Maxime’s Tiny House

My name is Maxime Chénier and I am from Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. I am 26 years old and I work as a forest firefighter for the province.

I fell in love with Jay Shafer’s houses about 5 years ago and since then I have been planning mine. I move a lot with my job, and I hate paying for rent. So a tiny house was a perfect fit.

It all started about a year ago, in October 2012, when I bought a used flatbed trailer. I wanted to put the structure up before the first snow storm, so I went out to buy everything.

Maxine's House

The floor is 3 different section of 2 x 6′s, and a section of treated ones for my deck, insulated and covered with a 3/4 inch plywood.
Walls and roof are sections of 2 x 4′s, all insulated. On the exterior, there is 1/2 prestwood, and tar paper. I had a good deal on a door and windows so I put them in right away with the loft roof skylight. Put a big tarp on in and that was it for the winter.

Then my fire season started so the project was put on hold until September 2013. As soon as I was back, I put the half log outside finish, the black metal roof and made the roof over the deck.

Then, I jumped inside to finish the insulation, which next time I will do after the wiring and not before.

tiny house walls

Running the wires was fast, but still a big planning. I went big with a 100 amps electrical panel, 12x15A breakers. A 30A wire goes from my panel to outside with a 30A-15A adapter. I have 6 halogen lamps, a bathroom fan, small fridge, microwave, TV, computer, cell phone, toaster/oven.

Then this week, I finished the insulation, put a plastic membrane and the beautiful pine V-joint finish. I ordered my kitchen counter, my kitchen table is on the way, the framing for my cabinets is done, my couch is done, except the cushions.

skylight

The 30×32 shower, toilet and sink are in place just not installed. I will run everything with 1/2” pex. I will have a tankless propane water heater. But no water until the spring because it is already between -5 and-12 here so I’ll wait.

bench

deck

kitchen

fridge

56 Comments Maxime’s Tiny House

  1. Brian Cobble

    Nice Job on the tiny house! I work as a forest firefighter in FL. If it gets too cold to park it up there in Canada, have a place you can park it for a little while.

    I liked the pictures, and your explanation of the wiring. I am building one now, and am just getting to the wiring. (only i do not have a trailer frame or tires on mine)

    Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  2. Darrell

    Looking very good Maxime! Can I ask what your material cost has been – and what you think the final cost will be?

    Best Regards,

    Darrell
    Colorado Springs, CO, USA

    Reply
  3. AJ Evans

    This is absolutely beautiful. I love the clean look of the wood. I wish I had the talent to understanding building one. You did a great job. I’d love to see more photos.

    Reply
  4. Larry

    Great job Maxine! Your craftsmanship is supreme and the plan looks very nice. Much more reasonable than some of the frou-frou tiny house structures. I am betting you have a great business opportunity ahead of you. Maybe in your off-season, in a large shed, one of these projects per year?

    Reply
  5. Terry

    Great pics. I learned a lot about the construction. I always wondered how that inside paneling worked. I see now it is tongue-in-groove assembly. It seems like it could be thinner. Do you put glue in the tongue-in-groove?

    Reply
    1. maxime chénier

      Hey Terry,
      I’m using 8” pine V-joint. The product is amazing and very easy to install. You just slide it in. Since the roads are pretty rough where I go, I nailed everything with an air gun.

      Reply
  6. Angus

    Maxime,
    what a great project, please do post on your progress as learning from those that have done the work is a great help……. good luck and thank you for sharing

    A

    Reply
  7. Devon in VT

    Maxime,
    Looks like a great job and thanks for the insulation tip. Looking forward to more progression photos and best of luck!

    Reply
  8. Natalie

    Congratulations Maxime, your house looks great. I am building a tiny house in Montreal and would love to be able to talk to you. Is there a way for us to connect?

    Reply
  9. Yojimbo

    Nice work all the way around. And your description is as meticulous as the work! A good sign.

    Keep the wood fairly blonde, for brightness.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  10. K Crepeau

    Great progress. Love the addition of a skylight and a bigger sink. Looks like you are going to have a liveable tiny house.
    The inside is so reminiscent of what we did to a 20′ Pace trailer fifteen years ago. We still have it and are going to place it on land we purchased in Nova Scotia. When we first built it, we moved to Alaska and lived in it with 6 children for 4 months!
    Sounds awful but it wasn’t. We developed a routine for transistioning from nighttime to daytime that worked quite well. There were 4 bunks and a queen size bed/dinette. (One of the boys slept on the queen bed in the van and two of the little ones shared a bunk.)
    The cleverest thing my husband installed was a slide out pantry. We even had a stacked washer/dryer pair.
    We’re going to remodel it a little for summers in Canada, for just my husband and I. One bottom bunk is going to be removed and replaced with a sitting area and a picture window. I think adding a skylight would make it more liveable. Seems like a good idea!
    Thanks for sharing your work!

