Kia Ora, I have exciting news! Some of you observant friends and followers may have already noticed what I’m planning, especially as I keep sharing posts like these…
I just wanted to let you all know that I’m going to be super busy over the next few months. I’m currently working fulltime for the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand’s election campaign, and as this is something I’m passionate about, I am putting a lot of my energy in to it. The second reason I’ll be super busy is… I’m building a tiny house! I’ll try my best to post regular updates on the build process as well as the usual waste related blogs.
What is a tiny house?
If you aren’t familiar with tiny houses, they are small houses that are (usually) on a trailer, called a Tiny House On Wheels (THOW). The tiny house movement is very popular in the USA and NZ. Typical housing in NZ is old, cold wooden houses, or new, huge, brick houses. I’m currently flatting in a massive 100-year-old house, the bedroom space is larger than the tiny house will be (our house pictured above; photo: Sophia Brown). I’ve been interested in tiny houses for years, at first thinking they were too extreme but slowly starting to realise it was something I could see myself living in. My tiny house will be 7.2m long by 2.5m wide and 4.25m tall (from the ground)!
Why a tiny house?
Auckland’s housing market is not in a good way. Not only are houses really expensive and hard to buy, but the rental market is also atrocious. Our massive rental house is cold and damp. We are lucky that it is reasonably affordable because the landlords are considerate enough not to put up our rent as the roof continues to leak. We looked briefly at buying in Auckland, but decided it wasn’t for us. 1) we can’t afford anything decent, 2) we’re not wanting a mortgage, 3) we don’t even want to stay living in Auckland long-term. What we wanted was something warm, dry and small that we could call our own. I have lived in approx 23 houses (I’ve lost count), so perhaps you could understand why I want a place of my own.
I have been thinking of building a THOW for quite some time now. I’ve been extensively researching tiny homes for at least a year now, having read every tiny house book Auckland Libraries has (and have even had some on hold for months as the wait list is so long). I have scoured the internet for tiny house blogs and videos. These are some of my favourite tiny house tours (and all from my favourite YouTube channel):
- Creative up-cycled tiny house (USA)
- ‘Lucy’ the cottage style tiny house
- This spacious one with a climbing wall
- Serious reclaimed material building skills
This year I have visited quite a few tiny houses. The first tiny house we saw in person was actually a fluke. I was driving down a random dirt road to a WWOOF host in Raglan, I was reading a tiny house book and looked out the window and spotted a tiny house under construction! We spoke to the builder and owners and had a wander around the house. I’ve been following the builder’s Instagram for updates (it’s nearly finished now).
I visited the Mitre 10 tiny house, with my fellow zero waste friend Candace, and saw George Clarke there too of course. The same weekend another Auckland couple did an ‘open home’ of their very tiny house, PIP.
I then hit up the wonderful Kate & Willem of Building Tiny Auckland on Instagram who kindly showed myself & my friends their tiny build which was still in progress. This is one of my favourite tiny houses, as the layout is really similar to my plans. We had 6 people inside chatting and the space did not feel small at all (with the couch, stairs and kitchen in place too).
We went WWOOFing to work on a tiny house in Hamilton. The guy building it, Everett, is an apprentice builder and is building for himself. Everett took the time to explain a lot to us, so it was a really valuable experience and we are still in contact with him.
A friend recently put us in touch with a couple who were underway with their tiny house build. We got in touch and visited their build, where we spent a solid few hours picking their brain. They had been building for about a year but had done the whole things themselves, and on the cheap using mostly reclaimed materials.
We also went to a Tiny House meetup, which I spotted about an hour and a half before it was due to start! There were about 14 other people there, but we only spoke to about 5 of them (too many people there!). The tiny house community in NZ is growing, and there are now a number of Facebook groups and other resources available, which will make the process easier for us. The main Facebook group, NZ Tiny House Community, has over 4000 members at the time of writing. It’s amazing how much the Tiny House movement is booming in NZ at the moment, so many people I know are aware of THOW’s and either want to build one themselves or know someone building one!
I’ll write another blog post soon about the tiny house plans. At the moment the plans are still a work in progress, and the custom-built trailer is nearly ready (it’s already been registered!). In the meantime, if you are wanting more info/resources on tiny houses in NZ I’ll drop some links below…
For more info on Tiny Houses (NZ):
- DIY House Building
- Wee Make Change
- Living Big In A Tiny House
- Building Tiny Auckland
- Tiny House Living in NZ
- Gina Stephen’s Youtube
P.S if you are an avid reader like I am, please add me on Goodreads, I’m always looking for more book suggestions! And of course make use of your local library, I always have a heap of books out and on hold.
UPDATE: My lovely friend Everett, who has been advising me during the tiny house build, now has his own tiny house business. He is hosting the 2019 tiny house building workshop also. For more info check out his website.