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


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Kyle - January 6, 2015 Reply

One of the few tiny house builders that goes the distance to examine and master every aspect of an efficient and durable/lasting home. Very nice work. Absolute quality.

fleming behrend - January 6, 2015 Reply

Totally super Tiny House concept. Absolutely love the design you came up with. Super sweet!!!!
Thanks for sharing.

curt - January 6, 2015 Reply

Interesting house. I do like elements. I am curious how you are keeping the water supply from freezing at those temperatures. The other question is the propane water heater… how do you keep that safe from freezing? Is the house designed to have a skirt around the bottom? I like hearing about the construction techniques used. I do wonder about the insulation and how long the vacuum will remain a vacuum? The air exchanger thing great idea. I actually would be interested in having sensors placed to monitor things like outside temp, inside temp, temp in the crawlspace if you do a skirt, tempt of the ground, and temp of the water coming in and the temperature of the waste going out. LOL The wall radiant heaters are a good idea- I also wonder about radiant floor heaters.

Claudia - January 6, 2015 Reply

I love the attention to detail and the fantastic use of space, which actually make the tiny house seem much bigger than it is. You’re really pushing the envelope trying to make the house as efficient as possible in every possible way, and I am totally impressed!

alice h - January 7, 2015 Reply

Love the aesthetic and the practical side is marvellous. I’ve been to Pelly, in the winter, and this place is going to be a lot more comfortable than some of the larger houses, plus much easier to heat. The HRV unit sounds like a really good idea to keep air fresh but not cold. I also wonder how the water lines and any power outages will be dealt with.

I’ve had propane lines freeze up in winter before but it’s easy enough to insulate them with an old sleeping bag or whatever so a nicer method should be pretty basic.

Jason - January 7, 2015 Reply

I just want to say this is amazing! you have really taken energy efficiency to the extreme in this little house. How was the VIP to work with?

Allyson - January 8, 2015 Reply

Please contact me as I’m interested in having your company build a tiny house for me. I live in Canada and I am planning a trip to Whitehorse in the late summer which would potentially give you enough time to complete the build. I can also help. I’ve been looking for a company that can build to our cold Canadian Winter standards. Thanks.

    Kent Griswold - January 8, 2015 Reply

    Allyson, I would go to his website and contact him through there. I can’t guarantee he will see your comment and it would be better if you talked to him.

Mary - January 14, 2015 Reply

Very nice. I wonder why we don’t see more Murphy beds in tiny houses. There must be a reason.

Jeff Levenhagen - January 20, 2015 Reply

Can you tell me how well the Lunos E2 HRV works? I want to put one in my tiny house this winter but I’m worried I’ll loose heat, even though it’s “supposed” to save 90% of the heat.

Also can you tell me what kind of water heater you used? I mean brand and name. I living in Wisconsin so I also need to worry about cold weather.

I really like your design and use of space!

Thanks for any info. you can give me 🙂

Sandi - January 21, 2015 Reply

I would like to see the skeleton of the house, Maybe I missed a few links

Judd - January 21, 2015 Reply

I’d like a contact phone number for these guys if anyone has such a thing. The “contact us” feature on their web site does not appear to be working.

    Susan - January 23, 2015 Reply

    you could send him a message on facebook – the link is on the website

Mary Mika - January 26, 2015 Reply

well, I am ready to move right in. will be checking into this

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