Engineering grad builds Tiny House with an elevator bed for just $15k
Canadian engineering graduate Tyler Bennett has recently completed his very own tiny house on wheels with an impressive budget of just US$15,000. Featuring an in-built ceiling heating system and a bespoke elevator bed, this home's innovative design is an intersection between essential functions, comfort and sustainability.
"My main inspiration was to learn about building structures and houses, and to experience the challenges that would be involved," Tyler Bennett tells New Atlas. "I sought to find innovative solutions to many challenges involving homes and tiny homes. There are many systems I put in place that are not common in most houses, but I have used to reduce the cost, increase the comfort, or be more environmentally friendly. I pushed for both the operating and capital costs to remain low."
The 140-sq-ft (13-sq-m) tiny house is clad with lightweight sheet metal and built on a 20-ft (6.1-m) flatbed trailer, measuring 8.5 ft (2.6 m) wide on the outside and 7 ft (2.15 m) wide on the inside. The tallest point of the home is 13.5 ft (4.12 m) high on the outside and 9.5 ft (2.9 m) on the inside. The dimensions of the home means it can be easily towed without acquiring a special permit.
"A critical part of the design and construction was managing the overall weight of the house," says Bennett. "The trailer is rated for 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) total. I needed to keep the weight below that and sought to reduce it as much as possible to ensure a smooth moving process. Right now, I have a total weight 7,800 lb (3,538 kg), with weight allocated for future solar panels and batteries."
Throughout the entire construction process Bennett maintained a strong focus on sustainability and has incorporated several such features throughout the home, including a well-sealed structure; high quality rockwool insulation; unique heated roof system designed to heat the home by circulating hot water through a series of pipes positioned within the ceiling; compost toilet; the use of upcycled and reclaimed materials; and plans to install rooftop solar panels.
"The heated ceiling would be one of my favorite features of my tiny house," says Bennet. "It's fairly 'controversial' feature if you read people's comments on social media. There are several reasons I opted for a heated ceiling as my primary source of heat in my house. It came out as a logical solution to many problems I was facing and I did not have any space dedicated for an electric furnace or heater. As such, I decided to use my hot water heater for two functions; heating water for showers and sinks, and heating water for a radiant heat system."
A second feature that Bennett installed was a heat recovery ventilator used to draw moisture from the interior air and also circulate fresh air throughout the home. The system utilizes an aluminum heat exchanger to pre-heat the incoming air. This means in the winter the air entering the interior is always warmer than the outside air temperature. The purpose of this system is to increase the comfort and keep the air fresh inside the space, while also reducing moisture inside the structure, preventing any mold/mildew issues during the winter months.
The home's interior boasts Bennett's very own queen size elevator bed that can be set to different heights according on the hour of the day and the use of the home. The bespoke design was conceived to allow Tyler to lower the height of the bed for sleeping and eliminating the need to duck or feel enclosed within a loft bed.
"The bed works on a 'block and tackle' pulley system, raising each corner of the bed at a ratio of 7:1," says Bennett. "The pulleys all join in a single hand crank winch on the wall. I originally had an electric winch, however, the noise and power were quite large and as such opted for a manual option. I decided to install the elevator bed to mitigate two issues I saw; having to crawl into a small bed space every night and having to squeeze into the space underneath it. This way, I have plenty of space underneath when the bed is in the raised position, and plenty of space to sleep in it from the lower position. Additionally, with the heated ceiling, the bed is nice and warm to get into in the winter time."
The rest of the home consists of a cozy living area positioned underneath the queen bed; a modular couch; desk area with computer station; and European style wall kitchen equipped with a double sink, two burner induction stove top, bar fridge, and convection oven. A small mechanical closet houses the ventilation unit, hot water heater, water pumps and electrical panel. The bathroom is raised to accommodate 88 gallons (333 liters) of storage underneath, and is equipped with a sink, vanity, compositing toilet and full fiberglass shower.
Tyler's Tiny House cost him CAD$20,000 (approx. US$15,000) to build, and he eliminated the cost of labor by working on it with friends and family. Bennett started the build in May of 2018, working only weekends when he wasn't at his full-time job, and had it finished four months later.
"I am not sure what the next big project is right now," he says. "One thing I am looking into is a way to update local by-laws and building codes to reflect the transition to tiny homes. Currently there is a grey area in terms of building and living in tiny houses. There is clearly a shift for some people who are considering this as a viable housing option, I think instead of shutting it down or finding ways to limit it. Local municipalities and building codes should be updated to reflect a way to safely allow people to do this."
Source: Tyler Bennett