Life in a tiny house

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By LAUREN PRI­EST­LEY

WHAT do you do if you can’t af­ford a house in Auck­land?

Why not build a minia­ture one?

The tiny house move­ment has been gath­er­ing world­wide mo­men­tum since 2010 and it could be one an­swer to Auck­land’s hous­ing short­age, ad­vo­cates say.

Bryce Langston, 29, is in the first stages of build­ing his own tiny home with his part­ner Melissa Nick­er­son.

It’s all about own­ing a home, be­ing debt-free and sim­pli­fy­ing life, he says.

A cus­tom-built trailer for the base of the house is un­der con­struc­tion and the cou­ple hopes to have the whole build com­plete by May 2015.

The home will be kit­ted out with state-of-the-art fit­tings such as planted walls, three so­lar pan­els and a com­post­ing toi­let.

Just be­cause it is small doesn’t mean it can’t be beau­ti­ful, the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist says.

‘‘We’re do­ing a lot to make it a beau­ti­ful lit­tle house – not a car­a­van.’’

Langston says there are only a hand­ful of tiny houses around Auck­land but he’s ex­pect­ing the move­ment to take off very soon.

The aver­age price for a tiny DIY-build is about $30,000 and the smaller size means bet­ter ma­te­ri­als at a lower cost, he says.

Langston and Nick­er­son will use their house for work and travel ac­com­mo­da­tion which will cut down costs even more.

They live on the North Shore but the tiny house is por­ta­ble, so they could live any­where, Langston says.

‘‘There’s a lot of people that do feel help­less at the mo­ment. I think own­ing our own home is some­thing we have to fight for here. I heard about tiny houses and got re­ally ex­cited about it – that was a sleep­less night.’’

Tiny house owner Lucy Reade says liv­ing in a ‘‘quirky’’ lit­tle house gives people an­other op­tion.

Her house was orig­i­nally a truck and is now per­ma­nently sta­tioned in Glen Eden.

‘‘Cedric’’ is rented out as a hol­i­day home and a lot of people try it out when they’re look­ing at their own build, she says.

‘‘A lot of people do al­ready man­age in those smaller spa­ces, like sleep-outs, we just don’t call them tiny houses. Cedric has this sort of cute, quirky el­e­ment.’’

Greg Pow­ell is a part­ner in a com­pany that sells var­i­ous tents in­clud­ing tipis and yurts. He says the term ‘‘tiny houses’’ has only re­ally been used in New Zealand in the last few months.

Two of their yurts were granted coun­cil con­sent in Golden Bay last month to be per­ma­nent dwellings – a big step which could lead to a build­ing boom, Pow­ell says.

‘‘As hous­ing has be­come more ex­pen­sive we’ve started to get more and more en­quiries from people who want to live in them full­time.’’

Get­ting coun­cil con­sents is the big­gest ob­sta­cle, he says.

A lot of people with cre­ative hous­ing al­ter­na­tives ‘‘fly un­der the radar’’ so the move­ment is ac­tu­ally much big­ger than people think, Pow­ell says.

‘‘I think a lot more people would be mak­ing a lot more re­ally cre­ative tiny houses if it wasn’t so daunt­ing with the per­mit process.’’

Photo: MELISSA NICK­ER­SON

Cosy spot: A lot can be done with a small space. The in­te­rior of ‘‘Cedric’’, owned by Lucy Reade.

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