weeks of construction were rocky.
Dane was impatient and Sicily was exasperated.
Sicily said, “There was a lot of figuring things out.”
It took a little while but they learned how to work together.
Then, everything fell apart.
Dane was in a car accident and the foundation that the tiny home was built upon was shaken.
In the days after his death, the family searched for a distraction and quickly turned to the house.
As friends and family would stop by, they would pick up a hammer or a board.
After a few weeks, the help stopped and so did the progress.
Sicily stopped making decisions, small or large.
Suzannah Kolbeck, Sicily’s mom, said, “She started saying, ‘ I can’t’ a lot. And I started saying, ‘I can’t, too, but it’s all about the try.’ We have to make decisions about what we’re going to do.”
After a brief trip, the family went back home and decided it was time to rebuild.
Sicily and Suzannah began posting on Facebook groups, asking for creative solutions to problems.
Friends and a few experts pitched in to help; a retiree showed Sicily how to wire the house; the workers at Home Depot taught them how to plumb the kitchen and bathroom.
A roofer donated his time and materials to top off the house.
“People just showed up, resources just showed up,” said Andrew Odom, creator of the blog Tiny r(E)volution. “They thought they were going to go at it just as a family. They didn’t know how much they needed a community.”
Sicily is 14-years-old now and the owner of tiny home with a fully functional kitchen and bathroom.
It took a year and a half and nearly $10,000 to pull it off.
It’s a cozy escape when the world feels too big and the ground too shaky.
Odom said, “The project could have easily been scrapped. Whether she ever lives in it or not, it bears the touch of everyone special in her life time, including her dad.”
Sicily said, “I don’t think I’m ever going to be 100 percent great, or 100 percent okay. It’s not like learning how to forget him, but learning how to go through life remembering him and still kind of living and being happy.”