    Reply
  11. Robin Snyder

    Nice job Maxine. Makes me feel like I can do it on my own after all. I worry about the use trailer wondering if it might not be strong enough or maybe had some problem. I think I would buy new trailer if I could. How much in the end (us) did it cost you ? How many hours of labor? Did you do it yourself or did you have friends for work parties?

    Reply
    1. maxime chénier

      Thanks Robin,

      For sure I would recommend a new trailer. It’s less trouble and more safe. So far with the trailer, I’m at about 15000$. Finished I think it should be around 19000$. Everything was bought at the store at good prices, so it’s easy to reduce your overall price if you search for salvage materials.

      I put about 800-1000hrs in this one. But the next ones should take about 600hrs.

      My dad gave me a hand to put the structure up and the plywood.
      But everything else I had to do alone.

      Reply
  12. Wendy

    Wonderful job- it looks very thoughtfully planned and livable. I would love to see a floor plan of it, and I hope you post again when you have it finished and furnished. Congratulations on a fine job!

    Reply
  13. Dave

    You seem to be doing this quite wisely.

    The only concern I have would be the weight of what has been built might be too much for the trailer. That would make it kind of squirrel-ly to transport.

    Reply
    1. maxime chénier

      Thanks Dave,
      For it’s a concern. It’s never been on the road so far, so I can’t say. The trailer is made for 7000 lbs and the house should be around 6000. But I will put brand new rims and tires to be sure and make a few test runs before I go up north.

      Reply
  14. Amanda

    Great job-and a big thank you for the work you do as a forest fire fighter. I just moved from Yosemite area, and appreciate the danger.The exterior is beautiful, and I can’t wait to see photos of the finished home. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  15. Jim

    Beautiful job! I like the unfinished wood, nature’s art exposed. I would like to hear about your plumbing with PEX. I need to replace some pipe and I think it would work best.
    Good on you!

    Reply
  16. Hugh Ballem

    Congratulations, and thanks for sharing. I’m seriously contemplating my own build and would love to see your place and talk about the challenges. I live in Montreal but travel frequently to the Ottawa area. My place will be part of a tiny/small house community in the Eastern Townships near the Vermont border.

    Reply
    1. hunter

      that a hard working woman can do this build encourages other women to do the same, excellent. well done. love the work and photos. brilliant.

      Reply
  17. Leann

    Great job! I love the wood it looks so fresh and homy. Looks like you will be very happy with your tiny home on wheels! Much success to you now and in the future.

    Reply
  18. Suzanne

    Super Mathieu! Est-ce qu’on pourrait aller la visiter quand elle sera finie? On n’a tellement pas l’occasion d’en voir ici au QC. C’est tellement méconnu.

    Reply
    1. maxime chénier

      Bonjour Suzanne,
      c’est vrai que c’est tout nouveau ds notre coin de pays. C’est la température qui joue contre nous. Ça me ferait plaisir que vous veniez la voir.
      Si vous passez ds mon coin écrivez moi. tinyhouseqc@gmail.com

      maxime

      Reply
  19. maxime chénier

    Thx everybody. It’s really nice to see that people appreciate your work. It makes me want to pursue this dream and start a tiny house business. I’ll leave my email for those who want to contact me directly tinyhouseqc@gmail.com.
    So far I have invested 15 000$y including the trailer. I think another 3500$ is going to be enough to finish it. I put about 800 man hours since its my first project. I estimate the weight at 6000 pounds. The trailer is made for 7000. But a good advice is to buy a new tailer. More trustable and less trouble for sure.
    The interior finish is 8″ v-joint pine. Its really easy to install and I used a nail gun because I wanted to be sure it was solide.
    For the pex, its on hold right now.h We had temperature down to -45degrees last week so no water for now.

    Thanks for the comments and Ill keep posting pictures

    Reply
  20. Whitworth Deen

    Beautiful job, Maxime! (By the way, a lovely name U have. Tres chic!) My comments: Wise and clever of U to raise your small frig to working level. But microwave ovens at a high level are disturbing– has anyone ever spilled very hot liquids removing them from microwaves? Lord knows that I have.
    Most kind regards
    Whitworth Deen

    Reply
    1. maxime chénier

      Thanks for the comment.
      For sure it is a concern. So far nothing happened, but it is a risk.
      This is my first prototype so I will learn a lot by living in it.
      If I want to start selling tiny houses it is something to think about.

      But any constructive critics is more than welcome
      thank you

      Reply
  21. Cristi

    Hi Maxime, great job! How satisfying to build your own home that is completely yours and you can take it with you!

