There’s never been a bet­ter time to go tiny

NZ Lifestyle Block - - FEATURE -

What was once the domain of just a few hip­pies liv­ing in run­down car­a­vans scat­tered across the coun­try is now a gen­uine move­ment. Google ‘Tiny House New Zealand’ and you’ll get pages and pages of hits, from Face­book pages set up to con­nect peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in tiny house liv­ing, to build­ing com­pa­nies whose sole fo­cus is tiny houses.

You’ve prob­a­bly no­ticed house prices are in­creas­ing. In 2016, the av­er­age New Zealand house price passed the halfmil­lion-dol­lar mark, and if you’re want­ing to build a new home, it’s a stan­dard cost of $2500 per square me­tre.

It fol­lows that a smaller house will cost less, and tiny houses are less costly for the planet too, us­ing fewer ma­te­ri­als, and cre­at­ing less pol­lu­tion and rub­bish in the process. A 2006 study for North Shore and Waitakere City Coun­cils es­ti­mated that the build­ing and de­mo­li­tion in­dus­tries con­trib­uted around 50% of the to­tal waste stream in New Zealand, so the choices you make re­gard­ing your home – the ma­te­ri­als it’s made from and, above all, its size – are in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant.

One of the rea­sons the con­struc­tion in­dus­try has such a huge en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact is that houses are get­ting big­ger and big­ger. If you built an av­er­age-sized new house in the 1950s, your home would have been about 117m². These days, you’d be build­ing more than 205m². The trend shows no signs of slow­ing down.

While houses have been swelling by an ex­tra 75%, the fam­i­lies in those houses have ac­tu­ally been shrink­ing, with the av­er­age New Zealand house­hold now num­ber­ing one less per­son than in the 1950s.

It makes sense for prac­ti­cal, en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic rea­sons to min­i­mize your house size. Not every­one wants to live in 20m², and some days I’m not sure if even I’d rec­om­mend it, but tiny houses have valu­able lessons for most of us.

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