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Campbell Riverite downsizing to a custom tiny home

Could you live in 320 sq. ft.?
Guy Philp is in the process of building a custom tiny house for Monique Lafleur. Photo by Jocelyn Doll/Campbell River Mirror

Could you live in 320 sq. ft.?

Monique LaFleur is going to, she has commissioned Guy Philp of Carmanah Woodworks to build her a tiny house.

“I’ve been working towards this I think for probably close to 10 years now and I have purposefully been buying smaller and smaller,” LaFleur said.

Tiny homes have popped up in places like Victoria, Nanaimo, Nelson and Vernon with the housing and utility costs increasing in recent years.

LaFleur wants to live a green lifestyle, leave a smaller footprint and is attracted to the ability to take her home and go wherever.

“I am a little bit bohemian gypsy, so this is going to be on wheels, meaning I can take it with me if I decide that I am going to leave Campbell River,” she said.

Philp is a longtime contractor.

“I have been building high-end custom homes for 30 years in Campbell River, timber frames…my body said ‘it’s just time to scale down’,” he said.

This will be his first tiny house. He attended a seminar on building tiny homes and both he and LaFleur have been doing extensive research.

“A lot of these things, like staircases and stuff, are customized for a tiny home and wouldn’t work in a conventional home,” he said. “I like the freedom of it, and being indoors when the winter comes again.”

LaFleur’s tiny home will be completely on grid except for the hot water heater, which will be propane.

She said she considered installing a composting toilet and solar panels, but for now just wants her life to be as simple as possible at first so that she has time to adjust to living in a tiny space.

Every decision that home owner and contractor make takes into consideration weight. LaFleur chose synthetic counter tops instead of stone and she is installing only small appliances.

But nostalgia is top of mind for LaFleur as she plans on having her claw foot bathtub in her bathroom and an antique hutch, that has sentimental family value, installed in the main living area.

“It was something that I couldn’t just let it go,” she said. “We are cutting the legs off and building it in.”

LaFleur said her house is going to be high end, Victorian style. Philp estimates a house like this would come in around$120,000 in Vancouver. But tiny homes range in price from do it yourselves at $20-$40,000 to pre-made homes that are for sale as is anywhere between $60-90,000.

The two first met after Philp posted an ad on Craigslist to gauge tiny house interest in the area.

They started making plans in June and Philp began the build in mid July, he said it will take him around three months to complete.

This is both parties first time working on a tiny house and there have been some changes.

“Originally when he was doing the plans (the loft) was going to be quite a bit higher, and I was like ‘Oh my god, I’m going to feel like I am in a coffin’,” LaFleur said.

Now the loft is four foot four at the peak, which is plenty of room for Lafleur to sit up.

LaFleur said she has a spot arranged on communal property to park her tiny house when it is complete, with access to full utilities.

She plans on having an open house for others interested in downsizing their living spaces.

In the meantime email for tiny house information. Philp can be found at

Guy Philp estimates it will take him three months to complete the project, which is the first tiny home he has built. Photo by Jocelyn Doll/Campbell River Mirror