One Person's Junk Is This Home Improvement Show's Treasure

Oct 6, 2017
Originally published on October 6, 2017 5:24 pm

You Can’t Turn That Into A House” on FYI takes home improvement to a new level: transforming old grain silos, chicken coops, a dumpster and more into tiny houses.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young learns more about the show from hosts Taimoor Nana (@taimoor_nana), Rehan Nana and Kyle Davis.

Interview Highlights

On the concept behind the show

Taimoor Nana: “This story started off about 10 years ago, and the three of us were sitting around and we had an old grain bin, and a 100-year-old wooden barn that had been partially collapsed due to a tornado — we live here in the Midwest. And we wanted to really take the two and combine them together, and we came up with the design of taking a grain bin and making it into a luxury, two-story cabin that we felt people from the city could come out and enjoy the wilderness, where we really wanted to basically connect people to nature, and the process of building cabins out in the wilderness.”

On the theme of sustainability in the show and the houses they create

Rehan Nana: “There’s definitely that aspect. We’ve all had long discussions about this, and one of the things that we really enjoy is being able to reuse things that would’ve otherwise been left fallow. If you look across the Midwest, there’s literally thousands of old grain silos that, just by the progress of agriculture, they get bigger. And so all these old ones are just left there. And so we looked at them and said, ‘Hey, I think we can turn that into a house,’ and we actually did end up doing it. And what’s really nice is, a lot of these are out in the country, and so you really get to see a great glimpse of rural America.”

On whether it can be a dangerous job

Kyle Davis: “I mean it is, it is for sure. But you know, it’s really a different scenario every single time. I really, I guess just don’t like following rules and doing it how everyone else does with a full crew taking months and months on end and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’d rather do it with two brothers out in the country, maybe a couple farmers, and get it done in a week.”

On seeing a potential home when others might see junk

RN: “We all kind of look at things differently I think, in all of these different structures. And you get to really see when we sit down collaboratively, and start spitballing the potential that an object does have, and I think it’s something that I always enjoy because it’s breaking something back down. It’s almost like being a kid again. Like, you know, getting to play with Legos and imagining what something could be. And I think that when you’re looking at a structure to try to turn it into a house, that’s one of the critical things that you have to do is not imagine what it is now, but imagine what it could be.”

On building a house out of a dumpster

KD: “We cleared out the trash, and then Rehan got in there with a gigantic, heavy-duty power washer that was the full size of a pickup truck, and just power-washed the thing as good as we possibly could, and it really cleaned up pretty nice in the end. It wasn’t a dumpster, it was just a nice metal box to get started building the house.”

On the idea of putting their homebuilding skills to use after hurricanes like Harvey and Maria

KD: “We had some people writing to us saying, ‘Hey, what can we … let’s work on something,’ and we’ve kicked around the idea of maybe we do make some portable, prefab housing that could be shipped to disaster areas. I think that would be a really interesting project and challenge to work on.”

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