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Pete’s 125 Sq. Ft. Tiny House on Wheels in British Columbia

While volunteering at a cold-weather shelter near my home in Grand Forks, British Columbia, I was consulted about designing transitional housing for the homeless. After some discussions with the staff and guests at the shelter I went home to draft some floor plans that I thought might meet the housing needs of the homeless, with dignity, at a low initial cost.

I was then struck by my incredible hypocrisy. Here I was living in a typical 1200-square-foot house – how could I possibly know what would be required for someone to live in a Tiny House?

I asked myself, “What would be the very smallest space that I could live in with pride and comfort?”

It’s now one year later – in seven months of leisurely construction and frantic downsizing I have built and moved into, my 125-square-foot tiny house on wheels. I am irrationally happy in my new home, and I now feel somewhat qualified to suggest some design considerations for small living spaces.

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SEE ALSO: Smart-Framing a Lightweight Tiny House in Canada

Pete’s 125 Sq. Ft. Tiny House on Wheels in British Columbia

Pete's 125 Sq. Ft. Tiny House

As an architectural designer/contractor I have designed and built over 40 standard houses so, as I stood on the rusty deck of my newly acquired, $700.00, 8’X18′ trailer I was excited to get started on the plans for my future tiny home.

Pete's 125 Sq. Ft. Tiny House - Framing and Insulation

Construction framing and insulation (above).

On the road to my new home.

02 Jeep towing THOW

Chest freezer re-purposed as insulated, Japanese-style sit tub and shower pan.

03 tub_chest freezer 04 Pete in tub

Composting toilet with Separatt diverter insert. An initial nest of straw keeps the pail clean when emptied. Peat moss is used as a cover.

05 Separett toilet

Tongue and groove ceiling with post and beam construction, all from locally-milled timber. Recycled cabinets, doors, windows, etc.

06 Pete in entry

Clothes storage in large, roll-out drawer under bed as well as bedding, off-season clothes, and a large water tank.

07 Pete in living room

Bedroom doubles as a comfortable sitting room for company.

08 100_1105

Hanging clothes closet and kitchen storage. Chest freezer converted to energy-efficient fridge.

09 Closet_storage

Settled onto my secluded riverfront site, steps from my favorite swimming hole.

10 Pete on porch

Perspective plan of the 225-square-foot tiny house.

11 unnamed

Plan view of Pete’s tiny house.

12 Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 11.44.28 AM

My 5 Tiny House Design Rules

Rule #1: No loft. My first design consideration comes from being 70 years old – navigating out of a loft to pee at 3am was not super-attractive to me. I also know from experience that our hot summers create hostile sleeping temperatures in lofts.

Rule #2: I wanted a home that didn’t require intricate magic tricks to be performed before I could engage in each new activity. I wanted to live in a less complicated environment than the transforming, fold-out, drop-down, nesting, Rubik’s Cube storage strategies of some Tiny House tradition. I embraced ‘simplicity’ as my muse.

Rule #3: Floor space must provide more benefit than simply offering access. In search of simplicity, I wanted to eliminate any floor space that served only the single function of moving traffic from one space to the next.

Rule #4: Provide maximum R-values. Post and beam construction allowed maximum insulation levels and minimum weight by severely reducing structural framing and thermal bridging. At this moment (10am on Sunday, January 3, 2016), although quite unusual, the temperature outside is -4 F and all my attention to insulation is paying off big-time.

Rule #5: Design for self-sufficiency and a low carbon footprint. Doors, windows, cabinets, etc. were recycled from my local ReStore. The capacity for on or off-grid living was accomplished by installing full solar voltaics, propane, a Honda generator backup and onboard water – as well as providing for all the standard RV hook-ups.

More Details on my Tiny House Systems

  • On-demand hot water and stovetop are fuelled by propane.
  • Energy-efficient freezer/fridge conversion kit is by Australian innovator Dr. Tom Chalko.
  • 110V, 9,000 btu heat pump provides space heating and air conditioning.
  • A compact, insulated, Japanese-style sit tub and shower pan is a recycled chest freezer.
  • Bucket composting toilet has a Separett insert.

LEARN MORE: Smart-Framing a Lightweight Tiny House in Canada

I’d be thrilled to correspond with interested people in my area: <petermatheson3 AT gmail DOT com>

Photos by Peter Kalasz & Peter Matheson

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Peter Matheson

Peter is an architectural designer and contractor who, after volunteering at a cold-weather shelter in British Columbia, was consulted about designing transitional housing for the homeless. One year later, he found himself moved into his very own 125-square-foot tiny house on wheels and now feels more qualified to suggest design considerations for small spaces.
{ 187 comments… add one }
  • alice h
    January 4, 2016, 7:19 pm

    Love this, and love the rules, especially #2. The chest freezer bath tub is brilliant!

    • Alex
      January 4, 2016, 7:23 pm

      I agree! What a great idea to have recycled the chest freezer into a Japanese-style soaking tub! Thanks, Alice!

      • Peter Matheson
        January 5, 2016, 3:14 pm

        Thank you Alex, for your amazing support and connection of all us ‘Tiny Houser’s’.
        I’ve received many emailed comments and feedback from interested people in my area (and all over North and South America) and now have a greater sense of my local tiny house community.
        Thank you for bringing us together.

        • Alex
          January 5, 2016, 3:24 pm

          My pleasure, Pete, I’m so glad you’re being able to connect with more like-minded people near you and I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experience with all of us.

      • Teresa
        July 11, 2022, 12:15 pm

        Im getting legs cramps just looking at him in there!

  • Paula V.
    January 4, 2016, 7:35 pm

    I appreciate the thought that went into this and what he accomplished. The layout is appealing and makes sense.

  • Paul Larsen
    January 4, 2016, 9:02 pm

    I love this !! One of the best tiny house designs I have come across! There is beauty in pure simplicity. no lofts, no fold out stuff, Just park it and enjoy . The ex freezer used as a tub is such a fantastic idea, as is the use of recycled materials. We seem to be such a wastefull society . so nice to see this. Love the rules too . Well thought out!

  • sc
    January 4, 2016, 9:22 pm

    700 DOLLARS?!?
    “I wanted to live in a less complicated environment than the transforming, fold-out, drop-down, nesting, Rubik’s Cube storage strategies of some Tiny House tradition. ”
    I heard that! This tiny house just …works.
    It’s really wonderful to see architectural professionals embracing tiny/small spaces. This is a wonderfully workable solution. and in a cold environment. I have a relative who is homeless, and this is a real possibility. His mother would be relieved to see him in such a place.

    • Peter Matheson
      January 5, 2016, 2:47 pm

      Yeah, $700.00 trailer! Amazing eh?
      Interesting story about that:
      …On my way home with friends after visiting Nelson Tiny Homes in a neighbouring community, I was asked, “What would motivate you to actually begin building?”
      After some thought I replied, “If I found a suitable trailer at a reasonable cost.”
      As we arrived back home a few hours later, I was turning onto my street and there, right on the corner less than block from my home, was an 18-ft, flat deck trailer with a ‘For Sale’ sign attached.
      It had not been there when we left that morning …precisely 2 houses away from where I lived.
      What could I say? Stunned, we got out of my car and within twenty minutes and without haggling over price I had purchased the trailer and begun my new project.
      True story!

      • Jocelyne
        January 6, 2016, 12:54 am

        Love Nelson Tiny Homes as well!! Seth (the builder) is an amazing human being and what he has managed to create for the tiny home enthusiast is incredible. He so motivated a woman several streets over, that she built her very own tiny home at the age of 63!! Its a pretty cool tiny home too!! Congrats – love the tub idea!

        • Taj
          July 26, 2020, 7:24 am

          Hi Peter,
          I’m having a tiny house constructed and I saw your soaking tub. Do you make them or how did you do it?

      • M
        April 12, 2016, 12:52 pm

        That was a ‘build it and they will come’ God moment. Now I know how to find my trailer. ?

      • Kathy
        October 24, 2017, 6:51 pm

        Great storyPete! At the risk of being unoriginal – it was karma, and your adventure into tiny home living was meant to be!

  • Jon Bon
    January 4, 2016, 9:45 pm

    So glad to see what reminds me of the efficiencies of my 19ft travel trailer…. The bed is the couch, the living room, even library, office (though he has one), and more. It allows for all the windows too, and keeps the space open! What a great design! Maybe another foot or two on the trailer size to add a few more inches to the tub?
    Wow, great design. Thanks.

  • John
    January 5, 2016, 2:02 am

    At last, someone with a sensible roof line/orientation. I hope to see more tiny houses develop this idea further. Fantastic reuse of the chest freezer – great idea!

    • Guenter
      January 5, 2016, 8:05 pm

      Agree with John. Beside the diverse practicality pointed out by all the commenters, the roof line makes this home appear, well, normal size when approaching the front door. It’s a great design – grand, really!

