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Vancouver tiny-house tours seek to convert skeptics

Three tiny houses will be open for tours in front of Science World Saturday

This is one of three tiny houses that will be open for tours in front of Science World Saturday, May 20, 2017.

Ben Garratt

This is one of three tiny houses that will be open for tours in front of Science World Saturday, May 20, 2017.

If you have ever wondered whether tiny-living is for you, Saturday may be your chance to find out – there will be three tiny houses open for tours and volunteers will be building another in front of Science World from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The BC Tiny House Collective is hosting the free event, Go, Go Tiny, in an effort to convince people that living in a 250 square foot tiny house isn’t as far-fetched as it may seem.

“Put your preconceptions to the test,” said Anastasia Koutalianos, event organizer and BC Tiny House Collective co-founder.

“It’s not for everyone. But for the people who want to downsize or who want to leave less of a carbon footprint or who want to be able to travel around… let them have that opportunity.”

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Industry and research partners will have booths set up at the event to showcase the technology that can go into a tiny house – everything from compost toilets to solar panels. Arts Umbrella will also be there to offer an architecture class for children. A ukulele band will serenade attendees throughout the day.

During those eight hours, about 30 people will build a 300-square foot tiny house from scratch, with the aim of raising it by 6 p.m. The project is headed by Emily Carr student, Callahan Tufts, who designs structures out of waste material from construction sites. The material is brand-new but would otherwise be sent to the landfill as scraps.

A tiny house made out of those kinds of materials could cost $20,000 or more to build but that’s a fraction of what a Vancouver house would cost.

Anastasia Koutalianos and Samantha Gambling stand inside Gambling's tiny house.

Jennifer Gauthier

Anastasia Koutalianos and Samantha Gambling stand inside Gambling's tiny house.

It could be an appealing option for those looking for affordable housing, but some dismiss it as a fad or a “hippie” way out. Tiny houses are neither of those things, said Koutalianos, who nonetheless does not live in a tiny house herself.

Many tiny-house owners in the United States, where the phenomenon is more established, are professionals, she said. 

“They are professionals, well educated. Maybe we are the fools because they don’t have a mortgage.”

There’s just one catch – it is still illegal to live in a tiny house in Vancouver. Residents are not allowed to live in vehicles (which a tiny house on wheels would qualify as) and dwellings must be at least 350 square feet large.  

Koutalianos hopes the event will show city councillors and residents how versatile tiny houses can be.

“It can really work within existing neighbourhoods. The possibilities are endless.”

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