Tiny Home and a Tiny Footprint in Toronto
There are some 100 square foot tiny homes that look more like an outdoor shed where you might store your lawnmower than an actual living space. While these ultra-mini tiny homes might appeal to some homeowners, the image of a one-room tiny shack might be responsible for turning some people away from the idea of downsizing to a tiny home. As tiny home communities begin to pop up around the country, and more and more people begin looking for more affordable and sustainable housing solutions, elegant, custom-built tiny homes offer the appeal of luxury and comfort while still maintaining a low price tag and environmental footprint.
The Ébène is a prime example: a 10 foot by 34-foot tiny house that incorporates 475 square feet of living space between the main level and the two lofts. Designed and built by the Minimaliste Tiny House Team, RISE recently sat down to talk with Tori and Meghan, the owners of the home, and Jean-Phillipe Marquis, the co-founder and foreman of the company to learn about the design process and some of the unique benefits that come with tiny home living.
Tori and Meghan mention that “the exorbitant price of real estate in the greater Toronto area forced us to look at alternative options. Knowing that most traditional houses were too large for us, we decided that a Tiny House would suit all of our needs while carrying a much smaller price tag in comparison to a condo or apartment.”
According to co-founder Jean-Phillipe, the company has built 12 custom tiny homes, and the average price fora turnkey Minimaliste home, including all the appliances and furniture, is around $120,000 Canadian Dollars, or $90,000 U.S. dollars. For Tori and Meghan, they found that finding financing was a bit of challenge. “We were lucky enough to have a great financial agent who helped us with the process and made it possible,” they said. “We think as tiny houses become more popular, mainstream financial institutions will make it easier to secure a loan.”
While the price tag was certainly one area of interest for Tori and Meghan, The Ébène also filled their expectations in terms of interior space and livability. Because they weren’t planning to move the home as a tiny house on wheels, they opted for a wider trailer to maximize the interior living space.
Minimaliste Tiny Homes does provide Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) certification, though not all clients require this certification. Jean-Phillipe mentioned that “we always build by the same standards, but the RVIA stamp is mostly required by insurances companies or financing institutions. It does demonstrate that the builders follow regulations, making sure that the tiny houses meet the standards for safety and quality. That being said, we think that the RVIA certification is overrated; most of the things they are checking is electricity, propane and plumbing. We think that there is much more to take into consideration when it comes to the integrity and quality of a tiny house. We suggest that people ask more questions to the builders about the specifications of the tiny houses they make, instead of taking the RVIA stamp as a proof of quality.”
Characteristics of The Ébène
The Ébène has a beautiful exterior that combines the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique of preserving and waterproofing wood through charring the wood with other natural cedar finishes. As with other tiny homes, the interior space is designed to be flexible. The living room can easily be transformed into a larger dining room when company arrives for dinner. When asked about the favorite part of their tiny home, Meghan said that it was “hard to choose, but I would say our kitchen and our living room, as those are two places we spend most of our time. And Minimaliste did an amazing job bringing our vision to life.”
For the two adults and two miniature Dachshunds that share the home, the lofted king-size bedroom above the living room includes built-in cabinetry for closet storage spaces. The full-sized, high-tech kitchen is complete with a convection oven, a ceramic glass cooktop, a microwave, and a refrigerator/freezer combo. There is even a large pantry for kitchen storage options.
The bathroom has a shower and tub surrounded by sleek Muraluxe wall panels and a side-by-side high efficiency, Bosch Series 300 washer and dryer—ENERGY STAR qualified to save energy and money. The second lofted area is placed smartly above the bathroom, with a ladder for easy access that doesn’t reduce interior space.
Getting used to their tiny home took some time. Tori and Meghan explain that “the biggest challenge has been learning the ins and outs of our specific tiny house. Getting to know the appliances and the nuances of tiny house living, and knowing that we have different issues than a regular foundation house” have been some of the challenges. However, they have also learned the art of “being patient when issues do arrive.”
Tiny Home, Tinier Footprint
While energy efficiency gains in modern-day, sustainable construction continue to advance, tiny homes are inherently more sustainable because of their smaller space. With less interior space, less “stuff” is necessary to purchase to fill up the home. Due to the reduced square footage, less energy will be required to heat, cool, and power the home.
Tori and Meghan tell us that “I think you become more conscious of consumption, material things mainly. Before you buy something you really need to think about where it will fit in your home and how it will add value to your life because if you can't answer those two questions, you shouldn't be buying it."
Many of the custom tiny homes that Minimaliste builds are designed to be completely off-grid—meaning not connected to any power source. According to Jean-Phillipe, “with the costs and type of source for electricity in the US, going off-grid is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment. Natural gas combined with solar energy allows people to have almost no ecological footprint while being able to reduce their monthly payments. It is the best of both worlds for the user and the planet.”
Some Words of Advice
Despite all of the economic and environmental benefits that come with living in a beautiful, custom-built tiny home like the Ébène, there are also some challenges and differences worth considering. Tori and Meghan offer the following advice for people interested in designing a custom tiny house: “When you think you have thought of everything, wait a while and then revisit your plans. I think that we went over dozens of different designs trying to get what we thought was our perfect layout. You really need to design for your specific needs, because that is one of the best parts of a tiny house, it is built with your specific wants and needs in mind.”
Once you have settled on a design that you love, however, you will be able to say, like Tori and Meghan, that “living in a tiny house has been an amazing experience, and I look forward to waking up every morning in my house.”Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-10T06:05:09+0000