  • 2BarA
    January 5, 2016, 12:46 pm

    Cleverly designed and beautifully executed! Also, the outside is attractive and looks more like a house than a THOW. Nice to see a TH built for the Canadian climate. The rules make so much sense. The only change I would make is to hang the entrance door so that it opens out
    for the sake of space, and it cannot be kicked in.

    • Peter matheson
      January 5, 2016, 2:10 pm

      Hi 2BarA
      Thanks for taking the time to provide feedback, much appreciated.
      Your suggestion makes a lot of sense. My own rational for having the door swing in was: 1) snow accumulating on the porch makes opening the door difficult in the winter, 2) I need the outside door frame to accommodate a screen door in the summer, 3) I have developed a bad habit of never locking my door.
      If I move to a more populated location I may well have to reconsider your suggestion, although the large glass insert wouldn’t provide much security anyway.
      Thanks again for your comments.

      • Pat Anderson
        January 27, 2020, 11:30 am

        I have had great luck with the detachable magnetic closing screens! Perfect for your application. Hope this is something you’ll try. They’re cheap and come out in stores every spring/summer.

    • Dave
      January 8, 2016, 2:02 am

      I dont know about Canada, but in the states I’m pretty sure that any residential exterior door has to open in. I’m new to the tiny house world, but I imagine code is code. Anyone know the rule on this code-wise?
      I really like your house, sir. I am, like many posters here, inspired! Good job.

      • Peter Matheson
        January 8, 2016, 1:50 pm

        Hi Dave
        Thanks for the comment. It is also code in Canada that residential exterior doors swing in.
        It’s interesting to note that doors serving retail stores must swing OUT for easy crowd egress in fire or emergency. Kinda’ counter-intuitive that residential doors wouldn’t be the same?
        I was once told the code requirement was because, when the door was hinged to swing out, the hinges were exposed and burglers were removing the door’s hinge pin for silent and easy access. Don’t know if that’s the official reason – probably not.

        • Paul Larsen
          January 8, 2016, 6:25 pm

          Dave and Pete. about residential doors swinging in, yes its about the hinges and also many put outward swinging screen doors on as well. My garden shed that I built has an outward swinging door , for maximum room inside , but I recently replaced the door as the old one was dying a slow and painful death. I was able to get burglar proof ( burglar resistant ) hinges at a local Building store. My trailer that I built has a standard RV door on it that swings outward . Story to come on that later in Spring.

        • Clayborn Lewis
          December 23, 2021, 1:52 pm

          Okay we all know the reason behind residential doors have to open in that’s because the police when they show up to your house and want to kick your door in it’s easier for them to slam that door opener thing they got to open your door inwards if it opened out it would be hard for them to forced their way in somebody in government tell me I’m wrong

        • James D.
          December 24, 2021, 4:21 am

          Reason is actually for fire safety, so easier on fire fighters to get in to save you if you’re asleep or knocked out and can’t save yourself from a fire. But in northern climates it’s also because of snow, which in severe storms can completely block the door, which with few or only one person inside would be a severe hindrance in being able to escape the home in case of fire. So just easier to open inward to then escape.

          The difference with public places is the number of people and mob mentality. A room packed with people, most likely panicking, will have difficulty coordinating enough to provide room to back off the door enough to open it inward and will more likely just shove people in front against it and crush them as those further back all try to shove their way forward in the made dash to try to escape.

          While a mob of people can more easily shove the door open and get through the snow very quickly. So is just much safer to just open outward then for public spaces…

          So the reasons are just the difference of what allows for the quickest escape in either scenario…

          Security and double doors are the secondary reasons, but you can have secure doors that open outward these days. So just double doors, like having a screen door, etc. is the main secondary reason for inward opening doors, which allows you to open both without them getting in each other’s way or keep one closed, like the screen door, for air, for example…

          Though, in some countries with cold climates a double door is customary as an insulation method to help keep the cold out, along with double windows, etc. to buffer everything…

      • Large Marge
        June 30, 2016, 10:54 pm

        For THs built on a trailer, bureaucrats usually ignore us. (Harrah for tiny favors!) For your applicable RV code, check with RV repair shops and bureaucrats in your region. In these united states of America (as of June 2016), RVs have no code… hence the trend to ‘move’ from standstill homes. As Pete did with his trailer, RVs are generally simpler, as long as weight and balance are within limits of suspensions and brakes and hitch. As far as I can find, TH builders are free to build anything they want, hence the many playful THs Alex brings us.

        And the lack of code is the reason many Tiny Homers build their TH instead of buying a factory RV. A lot of factory-built RVs tend toward disposable. I used to deliver them all over North America, and the stories I could tell…

        • Toni Benton
          October 24, 2017, 10:51 pm

          Large Marge,
          Aren’t they still making RV doors with an inner screen door attached? And thankfully we aren’t considered residential…I was told once a door should open in to welcome. I much prefer them to open out for when I bust out of them into the world! 😀

  • January 5, 2016, 4:30 pm

    Hello Pete, this is the most comfortable looking Tiny House I’ve seen. I love the large comfy lounging space/bed/living area – very ingenious. You mention your “favourite swimming hole” – are you a winter swimmer like me? Best regards, Iona, emailing from the West coast of Scotland.

    • Peter Matheson
      January 5, 2016, 6:03 pm

      Hi Iona. I’m a wimp, only swim in warm waters. You are much more hardy than I! ; )

  • Sandra
    January 5, 2016, 4:32 pm

    This is really nice. I sort of did the same thing getting started on my house. But bought an Atco office trailer as my starting point. (Old old one).
    My kids live in Nelson and Grand Forks. Next time I’m through I’d like to look at it (your tiny house). Alex featured mine in the fall of 2012. Mine does have a loft, but it also has a sofa bed. I see potential for these, and you can learn from each new design.

    • Peter Matheson
      January 5, 2016, 5:46 pm

      Hi Sandra
      Thanks for your interest. Please email me a day or two before you’re coming through Grand Forks and we’ll arrange a tiny house visit. I love showing it off!
      Are you willing to email me the link to your Fall 2012 feature?

      • Sandra
        January 5, 2016, 6:31 pm

        Sure. But it won’t be until next summer. You can look at my little house by searching Alex’s site. “Could you live in this tiny designer inspired house” Late 2012.

  • Kim W
    January 5, 2016, 4:38 pm

    Love it! Perfect without a loft and a great lay out. Glad the insulation works well. The straw nest seems like a good idea. I am glad you are enjoying living there, Peter.

  • Terry
    January 5, 2016, 4:42 pm

    You did a great job. Thank you for sharing with us. I love the freezer conversion and the freezer soaking tub. I think they both really work. I have been looking at tubs and the cost is prohibitive at best. Good for you and again, thanks for sharing.

  • Doug
    January 5, 2016, 4:43 pm

    Love your design and rules too!

    Tiny houses are a great idea but almost all have a loft bedroom? What’s needed are more innovative designs like yours – everything on one level!

    Thanks for sharing!


  • Helen Gordon
    January 5, 2016, 4:55 pm

    Is Pete available! Cute man…just kidding.

    • M
      April 12, 2016, 12:56 pm

      I had that same thought.

      • carrie jacobson
        June 11, 2017, 6:34 am

        Me, too. I’m married, but there are no laws against looking. Pete is a cutie! And the house is great, too.

  • Michael
    January 5, 2016, 4:59 pm

    What a great design. I have been wondering why this roof shape isn’t more established when it comes to tiny houses. Its less high and easier to tow. What is height at bow, middle and stern?
    Pete, the design rules are great and showing your experience.
    I would install a lift up bed with a settee under. this could be achieved by raising the roof at stern about one foot. The advantage, bed is always ready and out of the way.
    What’s the overall weight and cost to build?
    Excellent job.

    • Peter Matheson
      January 5, 2016, 8:58 pm

      Hi Michael
      The height of the actual construction, from base of trailer to ridge of roof, (excluding the 1’0″ space under the trailer) is: Bow and stern are both 8’0″ high …middle is 9’9″.
      Interesting idea on the bed – maybe a bit complex for my abilities.
      I don’t know the actual weight of my tiny house.
      I did find it was a huge advantage in cost, insulation and weight to use a timber frame and therefore, very light framing in the walls. Single plates, no cripples or jack studs, mostly no sills …the window and door frames became stand-alone framing. Only end walls are carrying structural loads. I used the 3 1/2” IKO Enerfoil rigid insulation in the stud cavities and ran blue styro across the studs on the exterior as shown in photos. No insulation penetrations except b-vent. All joints and laps taped.
      Cost to build is yet unknown (until I add up my receipts), and likely irrelevant to most. I had a lot of recycled materials on hand from my construction days, all the tools and specialty tools required, and all the various skills. I owned all my solar system components and generator from a previous site. I did not hire any tradesmen or labourers. I’m guessing my cost was under $20,000 total (Canadian) but I’m not sure.
      Thanks for your interest and ideas.

