Yellowknife apprentice builds his big brother a tiny house

A Yellowknife carpentry apprentice spent his 'off hours' over the summer building a tiny house for his older brother who lives in Whitehorse. 'In hindsight, blueprints would have made it a lot easier,' says Zachary Hamlyn.

'In hindsight, blueprints would have made it a lot easier': Zachary Hamlyn, 19, on 232-square-foot home

Zachary Hamlyn, a 19-year-old Yellowknife carpentry apprentice, spent his 'off hours' over the summer building a tiny house for his older brother, who lives in Whitehorse. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

Clad in sawdust-covered work pants, 19-year-old Zachary Hamlyn of Yellowknife puts the final touches on his masterpiece — a tiny house for his big brother.

"I believe the best way to learn is to take risks and do it yourself," says Hamlyn.

'In hindsight, blueprints would have made it a lot easier,' Zachary Hamlyn says. (CBC)
The carpentry apprentice used the project to hone his skills, spending his "off hours" over the summer building the tiny house for 20-year-old Nathaniel Hamlyn, who lives in Whitehorse.

"He didn't want to rent. I said, 'OK, I'll build it for ya,'" said Zachary Hamlyn.

The brothers started by combing the internet for ideas, looking to the companies in the United States where the tiny house market is big and booming.

"Every bit counts," says the younger brother, who admits he didn't use blueprints. He also had to factor his big brother's height into the design.

Part of the design incorporated Nathaniel Hamlyn's six-foot-three height. 'Ceilings are quite tall downstairs, mainly for my brother's sake,' his younger brother says. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

"Ceilings are quite tall downstairs, mainly for my brother's sake. He's six-foot-three. He didn't want to hit his head.

"I sacrificed height in the loft but gave him more height downstairs. Living space versus sleeping space."

Inside, there's tongue-and-groove pine panelling and cabinets, and cork flooring radiates comfort with modern flair. Zachary Hamlyn boasts the 30-inch flatscreen TV can be seen from "pretty much anywhere in the house," from the loft to the kitchen to the toilet — a honey bucket with a wooden toilet seat.

The house's footprint sits at a mere 160 square feet — 232 square feet of space, including the loft.

The kitchen area includes mini-appliances. (Kate Kyle/CBC)
There have been "some tumbles," he says, but mostly the project has gone smoothly.

"Not many tear down points, just a lot of head scratching, like the kitchen."

Zachary Hamlyn began building it before the mini-appliances arrived, relying on spec measurements. It ended up being a tight fit.

"In hindsight, blueprints would have made it a lot easier. For the next one, I guess."

Long drive ahead

The tiny house is mounted on a six-metre car hauler trailer. A foundation isn't required.

Zachary Hamlyn levelled it and built the floor frame on top. Nathaniel Hamlyn plans to tow it about 2,000 kilometres to Whitehorse once it's finished.

Nathaniel Hamlyn plans to drive the tiny house to Whitehorse, where he lives and goes to school. (CBC)
He said he is pleased with his younger brother's craftsmanship.

"I was skeptical in the beginning," he said.

"I thought it would feel more cramped. It doesn't feel like an RV. This actually feels like a house."

The brothers are still calculating the total cost. With the trailer included, it was roughly $20,000 to build.

Zachary Hamlyn said he hopes building the house can go toward his apprenticeship hours, and he sees a big future in tiny houses.

"I think there's a market up here in the North. Potentially I'd like to build a few more and see if I can sell them."


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