Last winter, Peter Matheson volunteered at a Grand Forks, British Columbia, homeless shelter. This winter, his own housing situation’s entirely different – he’s gone from 1,200 square feet to 125, and he couldn’t be happier! It happened like this: When shelter staff found out about Peter’s career as a contractor and architectural designer they asked him if he could come up with some plans for simple transitional housing for homeless people. Since there wasn’t much in the budget, these were going to be tiny houses – and while Peter, who’s 70, had plenty of design experience under his belt, he realized he didn’t have a clue what it would be like to live in one. Well, there was only one way to find out…
Since this was something like the 50th house Peter had built, the actual construction wasn’t much of a challenge. The hard part (besides all the downsizing) was coming up with a design that would let him live comfortably in such a small space. He eventually came up with a short list of important considerations:
- No loft – hard to get into and out of at his age, and likely too hot in the summer.
- Keep it simple – everything should be easily accessible.
- Use every square inch of floor space!
- Maximize insulation – which is easiest with post and beam construction.
- Minimize energy use to enable off-grid capability.
h/t Tiny House Talk
With all that in mind, Peter was able to build himself a very compact but very functional little house. It has RV-type connections for on-grid use and solar panels, a propane tank and a generator for when it’s off-grid; it travels between the two on an 18-foot trailer. True to plan, there’s no wasted space: the bed converts to a sitting area, the kitchen is right across from a work desk that’s also the dining table, and the refrigerator and closet share space in the coatroom. The bathroom has just enough space for a composting toilet and a small-but-deep Japanese-style bathtub.