      • Michael
        January 6, 2016, 4:21 am

        Thanks Pete for the details. Proportions are very well selected.
        A simple electric lifting bed mechanism can be found in RV accessories and is mostly used by toy haulers with living quarters. It contains everything beside your bed frame but this is for sure within your capabilities.

  • AmyCat =^.^=
    January 5, 2016, 5:18 pm

    Agree 100% on avoiding loft beds! I live in Eugene, OR, and even here it gets hot enough in summer that I usually want to spend most of the day downstairs. Can’t imagine trying to sleep in a loft in SoCal, desert areas, or the southeast! 🙁

  • Michael
    January 5, 2016, 5:19 pm

    I forgot to add that this roof shape allows to put gutters for rainwater harvesting which doesn’t add any width.

    • Peter Matheson
      January 5, 2016, 6:08 pm

      Thanks Michael, really important point that I forgot to mention!

  • Margaret
    January 5, 2016, 5:44 pm

    I love that you realized that you needed to experience the life style to be able to design it. I would like to know if you have done other plans that could be utilized for the homeless which I think is an amazing idea.

    I love seeing plans without the sleeping lofts. I know that there is a large group of people that don’t find the idea of a ladder to and from bed everyday appealing or even a staircase if you have to bend over to make to get into the space.

    I do wonder how many people that have THOW really move them around all that much. Would a larger THOW be better if you knew that you were going to stay in a place for an extended period of time? Something like a 5th wheel. You don’t see many plans using the goose neck trailer design.

  • Carol Gallicano
    January 5, 2016, 6:03 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story! I too lived in Grand Forks BC almost two years ago, and it was then that I concentrated on my plans to eventually build a tiny house for my retirement in about 5 years. I know that it will provide me with the perfect living experience, and I can’t wait to get started. I am currently in Osoyoos ( enjoying the snow at the moment…..lol). I have made my own 1 inch scale model of my TH on wheels vision, and have made numerous changes and notes, as new TH designs, products and more experiences have been shared by people like yourself. I believe in reduce, re-use and recycle, whenever possible, and I know I will have a beautiful TH with my creative ideas and elbow grease. finding ideas to make every square inch count while keeping a neat uncluttered look. I enjoy a cozy peaceful environment and have been working on my design to reflect that. I look so forward to buying my trailer in about 3 years, and will start my build then ( allowing two years to complete it). I have also followed Nelson Tiny Homes, and others that were building to suit our Canadian climate. The research has been so enlightening, thanks to you and others for providing me with contact websites and personal experiences. Thank YOU for sharing and I hope you don’t mind if I contact you by e-mail if I have any questions !

    • Peter Matheson
      January 5, 2016, 11:34 pm

      Hi Carol. Sure, I’m happy to answer any questions that I can. Pete

  • Tina
    January 5, 2016, 6:47 pm

    Hi Pete! Totally stoked to read your article AND your background story into this journey! This is an awesome way to Attack the homeless issues many face! I am absolutely sickened by the cost etc involved from numerous companies springing up all over that are “mortaging ” ( for lack of a better word) or renting these at prices way beyond the affordability of those dealing with poverty and homeless issues! You may want to check out Jay Shafer ( if you haven’t already) . Can you tell me how much it cost in total to build?? P.S LOVE LOVE LOVE the tub!! I’d love to know more! Dream of building but on a disability pension……

  • Dawn Jackson
    January 5, 2016, 6:47 pm

    This is a lovely home. If this gentleman does not have a significant other he must have either high hopes for one or have daughters. That wonderful tub is a true luxury in such a tiny home. He has even arranged for a bookcase and closet storage which are both very important for an idealistic view of relaxation. I love the bedroom/ living room combo. I am saving this for future reference. Thank you!!!

    • Peter Matheson
      January 5, 2016, 7:48 pm

      Hi Dawn
      I’m curious why you’re convinced that I must have a partner or daughter?
      Most people who see my house consider ‘live-in relationship’ and ‘Tiny House’ a hysterical contradiction – a concept quite impossible for them to even take seriously.
      I don’t consider it a difficult concept at all.
      I have thought that were I to become involved in a relationship, and if she required more space, I would construct a breezeway and connect to a new tiny house that would then serve as a living room/studio space. A few simple renovations and all the needs would be addressed, including a covered breezeway.
      Perhaps it’s a simple matter of those unacquainted with tiny house living just having different values around space realities and intimacy?
      Now you have me intrigued about a new design project …does anyone out there have any strong thoughts on the ‘rules’ and design fundamentals that they would require for cohabitation in a tiny footprint?

      • M
        April 12, 2016, 1:09 pm

        Like you Pete, I imagined a secondary unit. Smaller one as bed bath library ( have tons of books) with door on end and the other as kitchen office entertainment. Would have a side door on that one for main entrance but another door on one end so two could be connected like hotel rooms. If a couple then each tow one. If single, then two trips.

        • Peter Matheson
          April 12, 2016, 1:53 pm

          Hi M
          I think the creative possibilities of cohabitation and the combining of individual tiny house modules are endless and exciting. Perhaps the most important consideration is to arrange a collaboration at the drawing board before any construction begins. Personal needs are unique and fundamental, and each individual requires careful attention to their values during the design stage if the outcome is to be successful. Easy to make changes on paper, harder once it’s built.
          The design process, when skillfully facilitated, also supplies a lot of information about compatibility, communication skills and flexibility – in addition to the actual blueprint that is generated.
          For detailed information on the proposed cluster housing eco-community being discussed in Grand Forks, BC – email me: [email protected]

  • Dianne
    January 5, 2016, 7:48 pm

    Great design. I just finished having my tiny house built. I am a 68 year old female who didn’t want a loft. So I have a bedroom in mine but my house is 8×22 ft. For older people who love the tiny homes, a bed or bedroom on the ground floor is a must have!

    • Eric
      July 11, 2022, 3:53 am

      I too am 68, but a male, and I too do not, not, not want a loft. For probably the exact same reasons as you.

  • Sgmaps
    January 5, 2016, 8:05 pm

    Absolutely love it. For the person who had concerns (valid) about having people/shoes on her bed might I suggest having a blanket/quilt to spread over the area when you have other people over. And, could you please clarify if it is 125 or 225 sf? I could easily live in that along with my small dogs but as practical & efficient as the freezer/tub is for most, I would have to opt for a regular shower due to my knees. It’s enough space, well allocated & when you want to stretch, you have the great outdoors at your doorstep.

    • Peter Matheson
      January 5, 2016, 8:23 pm

      Thanks for pointing out my typo. It IS 125 sq. ft., NOT 225. Actually it’s 123 sq ft. to be quite accurate.
      I was very close to installing a shower, but felt that I would miss the opportunity for the odd hot soak on a cold winter evening. Now I have both.
      As you can see, I built stairs (hiding toiletries) and grab bars to access the shower more safely and conveniently – although with blown knees it would not be satisfactory.

      • Nancy L
        January 8, 2016, 4:15 pm

        I was wondering about how to get out of the tub. I like the idea of a soaker tub but if you are short like me how would you get back out. I have cleaned the inside of those apartment sized freezers and I don’t see little short me being able to step out from that little bump out allowed for the motor which would make a great seat but too low of a step. Did you make any alterations on the inside of the freezer.

        • Peter Matheson
          January 8, 2016, 4:53 pm

          Good point!
          The wonderful thing about a tiny house is that it can be designed to be very personal. Yeah, I’m a tall guy with healthy knees so the freezer works for me. You may consider a commercially-available tiny tub for easier access.

  • Sgmaps
    January 5, 2016, 8:32 pm

    Unfortunately I would need to have a regular refrigerator, the smallest (about 9 cf) regular house refrigerator, because of my arthritis/knees. I think the idea of reinventing the chest freezer into a refrigerator is excellent. I am all for recyling, reusing, reinventing but unfortunately I have my physical limitations. I wish more tiny homes would be built reusing household items in good condition, keep usuable items out of the landfill. Thank-you for sharing & for your invaluable insights.

