Canadian couple build tiny house that feels like a luxury home
Canadian couple and newcomers to the tiny house scene, Heather and Kevin Fritz are turning heads with their very first tiny home build. Based in Spruce Grove, Alberta, the duo recently completed their first showcase tiny house on wheels for their newly formed studio, Fritz Tiny Homes.
The home was specifically built for the harsh Canadian climate – which can hit -40 ºC (-40 ºF) during the winter months – and boasts an impressive thermal envelope with minimal interior heating. We had the opportunity to chat with the tiny house builders about their creation.
"When we decided we were going to build our first tiny home, I refused to look at other tiny homes," Kevin tells New Atlas. "I said, 'let’s look at homes that we love' and our goal was to build a tiny home that did not look anything like a tiny home. You need to be deceptive in tiny design in order for it to look good. You have to make it look big and look interesting and look all these things, but in reality you’re dealing with a shoe box. There’s a challenge to that, and I enjoyed that challenge. We wanted to build what I like to call a legacy building, something that will outlive all of us."
The 268 sq ft (24.9 sq m) dwelling measures 24 ft (7.3 m) long and 8.5 ft (2.6 m) wide. It was built using a timber frame and standard two-by-four stud construction. The low-maintenance exterior is clad with a mix of seam steel siding and wood-textured aluminum panels, both chosen for their durability and low upkeep. To achieve an airtight thermal envelope, the home is fitted with closed-cell spray foam insulation.
"Our goal was to create a very tight, long-lasting and energy-efficient building," says Kevin. "The challenge with a tiny home is that you want to minimize the thickness of your walls while doing it. If you add an inch to thickness, that’s two inches over the whole building, and that’s a lot of space percentage-wise. So, we decided to use a closed-cell spray foam insulation. It performs better than everything else, especially in this context where we’re not having thick walls. Plus, it adds rigidity to the tune of 300 to 400 percent, critical for a building that’s going to get pulled behind a truck down the highway.”
Inside, the tiny house features a cozy living area, central full-sized modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances, bar-style seating bench, hidden European laundry, elevated master loft bedroom, and a luxury bathroom suite with a full-sized bathtub, heated mirror and rain shower head.
"The bathroom for sure is my favorite aspect of this home," says Heather. "There is something so relaxing about the way the rain shower falls straight down, along with the heated mirror. It feels like you’re in a luxury spa."
The interior design boasts an array of top-quality finishings, which include selectively logged vertical-grain fir for the flooring, quarter-sawn white oak for the counter tops, custom poured concrete, white walls, timber ceiling beams, and LED lighting. The furnishings are elegantly complimented against the cool timber oak featured throughout, giving the home a fresh, open feel, while contributing to its sense of spaciousness and airy atmosphere. Furthermore, the inclusion of nine strategically positioned windows and a full glass door fill the home with natural light during the day.
Triple-paned fiberglass was chosen for the windows, offering energy efficiency and superior durability compared to vinyl or even traditional glass. The expansion/contraction rates between vinyl and fiberglass windows differ remarkably, allowing the latter to withstand multiple trips down the highway.
The cabinetry was built from the hip down, filling the dwelling with storage solutions that don’t occupy the user’s eyeline, while making the home feel bigger than it actually is. Space-saving solutions are also a big feature of this home, which include toe-kick drawers, a pull-out closet hidden in the main entrance, hidden drawers and storage in the loft, abundance of custom storage beneath the stairs, custom full-length drawers beneath the sofa, and a sliding bathroom door that doubles as pantry cabinet.
"We tried to use every nook and cranny that we could, as long as it was purposeful and usable space," explains Heather.
"We were really purposeful about this," adds Kevin. "You use the space from the waist down, and you feel the space from the waist up. We wanted the home to function really big, so we used up every bit of space we could down low."
The elevated loft bedroom is another unique feature of the home, where the bed itself has been dropped 4.25 inches (10.8 cm) into the steel frame of the loft. This feature maximizes the dead space in the floor, while also giving additional head space and comfort to the user.
The home also features the unique inclusion of just two infrared heated mirrors to warm the interior. One is positioned above the sofa in the living area, and the second is installed in the bathroom.
"We did something different here, just to prove a point more than anything," says Kevin. "We built an incredibly efficient home and wanted to see how little you could use to heat it."
The Fritz tiny home has already been delivered to its new owners, who intend to use the dwelling as bed and breakfast accommodation. The couple estimates that their tiny build cost approximately CAD$160,000 to $200,000 (US$126,700 to $158,400) to complete. Although it sits on the higher end for a tiny house budget, its value is very much present throughout.
"What sets this home apart is the level of fit and finish," says Heather. "Our inspirations came from the high-end home world, which is where we were working at the time, plus our personal drive to build a home that was exceptional."
Company website: Fritz Tiny Homes