From shack to tiny house: Deline builds man in need a new home out of donated material

People in Deline came together to build a tiny home for a man who just could not face one more winter in a shack with no insulation.

Resident had lived in a handmade shack built from crates and plywood for nearly a decade

The tiny house was handed over to its new owner Tuesday afternoon. It’s built entirely from donated material and community labour. (submitted by Danny Gaudet)

Danny Gaudet says he needed to do something when a longtime community member who had been living in a shack admitted "he just couldn't live that way anymore."

Gaudet lives in Deline, N.W.T., pop. 500.

'He had mice all over the place,' says Danny Gaudet. (CBC)
He says the "humble" 53-year old man, who asked to remain anonymous, had called a hand-made uninsulated shack — built from crates and plywood — home for nearly a decade.

"He had mice all over the place," said Gaudet after a recent visit.

The man had never complained about his living situation before, but it was now " too much" for him, said Gaudet. The man couldn't sleep. He asked Gaudet if he could borrow a camper trailer.

Gaudet thought of something better — a tiny house. He figured there was enough material around town that "We could probably go around and get some donations, collect some material and just build him one."

Gaudet rallied together local carpenters, electricians and anyone who was willing to pick up a drill or hammer to help. Over three weekends, the team built the 16' by 16' house all from locally donated material and free labour.

Nathan Modeste and Wayne Gaudet were among the community members who helped build the tiny house. (submitted by Leonard Kenny)

'I'm proud of the people who came out'

Joe Tetso, a local journeyman carpenter, led the construction.

"I'm proud of the people who came out and did a little bit of help here and there," said Tetso.

"[We made] sure it's all insulated, that way he has a warm place to stay. I hope he feels comfortable, instead of that old shack, cold and all that."

The tiny house is powered by a small generator and is lined with drywall with a plywood ceiling. Exterior siding will be installed next summer.

Journeyman electrician Kevin Roche donated material and his time to install the wiring.

"Nothing fancy just a couple of lights, just a couple of plugs inside," said Roche.

"Compared to what he had, it's 100 per cent better."

This old uninsulated, shack was home for one Deline resident for nearly a decade. (Submitted by Leonard Kenny)

The home was delivered to its new owner Tuesday afternoon. Gaudet says the modern tiny house may be the first of many to be built in Deline.

"It's in the blood," said Gaudet. "A lot of people like the idea. It brings back a lot of memories on how we use to build everything ourselves."

A Northern solution? 

Tiny homes could be a solution for housing shortages in many northern communities, including Deline, said Gaudet.

He said he knows of at least 20 to 30 people who are couch surfing or living with family, "caught in the middle" because they don't qualify for social housing, for one reason or another, and they make too much money to access territorial housing grants.

"Programs need to change so they fit the people," said Gaudet.

"I think we should be focusing on trying to get people into their own homes. That changes a person. They start feeling good about themselves. They don't feel like they are dependent on anybody."