  • Dawn Jackson
    January 5, 2016, 8:35 pm

    Hello Pete,
    I am also in my retirement years and as I look at what is necessary for a comfortable retirement I am forced to consider what I think of as essentials. Books are the first things to come to mind and second is closet space, and the third a shower and a bath. In such a small space you have managed to include all three.
    When I was a child my parents bought a very old summer home in an old community on Narragansett Bay called Bonnet Shores. My dad converted what used to be a carriage house with stalls for horses and commodations for several automobiles to a tiny house. Obviously he was way before his time. This space would be comparable to an oversized two car garage. My parents renovated the “big house” and rented it and we lived in the smaller home for the summer. My dad was a multi talented, registered electrician, moonlighter, fire fighter in the Providence fire department who worked for the city 24 hours straight and then had 48 hours “off” where he was able to supplement his salary, which wasn’t much in those days, by using his other talents. Now that my husband and I are both retired we think about downsizing( which we have already done twice) . We have a small home in New Hampshire which has been a work in progress for years ( my husband is also multi talented and has built this home from scratch over the past 50 years with many renovations), and a home in Maryland near our daughter. We have been thinking of a tiny home which we could keep in our daughter’s back yard if it complies with zoning, that we could live in for two months of the year, the coldest ones, and that they could use while we were in N.H. as a camping home. My daughter is somewhat fussy, but your home seems to have everything that would please her. Thank you for being so innovative. Enjoy your home. You have certainly given many a lot to consider. Thank you! Dawn

  • Sgmaps
    January 5, 2016, 8:37 pm

    Gosh, I just had another idea, sorry for the repeated comments. For people with my issue, if it were possible to find a used step-in tub with a small bench, then I would be in heaven. I realize that my idea is a pipe dream, but perhaps in the future one of these will find their way to Habitat for Humanity & similiar organizations.

    • Freth Stifter
      January 10, 2016, 8:01 pm

      Occasionally on HGTV as people are looking at homes, they run across one of those step-in and soak tubs … and the first thing out of their mouths is “We gotta tear that out!” So, who knows … you might find one. Probably best to develop contacts with the contractors in you area to let you know if they tear one out.

  • Dawn Jackson
    January 5, 2016, 9:10 pm

    Hi again, I just realized that I didn’t actually answer your question. I would think that you might have a significant other due to the bathing facilities, a dead give away. Most men would install a shower and that would be the end of it. A soaking luxury would be considered in necessary.

  • January 5, 2016, 9:18 pm

    I knew it would be beautiful, Peter, just looking at the plans and the first photos last spring. And it is, of course. So well done, my friend. Congratulations.

  • Lois
    January 5, 2016, 11:24 pm

    Hi, . Have Always luved the idea of Tiny Houses!. Have had 2 M.H.s
    along those lines. Have researched and found Most of the materials
    can be gotten for Free. Wood is Free if youre willing to use Pallets, Solar can be gotten for Free from companies Recycling their product, appliances & almost anything else you want for Free on Craigslist, including trailers or frames . I think I could find all I need Except
    I am 71, on small pension but willing to pay whatever I can and Help
    any way I can, including picking up all the materials. I too am in BC. (Vanc.) Any thoughts?
    Thanks very much.

  • John
    January 5, 2016, 11:27 pm

    Pete, Thank you so much for sharing your build. I absolutely love the innovations that you came up with. On your freezer to fridge conversion, do you know how I could convert from the 240v that the kit uses down to 120v? I would love to use this kit, but I am electrically challenged… 🙂

    • Peter Matheson
      January 5, 2016, 11:47 pm

      Dr Tom Chalko made me a 120V freezer/fridge prototype over twenty years ago, and it’s still working as new. I imagine he has it marketed in the States and Canada by now. Google: http://mtbest.net/chest_fridge.html

  • Mike
    January 5, 2016, 11:32 pm

    Good job Pete – I think you’ve provided a new Tiny Home paradigm here. I’m sure we’ll see quite a few Pete-inspired Tiny Home designs over the next few months.

  • D R Lenz
    January 6, 2016, 12:55 am

    Amazon sells this Johnson Controls temp unit that can convert a chest freezer into a very well insulated frig. Looks like home brewers have used this method for quite some time.

  • Mike L
    January 6, 2016, 1:35 am

    Great design Pete! I am intrigued by the post and beam design minimizing thermal transfer. We in Calgary and looking for a better method than stick framing for the winters here. Do you have any pictures or drawing showing the post & beam framing before the walls went on?


    • Peter Matheson
      January 6, 2016, 10:57 am

      Hi Mike
      If you email me (address at bottom of article) I will send you some early construction photos that will answer your questions regarding my framing method.

  • Gina
    January 6, 2016, 5:04 am

    Hi Pete. This is it! You have the ideal design I have been looking for. I live in South Africa which currently tops 39 degrees Celsius during the day. What a welcoming, open design! I am intent on building my own and encouraging others to do the same, especially those who are unable to afford a bricks and and mortar dwelling, like me. Do you have plans available and materials inventory?

    • Peter Matheson
      January 7, 2016, 1:05 am

      Hi Gina
      Email me and I will send you a floor plan and anything else I can assist with.

      • Danielle
        January 31, 2016, 2:35 pm

        Hi Peter,
        I too, really like your design idea and I have been looking for sometimes to find the right design for my aging body( Can’t be taking stair to go to bed past a certain age ;-)). And like Gina, I would also love to get a copy of your plans…

  • Barbara
    January 6, 2016, 6:56 am

    Kudos to you for your integrity and your beautiful tiny home! I also applaud you for having something that few people do, regardless of their home size – a fire extinguisher! I lost a neighbor last year when their mobile burned down. It was completely engulfed in 10 minutes time. It was so hot that vinyl siding on my house melted. In a tiny, I would place an extinguisher by the door, so that a fast escape is guaranteed, all the while emptying the extinguisher to fight a fire.

  • Mike
    January 6, 2016, 11:45 am

    Great design. Really like all the windows. Makes it look like living outdoors while sitting comfortably at home. Nearly moved to Grand Forks a few years ago up the Granby. Great area. Live on sustainable small farm outside of Chase.

  • January 6, 2016, 12:34 pm

    Hi, just wanted to say fantastic job, ! Love the space , and just fantastic use of chest freezer for bath, I’m considering building my own tiny home, and would love a run down of how you managed to build it costs re time and cash, and how you did your genius bath!!! Have a happy life from sunny scotland :))

  • Theo
    January 6, 2016, 4:57 pm

    Excellent. The first design I have seen that looks very, very, close to what I would design for myself, if I were going to build one, which I doubt I will do. I would make minor changes, of course, like probably paint the roof, and a different outside color. But while I like the idea of the tub, and the steps should help immensely getting in, I think that getting out would be difficult, certainly for me it would. Perhaps a seat on one end, and non-slip steps on the other. I’ve got a bad back and knees, it would be both difficult and painful getting out of that as is for me. Personally I would probably cut it down in front, maybe a foot tall, then a stool or seat in it, something like that would work loads better for me. Otherwise I like it, as I said, that is very close to what I would design for my self – including indoor loo, and no loft bed. I’ve done the outdoor loo, and the downstairs/steps, to go, and they both really suck.

  • Glema
    January 6, 2016, 7:29 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your nice tiny home with us Pete. I really applaud your ideas and styles and hope you are very happy in your tiny home for many years to come. May God richly bless you and I may take you up on the emailing questions idea. Happy trails!
    Thank you Alex for all you do to keep us connected. I have enjoyed many hours reading and learning thanks to you.

  • Steve Hessels
    January 6, 2016, 9:37 pm

    Peter, where can I get 110v freezer/fridge conversion electronics?The site in Australia has a nice system but it is 240v. Also any pictures showing the water/sewer system – how do you keep the tanks etc. From freezing up? Do you use holding tanks??jeez you must be getting swamped!! What did you do for land?
    Thx Steve

    • Peter Matheson
      January 7, 2016, 3:31 pm

      Hi Steve
      The freezer/fridge conversion unit I purchased many years ago was from Mt Best and it was 110V prototype. A reader kindly posted this local alternative from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1OLMQ5U.
      At this time I asm using a water tank that is inside (under the bed) so it won’t freeze. It has been no problem filling it once every few weeks and keeps me aware of my water conservation values.

  • Catherine
    January 7, 2016, 12:20 am

    Thank you for the tub idea! Love to have a soak but those Japanese tubs are outrageously expensive! I’ve often cringed after reading the weight of some tiny houses and spent time wondering how to reduce the weight. I also thought of using post and beam but don’t have your building experience. Is cross-bracing required to keep stability? I would need about 200 sq ft and more free space to avoid claustrophobia. Would appreciate any references you could give for learning more about this?

    • Peter Matheson
      January 7, 2016, 12:40 am

      Hi Catherine
      This is a complex question. In very simple terms, the weight has been reduced by using a simple post and beam construction, which I have used to drastically reduce the framing members in the sidewalls and improve the insulation values as well. I have employed an interior wall (bathroom), three ‘pony’ walls and both end walls as ‘cross-bracing’ but there are some engineering principles required to give these ‘braces’ or ‘shear walls’ structural integrity.
      If you wish more in-depth description and detailed photos of this construction please email me with specific questions and I’m happy to provide what information I can. My email address is at the end of my article.

