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Their 13×8 Off-Grid Cabin on a Canadian Island

Michael and Phoebe bought a lot on a Canadian island about three years ago and then spent a year building their 13×8 off-grid cabin, outdoor shower, rainwater catchment system, and gardens. Their island is only accessible via boat, and they live there with their adorable dog, Zephyr.

The cabin’s cladding comes from milled cedar from their property, and they heat it with a cozy corner wood-burning stove. Inside you’ll find a living and kitchen area on the ground floor, and then they have a sleeping loft and bookshelf. While they’d live tiny forever, they are going to start construction on a sub-700-square-foot home in order to be in compliance with local regulations. Enjoy their introduction and photo tour below!

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104 Sq. Ft. Cabin with Battery Bank & Rainwater Catchment

Here’s their well-stocked kitchen with a camp stove.

Pot rack and water filter.

Their compact wood stove keeps the place toasty!

A look at the bedroom loft with a nice pipe railing.

Now those are some views!

Here’s their off-grid shower set-up.

A look at how things started.

And where they are now!

What a beautiful slice of paradise.

Here’s the home they will start building soon!


VIDEO: On Island Off-Grid Intro


So what’s the story behind your tiny house?

Michael and Phoebe built this 10 square meter (108sqf) home on a small off-grid island in BC, they live in it full time with dog Zephyr. The home acts as a cozy base for lives spent mostly outside in the forests and on the water. We built it with the help of friends over the course of almost a year, the siding is milled from a cedar on the property. We collect rainwater and have a battery bank for power. The property has shown us what we can do, and continues to inspire and challenge us every day.

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Our big thanks to Michael and Phoebe for sharing! 🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Marsha Cowan
    June 7, 2022, 2:24 pm

    Love this tiny house, especially the exterior and the windows. Not crazy about the other house design. Is it going to be an addition added to this or a separate structure? Why are there building restrictions on an island if you own the whole island? I’m just a bit confused.

    • James D.
      June 7, 2022, 7:11 pm

      Same reason there’s building restrictions anywhere else… Owning a property doesn’t mean you’re free from regulations and laws.

      Unless the island is it’s own nation/country, it’s under the authority of whatever nation/country whose border it’s within or has to be in international waters where no other country lays claim.

      While building restrictions are particularly restrictive near any body of water, thanks to land, water, and nature conservation laws and there can be islands where nothing is allowed to be built or put there permanently, even if it’s privately owned.

      Land ownership also doesn’t automatically include all land use rights, unless it’s specifically spelled out in the deed/lease. So owning a property, for example, doesn’t mean you have the mineral rights to that property and things like water rights are typically regulated by the state.

      Land/property ownership is more a contract in which the owner is granted certain privileges and rights but is still under the authority of the governing body the property ultimately belongs to… Thus why the government can do things like take the property away for reasons like eminent domain or if you breach the contract by not paying your property taxes, etc.

      This is why some would point out that no one really owns land, except for the government, which can make discussions about rent vs own particularly interesting when all the pros and cons are debated…

      • Marsha Cowan
        June 8, 2022, 9:41 am

        I just meant that given it is an island and that care must be taken to protect land and water, a smaller, more conservative home would seem more feasible rather than requiring a much larger one. 700 square feet was the minimum which means they are hoping they build a much larger one.

        • James D.
          June 8, 2022, 1:06 pm

          Yeah, pretty much sums up the struggle of the movement right there… General problem with rules and regulations is unless exceptions are spelled out that they apply to everything even if it’s a significantly different situation than what the rule was intended for in the first place. Like a computer, the bureaucracy tends to only do what it’s predisposed/programmed to do… Similarly, it often can only be fixed by amending/-reprogramming the bureaucracy but that can be a very long and complicated process that may not get the desired result all the time and can easily become a messy process with lots of competing interests, the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, etc.

          People looking for all kinds of alternative solutions run into that kind of issue and thus why so many just opt for a work around as the quickest solution, even if it involves a lot of compromises.

      • Eric
        June 8, 2022, 7:45 pm

        Could always play the poverty trick. Oooh I can’t afford to build a bigger place I’m poor etc.

        • Marsha Cowan
          June 8, 2022, 8:36 pm

          Has that ever worked? 🤔 Hmmm

        • James D.
          June 9, 2022, 8:51 am

          Generally, no, unless it’s an area where enforcement of the rules are optional and they can give you an opt out option, then it’s either follow the rules or risk fighting the local authority and facing all the penalties they can level at you…

      • Joe
        August 1, 2022, 1:08 am

        Something to remember is in Canada we have the CMHC that controls the mortgage rates and demands a minimum square footage to get the best rate. So a tiny house is about 1000 square feet to small for their mortgage so you get a private lone or pay for it on your own. Many building inspectors don’t know the difference between code and c.m.h.c. rules. Our Ontario code allows tiny homes but you can’t get a mortgage.

        • James D.
          August 1, 2022, 2:00 pm

          Additionally, something in general, even when the type of structure and minimum sq ft is not an issue, is financial institutions typically require a minimum amount for a mortgage loan for sufficient return to justify the loan, which is often a issue with tiny houses as they can be below that minimum… So there’s also other reasons why options may be limited to personal loans, owner financing deals, etc.

  • Sherian McLaughlin
    June 7, 2022, 4:08 pm

    I don not like the dog with a chain around it’s neck…..maybe the owners should wear a chain around their necks to see how it feels………

    • James D.
      June 7, 2022, 7:15 pm

      The dog doesn’t have a chain around it’s neck…

      • Marsha Cowan
        June 8, 2022, 9:38 am

        You’re right, James. Looks like a harness for a leash or maybe just the coloring of it’s fur. People who live the land and nature usually also love animals and would not treat them unkindly. That being said, tethering a dog when necessary to keep it from running into a dangerous place or situation while still allowing it some roaming space would not be unkind in my opinion. Nor is confining a baby to a playpen for it’s safety when mother must cook or tend to another child. Sometimes restrictions show care and concern, not cruelty

        • James D.
          June 8, 2022, 1:46 pm

          Yes, and it can be hard to find the right balance of freedom and restrictions, which youtuber “Michygoss”, can attest to as one of her rescued dogs, on its day to be allowed to freely wonder the mountain wilderness property and do whatever it wanted to be just a happy dog, disappeared and was later found drowned. It’s tracking collar had failed when it was submerged in water and the dog had wondered off from the area it was suppose to stay within…

    • Eludemoncoeur
      June 28, 2022, 3:09 pm

      Judge less, ask more

  • Marsha Cowan
    June 8, 2022, 9:43 am

    Just wanted to add that the house is truly lovely, and what a spectacular setting! It’s all great. Beautiful job!

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