Tankless Hot Water

As most of you may know, I was at the Edmonton Home & Garden Show last weekend with Steve Zaleschuk from Finished Right Contracting who had one of our current builds on display. One thing I noticed he kept repeating to people when talking about our radiant in-floor heating was, “Just because you live in a tiny house, doesn’t mean you have to go without luxuries!” He’s absolutely right, and most people agreed.

People were amazed when we told them that radiant in-floor heating was in our tiny houses. Of course, you don’t have to have it if you don’t want to, but, why would you not? The pros far outweigh the cons.

The tankless propane water heaters we use are from Noritz Canada and save you up to 40% off your water heating costs, last up to twice as long as traditional hot water tanks, and use recycled parts so there’s less waste.

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Think of it like this, traditional hot water tanks heat all the water in the tank. Then as the water sits there it cools off. Then the tank heats it again. Then it cools off…etc. Traditional tanks heat water when it’s not even being used. Tankless systems have hot water on-demand. It only heats water when the taps are turned on and you need hot water.

The systems we use have two separate outputs. One is your domestic water for showers and doing dishes, and the other is for the in-floor radiant heat which contains glycol. Both are set at different temperatures too!

The only con really is the up-front cost. The system costs around $4000, but the amount of space and money you will save on heating costs make it well worth the initial investment.

 

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Tiny Home Community Being Planned

One tiny village in Alberta may set a huge precedence for the Tiny Home Movement. Big Valley is village of about 350 people, roughly 220km Southeast of Edmonton (East of Red Deer). It’s in that tiny village, council decided to change their bylaws to allow 22 lots measuring 30 feet by 80 feet in one subdivision.

Big Valley

“Putting them all together in one subdivision will give unity to the area and a community-type feel.”   – Michelle White – Chief Administrative Officer

The only catch…the tiny homes will have to be on a permanent foundation, be connected to municipal water and sewer, and have hook-ups for gas and power. They had to actually look at regulations from the U.S. because they couldn’t find any in Canada. That needs to be rectified!

Council in Big Valley will now go through the processes of passing the new bylaw, engineering the land development and figuring out how much the tiny lots will cost.

You can read the full story HERE.

The “Superhouse”

Ever since Steve and I have started working together we have been naming the Tiny Houses we work on. This is the “Superhouse” which is the first house we worked on together. It’s not quite finished yet but it’s getting close.

It’s an interesting one for a couple reasons:

  1. It’s for a Family of four that includes Mom & Dad and two kids so we had to make it essentially a three bedroom model (you’ll see how in the photos)
  2. Dad is 6′-7″ tall so we had to raise the lofts an extra six inches than usual.

Once finished, the “Superhouse” will be on display at another Tiny Open House on Steve’s property where he builds them in the next month or so.

For now, just enjoy some photos…

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The blank canvas!
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Framed like a house, not like a trailer!
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Sheeted with plywood, not OSB…T&G Fir plywood on the floors. She’s solid!

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Cedar shake upper, T&G Cedar on lower…she smells beautiful!

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3-1/2″ of spray foam on roof, walls & floor = R22, vapour barrier & fire resistance!

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The sliding barn-style doors are hot right now!
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Kid’s loft divided into 2 ‘Bedrooms’ if you will.
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Mom & Dad’s loft above the Living Room that will have custom built-in bench seating.

Home Show & Bylaw Progress

I was at the Edmonton Home & Garden Show on Saturday, helping out Steve Zaleschuk from Finished Right Contracting. He had a tiny house on display, only at the lock-up stage, so people could see how they were constructed. We had some mixed reaction from people. Some just peeked their heads in, commented that it wasn’t finished, and then went on their way. Others enjoyed the fact that they could see the craftsmanship that goes into constructing a home.

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Steve doesn’t use any O.S.B. or any particle boards in anything. Exterior sheeting is done with plywood and the sub-floor is done with tongue & groove Fir. Wall framing is done on 16-inch centers and the sheeting is glued & screwed on every stud. Loft and roof framing is on 12-inch centers, so once sheeted they are solid.