  • Scott
    January 7, 2016, 2:46 am

    Yay, finally a home and ethos that we all I hope strive for.
    Cheers Scott

  • Sandi (Hutton) Mills
    January 7, 2016, 3:38 pm

    Hi Peter,
    This is a fabulous home! Kudos to you for creating such a welcoming and livable small home. I’ve been watching the ones on HGTV and I must say that I appreciate your one level, no loft plan. I, too, would not appreciate the hike down/up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night! Maybe I can check this out next time I’m in the area. Usually come north 1-2 times a year, generally in the warmer weather. Again, love your new home!

    • Peter Matheson
      January 8, 2016, 6:54 pm

      Hi Sandi
      For sure. Email me next time you’re coming this way.

  • Kim G
    January 8, 2016, 10:47 am

    Very nice article, great info and pictures, really enjoyed the guided tour complete with the thought process and reasoning behind design decisions. Question: How do you keep humidity down?

    • Peter Matheson
      January 8, 2016, 1:25 pm

      Hi Kim
      Thanks for your comments.
      I live in a dry climate so humidity has not been an issue for me. However, I would be able to manage humidity with my mini-split heat pump (space heating and cooling) which has a dehumidifying mode …and I have an opening window in my shower.

  • Viv
    January 8, 2016, 11:35 am

    Congrats! I really love to see wisely used spaces. I’m wondering about insulation, what materials did you use and why? I’m on the first stage of exploring, brain storming ideas and preparing my TH plans (on foundations not wheels) so any help or suggestion is highly appreciated. Thanks and enjoy TH life!

    • Peter Matheson
      January 8, 2016, 3:58 pm

      Hi Viv
      I am absolutely astounded (and very flattered) by the volume of emails I have received, requesting information on the unique methods of construction and insulation employed in my tiny house.
      I have not found a way to properly answer these complex questions in the ‘reply’ format, although I am considering the possibility. Perhaps a new article on alternative construction?
      I think the main difference in my construction, compared to most, is my use of a post and beam construction. This allows me to use MUCH less framing material which translates into MUCH more insulation and MUCH less weight.
      I used 4X8 sheets of 3 1/2″ IKO rigid, foil-faced foam for r-value and weight.
      I am happy to answer any specific questions in personal emails. This allows me to attach photos of relevant detail rather than complicated and long-winded verbal responses. My email address is at the bottom of my article.
      Thanks for your interest.

      • Alex
        January 9, 2016, 9:42 am

        Hi Peter, I will be glad to publish an update on this topic for you whenever you’d like just let me know! 🙂

        • Peter Matheson
          January 9, 2016, 11:09 am

          Thank you for your offer Alex, that will be an efficient solution for me.
          I’ll begin putting an article together and get back to you in a week or so.
          You have attracted a staggering number of informed readers wanting to take responsibility for reducing their carbon footprint …I had no idea.

        • Alex
          January 11, 2016, 1:00 pm

          Thanks, Pete!

  • Lisa
    January 8, 2016, 5:05 pm

    I’m curious about how you convert your seating/bed area from one use to the other and what you do with the cushions at night?

    Its truly a great design and I love, love, love that the bed is on the main level and not up high in a loft. I also appreciate that you’ve made room for things such as a laptop and printer in your design. Would love to see more photos!

    • Peter Matheson
      January 9, 2016, 11:54 am

      Hi Lisa
      I salvaged the 4 cushions and a braided rug from a small travel trailer ‘seating nook’ and they do make a cozy seating area for conversation. I only set it up when I’m expecting company. I have the two chairs at my table which have served well for the short-term or unexpected company.
      As a Tiny Houser, I have adapted to doing most of my socializing at my local coffee shop, library or aquatic centre, so the lonely cushions get to spend most of their time as added insulation in my ‘mechanical room’ (this is the small closet, accessed from the porch, where I installed my electrical panel, solar controls, inverter and batteries).
      You can email me for specific photos.
      Thanks for your curiosity.

  • MK
    January 8, 2016, 5:13 pm

    I would love to see the builder outline or discuss the costs of building something like this.

    • Peter Matheson
      January 9, 2016, 12:00 pm

      Hi MK
      Alex has offered me an opportunity to do just that, and I will be submitting an article on creative construction in a week or two.

      • Alex
        January 11, 2016, 12:59 pm

        Thanks, Peter, we’re all looking forward to it!

  • Jerry
    January 9, 2016, 8:48 pm

    Peter, others interested in lightweight building with plenty of insulation might consider SIPs panels for the walls and roof (even the floor). SIPs with polyurethane foam have the highest R value per inch (double that of typical rigid foam board), are structural (no posts needed), airtight, have even fewer thermal bridges, are the most benign foam, and weigh very little. I have a quote for the wall, floor, and roof panels for a small (not tiny) 12′ x 24′ two story home: $18,000. They can all go together in two days and need only one ridge beam in addition to the panels themselves.

    • Peter Matheson
      January 11, 2016, 2:49 pm

      Hey Gerry
      Thanks for the post. I’m a big fan of SIP’s and totally agree with all of your points.
      I think for me it’s a matter of ‘old dog, new tricks’. I’m a carpenter kinda’ guy that’s most comfortable with wood. Guess I gotta’ step into 2016?

    • July 4, 2022, 4:38 pm

      I love the idea of SIPS as well, and my first tiny house was built from them, but the roof and window wells were not well protected from rain ingress, and I was later warned by another builder that wet SIPs have about as much structural integrity as wet wheatabix, and that spooked me from considering it for another build.

      • James D.
        July 4, 2022, 7:10 pm

        Um, no, SIPs don’t break down like that… The foam is basically water proof and that just leaves the sheeting material but not all SIPs use OSB or plywood as they can use any sheeting material like fiberglass, metal, etc.

        While, there is also option to use marine grade or pre-weather proofed materials that don’t require a separate house wrap layer.

        Just build the structure right…

        • July 4, 2022, 8:50 pm

          Since most SIPs in North America are made with waferboard exterior and use the white non-rigid styrofoam as the middle layer, I remain somehow unconvinced by your counter-argument James, much as I’d like to believe it. Wet waferboard has no structural integrity, and neither does white styrofoam (which has nothing to do with whether the styrofoam itself is impervious to water). If water gets in the walls, it seems to me you’re f**d. I’d love to be wrong about this, because I’d love to build with SIPs again. If you can point me to a website that addresses this issue, I’d love to learn more.

        • Paul Larsen
          July 4, 2022, 9:29 pm

          The white open cell styrofoam turns in to a sponge if it gets wet. I found that out the hard way when I had to rebuild the back end of my trailer due to rot . I used the blue stuff when I did the rebuild . and when I redid the roof insulation too

      • James D.
        July 4, 2022, 9:31 pm

        Sorry but that’s nonsense, most SIPs are made with OSB, which while it may look similar is not Waferboard and it takes a lot more than getting wet to turn it into the consistency of wet wheatabix… OSB grades 3 and 4, which is what they commonly use, can soak in enough water to give them a moisture content level of up to 21% (without falling apart).

        Understand, most outdoor constructions are rarely built in a day, which means that for weeks on end, that OSB (which is widely used for roofing or siding too) could be left exposed to the elements and rained on multiple times… OSB/3 and OSB/4 are more water resistant than even Exterior Grade Plywood.

        Sure, it doesn’t mean it’s immune to getting wet, issues like expansion and warping can often happen but it most definitely is not going to turn to mush the moment it gets wet…

        While there’s products like ZIP system sheathing that has a weather proof layer already applied to the OSB and they make versions that have insulation also already applied to one side.

        Besides, again, SIP boards can be made with sheet metal, plywood, cement, magnesium oxide board (MgO) or oriented strand board (OSB), and the core can either be expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), extruded polystyrene foam (XPS), polyisocyanurate foam, polyurethane foam, or be composite honeycomb (HSC)… However, they do not use white non-rigid styrofoam!

        For SIPs, the FOAM is structural. Since, SIPs share the same structural properties as an I-beam or I-column. The rigid insulation core of the SIP acts as a web, while the sheathing fulfills the function of the flanges.

