“It’s exciting to be a part of the tiny home movement. I wouldn’t say it’s a movement anymore. It is here and it is not going away,” states Heather Fritz, Co-Founder of Fritz Tiny Homes in an exclusive interview with Homecrux. Heather and her husband Kevin quit their respective jobs in 2019 and started building tiny homes. In 2020, they launched their first-ever showcase tiny house on wheels and since then, there’s been no looking back for the Edmonton-based couple.
They’ve built multiple tiny homes by 2023 but their studio Fritz tiny homes hit popularity after their first semi-custom model, the 28-feet Halcyon tiny house broke the internet. Receiving a lot of acclaim for its design and space management, Halcyon was inspired by the mythical bird named Halcyon that creates a nest in the midst of turbulent waves and raises a family right there. “We thought that we want our homes to be in the midst of our world, that peacefulness, and an oasis. So that’s where Halcyon came.” Heather tells us.
But Fritz Tiny Home story is not just limited to Halcyon, they’ve built many other tiny houses on wheels with the likes of Baldwin, Trahan, Macdonald and Fritz. Heather takes care of the management and sales aspects while Kevin is the one involved in designing the layout, from the floor plans to the space-saving interior. The couple also has four children who can be spotted having fun. Showering praises for her husband, Heather tells us, “Kevin’s design brain and how he thinks is such a problem solver. He’s an inventor who just loves designing. No is very often not in Kevin’s vocabulary.”
During the video chat with Homecrux, Heather also speaks on an array of topics ranging from the challenges of living in a bus home and the hurdles involved in building a tiny house in Canada to tiny home design and legalization in Canada. Watch full interview below.
Challenges of Building a Tiny House in Canada
There’s a really good tiny house movement going on in Canada. There are a lot of strong builders in the industry but the challenges remain the same. Speaking on the hurdles involved in building a tiny house in Canada, Heather states, “We want our homes to be fit. I don’t want anybody going tiny and not having their full life in it. It’s not a fad. It’s not something for just a year.”
Further opening up on the challenges involved in building a tiny house in Canada, Heather says, “Being a Canadian builder, we build for minus 40 Fahrenheit and, and colder. And it’s like if you get into a tiny home and you’re in a climate that it’s not designed for, you have pipes freezing and you’ve got a cold floor that’s miserable living. And so for us, it’s not only the design, but for us, it’s the building science and match so that these homes can be efficient in some of the harshest climates.
Living In a Bus Home
Prior to building tiny houses, Heather and her husband used to live in a bus home. The Fritz Co-Founder talks about her experience, “My husband and I got a piece of land when we were engaged and we wanted to build our dream home in the country. And we knew that was a big deal. So we took an Edmonton City bus that a friend had purchased at an auction and we gutted it and made it into a home. When you look at old pictures, this was nothing compared to what we build now. It was very primitive. It didn’t have heat and things like that. We lived in it all summer and through the fall while we started breaking ground on our home. And we absolutely loved it.”
She further states, “It was minimal. It saved us so much money on rent, and it was just the experience of being together in a small space, newly married, and just the sense that we had everything we needed. It also facilitated us to get out into the country and start living off of the land, which was something that was really important to Kevin and me. We lived in that bus and then we moved into a garden suite.
Shifting to a Garden Suite
Heather also took us through her experience of living in a garden suite and explains the reason that gravitated her to do so. “The bus home didn’t have good heat or insulation. We hadn’t put that effort into it because it wasn’t going to be a long-term solution for us. It was just kind of more like an interim solution and we needed to live somewhere while the house was complete. And Kevin’s parents had a garden suite above their garage, and it was a music studio at that time, and we converted it and finished it for them and lived in it for about one and a half years,” she stated.
Heather adds, “It was another way for us to save money and to consolidate what we needed. And just kind of continue that small space living which we were loving at that time. It really served a bigger purpose for us. It’s so crazy that we then come back to it as a builder like 12 years later which we would’ve never had imagined in those years that we would then be building small spaces, that many years.”
The Inception of Fritz Tiny Home Studio
Heather states, “We started out as a fully custom builder. We were building our house in the country. Kevin designed it himself and did everything in that build. During that time Kevin got a job with a high-end custom curve stair and railing company in Edmonton. He was designing masterpiece staircases and they were being flown all over the world. Kevin loves to create and has a real understanding of high-end fit and finish. So, we decided to start something together and get into business.”
