200 square-foot "Tiny house" at the National Home Show.

Tiny house the big hit at National Home Show

Affordable, efficient home draws large crowd of curious consumers

It’s becoming dangerously unaffordable to own a semi-detached house in Toronto, according to a recent report. But what about a tiny house?

“We start them at about $40,000 and go up to about $70,000, and that’s for finished models,” said Vic Matthews, owner of Tiny House Construction Company. “The housing market in Toronto is unattainable for a lot of people, so there’s a demand for people wanting to live a little smaller and more affordable.”

The National Home Show is on until March 20 at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place. With over 700 exhibits to explore, one of the longest lines was for one of the smallest spaces: a 200 square-foot “Tiny house.”

“It’s looks a lot bigger than when you get in there,” said condo owner Faye Bourgeois. “The space in the kitchen is more than my kitchen. It seems like it anyway, because of the way they have the storage space set up.”

Vic Matthews, owner of Tiny House Construction Company (with Faye Bourgeois in the background).
Vic Matthews, owner of Tiny House Construction Company (with Faye Bourgeois in the background). (Daniel McKenzie/Toronto Observer)

The house isn’t that much smaller than the 350-square-foot condominium studios that sell for well into the six figures in Toronto.

“One other lady mentioned that the kitchen was bigger than hers too,” Bourgeois said with a laugh. “They made efficient use of every square inch I think.”

The houses are built by Matthews’ original company, Build It Construction, which also does custom home design and renovations.

“We have three different models,” he said. “Each model is customized, so we completely set it up for your lifestyle and it takes about three months to build.”

While Matthews says there are some unregulated areas in Ontario, it’s generally illegal to live full-time in a tiny house. That isn’t stopping people from trying though.

“They’re building tiny house communities now,” he said. “One outside of Ottawa, one outside of Kingston, and they’re looking at other areas like Barrie. Some trailer parks allow them and some people are leasing land off farmers and setting up shop.”

Matthews estimates about 4,000 people per day have lined up to view the tiny house. The massive “Future Dream Home” exhibit on the other hand didn’t have much of a crowd at all.