        Seriously, you’d get mold in your walls and other issues long before you have to worry about the structural strength of SIPs…

      • James D.
        July 4, 2022, 9:46 pm

        Btw, if you check out Incredible Tiny Homes youtube channel. They recently posted a video that shows them dealing with a serious torrential rain storm and you can make note of when they look outside because they have a pile of insulation they have left over from their ESP builds, ESP being a metal type of SIP, that they kept because they’re going to chop it up and use it for batt filling insulation for their new building so they’re not sending anything to the landfill… And note it has no effect on the foam other than some bits floating… and that pile has been there for weeks now and that wasn’t the only time it got wet…

      • James D.
        July 4, 2022, 9:53 pm

        Another example you can look up is Pure Living For Life, they’ve stopped posting videos but you can still see their old videos in which they documented building their Timber frame home and sheeting and roofing it with SIPs, which as they took a very long time to finish meant those panels were exposed to all types of weather conditions, including plenty of rain and snow… and yet they held up just fine…

        • July 5, 2022, 12:00 am

          Thank you James for engaging with me about this. I’m happy to learn I might be wrong about the vulnerability of SIPs to moisture/leaks. I would love my next tiny house to be a SIP build, and had reluctantly ruled that out. Now you have me reconsidering. I’ll check out those links. Again, thanks.

  • Eldy Hardwick
    January 10, 2016, 3:39 pm

    I love your idea of the Japanese tub! As a child, I lived in northern Japan where it was very cold so here’s another Japanese innovation that you may like.

    The pullout drawer under the bed could be modified to contain a tiny heater. Yes, the heater would make winter sleeping nice and toasty but Japanese farmers warmed an open, sub-floor space under the traditional low dining table to enable comfortable, communal meals in the harsh winter. A long tablecloth closes off the warmed area so the heat does not escape. The additional space also allows sitting western-style so everyone’s legs/feet/toes are warm, stretched-out, and happy!

    You would have to figure out how to easily raise/lower a table top; I agree with you, simple is the best way to go. In the summer, it would revert to storage space…unless you have company better suited to western-style sitting!

    I hope this is an idea you can use. I live in Florida where heating is less of an issue but I hope one day to travel far and wide from a home-base. Canada is on my list so who knows? Sub-zero temps are probably in my future! (Hard to imagine!)

    (I also like your idea of a breezeway to a tiny building because I will still need a lot of storage room…I cannot give up my book collection!).

    I plan to build my own tiny house one day and it needs to be smartly designed like yours. Sadly, I lack the necessary knowledge and skills so I am collecting good ideas. I will definitely be looking for your design when you publish it! If you have started a publication notification list, please put me on it!

    Thank you so much!
    Eldy Hardwick
    Pensacola, Florida

  • January 10, 2016, 6:12 pm

    Hello Pete,

    What a gorgeous home you’ve created! I’m planning my shower/bathtub right now, and, as I’m using as much reclaimed materials as possible, am completely in love with your upcycled bathtub. What is the process you used to turn it from a freezer into a bahtub?

    Thanks for reading and responding. Hope your new year is lovely! <3

    • Peter Matheson
      January 10, 2016, 6:27 pm

      Hi Hannah
      Short answer:
      a) cut hole in freezer base for drain assembly AFTER checking floor at drain location to avoid cutting through framing and trailer rails,
      b) flip over and install (the freezer, not you).
      Long answer:
      a) email me, asking for more complete description and photos.
      b) wait 2 weeks or so for my tiny house update on this website which will include tub installation.
      …and a lovely new year to you as well.

      • Tiffany
        January 14, 2016, 11:17 am

        I’m planing to build a tiny house (one of Tumbleweed’s designs) this coming spring and have been struggling to find a tub solution. I love this idea too. I hope it is okay if I email you too for more details.

        Now I need to start looking for a 32″x32″ or close to that size chest freezer. =)

        Thank you for sharing.

        • Peter Matheson
          January 14, 2016, 12:12 pm

          Hey Tiffany
          I’m glad you liked the freezer/bathtub idea.
          You have excellent timing – I have completed the reply you referred to so I can send it to you right away. Incidentally, my freezer measures 17” x 26 1/2″ on the interior, 3” thick walls.
          I am just finishing up a new article for the tiny house newsletter which will include more construction details, and to answer more questions including the bathtub/freezer question of yours. It will likely be published within the next week.
          I’m happy to answer any further questions if they arise during installation.
          Thanks for your interest.

  • Lori Parker
    January 20, 2016, 5:12 pm

    LOVE your tiny house Pete – especially that it doesn’t have a loft! It is so difficult to find good floor plans without sleeping lofts.

    I recently bought a 5th wheel from a friend that I’ll be moving into on her land, while I look for my own property. I’m thinking about the possibility of using my 5th wheel as a “base frame” for my future tiny cabin.

    Right now, I’m wondering how I would go about insulating the 5th wheel, especially around the slides and the plumbing below. I know you’re familiar with the temps here in Spokane during the winter and I’d like to be able to live in it full time without the plumbing freezing. What do you think about the idea of using roxul for insulation or something similar? How can I adapt it or other insulation to work for my needs? Do you have any ideas or tips? Thanks so much!

    • Peter Matheson
      January 23, 2016, 8:20 pm

      Hi Lori
      Thanks for your comments and your interest.
      I understand that this is a simple question you are asking – but it’s not a very simple answer. There are so many variables and each variable affects the following step.
      I really am happy to answer you, but can’t do it justice in 5-sentence posts. I need to ask you specific questions and show you pertinent photos if you hope to learn anything that is actually relevant to your own project.
      Please email me if you wish to go any further on this, my address is at the bottom of article.

  • Peter Sanfs
    January 21, 2016, 12:50 am

    Wow, that’s really neat, I still remember your place near the sanctuary!!

  • Chelsea
    January 24, 2016, 10:35 pm

    I love this house! I live in the kootenays it’s so nice to see one that is local! Love the freezer as a tub and fridge. Never thought of either uses. I agree on the no loft. I’m looking into having one but using it as a livingroom/ storage way easier to get up and down in the day, I’m hoping most couches will fit with the legs off as well then you can sit down and not bump your head. I’m not a huge fan of the tiny house couches, which is usually cushions on a bench. Your bed looks very comfortable!

  • Jicky
    February 2, 2016, 9:42 pm

    Oh how I wish I were in your area so we could correspond about this project! Could you give me a ballpark estimate of construction costs?

  • Les
    February 2, 2016, 10:03 pm

    I am currently designing a non-loft, non-wheeled tiny home with approximate exterior dimensions of 10’6″ X 16’6″. I find that the extra width increases design possibilities greatly. I am curious about what you would do differently with your highly regarded design if you had another 2 feet of width with which to play.

    • Peter Matheson
      February 3, 2016, 12:12 am

      Hi Les.
      Interesting concept.
      As I consider the myriad answers I might have for your question, all that really comes up for me is that I would start totally from scratch.
      1) Where will I be parking it?
      2) How have I changed from that person who created my previous design?
      3) What values do I now want to feature?
      4) What materials do I have on hand now that I wish to incorporate?
      Thanks for the fantasy!

  • Chris Gilson
    February 2, 2016, 10:19 pm

    Hi Pete I have a 8×16 trailer frame for my tiny house to be built on is there any way that your floor plan would work on it and if so could you please send me the floor plan that you used and the beam layout this is a very interesting concept.

    • Peter Matheson
      February 3, 2016, 12:18 am

      Hi Chris
      It might work if you took 18″ out of the middle of my floor plan – leaving a bit shorter kitchen counter and a bit shorter desk?
      I might also consider a sleeping loft over the bathroom area and a living room where my bed is sitting.
      The construction details are at https://tinyhousetalk.com/smart-framing-a-tiny-house-in-canada/

      • Peter Matheson
        February 3, 2016, 5:20 pm

        Hey Chris
        Just saw the roof design that I was suggesting to you in your re-design of my tiny house. This design is a beauty if you want a loft, and may be just what you’re looking for. Watch the video!

  • B B
    February 3, 2016, 11:45 am

    This is cute. However, I would need my own washer even if it cut down on closet space. Just got back from the Laundromat where I had to clean mud and copious amounts of animal hair out of the washer before I could even think of using it. I can deal with my own dirt and dog hair but not someone else’s.

  • Kristina H Nadreau
    February 3, 2016, 9:38 pm


  • Suzanne
    February 8, 2016, 4:57 pm

    Finally, a floor plan I can live with!
    How would you do a water collection system from the roof? I have seen the indoor collection with a system that uses a small area of a loft for the tank and conversion system.
    Where the batteries for the future solar collection panels?
    I see you are pulling with a Jeep. How many pounds was the tow weight when you moved?

    Thanks for sharing; it is an inspiration.

    • Peter Matheson
      February 9, 2016, 1:45 pm

      Hi Suzanne
      For roof water collection information/photo and my comments on the weight of my tiny house see my latest article: https://tinyhousetalk.com/smart-framing-a-tiny-house-in-canada/
      Solar batteries (and all my electrical services) are located in the small service closet, accessed from outside, in the space behind my bathtub and beside my entry door.
      Thanks for your interest.

