BY: DUSTIN BATTY
One of the most inspiring aspects of the tiny house movement is the sense of community and helpfulness that it promotes. Tiny house builders and residents are often willing to provide advice for others who want to follow in their footsteps. With a series of YouTube videos and an informational website, Robert Johnson, creator of the Esk’et Tiny House bed and breakfast, does just that. He explains the decisions he made when designing and building his own tiny house, and also offers advice for alternative designs for people building under different circumstances.
Creator Robert Johnson standing outside the tiny house that he and his team built.
For example, in a video about laying the floor of his tiny house, Johnson describes the kind of insulation he used and explains that it is necessary for the conditions of his area. Esk’et is the Shuswap name for Alkali Lake, located near Williams Lake, British Columbia. That region can get quite cold in the winter, with temperatures dropping as low as -30 or -40 Celsius. Thus, he explains, the house requires heavier insulation than those built in more temperate regions so the pipes don’t freeze in the winter. He also gives examples of insulation methods that would work for houses on British Columbia’s lower mainland, which is much warmer.
Johnson carved the main door and the rafters above the second entrance.
A journeyman carpenter, Johnson showcases many of the innovative decisions he made when designing the house to make it unique. These include a gable with circular windows, a spiral ladder leading to a sleeping loft with a barreled roof, and carvings on the door and the outer rafters above the second entrance. The building plans for his designs are available on his website, as are a list of benefits to living in a tiny house and links to other tiny house resources, and encouragement for others to join the movement. As the site says, “Small house living is a forward-thinking concept…. It’s about making conscious choices about what we really need in a living space, and simplifying life.”
Johnson gives a tour of the Esk’et Sqlelten Tiny House bed and breakfast.
A member of the Esk’etemc First Nation, Johnson doesn’t only promote tiny houses, but also encourages a greater understanding of the Esk’etemc people. Part of the experience of visiting the Esk’et Tiny House B&B is the opportunity to “tour the traditional territory” of Esk’et, a beautiful area in central British Columbia. At the end of a few of his videos, Johnson includes the translation of some words, encouraging viewers to “Learn some Shuswap!” The first Esk’et Tiny House is called the Sqlelten, which means “Salmon.” The second, their current project, is called Spyu7, which means “Bird.”
Johnson encourages viewers to learn some Shuswap words.
Farwell Canyon is just one of the many beautiful sights to see in the Esk’et area.
Hard workers and community builders, Johnson and his wife, Bettina, are providing a truly inspirational example of how people can use their success to help and encourage others.