8 THINGS TO MAKE YOUR ROAD TO TINY LIVING SIMPLE
Tiny Living has so much going for it! Many of us crave a less-stressed life. We’d like to ease the financial stresses we carry, the constant busyness, the lack of time for the things and people we love. It can all be too much. Obviously Tiny Houses aren’t the answer to everything, but, they play an amazing part in helping people make lifestyle shifts toward a simpler, happier, healthier, less stressed way of doing things!
Saying that, there are some important, practical things to think through before you make a long term transition to Tiny Living and we wanted to help you get a handle on them so you can make the best decision, and possibly transition, you can possibly make!
Here are 8 things to remember and carefully work through to help you on your way if you’re considering making a Tiny House your longer term abode!
We all collect clutter and hold onto far more than we need, largely because we have the space, in the average Australian house, to store all our excess and, secondly, because we’re too time poor and busy to manage the things we have properly. Unfortunately, with that, comes a heavy mental load. Stuff needs storage, maintenance, organising, up-keep. It becomes messy, dusty and loses value.
If we’re not actually using it, wouldn’t we be far better off selling it so we can invest the value elsewhere, giving it away so someone else can benefit from it or if we must keep it, realise that it would help us to look after it properly and get the most out of it?
Going Tiny will force you through this extremely beneficial process but it’s worth preparing yourself for it because you might have to let go of some things! Saying that, there are also some incredible ways you can be smart with your space, meaning you may be able to keep a few more favourite items than you think!
Sadly, tiny houses don’t come with an attached plot of land, so you’re going to have to find one! One of the best resources we’ve come across for what you need to think through is found here. There are some simple steps to go through and key issues to think through.
Many people are nervous about the council side of things. Be encouraged! We recently had Planning and Development Representatives from our local Port Macquarie – Hastings Council out to see our display model, and they were extremely positive and helpful. Each council is obviously different but a few of the basics you need to know are these:
Legally (at the moment), Tiny Houses are classed as caravans. Therefore caravan legislation applies.
If you want to park your Tiny House on the same block as an existing dwelling and live in it full time, you are free to do so, without any council approval required (more than one tiny house in this situation does require approval). So if you have family or someone you know who is happy for you to park up in their garden, you are legally able to live there in your tiny house without any council approval needed. There are some restrictions on the distances you need to park from fence lines and the primary dwelling and when we get those, we’ll add it into the ‘Tiny Houses and Council Fact Sheet’ we’re working on.
If you would like to park your tiny house rurally, no council approval is needed if you are using it in a ‘weekender’ type capacity and do not stay in it longer than 48 hours at a time or more than 60 days per year. You can also use a tiny house on agricultural land for seasonal workers without approval.
If you are wanting to park your tiny house as a primary dwelling on a farm or block of land, council approval will be required. Make sure you check the zoning of any land you are thinking about leasing or purchasing as the land will need to be zoned for residential. Zoning can of course be changed in some cases but this is often very tricky, costly and time consuming. Choosing land which already has the allowances required will be much simpler. From there councils will look at fire and flood safety, how you are going to handle drainage, sewage and waste and those sorts of issues, all within our and the environment’s best interests!
If this is an area that overwhelms you, feel free to give us a call and we’d be happy to talk with your council regarding your situation on your behalf & give you a hand getting the ball rolling.
#3 WATER SOURCE
Many Tiny Houses, including Häuslein’s Tiny Houses, come standard with a regular garden hose connection (the same as a caravan) so that you can source water simply by connecting a hose. This is great in a built up area or on a rural property which already has water collection.
If you are planning to go off grid and rather remote, this will take some more thought and planning, but we can help! The roof space of a tiny house is obviously very small so water collection solely from the Tiny House for daily use may be inadequate. We normally recommend that if there is a nearby shed or other bigger structure, that this be the primary water collection source. Water can then be pumped from a nearby tank. There are lots of ins and outs depending on the land and situation. Water can obviously also be bought in. Get in contact and we can chat about your situation.
#4 POWER/ELECTRICITY SOURCE
The same as caravans again, many Tiny Houses, including ours, come standard with a regular power point connection so that you can just plug your Tiny House straight into mains power and away you go.
Alternatively, you can go off grid with a solar & battery system. There are some great and very cost-effective systems available which can efficiently run all the appliances, including the very efficient Panasonic reverse cycle air-conditioner we offer as an optional (but recommended) feature!
Just make sure you identify where your power will be coming from and budget for any off grid options! As a very general guide, some of the modest but more than adequate systems we’re installing at the moment cost around $6900.
Drainage and grey water can be one of the last things we think about! But it’s important. In a built up area, a Tiny House can easily have its drainage plumbed into an existing drainage system. Just contact your local plumber, it’s not a big job unless you’re parking a huge distance away.
If you’re going off-grid, drainage will look a bit different and there are various options. Again it’ll be a little case by case but there are great products such as this one available and it’s good to know you’re looking after the environment. Simpler options are also possible, again, depending on your setting. Feel free to get in touch for a chat!
In the same way as with the drainage, it’s not a big deal to have your tiny house flush toilet plumbed into an existing septic system if you’re parking in a built up area. However if you’re going off grid, one of the best products we recommend is a composting toilet such as these. They don’t smell at all and are just so clean and amazing. A very socially and environmentally friendly option! Chemical toilets are also an option if you’re regularly on the move in a smaller tiny house (similar to those in a caravan).
