It may be a small space, but tiny-home owner Natalie Heron insists her 13-square-metre abode is far from cramped quarters.
"I really didn't anticipate it feeling quite so big inside," Heron says as she gives a tour around her living room, dining room and kitchen, all of which are only a few steps from each other.
For $55,000, the Dorval, Que. woman built her very own portable house – complete with all the modern amenities you'd find in much larger spaces.
The tiny-home trend is a phenomenon that's spreading quickly among those looking for a minimalist, environmentally conscious way to own their own home for a relatively tiny price tag.
The homes are usually less than 90 square metres (around 1,000 square feet), offer loft-like accommodations and are sometimes on wheels to make it possible to move them.
Heron has placed her home in her parent's backyard on Montreal's West Island for now, but she said the portability of the home is one of the things that most attracted her to the idea.
"There's not a lot of legislation set up for specifically this type of home, which is built to look like a home so it doesn't look like an RV," she said.
"Not to say that RVs aren't good looking, but they don't look like permanent structures. They don't have curb appeal. This house was built very specifically to look like a house and to have a beautiful and appealing nature to it, so if I do end up in someone else's space, the neighbours aren't saying, 'Oh God, that's an eyesore.'"
They may be mostly scattered oddities now, but tiny homes are gaining a foothold in Canada and the U.S.. That's in part due to their relatively low cost, but also because a passionate community has grown around tiny-home ownership.
Andy Thomson is developing a community exclusively for tiny homes an hour from Ottawa in Mansfield-et-Pontefract in western Quebec.
He said creating a tiny-home neighbourhood outside of existing communities would help bypass some of the issues that arise from restrictive city bylaws, zoning problems and concerns from neighbours.
"People don't want to see their property values going down by having this little shrinky-dink house next to theirs," he said.
"So, you really need to start looking at different types of communities where these are a better fit."
It would also help tiny-home owners pool amenities such as solar power and spring-water collection.
While there are specific challenges that come with the Canadian climate and tight living quarters — tiny homes have traditionally been more popular in warmer areas or as seasonal homes — Heron said she's looking at ways to winterize her home with propane or electric heating.
She started building the home last September and moved in last May.
"I love it. It's such a thrill to see my own home and to climb into my loft at the end of the day and fall asleep in my own bed in a space that I built. I'm really proud of my home."