Just down the road from our house there’s a new development – a veritable suburban mansion that’s just about ready for its new tenants. It’s taken about two years from the demolition of the pre-existing house to completion of this new epic abode – and I certainly hope the new neighbours will find it to be all they wished for.
For my part, however, I see it as something of a monstrosity. It fills the block of land almost from edge to edge in all directions and has great big columns out the front. They’ve also painted it a sad shade of grey that, whilst apparently the colour of the moment, I find most unappealing.
Coincidentally, I recently watched a documentary on tiny houses – and they were the cutest, most practical little abodes one could imagine! The tiny house concept is apparently a relatively new one to Australia, largely due to building regulations, but it’s really starting to take off. This is hardly surprising, given the current housing and rental costs!
These little houses are the polar opposite of our local suburban mansion. They tend to be under 40m2 – which is definitely pretty cosy, given that the average house size in Australia is somewhere around 227m2 …which means many of the tiny houses are probably not a lot bigger than some lounge rooms I’ve been in!
So they’re small. But they’re also adaptable (can be moved to a new location if necessary), are relatively low cost to build and maintain (due to size), and are very functional. Starting at a base price of under $30,000 for the tiniest of houses, you can then option up to include any number of convenient extras, such as solar panels, loft space, composting loo, appliances, and so forth – depending on your budget.
What I really fell in love with was the idea of a converted school bus. This one, for example, ticks most of my (all new) tiny house boxes. Really, what’s not to love about this?
There are a few things that need to be thought out carefully before going down this pathway, of course. I’ve listed a whole bunch of them here as they’ve occurred to me, so that we can think about them if we ever take the leap.
- downsizing and dejunking
- general storage to maximise the space and minimise chaos
- deciding whether the tiny house would be on wheels (so that it could be relocated if we chose to move elsewhere)
- where would we park it? (DaugherDearest’s property is starting to sound rather appealing….)
- designing in appropriate lighting, heating/cooling, and sanitation
- then there’s the layout: a loft bed wouldn’t really work for me, so we’d need a cunning plan that wouldn’t involve ladders (or hammocks or stairs)
- the biggest gotcha of all is building/local government approvals, particularly if we buy some land and plan on parking the house on it as our primary dwelling – this would need a lot of attention and could be a right headache!
Further to this, it’s worth having a look at the planning codes for your state to establish what the general rules are – and then following up with some research into local council rules as well. Some councils are coming on board with the idea and I imagine that more will over time.
I think the biggest challenge for us would be to adapt to a compact, tiny lifestyle – because it would mean downsizing in a big way from our current 4×2 (etc.) house. I think I could do it… but Himself is super attached to his workshop and garage and we are midway through a number of renovations on our house… So it’s not a scenario that would play out well for us at present. But who knows what the future holds… so I’ll start keeping an eye out for a retired school bus… and on successful bus-to-tiny-house conversions in Australia.
The council regs can be gotten around by either buying land zoned as rural, or by building a small amenities block on the land as the “dwelling”, and then parking. The “dwelling” could even include workshop space.
Or, of course, you could park at our place. Always welcome <3
PS there are several designs around with fold-down style beds, or gypsy style non-loft beds with storage underneath in the form of drawers.
Thanks for the offer, Danielle – we’ll keep it in mind 🙂 It’ll be interesting to see whether the tiny house idea takes off here as well as it has in the USA. It’s certainly a cost effective housing solution.