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Tiny house on the Prairie

Shelby Theveno
Special to the herald leader
Folding up the kitchen table, putting the dishes away in the stairs, cleaning the compost toilet and taking a seven minute hot shower before curling into bed with your partner and beloved pets. Living green, minimalist, and mortgage-free. There is no place like a tiny house.
Janelle Lachappelle (22) and Zach Houle (25) are Portagers who are joining the tiny house movement. Since the start of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company in 1999, many young couples have been building tiny homes as a cheaper alternative to buying a traditional house. Some choose to downsize their lives in an attempt to live more simply, spending their money on experiences rather than possessions. Many believe it is more ecologically friendly and are attracted to a completely off-the-grid lifestyle.
For Janelle and Zach, the choice to go tiny was the result of their love for travel and need for flexibility in their uncertain lives.
“We don’t know exactly what we want to do with our lives yet or where we want to settle down,” Janelle explained.
They do not know where they are going to park it after they finish the final stages of construction, but for now it resides beside Janelle’s grandfather’s house in St. Ambroise. They plan to park the Tiny House at any RV park with hookups until they can go completely off-grid.
To avoid being tied down by a mortgage, Janelle and Zach are building their new home and paying it off paycheck-to-paycheck. To cut costs and in an attempt to be environmentally conscious, they used as many reused building materials as possible. They did not compromise costs on the trailer, windows or the insulation that will keep them and their three pets warm in the winter. Taking into account these costs that tiny home owners in California don’t have to worry about, Janelle and Zach still estimate that the entire house will cost less than half the price of a standard house in Portage.
Furthermore, they got to customize the build. With the helping hands of their friends and family, Janelle and Zach learned carpentry skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.
“My blood is literally in the walls of that house,” commented Zach.
They are going to miss long showers, and a flush toilet, they are going to have to get rid of some of their clothes, but Janelle and Zach agree, “It’s worth it.”
As Janelle searches for a place to do her post-secondary education, and as both of them have a case of gypsy feet, the one thing they can count on is that no matter where they go, they have a home.



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