#7 TRANSPORTING & POSITIONING
Another under-thought issue is how you will get your Tiny House into that perfect spot you’ve found! Not all backyards are easily accessible. And neither are all paddocks! Your options are basically to tow it into place or crane it into place (yes, you can crane a tiny house, no problem!).
If you’re in a built up area and you don’t have access to the backyard location you’re thinking would be ideal, a lot of crane companies will provide a free quote. You might be looking at around $3000 for a 4 hour job. Many factors can obviously vary this figure. Also make sure you have a look around for power lines which could present some challenges with craning.
If you’re wanting to park somewhere rurally, be careful to note what the road is like along the way. A Tiny House is actually a pretty big structure to tow. Trees or bridges below 4.4m can present a problem, as can steep hills, slippery gravel roads and bumps. If you’re hoping to park up in a paddock, you’ll have to do some good scouting of the way in. We can help with this so feel free to contact us for guidance.
Also, if you’re having your Tiny House built for you, consider how delivery is going to work. Some Tiny Houses are only 3.5 tonne (like our ‘Little Sojourner’ Model) and can be towed by many 4WDs, but others are up to 4.5 tonne (like our ‘Grand Sojourner Model), for which you’ll need a big American truck such as a Dodge Ram, or a Holden Silverado, or in some cases an old Range Rover rated for heavy towing. You can also organise a trucking company to deliver the Tiny House but be aware that they are likely to leave it on site but may not actually move it into position for you.
An important aspect of customer service for us is offering to arrange delivery for you so that the Tiny House is handled with care and to personally get it properly positioned and levelled for you.
#8 THE RIGHT TINY HOUSE FOR YOU
Obviously, not every tiny house will work best for everyone. There are quite a lot of different designs and options in size, style, layout, quality. You’ll need to consider if you build it yourself or if you contract someone to build it for you? And if so who?
The first thing you want to do as you work through what you want built and who is going to build it, is to clarify your desired use of a Tiny House. Will you live in it long term? Will you use it as a granny flat for family? Rent it out? Air B&B it? Who do you want it to appeal to? How long do you want it to last? Is resale important to you? What design features are most important to you? Who offers those? Can you build the tiny house you’re after yourself and save some cash or would getting some help or out-sourcing the whole project be best? Answering these questions will narrow down your options and help to guide you to the best path for your tiny house needs.
There are an increasing number of reputable Tiny House building companies in Australia who would be more than happy to help and guide you with your venture. Check them out, learn from them, compare what they offer and evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of self-building versus having a company build a Tiny House for you. Some of the key things to think about here are cost, time-frame, quality, road registering and how involved you want to be in the project.
One thing we’d particularly recommend is not skimping on quality. Your Tiny House will last and look beautiful longer, be safer and have higher resale value if you use high quality materials and make sure it’s built to Australian codes and standards. One thing we love is solid timbers. They look beautiful, will last generations, bring warmth, strength and structural durability. They’re also a natural product and healthy, unlike many cheaper, synthetic building materials so common in modern housing.
With time-frames, think about when you want your house ready by, double how long you think it will take you to build it and you might be getting close to an accurate time-frame projection! If you’re doing this project yourself and it’s something you’re somewhat new to, there are so many ins and outs that will take longer than you think. Because of the experience and efficiency in building that Tiny House companies have, if you’re on a tight time frame, they can probably help you meet it more reliably than if you’re doing it yourself.
Cost-wise, sometimes if you can pick up second hand or recycled materials cheap or for free, this can really help you save money on a Tiny House build. Also if you’re doing the work yourself, you don’t have to pay for it elsewhere. The things you want to keep in mind or in balance here though, are that the amount of hours you put in, do actually cost you something. Just evaluate, the cost and value to you of what you’ll be giving up to invest a huge amount of man-hours in a Tiny House building project. Make sure it’s worth it! Also keep in mind that there are times when recycled materials are fantastic, and times they’re not. Be conscious of any quality compromises you make and be sure they’re worth the initial monetary saving in the long run.
Obviously being involved personally in an amazing project like building a Tiny House, or having a whole family or community of people involved, is rewarding, fun and can be a wonderful experience. Again though, just make sure that you’ve got someone on hand who can make sure the quality of the build is up to scratch because this could impact on road-worthiness and registerability. Your well-meaning friends and family might be happy to swing a hammer for free for you but if you have to have it redone later or it doesn’t pass legal inspections, it will only cost you stress and money later.
If you’d like any help weighing up how to best go about a Tiny House build or would like to talk through or ask questions about what’s involved, we’d be more than happy to chat. Contact us by phone or make an appointment to meet with us.
Why We Want to Help
We think the important and beautiful things in life are often neglected in our busy, modern lifestyles. We also think Tiny Houses can play a significant role in changing this! That’s why we’re so passionate about helping people find the best ways forward when it comes to building a Tiny House so they can enjoy the benefits of the simplified, less stressed life that Tiny Living can make possible.
Best wishes for your venture!
The Häuslein Tiny House Team – Scott, Sarah, David & Sam