Mercer Cribs: An Engineer’s Haven

A home is not about how it is built as much as it is what you make of it. Juniors Patrick Hobbs, Libby McCormick and Lisa Bianco and senior David Ellis make a very good home in a house they rent from Scott Schultz, one of Mercer’s engineering professors. They enjoy the freedom of living off campus and not being confined by dorm rules as well as the ample amount of storage provided by a larger, older house. The house was built around the turn of the century and has been renovated several times. Many people would not like the house’s design because of these renovations, but the four renters find it lovable.
“It is such a unique house,” said Hobbs. He gushed about the nooks and crannies created by the multiple renovations. It is hard to deny that the house has a unique personality. Because the house was built in the early 1900s, the front entrance of the house has an older charm. The door still bears the nameplate of the family that the renters feel were the original owners.
“Something I find really charming is all of the doors. Literally all of the rooms are connected by doors.” Hobbs added. All the doors make for a fun addition to the home, as the residents have been known to open doors to connect and communicate through the upstairs bedrooms.
Beyond the charm of the house itself, the four renters made several interesting additions to the house to claim the home as their own. Hobbs has a goal of one day owning a completely self-sustaining house. For now, he sticks with smaller projects like his backyard garden, compost pile and solar panels.
The solar panels began as a fun summer project with instructions from Instructables.com, a website devoted to DIY projects. He uses the solar panels during the day to charge a trolling battery from a boat. When he gets home later in the day, he has enough energy saved to power a TV, a laptop and an internet-streaming device. Because of the recent drop in silicon prices, Hobbs hopes he will someday be able to power his house entirely through solar panel cells.
In addition to the solar panels, the four renters keep a compost pile in their backyard. On campus, they would never be able to keep a compost pile because they would not have a yard to call their own. Here, they have a lot more room in which they can set up projects and leave them up. They set up the compost pile as a means of getting new dirt for their backyard garden, which has had limited success. Because the house faces west, the plants only get sunlight from 1:00 p.m. until sunset, which is not enough for a lot of the plants they want to grow. Currently they have some spinach and onion plants growing which is great for McCormick who is a vegetarian.
A space everyone can enjoy is the living room, which has beautiful plaid sofas and a projector screen for watching TV and movies. After downsizing her house, Hobbs’ mother gave them extra pieces to furnish their living room with. The projector was Hobbs’ own purchase. In the past, when he had it up in his dorm room, it was often awkward in a space used for multiple purposes. Now, Hobbs and the other renters can have one room that can be devoted to watching movies and TV together.
Ellis is most excited about being able to keep his two cats with him while he is at school. Though animals are not allowed in on-campus housing, many off-campus students enjoy the company of a pet or two in their homes. With all of these additions, Ellis, Bianco, McCormick and Hobbs have made a wonderful off-campus home away from home.