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Tiny house workshop shows Kelowna residents how to downsize

The three-day workshop taught students the basics of building a tiny house
Kelowna is the fourth stop on Kenton Zerbin’s tour across the country. (Kenton Zerbin photo)

A sustainable building advocate is trying to encourage Kelowna residents to downsize through his tiny house workshop.

Kenton Zerbin has been living in an off-the-grid tiny house for seven years. He has travelled all around the world studying permaculture, the art of living sustainably with nature and has been an educator since the beginning of his career. When the pandemic hit, he was forced to move his sustainable living classes online and discovered a new passion in the process.

“I enjoyed learning how to make videos. After the online course was made, I thought, ‘Well, I still can’t teach in person, so I may as well keep working in the video world,’” said Zerbin. “And so we made a reality show.”

The Tiny House Master Plan documents the start to finish process of constructing and designing a state-of-the-art tiny home. The first season shows the team building the tiny home from the trailer up. The second season will be a “tighter” season, said Zerbin and will show audiences the furnishing and design of the home. Then, the team plans to take the home across the country on a nationwide tour.

“It has a theatre stage that drops down from the back of it, so we can actually do concert events and workshop events with people doing a drive-up movie theatre experience,” said Zerbin.

After the tour, they will be giving away the tiny house to a subscriber of their YouTube channel.

This is the tiny home that will be give away after the second season of the show airs. (Kenton Zerbin photo)

Zerbin hasn’t let his reality show halt his passion for teaching. Over the weekend, he gave Kelowna residents a crash course in the ins and outs of living tiny by hosting a workshop.

“A lot of people are excited [about tiny houses], but they want to learn a little more,” said Zerbin. “The course is meant to be a crash course. To really help them [the course takers] learn what they are about to get into if they are considering building a tiny house.”

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During the three-day course, participants learned how to design a tiny house to suit their needs, live legally in a tiny house and the steps in constructing a tiny house.

Adrien, a participant in the weekend workshop, has been passionate about sustainability since he was a kid. He said he would “definitely consider” living smaller, but he feels that the City of Kelowna needs to help out tiny home hopefuls.

“City council needs to get involved to change the zoning to make tiny homes more accessible,” he said.

Tiny homes may also help create more space for Kelowna renters, at an affordable price.

“It is very expensive to develop a new neighbourhood,” Zerbin said. “But to allow a secondary suite, or whether that’s RV parking in the back or an Auxiliary Dwelling Unit, a permanent tiny house … that offers the ability for more residents to be in the city.”

While tiny homes aren’t for everyone, there are definitely some indisputable benefits that house owners may not have considered.

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The essence of a tiny home is quality over quantity. This shines through in the high-end finishes present in many tiny homes, despite their full cost being less than the down payment of the average home.

“I got my dream house in an affordable way,” said Zerbin. “It allows me to live the life I want and not work a 40-hour workweek for a job I don’t want.”

For anyone interested in a tiny home, Zerbin has a few pieces of advice.

“Do a lot of research,” he said, chuckling. “It’s fine to look at dream pictures and see them on Pinterest and watch the shows, but if you get your heart set on something that isn’t allowed, that can be quite soul-crushing.”

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