Small house, big plans: Made-in-Edmonton project will take tiny home on tour — then give it away

The premise of the new web series: build a tiny home that doubles as a mobile entertainment centre and take it across Canada. The tour will hit 16 cities, starting in Edmonton, and end with a giveaway for the custom-built unit.

Custom-built mobile unit will star in the online series created by a tiny home expert

Kenton Zerbin lives in his own tiny house outside Edmonton. He's now helping build one to give away. (Tom York Photography)

A new series of online videos will be taking a tiny home on a 16-city Canadian tour in a project that will spread the word about the scaled-down housing option — and end with a giveaway of the custom-built unit.

Kenton Zerbin, an Edmontonian who teaches tiny house workshops, is the producer of The Tiny House Master Plan project, which is getting help from a team of NAIT students as well as from business sponsorships.

The premise of the series? Build a tiny home that doubles as a mobile entertainment centre and then take it on the road.

Edmonton will be the tour's first stop.

Entering the giveaway is as simple as filling out a form on the website and subscribing to the project's YouTube channel. 

"I love the idea of providing a moral uplift for people in these times," Zerbin said in an interview with CBC's Radio Active on Monday. 

The Tiny House Master Plan Tour is coming this spring and you can check it out on YouTube or see when it visits your community as a pop up mobile movie theatre. 8:10

The planned mobile unit includes a pop-up stage, sound system and FM transmitter that could be used for a drive-in movie theatre or other entertainment.

"In the iterations of the design, it very quickly became apparent that we got to make more than just a state-of-the-art house, we got to use it for this community cause," Zerbin said.

"So people could come to have a concert event that could literally pop up anywhere."

Plans are being made so people can attend from their car in line, to ensure adherence to any possible COVID-19 restrictions.

Zerbin has been teaching about sustainable living for about eight years and said he has seen interest grow.

Edmonton, he said, is one of the most tiny house-friendly cities in Canada. In 2019, city council approved zoning bylaw changes aimed at allowing for further development of tiny homes.

Zerbin had intended to take his work to the United States this year but COVID-19 put a halt to those plans.

He started teaching online and then got into videography, which he realized was a great way to reach a lot of people.

"That's the story [that] led up to the show," he said. "Because it was like, 'Well, how do I reach people for free and still teach them and excite them?'"

The mobile tiny house will tour 16 cities across Canada. (Submitted by Kenton Zerbin)

Zerbin submitted the proposed project as an internship option for NAIT.

"When that kind of popped-up on the list … that was my absolute first one," said Amanda Keys, a NAIT student pursuing a bachelor of technology management. She is working as the project's general manager and hopes to one day own a tiny house of her own.

Besides managing the capstone project, Keys also helps seek out companies for sponsorship. So far, the project has met about 50 per cent of its funding goals.

"It's been really interesting because it's a lot more involved," Keys said. "When you think about, 'Oh yeah, you just build the house on the little trailer. It's so easy.'

"It's a lot more complicated."

The tiny house is still in the design phase but Zerbin hopes to get the show on the road by April 9. 

"Unless things get really seriously locked down, I think we're going to be OK," he said.


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