  • Betty
    February 9, 2016, 7:24 am

    I’m not sure what other compliments could be added, so many express my thoughts beautifully. I hope a simple thank you for your thoughtfulness, kindness, concern of others and generosity won’t seem void of heartfelt genuine as being sent without voice inflection.

    Like many other readers I am near your age, though unlike you, I’m female with different capabilities or lack of 😉

    Being on a fixed income, no one to depend on to do labor, and perhaps a step above homelessness, how does one achieve the means to obtain even the modest cost to obtain a dwelling such as yours?

    I live in Oklahoma where wind, tornadoes and earthquake are of great concern. Any idea how this home might endure such trauma or how to make it sustain higher wind force and speeds?

    As a woman who is a bit of a clean freak, a washer and dryer combo in or nearby because of harsh weather would be essential, especially with a rug and others feet where I may lay my head 😉

    Also from a female perspective, I love to prepare canned food, would the kitchen be adequate for such use? Storage I would imagine could be in a root cellar?

    Otherwise, absolutely brilliant and most definitely doable. Personally I love the winter views of Canada snowfall, like you I wouldn’t attempt brisk cold water swimming but sipping hot tea or chocolate, reading a good book or a relaxing tub soak in lavender salts or in front of of a roaring fire(electric heaters now look pretty real lol) would be a terrific way to spend the winter indoors made better only by sharing it with someone you love. I’ll pray God sends us both whom He prefers we have.

    You’re such a creative, skilled, talented individual. May you continue in the best of health, faith and circumstances,

    • Peter Matheson
      February 9, 2016, 1:08 pm

      Hi Betty
      Your heartfelt sentiments are appreciated.
      I have no idea how my tiny house would fare in an earthquake or tornado – and I hope never to find out.
      Although we are faced with very different environmental dynamics, perhaps the solutions we are both yearning for are similar.
      It’s my belief that we need to form sustainable community, inside which we can all own our own small home.
      One solution is ‘cluster-housing’ developments that share centralized amenities such as laundry, workshop, guest space, garden, commons, root cellar, solar power, canning kitchen, meeting space and/or whatever the particular collective requires.
      A ‘sharing economy’ develops naturally, as you discover my skills and resources, and I discover yours. Minimal living costs and maximum safety emerges. We don’t each need to own a ladder, an apple press, a car or even a tennis racquet.
      I am exploring the concept of leasing city-owned land where a small number (6-12) of ‘tiny’ households could be situated around a central community-owned building. My city owns some serviced property that, if they leased for 100-years rather than sold, would facilitate low-cost home ownership and be a sustainable, long-term, financial benefit to the city.
      The benefits to the city of providing options for high quality, low-impact, low-cost housing might be improved health, lower crime, strengthened social networks and lower infrastructure costs per household.
      Lots of work to get this actually happening, but a worthwhile pursuit.
      May your prayers be realized.

      • M
        April 12, 2016, 1:23 pm

        Keep us posted if that happens as I’d be interested in moving into such a community.

        • Peter Matheson
          April 12, 2016, 2:09 pm

          Hi M
          We are presently having design meetings with interested, potential participants and will soon be holding public meetings sponsored by the City of Grand Forks to get local input on revising our zoning bylaws in a way that will support sustainable cluster-housing communities, small homes and laneway housing. The city’s rough draft of the new ‘eco-zoning’ is nearing completion and will soon be ready for public input.
          If you would like detailed information, please email me at [email protected]

  • Barbara
    July 8, 2016, 10:27 am

    Perfect for my needs and Stella, the WonderLab! This is do-able! Thank you.

  • Morgan Wolf
    August 18, 2016, 12:46 pm

    Hello Pete, I love your design. My question is about your fridge. Is it just a fridge or do you also have a freezer part? I’ve been dry camping in the Calif desert for almost six years and I love living off grid. My one expense is drinking ice water and I wonder if Dr. Chalko’s conversion can be set up to freeze water? Or maybe I should continue to save for a 12 volt freezer? Thank you for your info, morgan

    • Peter Matheson
      August 19, 2016, 12:30 am

      Hey Morgan
      Thanks for connecting.
      Unfortunately my fridge design does not include the ability to freeze …you’ll have to continue to save for the 12-volt.
      I have the luxury of a neighbour very nearby who is happy to share their honkin’ big chest freezer with me so my very limited use is hardly noticeable to them.
      I have been able to comfortably downsize my personal need for a freezer but I strongly believe in maintaining certain luxuries within a lifestyle of general simplicity – and if ice-water is a luxury you have chosen, I love that you’re going for it!
      I mean, after all, you’re living in a DESERT.

  • Paul Larsen
    August 19, 2016, 6:51 pm

    Hi Morgan and Pete. I replaced the old convention RV fridge in my travel trailer with a small 12 VDC Compressor fridge when I did some extensive remodeling to it . it takes 2.2 Amps at 12 volts and cycles like a regular fridge. It has a small freezer compartment in it . If you google Nova Cool you will get more information . With Pete’s conversion of a freezer to a fridge , it may be possible in incorporate a small freezer compartment at the bottom close to the cooling coils, since colder air sinks. Hmm, I sense some experimenting here to keep me entertained . The best part about the Nova Cool fridge is that I did away with the outside vents, that the convention RV fridge would need . My Nova cool was about $1200 CDN compared to the equivilent RV one for about $1500 CDN

    • Peter Matheson
      August 19, 2016, 8:12 pm

      Hey Paul
      Great information about the Nova Kool, it looks like a quality product. And if your experimentation with the chest freezer conversion takes you beyond ‘entertainment’ I’d like to be kept informed. I love your thought process. Thanks for the post. Pete

  • Susan
    November 18, 2016, 9:44 pm

    I’ve been looking for a way to have an inexpensive tub and I stumbled across your idea on Pinterest. Would you tell me what you did to plumb It? Did you drill a hole for the drain and if so how did you do it?

    • Peter Matheson
      November 19, 2016, 2:18 pm

      Hi Susan.
      The short answer: I used a hole saw in a drill to cut the drain.
      I have a longer reply on hand assembled for the many people who have asked a similar question. If you would like a long, detailed answer with photos please email me at [email protected]

  • Judy
    February 7, 2017, 4:49 pm

    I love your house. Everything but the compost toilet. How much difficulty and additional money would be involved in putting in a regular flush toilet and preparing it for public utilities? I’m a sissy. Also, how much does it cost, please include the cost of the trailer.

    • Peter Matheson
      February 7, 2017, 5:39 pm

      Hi Judy. Thanks for your comment.
      It would be relatively easy to replace the composting toilet with a regular flush toilet. I didn’t want the hassle of requiring a reliable water hookup and a sewer hookup – as well as being concerned about all of it freezing up in our cold winters. If I built on a foundation that was serviced it would be different.
      It’s all about freedom for me (and my environmental footprint as well).
      I would recommend Googling the tiny house builders in your area to get a realistic price. After a short conversation with a few builders on your needs and preferences, a fair price would arise.

    February 7, 2017, 5:10 pm

    Bravo….! Wonderfully well thought out tiny house, and designed with great thought to every need… I love it,…!

    • Natalie C. McKee
      February 8, 2017, 6:47 am

      Same 🙂

  • keepyourpower
    February 7, 2017, 6:48 pm

    I could live in this! I am 66 years old. No loft for me either.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      February 8, 2017, 6:41 am

      🙂 I loved that it was no loft.

  • sassyfran
    February 8, 2017, 3:10 am

    Need your help Pete, not homeless butneed my own budget space please contact!

  • Susanne
    February 8, 2017, 9:05 am

    Amazing! My question is since it’s never recommended to have a contractor who builds regular sized homes build a
    TH, since Pete is a contractor…I’d love to know his thoughts on the issue… Going from building regular to much smaller… Similarities, differences, surprises, the unknown, etc… Pete, if you could address this later that would be wonderful ! 🙂

    • Peter Matheson
      February 8, 2017, 3:56 pm

      Hi Susanne
      Thanks for the comment.
      I’m wondering how you see this being presented, as I see a fairly lengthy article. I’d be happy to talk about my experiences in this regard but I’m not sure how or where to present it to reach the audience you think may find it useful. Can you elaborate on your thoughts? Perhaps email me.

  • Allen Townley
    February 8, 2017, 11:39 am

    Hi Peter,
    If you wouldn’t mind could I ask you about the total cost of this? I have a trailer so that will not be a problem. I really like the design too. It is functional and good to look at. Very good job on it.

    • Peter Matheson
      February 8, 2017, 6:44 pm

      Thanks for the comment but I’m sorry Allen, I did not keep track of the costs. It would be rather irrelevant anyway as I had a lot of the building materials on hand (lumber, windows, appliances, plumbing, electrical, fasteners…) as well as owning all the required tools for construction, plumbing, electrical, propane, etc, …and I did all the work myself without any labour costs.

