Firefighters Earthship Inspired Off-Grid Urban Tiny House

As the tiny-house movement continues to grow people are getting more and more creative with the designs of their homes. Today we’ve traveled to Edmonton in Alberta to meet a firefighter who has really taken the design of his tiny house to the next level Hey Steve, hey, how’s it going mate? -Good man, how are you? – Good, thank you Pleasure to meet you you bet and awesome to see this great-looking tiny house here Thanks It looks especially interesting being here in this very Urban sitting doesn’t yeah for sure can you tell me a little bit about how you actually came to be here in this spot? I own this house, I own this property and I-, I guess originally I started seeing tiny houses on the internet, and I thought oh man, that’s pretty cool and Before I started building I picked a spot where I knew I wanted it to be so I designed it to fit here exactly so Yeah, yeah, I actually like to say that this is an airship inspired tiny house I just think it’s such a smart design their ship design So I wanted to try and incorporate as many of those principles in this and it was a couple years ago I think was 2014 I took a year off work and I traveled for that whole year and in that year I lived in a camper van that I ended up driving all the way down to Panama and When I was traveling I did a lot of volunteer on different tiny house bills airship builds different community building projects And I really liked the vibe of that of getting a whole bunch of people together all working together for a common goal And so I wanted to try and somehow incorporate that vibe into this build and I worked with Ben Garrett out in Vancouver who helped me organize a weekend workshop where a bunch people came and We had about 20 people working on this project over a four-day weekend And I really wanted to get that energy into this house And so what’s the relationship between the house and the tiny house why did you decide to move out of your home and into a? Tiny house for me. It was how the economics of it makes sense to me So I rent the big house out and the tenants pay the mortgage so by me staying in the small house in the backyard I’m living a mortgage free lifestyle right now immediately well I’m still collecting equity in that house so that makes sense to me And that’s a good situation to be in so how large is this tiny house actually? So the footprint of it is 10 by 17 and my interior square footage is 140 square feet So it’s a pretty small tiny house But I think it feels bigger than it is and when you were designing this tiny house.

Firefighters Earthship Inspired Off-Grid Urban Tiny House Photo Gallery

What did you have in mind? What did you want to accomplish in this space? I knew it had to fit here so it could only be this big and I wanted to make it as small as possible that I still felt comfortable in it and I actually thought I was making it too small and I was designing it well not too small But I thought this is this is as small as it could be and I could still get everything that I need to be comfortable But now having lived here for a year. I actually there’s stuff in here I don’t need and I found that I don’t I have more than enough room here and for one person for me I’m completely comfortable in this space. Are you connected to the grid here? I wanted it to have options with it so it’s a bit of a hybrid where I’m set up to be off grid but currently I’m Taking all the services off the house that I pay for so it’s grid tied right now But my idea is that in the future. I have like a nice little cabin That’s transportable that I can move to a some land that I haven’t purchased yet and can be off-grid well I’d love to have a look inside and say what you’ve done sure let’s take a look come on This is a Seriously cool tiny house man. Good job on the design in this one nice Yeah, the floor is so unusual can you tell me about what you’ve done here? Yeah, sure So it’s actually a two inch thick Brick with a dark color and the idea behind it was to get some thermal mats in the tiny house So this brick is just like laid on the floor interlocking like a puzzle So it can come out if and when I want to move the tiny house and the idea was that I could get some Passive solar gain and some heat gain from this thermal mass so it was a bit of a design principle that was an experiment that I wanted to try and in this design and Has it worked some things work better in theory than in reality? and this is one of them after being here for a bit of all four seasons in this full-time so one year and Going through a winter it actually just was a cold floor and hard to keep clean so I’m actually think I’m gonna move that out and put some nice hardwood in but it was an experiment that I tried and Didn’t quite work out not everything does But yeah awesome that you tried it because it was actually a really good idea and in theory I can Totally see why you would have thought that would have worked yeah here in Edmonton It does get really cold so heating is a huge priority in this house right yeah Definitely actually I was super cozy in here even minus 40 like in the coldest weather So heating wasn’t my main issue. I have three sources of heat here I have a propane furnace heater, and I have an electric patio heater, and I also have a wood stove So I have sort of three options and with the three I’m pretty covered so yeah, definitely nice to have all of those off Yeah, yeah for sure so right now. We are in your living room.

Yeah. This is my living room slash bedroom at the moment It’s in living room mode but This is my bed that acts like a couch when I’m not sleeping on it The whole thing’s on wheels so it just slides out into this whole area and when I’m not in ready to sleep We just put it in it’s like coaching You got more space and that really is a huge Benefit as well because this whole house does feel really spacious having all of this head height here Yeah, I think it being like really tall like that helps make it feel bigger like almost everybody that steps in immediately says how it feels bigger than it actually is and I think that a big part of that is not having the loft in it And it looks like you’ve got a lot of storage here I see lots of baskets up there and additional storage underneath the bit as well. Yeah, so if you move the mattress It’s like a coffin and it opens up and there’s storage under there, and I’ve also got a couple of baskets Down here and a coffee table that pulls out like this, and then the whole bed just kind of rolls on to it and the baskets I decided to put them up high and out of the way and When the bed is pulled out, and I’m getting ready in the morning I’m at like just the right height to kind of get in and out of them and that’s sort of my closet really what else Do I have for kind of hidden storage? I have a little shoe space here You know that’s not a little shoe space that’s a lot of shoes Yeah I guess so that that was kind of an opportunity that just presented itself when I was building the place Underneath the kitchen as well. I have water tank storage so if and when I go off grid That’s where that’s hidden away is underneath there, and I’ll have some services under there as well Can we take a look in the kitchen yeah you bet let’s pop up here It’s actually a real luxury to be able to dedicate so much of the kitchen storage space to the plants isn’t it yeah? the idea was that.

