NNSL Photo/Graphic

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Tiny home built as dorm alternative
Apprentice Zachary Hamlyn found a way to help his brother escape pains of high rental rates during school

James Goldie
Northern News Services
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

There's no place like home, and for one Yellowknife area man, there's no home quite like his.

NNSL photo/graphic

Zachary Hamlyn spent a little more than three months building a tiny house for his older brother who lives and goes to school in Whitehorse. He plans to send it to the Yukon capital after the Labour Day weekend. - James Goldie/NNSL photo

Apprentice carpenter Zachary Hamlyn, 19, has just completed construction of a tiny house for his older brother, Nathaniel, a 20-year-old environmental science student in Whitehorse. That's who the idea came from.

"My brother had been renting for a long time and he was getting fed up with it. Obviously not really ideal to have a mortgage when you're a student," Hamlyn said. "He went online found these tiny homes and he wanted one. So that's how it started."

Hamlyn has just completed his first year of a pre-employment carpentry program. He started building his brother's house at the end of May and said he is pleased with how it's turned out - especially since it was built with no formal blueprints.

"I didn't draw up a set of plans and build off of (them). It was built solely off the vision I had for it," he said.

The house is eight-by-20 feet at its base, which makes for 160 square feet plus a 72-foot square foot loft for sleeping. With cabinets built into the narrow stairwell to the loft, a wall-mounted flat screen television and a water tank stored inside a makeshift sofa, Hamlyn made the most out of what little space he had to work with.

He admits the process would have likely gone smoother had he drafted his own blueprints, but that didn't prevent him from completing the project in time for Nathaniel to return to school after the Labour Day weekend. Nathaniel isn't sure how his friends in Whitehorse will react when he shows up, tiny house in tow.

"I already kind of hinted that I was going to do it. I don't think a lot of them believed me," he said. "I think they'll probably be jealous because a lot of them are stuck in their dorms, right? And this is a bit nicer," he said.

Nathaniel is renting a five-acre lot to put the tiny house.

Nathaniel estimates it cost between $20,000 and $25,000 to build the structure. It's fully insulated with foam and has a small wood stove inside.

"There's nothing like wood heat, I find," said Hamlyn.

He hopes that all the work he's put into this project might go toward his apprenticeship hours. He said building a tiny house required all the same skills needed to construct a full-sized home.

"Basically if you're building something like this you're incorporating everything you would into a larger-scale operation, only not the concrete footing or foundation," he said.

He thinks that a school program in which students built tiny houses and sold them as low-income housing would be a great educational opportunity.

"If you had a crew working on it, it would take a month, maybe not even that."

Jayne Murray, manager of communications and college relations at Aurora College in Fort Smith, where the college's carpentry program is offered, could not confirm by press time whether tiny house construction is part of any course curriculum there.

"I do know that in some of the other courses there are things that are built and given to the communities," she said. "Some of our building trades have done things like building gazebos and sheds and things like that, and the finished product goes to the community."

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.