  • Nanny M
    February 9, 2017, 6:46 am

    Pete- A wonderful house and you seem like a wonderful, intelligent and kind man. May seem odd but what I fell in love with is the bookshelf between window and desk. Bless you for your patience with our questions.

  • Rusty Kerr
    February 9, 2017, 3:17 pm

    Peter, your design is wonderful, you thought of everything. I wish every homeless person could have one of these homes.

    • Peter Matheson
      February 9, 2017, 6:52 pm

      Me too Rusty, me too!

  • Marianne Prudhomme
    April 22, 2017, 8:42 am

    Hello Mr. Pete. I am French and poor. I will not have the money to have a place when I am older. I am 57 years old now. Now, with the house you have showed me, I know what I will do. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Your model of house is the better for a poor personne, I think, in France. I will ask for help and I think it will be ok. Bravo !

  • keepyourpower
    June 10, 2017, 6:55 pm

    As I stated earlier, I could live in this. I pray that towns, cities, counties, and states will take the elderly into consideration, when it comes to housing.
    I will have only SS to live on, in a few years, and would love to have a home to live in. Won’t be able to afford rent. Not on about $730 a month!! Right now, it looks like I will be living in my little car. I am too disabled to do that…so where does that leave me? I am trying to save, as much as I can, so when that day comes, I have enough to buy a THOW. Since I probably will not have enough to buy property to put it on, I guess I will park in WalMart, where ever I am. So, it has to be off grid. I, also, hope to trade in my pristine 2014 Buick, for a truck strong enough to haul the THOW.

    • Peter Matheson
      June 10, 2017, 7:17 pm

      Wow! I have received so many similar responses that speak so compellingly to the housing crisis facing so many of our population …and this is not restricted to Canada and the USA. I have received similar emails from all over the globe.
      This phenomena speaks volumes to the importance of refining the small living spaces and keeping them affordable for both the citizens and the planet itself. My thanks to Tiny House Talk for it’s valuable contribution to this tragic situation.
      It breaks my heart to read these stories and I hope we can all be part of the solution by demonstrating a new paradigm in housing and lifestyle. Thank you keepyourpower for sharing your story.

  • keepyourpower
    June 10, 2017, 6:58 pm

    After using the $700 to build the home, what other costs did you have? I see a split, which costs a lot, and if you have an on demand water heater, that would cost a lot too.

    • Peter Matheson
      June 10, 2017, 7:21 pm

      I regret not keeping track of my costs. I had many of the materials on hand, all the required tools, and the skills to do all of the work myself, so any number I could give you would be rather meaningless.

    • Toni Benton
      October 24, 2017, 11:51 pm

      Not so much…I got an on demand for an RV/ outdoor on eBay for a reasonable price. It’s no Rheem, but I only paid a little over $100.

    June 10, 2017, 7:45 pm

    I never thought 125 Sq ft home could be practical or comfortable. This tiny house has changed my mind. Every bit of space is used efficiently. I especially like sleeping on the main floor. I think I would use a day bed with draws, that may take up less space and a shower in place of tub. Now to find a spot to permanently park it.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 12, 2017, 3:09 pm

      I’m so glad this inspired you!

  • Evening Iris
    June 11, 2017, 12:20 am

    Rule #2, is hilarious!!!

  • Joe
    June 11, 2017, 5:28 am

    Great ideas to build a small place. His rules are an excellent guide, especially for us older folks.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 12, 2017, 2:36 pm

      Glad this was helpful!

  • Susan
    June 15, 2017, 10:54 am

    Pretty perfect. Love the 1st floor sleeping area missing in so many tiny homes. Well thought out, and easily livable!

  • Linda
    August 7, 2017, 4:01 pm

    Dude, you are a rock star.

    • Peter Matheson
      August 7, 2017, 9:38 pm

      Yikes! My head just exploded.

  • Allan
    October 20, 2017, 1:29 am

    This is so impressive Pete! I like your philosophy and stand behind you on it all. I have only found your stuff today and I was wondering what’s the deal on loft space and I finally found some info on it. I kinda lean towards it differently. I like loft space and think it can be applied quite creatively. Part of the floor space maybe neglected can be filled with a loft. Maybe a desk and loft? I’m also thinking what it might be like sleeping some what “elevated” might be a welcomed event. As I’ve never slept in a loft space.

    Anyways love what you’ve done and please let me know if there’s some list I can sign up for that would keep me informed of what’s up in your hood.

    <3 Peace <3

  • Frances Giles
    October 20, 2017, 1:56 pm

    Oh, I believe I could be so happy in this space. Brilliant reuse of chest and upright freezers. No loft is essential for those of us in our “sunset years” and possibly with mobility issues. Homey, safe, attractive, economical. Sir, you are a true, thoughtful designer/architect and I envy your project, design, motivation behind it and the final result.

  • Ken Alberta
    October 20, 2017, 3:40 pm

    Hi Pete….
    There was an article on a Alaska couple who used a electric garage
    door opener to raise and lower the bed.
    IN the down position the ends of the bed rested on 2 x 4 boards and
    in the up position , cables held the bed up.
    In the up position, there was lots of room under the bed.
    Also, where does the sink and bath waste water go??
    Love your design……seems many others do too

  • Ken Alberta
    October 20, 2017, 6:55 pm

    Reference the above….
    See….DIY elevator bed for tiny house
    Hope this helps

  • Te
    February 7, 2018, 2:17 am

    Hi, Pete:
    I’m wondering do you have fresh & gray water tanks because I saw where you are living but did not see any water hose connect to your landlady’s house. Thank you.


    • Peter Matheson
      February 7, 2018, 10:54 pm

      Hi Te.
      I have a large onboard water storage tank under my bed, operated with a small electric pump. However, I only use it in the winter when the garden hose from my landlady’s house freezes up. The green hose is hard to notice, but it’s easier to see in the video of my tiny house on my public facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007782825011
      My grey water is directed to various nearby trees and I have a composting toilet.

    February 7, 2018, 9:09 am

    I think its really cute , did a great job with the space, you have so many comments! Can someone please tell me the size of the tub?? Freezer?
    And how to convert it? I am working on a tiny cabin and this would be great!

  • G
    October 21, 2018, 12:50 am

    Hello Pete:

    Since I was charmed, as so many others, by your freezer bathtub, when I was last in omg the local giant hardware stores, I stepped into one of the freezer chests to see if it was feasible to use as a substitute soaking tub.

    Alas, the dimensions don’t quite work to get the proper hot water coverage. I am 5’ 8”, And while I fully expect to hunker down in the box with my knees up, (which would be fine), the water wouldn’t get even up to my shoulders, the whole point of the soak.

    Just wondering if you’ve got some more ideas on what I can use for an outdoor soaking tub, that would be nice and deep.

    I’ve seen a few photos using the big galvanized metal troughs (often used for planting bamboo), but I’ve heard the galvanized metal gives off toxins when heated up. This may be – not true? I will research it.

    Thanks for any help!

    G. Angus
    San Francisco

  • jacquey
    October 22, 2019, 12:38 pm

    I have been trying to figure out the 18′ trailer length and how long each section/room is. Your home looks so much longer than 18′ when looking at the plans. Could you share the length of each section, plus exterior and interior width of the walls. I would really appreciate this because I’m going batty trying to figure it out. thanks, in advance. jac

  • Peter Matheson
    October 22, 2019, 2:30 pm

    Hi Jacquey. Check out the tiny house article links on my facebook page – near the end of the ‘smart-framing’ article it contains the construction details and accurate floor plans with dimensions and scale bar:
    Hope this helps save you from going batty.

  • January 16, 2020, 9:06 pm

    Hi Peter,
    My name is Elizabeth. I too live in BC ,now a semi retired Holistic Nutritionist and a Tiny House is my dream …in fact I wrote about it in my blog healthytomorrows.club. Would love to hear from you.

  • Peter Matheson
    January 17, 2020, 11:59 am

    Hi Elizabeth.
    Happy to talk tiny houses with you. My email address is available on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Matheson/100007782825011.

  • Lisa Larson
    June 5, 2020, 7:45 am


    Hello. I saw the episode yesterday with your tiny house. Incredible and a great way to reuse repurpose! You’re such an inspiration. I’ve been dreaming about a tiny house for 15 years now. I love your layout without the loft. The only thing I would add in is a washer/dryer combo and maybe increase to 225sf. Speaking of tiny, I am looking into the Vanlife. I am shopping for a Dodge Ram 2500 van. How would you do the layout for a campervan, add in enough space for 2 bikes, skiis, bed, kitchen, dometic fridge and hideaway toilet? I’d love to hear from you. Lisa

  • Giacomo Reggente
    August 26, 2020, 3:02 pm

    Grateful and inspired! Thank you for sharing!

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