‘Big’ plans for retirement - building
tiny houses for the homeless
By Karen McLean
SPEEA Publications Editor
BURIEN, Wash. - Bill Lichty’s big idea for retirement really isn’t so big. It’s 8 feet by 12 feet, has two windows and a door.
This tiny house represents a big step toward independence for a homeless person or small family.
He built Tiny House ( TH) 001 prior to retiring
earlier this year from Boeing. This was a project
with his son, who attends a high school focused
on vocational trades. The first one will be picked
up by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI)
as well as the rest of the THs he will build.
Lichty’s tiny house - which fits in his driveway -
is intended for shelter with room for a bed and
one or two chairs. The tiny house has a locking
door, windows and insulation and will be weatherproof, but the houses do not have plumbing
or electricity. The LIHI neighborhoods provide
communal power sources and bathrooms with
showers and laundry facilities.
That makes the tiny houses easier and more
affordable to build.
$2,000 on the first
tiny house he built for
LIHI. He’s hoping to
fundraise to offset the
expenses of more LIHI
Cost is a frequent
question he hears
when people inquire
about his plans. “You can assume about $100
a square foot for normal construction but that
includes finishing touches,” he said. “Without
electrical, plumbing and HVAC, it’s a whole lot
Plus, the prototype took a lot less time - about
60 hours and that’s with lessons learned. “There’s
a whole lot more freedom than I took advantage
of,” he said.
Lichty, a former SPEEA member and Tech, spent
most of his time at Boeing writing instructions
for others at Plant II, Seattle. Operating without
detailed instructions provided its own challenges.
“It’s less than eight feet wide and 12 feet long,”
he noted, making the 96-square foot structure
exempt from building codes. “That’s why there
are not a lot of rules to follow.”
People often ask how he plans to deliver tiny
houses from his driveway to their new ‘home’
in Georgetown. When LIHI is ready, they will
winch it on to a trailer. He built it on skids.
The idea for building tiny homes in retirement
started with an article
he read in the newspaper about LIHI’s
efforts. That fueled his
passion to do something productive in
“I had planned to
find some sort of ser-
vice work, but hadn’t
found anything that
appealed to me.”
Prior to Boeing, Lichty worked in Kansas and
Texas as a vice president/general manager of an
electronics contractor with up to 900 employees.
He also was a foster parent with his wife for
about 10 years. “I saw another side of society
with families who wind up having kids taken
away from them by the state,” he said.
Retirement takes some adjustment, he acknowledged, since he’s been working more than 50
years, but building tiny houses is not so hard.
“Just do it,” he said, when asked for advice on
building one. “The worst thing that could happen is you have to pull it apart and put it back
together. The more you think about it, the less
likely you are to do it. Pick up a hammer.”
SPEEA retiree Bill Lichty helps the Low Income Housing
Institute by building tiny houses. His first house went to
one of the tiny house villages in Seattle.
Former SPEEA presi- dent and contract administrator Dick
Goyt, 72, died of cancer
Goyt served in a number
of SPEEA leadership roles,
including SPEEA president, Executive Board vice
president and Council chair.
Active on a number of SPEEA committees, Goyt
served on the Technical Unit Negotiation Team
in 1986, 1989 and 1992.
Retiring from Boeing after 29 years, Goyt joined
the SPEEA staff as a contract administrator
in January 2001. He represented members at
Renton, Bellevue and Issaquah, in addition to
supporting SPEEA committees before retiring
from SPEEA in October 2006.
MERCER ISLAND, Wash. - After more than a month on the picket line, OPEIU Local 8 workers at Welfare
and Pension Administration Services (WPAS)
voted for a contract and went back to work
WPAS administers health and pension benefits
for thousands of union members, including half
the SPEEA staff.
More than 70 OPEIU Local 8 workers went
on strike after rejecting two contract offers that
significantly reduced their benefits and working
The SPEEA Northwest Council approved a
motion to support WPAS workers on strike by
donating $3,000. SPEEA members and staff also
joined the picket line to show support.
A truck winches the tiny house, built on skids, to move it to
a low-income housing community.