Finding Freedom With a Pair of Mono Minis

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Just 20 minutes south of Nakusp, B.C., on an acreage by the lake, the Herlitz family has found home. It’s not a traditional, one building home, with a peaked roof and three bedrooms, but for Jesse and Candice Herlitz, and their kids, it gives them everything they need.

From the suburbs of Seattle to the mountains of B.C.

Today, the kids run freely under trees, and by the shore of Upper Arrow Lake with their mother, while their father works. But it wasn’t always this way. Just a few years ago, the family was trapped in a small home, with a postage stamp backyard in Seattle, Washington. 

In many ways, they were living the American Dream – they owned a home in a great city, had a growing family, and Jesse had a solid job in software design and management. But, as it turned out, the American Dream wasn’t their dream. So, they sold their house, bought an Airstream, and hit the road to see America. After a summer of travelling, they returned to Seattle, but not to stay.

Jesse had a job offer in Victoria B.C., Canada, so the family packed up their Airstream and headed out once again – this time for the Great White North. Because Jesse was able to work remotely, the family had a lot of freedom when choosing where they would move. After travelling around their new country, the family settled near Nakusp, a village on the shores of Upper Arrow Lake, about 600 km north-west of Vancouver B.C., Canada.

Here, they parked their Airstream and settled in. Though their time living together in the trailer had been fun, they wanted to expand their living area after settling down. So, they began to look around for pre-fab modular buildings to create a home on their new property. After a few false starts with some other companies, the Herlitz’s found DROP Structures and fell in love with their Mono Minis.

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Getting back to nature

When the Herlitz’s made their move, one of their greatest desires was to get out of the city and closer to nature. Before they had left Seattle, Candice was leading nature walks with her friends, and those quiet times out of the city had become very important to her, and by extension, to the rest of the family.

We wanted to able to let our kids run around outside, have space for dogs and stuff like that. That was really important.
— Jesse Herlitz

The land on Upper Arrow Lake was perfect, but it also made it harder, and more expensive to get the dwelling they wanted – especially in a new community where they didn’t know anyone.

But with DROP Structures, they knew each unit would be plug and play, unlike many other pre-fab builders. This way, Jesse didn’t have to assemble his own home, or hire someone to come in and put it all together. In one day, him and the family could enjoy a well designed home — off the beaten path.

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A design-first ethos

The pair first fell in love with the Minis based on their design, and aesthetic. They had spent some time looking around for a structure that would satisfy the designer in Jesse, and the aesthetics Candice liked, but they hadn’t found anything that met their requirements.

You know, a lot of people can build a tiny house, but not a lot of people can really do something that’s well-executed. It takes some very practical, technical skills to actually pull off a good design. And I think it also just is really difficult to say no to a million things in order to come up with something as well refined as what they have.
— Jesse Herlitz

So when they saw DROP Structures, it was love at first sight.

Though they added a couple, custom touches to the pair of Monos they ordered, the floor-plan and materials are all mostly stock, despite being used for drastically different uses. For one of the Monos, Jesse and Candice are building bunk beds to create a bedroom for their children, while the other is being used as a home office for Jesse.

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Debt-free living

The design of the Monos first caught Jesse and Candice’s eye, but it wasn’t the only requirement they had for their home.

Back in Seattle, the pair had felt trapped by their home – glued to the place by a mortgage that seemed endless. Though they loved their new property, they didn’t want to fall into that same trap. 

The sale of the house in Seattle had allowed them to buy the land debt-free, but it wouldn’t cover the construction of an entirely new building.

“We had some money from the sale of our house in Seattle. And we were going to have to get a loan for $30,000 to build a house out here,” Jesse said. “But, Candice said, no, we're not doing that.” 

So, the pair rethought the situation, looking through different options until they found pre-fab structures, and DROP Structures.

“We decided to do Minis, and it was a lot easier.”

Future plans for an added Duo

With a pair of Mono Minis adding to the family’s home, there’s plenty of space for the whole family to roam. But, this set up is also a work-in-progress.

Currently, Jesse and Candice sleep in the Airstream. But, the pair are hoping to move out so they can convert it into an Air BnB and share their piece of paradise with the world. To do that, they’re saving up for a Duo that would function as a master bedroom for the couple, as well as a main meeting/eating area.

But it’s not just the Herlitz’s who are looking into ordering some more DROP Structures. More than a few of Jesse and Candice’s friends back in the USA saw the two Minis and have made inquiries to see if a DROP Structure is right for them.

For now, though, Jesse and Candice are more concerned with settling into their new Mono Minis and really getting to know their new land.

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Jordana Gagnon