Tiny, living-room-sized home attracts Ottawa couple

One Ottawa couple has chosen to sell their condo unit to build a new, tiny home that will be smaller than the size of their current living room.

Leonardos selling 900-square-foot condo to build home smaller than current living room

Extreme downsizing of one's living space is a choice being made by a few locals. 2:30

People searching for an alternative lifestyle are downsizing to the extreme and building from the ground up with a tiny home philosophy.

Robert and Leanne Leonardo of Ottawa are a prime example. They're selling their 900-square-foot condo unit in favour of building their own 207-square-foot home.

To put that in perspective, the new home is smaller than their current living room. It will cost about $50,000 to build the home, not including the cost of purchasing land.

Robert Leonardo, right, and his wife Leanne are selling this 900-square-foot condo in favour of building a new 207-square-foot home. (Ashley Burke/CBC)
The couple hopes to live on their friend’s property in nearby Rockland for free and they are quite excited for this radical life change as they prioritize paying off their debt.

"I projected that in four to five years I would be mortgage free and debt free," Robert said.

"My projection shows I'll be able to recover 40 per cent of my disposable income. So I mean that offers a lot of choices in life."

For those curious how two people could live in such a small space, the Leonardos explained.

Their tiny home would feature just one room with a bed in a loft above the living/dining room. There would also be a small bathroom and kitchen.

"I'm looking for the simplicity of living in a smaller home," Robert said.

'Magical, holy grail idea'

These tiny homes can exist in communities, as well as micro-condo buildings. Sales reps say they have blossomed in Toronto and some believe they will interest Ottawa-area residents.

"People are hungry for solutions to help them get out of debt, to pay less money on a mortgage, to reduce their environmental footprint, to stop this perpetual cycle of accumulating stuff," said Andy Thomson, a designer who is building a community of tiny houses in Mansfield, Que., about 115 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.

"The tiny home is this kind of magical, holy grail idea."

Andy Thomson is building a tiny home community in Mansfield, Que. This is the common building that houses the bathrooms and kitchen. (Ashley Burke/CBC)
Thomson is turning 50 acres of land into two-acre plots, featuring some tiny homes with a waterfront view. There will also be a communal building with bathrooms and a kitchen.

In Ottawa's Centretown neighbourhood, Urban Capital is developing a micro-condo building filled with tiny homes.

"If you're standing at the sink you could basically do your laundry, cook a little turkey and at the same time, reach out for a beer," said Max Damour, a sales representative from Sutton Group Realty.

The condos aren't quite as small as the Leonardos' new home, ranging between 300 and 500 square feet. The lowest starting price sits at $180,000.

Damour believes these cheaper units will sell in a slowing condo market.

"Property taxes are going to be cheaper, so even for first-time homebuyers, I think they're going to love that type of product," he said.

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