“We’re that couple that honestly enjoys working together and we were getting tired and frustrated with our jobs and the fact that we were designing and building somebody else’s company and it was time for us to do it ourselves. So, we took out a line of credit, quit our jobs, and built the first tiny house, and that was the Fritz. It was a huge risk to just jump into an industry and build something hoping that there was a buyer on the other end. And there was eventually, and we just started our business.
“So we just started sharing our story on Instagram and Facebook as we built that first home. And so the Fritz was Kevin’s vision for Tiny Living: A luxury high-end, ingenious way of using space and storage and all that kind of stuff. We build a number of tiny houses after that for all custom clients.”
Building Custom Home
Heather also gives us a deep dive into tiny house design and the challenges involved in building a custom home. She states, “It takes a very long time to build a custom home. You’re doing a full design of every last inch of that cabinetry. Every product is designed specifically and brought in specifically for that build. It’s also expensive to do.”
“I was just every day picking calls of people that were like, I love what you guys see in tiny homes and your design, and how do I get on the list? And so that’s when we thought, what if we tried to design something with an ideal client in mind that maybe would meet a lot of the needs in the movement where it doesn’t need to be a fully custom home and that was the birth of Halcyon,” she states.
Heather further told us, “It takes a very, very long time to build a custom home. You’re doing a full design of every last inch of that cabinetry. Every product is designed specifically and brought in specifically for that build. And so it takes a long time. It’s also expensive to do. Like a custom where everything is unique like that. And we had so many people that we were turning away and just saying, you know, we had a custom waitlist.”
“I was just every day picking calls of people that were like, I love what you guys see and in tiny homes and your design, like, how do I get on the list? And it’s like, do you keep a list that’s like two years out? And so that’s when we thought, you know what, maybe there’s something to this. What if we tried to design something with, an ideal client in mind that maybe would meet a lot of the needs in the movement where it doesn’t need to be a fully custom home and that was the birth of Halcyon,”
Halcyon Tiny House
Measuring 28 feet in length, the Halcyon tiny house features an open living room on the ground floor. Equipped with a convertible couch that turns into a bunk bed when sleeping, Fritz makes the most of limited space. Natural light kisses the interior of the house courtesy of the glass entrance door. Additionally, there are multiple large, fiberglass windows throughout the house.
The Halcyon tiny house features a fully equipped kitchen with a dining area, which serves as a workspace and boasts a concrete countertop with plenty of under-storage. A three-burner stove with an oven, a microwave, and tons of storage are available. Not to mention a customizable bathroom, which can be equipped with either a shower or a bathtub. There are stairs in the ground unit which lead to the main sleeping area of the tiny house.
“Halcyon 01, we put out as a rendering and we sold eight of them. And so we nailed a bit of a floor plan, having taken all that we had learned in custom building and applying a lot of uniqueness to that build. Then from Halcyon 01, we went to Halcyon 02, as we felt there was a need for a flex room (music studio, home office, a dropdown Murphy bed),” Heather informs.
Speaking on the future of the company, she stated, “We’re finalizing the renderings on Halcyon Stay and Halcyon Luxe, and that will be four semi-custom set floor plan units. So yes, there’s a lot of choice within the floor plan. Our clients get to choose wood species, fixtures, a tub, and a shower. We also provide them with a choice of what utility package they want for their home. Whether it’s full off-grid solar, features a flush toilet or a waterless toilet. So, it’s completely customizable.” Fritz Tiny Home would be releasing two more models this year.
Tiny House Movement And Legalization In Canada
“All of our units are certified to both the Canadian and the US standard. Tiny Homes in Canada is a great organization that is putting together a full land directory, all across Canada where you can live in a tiny house. An RV park down to a community, to leasing land, to buying land, and what municipalities are open to that. And it’s an ongoing list that they’re building for our country, which is awesome,” states Heather.
Also Read: Interview with Manuel Kohout, Founder Vagabond Haven
Customization Demands From Customers
“People want a loft that they don’t have to crawl into. They want stairs that are quite traditional with a handrail, easy access, and a full kitchen. Some want a normal fridge, while others want a fridge with a freezer. Then there are folks who want to be able to do baking. We receive demands where people want space for yoga. Storage is another aspect that people are looking for. Another high need is a lot of digital workers are looking for a place to work within the home that is comfortable. And so for us, it’s not only the design but the building science and match so that these homes can be efficient in some of the harshest climates,” Heather concludes.
We’d like to thank Heather Fritz for taking time out of her busy schedule and wish her more success and good health.