I would grow herbs and things that I would use in the kitchen but In reality due to lack of watering and my lack of a green thumb that all kind of died, so yeah I said I still just have Green stuff there because I like the look and feel of green stuff in the house It definitely brings life into this yeah, that’s what I think yeah. Yeah, I like that yeah, and so what about the kitchen? What are you heaven here pretty basic stuff I cook off propane and that’s here I do actually have Like a microwave and a toaster oven and then they’re plugged in right there through the floor And they have their own power in the back and It’s my little mini fridge just a bar size fridge but for one guy and being small it keeps me clean and organized and I actually prefer a smaller fridge like the bigger fridges They end up just being full of expired condiments, so this keeps me keeps me honest I like it, and then you’ve got a larger storage space which is here behind the shallow storage Yeah So I have a small closet here and some shelves and stuff so I have some files and a few Hanging up shirts that I keep here uniforms from work as well very important I’ve got to keep those pressed and clean right so you’re a firefighter aren’t you I am yeah, that’s main gig Yeah was there any relationship between your job, and why you decided to live in a tiny house a little bit, yeah I’ve traveled my whole life And I’ve always lived out of a backpack and enjoyed going places and doing that kind of thing then I got this awesome job that happened to be here in the City of Edmonton and It kind of rooted me here a bit, right But I wanted to keep that minimalistic lifestyle going So I needed to find some way to make the two things work together and when I thought of a tiny house that made it Fit for me great because I have to spend so much time in the city here for my work but I also get a lot of time off.

And I can still travel and now I have the Finances and I’m able to do it But I needed it to work in this location so that’s how those two things kind of fit together this is actually a really cool opportunity for me to ask when you are designing a tiny house from the perspective of a Firefighter mm-hmm is there anything that you’ve done in this home to make your home more safe Yeah, so I that obviously is a concern And I think some people are building tiny houses and don’t have a good understanding of fire safety so this has been built to the spec of a regular home building code, and I have egress windows all over the place I have fire extinguisher yeah And I also have a smoke detector and a co2 detector and make sure that those are there in there so I’m Covered on all the same things that there would be in a normal sized house just on a smaller one and then behind you here Is the bathroom yeah, that is a very? unusual looking toilet yeah, so that’s Actually, it’s called an incinolet. It’s an incinerating toilet, so it basically burns your poop It works like a self-cleaning oven you go into a small filter it drops into a chamber power vents It’s the outside and just takes care of it that way and it’s clean. It’s quiet It doesn’t stink it works pretty good And what was your thinking behind choosing that particular unit yeah a lot of tiny houses choose to go with a composting toilet Which is actually a lot cheaper? It was a pretty expensive unit and I just found with less open-minded people There’s a bit of a stigma with using composting toilets, so what wasn’t even so much about me But I’m already living in a shed in my back yard I thought okay if I can have a good answer to how I’m managing my waste that that’s gonna Do good for me.

You know you just didn’t want to get any weirder. Yeah, exactly, I think I’m the weird envelope as it is And then a great sized shower there as well Yeah, it’s it’s like a full-sized stand-up shower and are you hitting your water here with propane yeah? My water is on demand propane heater, and actually I found I had a different propane heater at first I found it really finicky, and it didn’t quite. It. Just didn’t work that well, so I got a much more higher-end expensive Propane on-demand hot-water heater, which was about five times the price worth every penny it works amazing It is so much better And it’s made my life so much easier So another sort of learning thing that I went through so you’ve been living in this space now for about a year How’s everything working out for you uh? yeah, it’s been pretty good like I said, I mean the financials of it has just been awesome and Can I ask about the cost of this design? What did this space actually cost to build I made an arrangement to work with a professional builder where I? Would then be subcontracted back to work on this project so I had a really heavy hand in it But I had a lot of help and the arrangement I made was for $30,000 was the arrangement I made but then on there was expenses on top of that so I provided the trailer the windows the doors and extra labor and Finishing things when I came back to Edmonton and all said and done Into it I’m about 50 grand. That’s actually a really good price point for this level of finish in a home isn’t it yeah? I think at that price point it’s kind of at The high end of what makes sense for me to get my money back from the rental of the house So if I were to live in this for about four years or so it’s basically free for me absolutely well Steve I think you’ve done a really good job with the design of this home. You’ve definitely added a lot of really clever features Thank you so much for showing me this place. Yeah.

Thanks for coming take a look appreciate it This is a very cleverly designed tiny house filled with creative space-saving solutions like Steve I’m also a really big fan of Earthship design and part of Earthship designer’s innovation not being afraid to try something different Steve has attempted things in this tiny house that I have never seen tried before things like this stone floor for passive sole again and To that end I have a huge amount of respect for what he’s accomplished here.

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