I first saw the concept of Tiny Houses on a TV commercial about 3.5 years ago and fell in love with the concept. The idea of building something of your own designed completely for you by you, no mortgage and to possibly live off the grid and away from the hustle and bustle of the busy suburbs, what more could you want?!
Since I was a young girl I have wanted to build my own house. My dad started to build our family home when he was 22 as an apprentice Chef (not a builder), I grew up with a house that was always being added to. At eight years old I used to collect IKEA and interiors magazines and paint shop catalogues… strange kid, I know! Now, I am an interior designer and colour consultant, I think it was meant to be!
When I first saw a Tiny House I was hooked, I researched and planned for about a year and a half. My partner and I drew up more than 100 different floor plans to get the perfect layout. A small and humble dwelling built on a 6m triaxle trailer only 2.4m wide with 3.5m high ceilings and a loft space. We started collecting windows, doors and building materials and I attended weekend courses in off-grid systems and Tiny House seminars. We had a plan and some of the materials and we were ready to go!
It was so scary, but we were very excited! We had the trailer custom made and engineered to hold the weight of the Tiny House, a maximum of 4.2 tonnes, then we had a steel frame made and installed on the trailer. Even though the house is mobile, I designed it’s orientation to reduce the heat in summer but still get warmth in winter.
The high windows are on the south side so they let diffused light in but not too much heat in summer; they also provide gorgeous views of the countryside. The double doors are on the east to let in that lovely morning sun and there are no windows on the west as the house has to be quite exposed due to the solar panels. There is so much light we didn’t want it to feel too closed in and we knew we would be on a larger property, the views are amazing!
We worked every Sunday on our Tiny Home as we all still work full-time jobs. I would source materials during the week so we had all we needed to get on with the job on the weekend. Friends and family would pop over to help and everyone was so supportive and helpful during the whole process. We took the build one step at a time. I learnt so much, like how to use a drill, angle grinder and saw properly and how to measure, cut and fix. I learnt how frustrating building can be when you are exhausted and it seems like you will never finish, but also how rewarding it is seeing everything come together and the end result!
We are two weeks away from the move in date; we are nearly there, a dream come true! We are renting land from horse adjustment property for the house to sit on, which saves us lots of money and gives us the freedom while we are young to travel and enjoy life without the ridiculous pressure young people face of a massive mortgage!
Our Tiny House is made from approximately 70% recycled materials, all the windows, doors, flooring and cabinets are recycled. It is cladded with recycled cedar and the floors are 140-year-old Baltic pine. The copper sinks were custom made by a local coppersmith and the staircase it has eleven different storage compartments. The house is completely off the grid with water tanks, solar panels and battery storage, a composting toilet, a very basic but elaborate greywater system, an LPG gas cooker and hot water.
The house is heated with a miniature woodfire stove from Canada and as for cooling we have strategically placed windows for cross ventilation. Being off the grid was a challenge with lots of research needed, but so worth it in the long run.
Tiny Houses are not for everyone, but I believe the principles of living with less stress, less stuff and more togetherness are so important in today’s society.
Work out what is actually important to you in life. When you are building or renovating consider – do you really need three living spaces and a theatre room, or could you renovate the space you have to in a more functional way?
We can’t wait to move into our tiny dream home and start our next chapter completely in line with our values and with some new skills learnt along the way.
Our Guest Contributor:
A big thank you to Laura Densem for sharing her Tiny House story with us. Laura is an interior designer and colour consultant with years of experience working in the paint industry. You can find out more about her work at www.colourinspirationsanddesign.com.au.
All the best for the move-in-date!