Once the framing and sheeting is on, and the wiring is run, we do 3 – 3 1/2 inches of spray foam. This is a bit more expensive than batt insulation, but well worth it because it gives us an R-22 value, gives us some more rigidity, acts as a vapour barrier, and is fire resistant.

We also use tankless hot water on-demand units to heat the domestic water as well as the radiant in-floor heating. Just like the insulation, this is more costly from the on-set, but will save you a lot more money in the long run, and saves space.

These are just a few of the examples of the craftsmanship that goes into every tiny we build. Although the units are classed as RV here and as such, are not regulated by building codes, Steve meets or exceeds the building codes on every unit.

Now, some things I also learned about at the Home Show that I hadn’t known about yet are:

  1. The town of Big Valley, Alberta has designated 22 lots to build a small Tiny Home Community.
  2. Sturgeon County (just north of Edmonton) is re-writing their by-laws to accommodate and include Tiny Houses.

Tiny Solar Power

So one of the biggest decisions you need to make when deciding to follow the Tiny House Movement is whether to go on or off the grid, or both. For many, getting off the grid and out in the wide open spaces of serenity far outweighs the option of ‘hooking up’ at an RV park or wherever it may be.

The most costly, and perhaps the most important part of planning to go off-grid is your power source. Solar is a very popular option, and some even go with wind and water turbine power sources. This post is dedicated to solar power.

Here are some links to some articles, posts, and websites  you may find handy in planning and making your decisions.

As always, if you have any experience with solar power or any tips or tricks, let us know.

Articles & Posts

How Solar Power Works – Solar Wholesaler

Best Solar Panel Kits for Your Tiny House – Tiny House Blog

Tiny House Solar – The Tiny Life

Taking a Tiny House Off Grid – Home Power

Solar Power for Tiny House RV’s – Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

Tiny Home Solar Power – Sol Solutions

Tiny House Solar Panel Kit – Go Green Solar

 

Resources

Off-Grid Solar Panel Calculator (This is from an American company so the Sun Hours/Day Zones are in the U.S. but you can estimate your area in Canada looking at the map)

Appliance Power Demand Chart

Sun Hours Per Day Chart (U.S.A.)

 

Websites

Solar Wholesaler (Canada)

Solarwyse (Canada)

Wholesale Solar (U.S.A.)

Solar Direct (U.S.A.)

Sol Solutions (U.S.A.)

Interior Intentions

Ok, I have spent a lot of time looking at tiny houses from the outside and paying attention to a little of the inside if it is eye-catching. But when going tiny, you really have to make the most of space. That doesn’t have to mean going with that hideous two-burner camping stove though.

Let’s take a look at some handy space-saving ideas for your tiny home, and if you have any great ideas or photos of your own, pass them along to me in an email or on Facebook.

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This is a 2-burner stove top, oven and dishwasher.
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This is just awesome, if you can live with a tiny fridge.
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Move over Lazy Susan.
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Freeing up some counter space.
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Didn’t see that coming.
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Great idea for dining.
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From bench…to couch…to dining room table!
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Very handy going from a 2-seater to seating 5.
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Pretty good sleeping up to 4 people in about a 10′ square space…if you like the doctor’s office look.
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Now this is just plain awesomeness.
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Not bad…
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Ahh, the good old Murphy bed.

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Stay in a Tiny House Instead of a Hotel!

Like pretty much most other families, we have relatives that live all over the place, and with three kids and a grand-daughter on-board, it’s hard to stay with relatives sometimes. So naturally we grab a hotel. The kids used to love it because when they were little they would go swimming in the hotel pool. Now the kids are teenagers, so they don’t care so much about swimming. Plus, we got to thinking, why spend easily over $100 on a hotel when we check in at 4pm and check out at 11am? That’s not even 24 hours!

Well now there are new, and more economical, and fun options popping up. A startup called Gateway, builds, and rents tiny cabins for your getaway in the woods. Really, a great idea, and for around the same cost as a hotel, you can not only enjoy the silence, but you have a kitchenette to cook up some grub, and who can beat being in the outdoors with nature all around?

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Here is a link to the original article and a link to the Getaway website.