Following in the footsteps of the Tiny Leaf and Tiny Tack homes, self-professed design geek Aaron Maret has finally completed his very own micro home on wheels. The Pocket Shelter home has been five years in the making, and Maret’s labor of love has paid off with a cozy portable eco-retreat ready for adventures around the United States.

We recently got in touch with Maret, who shared with us some insights into his building process and the perks of tiny living.

“My partner and I were traveling a lot and wanted to figure out a way to create a home space that we could take with us as we explored different places and communities,” Maret told Gizmag. “Small spaces and simple living have been an interest of mine for a long time. I love treehouses, boats, and all sorts of other small spaces. So having the opportunity to try my hand at designing and building my own tiny house was very exciting to me.”

Passionate about sustainability, Maret hand-built the home using primarily salvaged and raw materials. The home features a trailer base, frame and a colorful rustic exterior made from local and up-cycled hardwoods. Creating a tiny home also meant that fewer materials were needed, which resulted in less waste. “Trying to find 2,000 square feet [185 sq m] worth of reclaimed or salvaged flooring for example would be difficult and/or very expensive,” said Maret. “But finding 100 square feet [9.3 sq m] is relatively simple. There are many more sources and options for low or no-impact materials at this scale.”

Maret took little over a year to get the structure “move-in”-ready (90-95 percent complete), with some small details and final touches left to finish. He is proud to say that he accomplished about 70 percent of the work himself, while friends helped with putting the roofing metal in place, the installation of the window trim, the building of the drawer boxes and final details.

“We lived in it for a couple years, then eventually moved into a little cottage that we bought and started renovating. Once it wasn't being lived in, it was ready to be fully completed. And that just happened over the last few months,” he said.

The finished Pocket Shelter features a light-filled living area with ample built-in storage cabinetry, an elevated loft for sleeping, salvaged pine flooring, a custom kitchenette with 2-burner gas cooktop, sliding glass pass-through door and a bathroom with a mini built-in composting toilet.

Maret’s favorite part of the home is the porch, which also doubles as a sort of mudroom and transition space between outside and inside. “I love the porch. Kicking off boots, putting down parcels or groceries and serving as an overflow space for both people and things are luxuries that make small space living so much better,” said Maret. “Not to mention how lovely it is to sit outside in the rain and stay dry.”

The retreat was built with durability and serviceability in mind. Since it is framed like a regular house and not like a travel trailer, the home is much heavier than most travel homes and requires a sizable vehicle to tow it. Not ever having weighed it, Maret estimates that it would come in at approximately 6 tons (5.4 tonnes). In addition, it is fully insulated and weather proof, and would withstand all but the most severe of storms. “And if it does end up in a tornado- or hurricane-prone area, it could be anchored to the earth with hardware used on mobile homes, and I'm confident it could withstand even severe weather,” Maret said.

The final cost to complete the Pocket Shelter, including materials and hired labor, set him back around US$24,000. He estimates that he put in around 2,700 hours across the life of the project, including the design phase, materials acquisition, project management and construction.

“The Pocket Shelter’s ideal use is a small house for one or two people living in a community context. It is an amazing sanctuary, providing a quiet and beautiful space that is private and cozy,” said Maret. “It would also make for a wonderful retreat space and/or guest house set apart from a main house.”

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