A mix of necessity, HGTV and curiosity led to the first tiny home in Fort Chipewyan, Alta.
It’s occupied by a family of three: Kerri Ceretzke, Mike Mecredi and their two-year-old daughter Jaylah.
The family started looking for a home after Ceretzke quit her job as Athabasca Delta Community School’s principal, in the hamlet north of Fort McMurray.
The family was living in a three-bedroom house provided by the school. When they ventured out to find a new home, the options were limited.
Mercredi said there were few properties available and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation didn’t have anything for the family.
He said they were on the band’s housing list for about four years, but hadn’t had any luck.
Then Ceretzke had an idea.
She’s watched shows about tiny houses on HGTV for the past several years.
“I was pretty game to do it,” said Ceretzke. But her husband took a little more convincing.
They found an $85,000 tiny home for sale in Sherwood Park, and drove down to take a look.
“When I first seen the house I was like, ‘No, no, no, no,'” said Mercredi. But after he walked in the unit and took a look around his opinion flipped.
“Within 30 seconds my mind was changed.”
He said the 216-square foot home doesn’t feel that small because it has a high ceiling.
They drove the house up to Fort Chipewyan using the winter roads in a 19-hour journey and parked the house on Mercredi’s parent’s property.
Ceretzke said they had to get rid of most of their belongings in the move; they had a garage sale, donated items to the Salvation Army and kept some things in storage, like Star Wars Action figures and guitars.
“The only thing I wouldn’t part with is my espresso machine,” Ceretzke said with a laugh. The one thing she is struggling with is choosing what art to keep in the house, and what to part with.
“I enjoyed all my art for many years, so it’s just a matter of what the next stage of life is for that art.”
She said the family is saving money on heat and water, as well she’s not buying as many non-essentials because they don’t fit in the house.
“It definitely has made us rethink our consuming habits.”
Mercredi said he’s been adjusting well, because he spent a lot of his youth in a cabin, and he’s used to living in a small space.
The one thing he doesn’t like is sleeping in a loft bed, because he has to crawl into bed.
Their daughter is adjusting nicely as well, and she has been known to kiss the walls of the home and tell the house, “I love you.”
Ceretzke said there has been a huge amount of community interest in the house and many people have done slow drive-bys to take a look.
As well, kids in the community will come in on their bikes to see the tiny home.
Ceretzke has promised that as soon as they are completely settled in they will invite the community out to see the house.