leaf house version 3

version 3

by Laird Herbert

version.3 is the latest tiny house built by Leaf House Small Space Design & Build, a tiny house company based in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Design as a case study for cold climate tiny house construction, version.3 features a number of innovations unique to the challenges faced by -50°C weather.


Length: 16’

Square footage: 97 ft2.

Location: Pelly Crossing, a small northern community with a population of about 280 people, 3 hours north of Whitehorse, Yukon. Inhabitants: Accommodation for the instructor/coordinator of the Yukon College Campus.

Testing: Pelly Crossing regularly gets -40 to -50°C weather, and over the course of the next six months the performance of the tiny house will be monitored with energy and temperature sensors.

cold climate

Cold Climate Innovations

Vacuum Insulated Panels (VIPs)

First use of VIPs for a claimed R value of R30 per 1?2”. Floor and Roof are insulated to R68, while the walls are insulated to R38. VIPs are the ideal insulating material for tiny houses given their high R-value and low footprint.

Lunos E2 Heat Recovery Ventilator

version.3 is one of the first tiny houses to feature a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) and the first to test the Lunos E2 HRV in North America. HRVs are an essential feature of cold climate tiny house construction, and Lunos E2 is one of the first commercially available HRVs suitable to tiny house construction.

Quad Pane Windows

Built in the north, quad pane windows have some of the highest R values for window performance.

Electric Radiant Heaters

800 watt of high efficiency heating allows the total power draw to be under 15 amps.

landscape photo

Lightweight Innovations

Sub 5,000lb weight

Lightweight materials and strategic design choices (curtains instead of cupboards) cut down weight.

Metal mesh open joint siding

Metal mesh open joint rainscreen (designed to rust over time), saves a significant amount of weight over more conventional siding. The metal is repurposed concrete galvanized mesh.

Lightweight concrete countertops

Using a concrete micro-topper and foam backer board, Leaf House was able to create an ultra-lightweight concrete countertop for version.3, which gives the appearance of a slab of concrete but weighs below 35lb.

Metal X bracing

Exterior metal X bracing increases shear strength

Foam Sheathing

Version.3 uses foam sheathing in combination with metal strapping to create shear and compression strength, saving a significant amount of weight over conventional sheathing

inside wall


Full hot/cold water system

30 gallon water tank with ventless tankless propane water heater, Shurflo pump, shower and city water inlet

Compact fridge/freezer

Energy Star certified compact fridge/freezer

Custom Murphy Bed

Custom murphy bed increases livability by removing stairs/loft and increases the airiness of the space

Full height mirrored wall

Mirrored wall increase the feeling of interior space significantly

Maximum square footage

version.3 uses 2×3 framing, welded trailer extensions, and minimal roof overhangs to maximize the size of the footprint


Green Features

0 VOC finishes and materials

Safecoat paints and finishes (suitable for individuals with allergies)

FSC woods & Reclaimed materials

Forest Stewardship Certified wood. Reclaimed materials include clear grain cedar, metal mesh, and interior pine t&g.

Touch Dimmers and LED lights

LED lightings and touch dimmers

Compost Toilet

Custom bucket toilet



landscape 2


Leaf House Plans and Update

by Laird Herbert

Leaf House has a new home in the Yukon, Whitehorse, Canada, and is back in the thick of tiny house construction. Plans for version.2 are complete and for sale on the website www.tinyhousing.ca, and Leaf House will be building one more custom tiny house this winter.

The company is testing a variety of innovative materials and technologies suitable for tiny house construction in cold climates. Leaf House is using this upcoming tiny house as a case study, incorporating extremely energy efficient windows, an innovative compact Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) for small spaces, a lightweight concrete finish for countertops, metal mesh rainscreen, aerogel insulating material, and lightweight panels and interior finishes.

Leaf House

The most exciting technology showcased in the tiny house, which is the subject of this post, is the vacuum insulated panel (VIP). VIPs are an insulating product that is not yet available in commercial construction but have incredible potential for tiny houses and the recreational vehicle industry. VIPs are thin (1/2” to 1”) yet have an R value of R30 per ½”. The extremely low pressure in the panels prevents heat transfer, and overlapping the panels means that a wall of R60 can be achieved with only 1” thick of material. The panels are filled with silica and are also lightweight. The space and weight savings mean that tiny house construction might just be the perfect application for VIPs. Continue reading