    I do have to agree with Whitworth Deen though, extremely dangerous place to put the microwave!

    Good luck to you!
    Cristi

    Reply
    1. Diana

      Have to remember we, atleast here in the States, have microwaves in the exhaust vent areas and over the stoves. Actually standard practice for RVs. As long as you use caution you should be ok. I have a travel trailer I live in and I do take mine down when travelling, concerned it might bounce out of opening. Only time we have had a spill that burned was in our House and the microwave was at mid height, kid came running around corner and flew into hand holding hot tea

      Reply
  22. Francine

    What a great job!
    I live in Ottawa and am wondering about the insulation if it would be warm enough for down here?
    Also I would love to know the weigh of this house all finish!
    You would need a big truck to pull this small house.
    It is in my dreams to build one, you are a luck girl …
    Good luck with it!
    Can’t wait to see it finish…
    Francine

    Reply
    1. maxime chénier

      Hey francine, just to let you know I’m a guy with a beard lol
      And for the insulation it is pretty good. Right now I’m using a small electric ceramic heater and you’re comfortable in a t-shirt.
      with the -40′s we had this week, you had to wear a sweatshirt to be good.
      for the weight….it should be around 6000 pounds completed.
      So I bought a Dodge Ram 2500 HD
      Send me an email at tinyhouseqc@gmail.com if you want to come see it.
      bye

      Reply
      1. Judy

        What a relief to see your reply, as a woman I was feeling pretty overwhelmed at the thought that I should be able to do something like this at 5ft 3in! LOL

        Reply
  23. Angela

    What beautiful work. You’ve inspired me! Any advice on shopping for a used flatbed? I’m looking for an 8 x 24.

    Reply
  24. Toodoggone Cook

    May I add my congratulations – beautifully well thought out home! I
    would also like to say this is just about the first time I have seen complete congratulatory comments about a project.
    Wishing you the best in your new home.

    Reply
  25. Timaree

    I wouldn’t worry about the height of that toaster oven folks. That ceiling is probably not much over 6feet so it’s possible the oven is at eye level which isn’t really all that high. You are thinking of spilling hot water but it’s not a microwave. Maxine, do watch how hot the overhead gets though. My toaster oven gets pulled out from under the cabinets to use because it was hot enough to melt the crisco somewhat that was stored above it!

    Reply
    1. Timaree

      Sorry, my spellcheck changed your name to Maxine. I’d put Maxime! I’m having trouble with my vision this morning and didn’t catch it.

      Reply
  26. Ed

    Looks great, Maxime! Thanks for sharing and giving us some good ideas. Looking forward to pics of the completed project.

    Reply
  27. David Steeves

    HI:

    Although I love the idea of a tiny house and the simplicity of it all, are they really practical??? Given the cost of materials etc, wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy a travel trailer with with all the bells and whistles??? You can buy a used one much cheaper than to build a tiny house. I understand that travel trailers aren’t meant for all climates, especially here in Atlantic Canada. Just out of curiosity, why are most of the tiny houses all finished inside with what looks like 1/2 inch tongue and grove boards?? Wouldn’t that add to the over all weight of the house. I understand perhaps part of it is for insulation and such, but with the availability of nice wallboard in various colours, wouldn’t it be a bit cheaper and lighter when it comes to weight?? Again, I’m not crapping on these little gems, I do love them all but just was looking for some answers. Some day, I too would love to be able to build one. There, my two cents worth. Thanks for listening and keep up the great work.

    Reply
  28. Pierre-Luc Pilon

    Salut Maxime,

    elle est vraiment bien ta maison. Il faut juste que je convainque mon épouse que c’est assez pour nous deux :)

    Laisse moi savoir quand tu auras fini, je t’échangerai une visite contre de la bière ;)

    Pierre-Luc
    Gatineau
    plpilon@outlook.com

    Reply
  29. Marc-Antoine

    Bonjour Maxime. Très bonnes idées et tu as une très belle maison. Je suis en processus de collectes d’informations pour m’en construire une prochainement au Québec dans le Bas-St-Laurent. Envoi moi un petit courriel pour que je puissent te poser quelques questions. Merci.

    Reply
  30. Carole

    Félicitations Maxime. Je suis une “jeune femme” de 63 ans de Gatineau et je me prépare à construire une petite maison de + ou – 300 p.c. avec des matériaux de construction recyclés. Je préférerais une petite maison comme la tienne. Malheureusement, comme tu le mentionnes, le problème est la source d’eau qui gèle ici l’hiver. De plus, vivre dans un espace confiné pendant plusieurs mois froids ne doit pas être un cadeau. J’aimerais me bâtir en ville, mais j’ignore si la ville me le permettra.
    Bonne chance Maxime, et merci d’avoir partagé.

    Reply

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