12/01 Living on the margins: Chilliwack folks living in RVs, fifth wheels and tiny houses

inside Sheri Nicholson’s tiny house

inside Sheri Nicholson’s tiny house in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada

Step into Sheri Nicholson’s neatly appointed house and there are all the basic comforts anyone would expect in a place to call home.

A comfy, queen-sized bed. A clawfoot tub in her bathroom. A full-sized stove and refrigerator in her kitchen. Her kitten, Nora, bounces around from the stairs to her loft over to the couch, excitedly nibbling on visitors.

The only difference—and it’s a big one—between Nicholson’s home and others, is that it is small. Really small.

At 260 square feet, this is a “tiny” house.

“It’s just a different way of living in a tiny house,” she says. “Who I am is all in here, which was important to me.”

Nicholson is part of a growing movement in North America towards living in architecturally sound, intentionally designed houses that often measure less than 300 square feet.

Nicholson has invested approximately $40,000 for her home, a lot to be sure, and she has documented the experience via her Facebook page: Ms. Nic’s Tiny House dream.

So why a tiny house?

“Firstly, affordability,” said Nicholson, who works as an educational assistant at Unity Christian. In fact, it was the senior shop class at the school that did the framing for her house.

“I didn’t want to invest in an apartment. For me it’s choice.”

She’s single, a minimalist and she is used to living in smaller space. She once worked as a night attendant at a seniors home where she essentially lived in a 12-foot-by-12-foot room.

And not being able to afford a townhouse or a condo in a neighbourhood where she wanted to be, the tiny house dream was born.

The build started in October 2014 and it took until March 2015 for the school to finish the frame. Then, working on weekends and in the summer, she slowly finished the rest, moving in April 1 of this year.

“The feeling of pride I have with home ownership was a foreign concept to me,” she said. “There is something inside of me that is more settled and I have a sense of peace that was absent until now.”

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Elaine Walker

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