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The 'chasing-our-tail' race to the tiny build starting blocks
Tiny house progress journal
There seems to be an endless lineup of starting blocks for our tiny house build, small hurdle after small trippable hurdle. But finally, after so many meetings, Sketchup models and 3004 iterations of our floorplan I feel like we’re nearing race-ready. The green light for our build is just around the corner.
I met with our builder Ryan from Base Cabin earlier last week to discuss the finer details – things like wall cladding materials, floors, rooflines, powerpoints and everything else that’s stretching us to meet the 4.5-tonne, 4.3m high road-worthy requirements. We’ve been through it all before I’m sure, but fortunately, he’s not only patient, but he seems quietly confident that our design can in fact be built.
The biggest challenge with designing a tiny house when you’re a ‘designer’ by trade, but not the one trained to ‘make buildings’, is that you have a clear vision for the outer aesthetic and inner workings, but when it comes to putting a structural spine to the build we’re running naked. So today I’m meeting Sam Bell from Bellhaus, an incredibly experienced and knowledgeable building designer. He’s been our mentor, ensuring we won’t flood the bathroom or fall down the stairs on 1am no.1 run, cramp when reaching for the dunny roll or zap ourselves boiling the kettle. I think you get the picture… he’s ensuring all the puzzle pieces fit.
Get the details right
Whether you’re working with a builder or a designer (draftsperson, building designer or architect) for your tiny house, getting the detailing as right as possible is a critical planning step. Skip this and you’ll have a few features of your home that don’t work, or look quite as you expected. Here’s a list of a few worth adding to your list (Thanks Sam):
Floors – how do they finish and connect to doorways and walls?
Windows and doors – how do they connect to the floors and walls?
Kitchen – door design, handle positions, kickboards and bench thickness.
Stairs – aim for more traditional stair proportions, you’ll thank me for this tip!
Bathroom – how are you keeping the water in the shower and out of the wall cavities (water loves to travel)?
External – ensure your smartest-looking cladding is on the visual side of your home, and your deck roof isn’t too high.
Loft (if it’s on your list) – make sure you have sufficient head height to sit up in bed for a morning cuppa (The one brought to you of course).
In the next few years, I’m confident we’ll see more architects and building designers taking on the tiny house build as a serious client commission. This support will mean improvements in approach and design, hopefully without a significant increase in price tag.
Worklife/tiny balance and our build persona
Working full time whilst trying to keep our tiny project humming along certainly has its challenges. In an ideal world, We’d have taken 6 months off to focus on the design and build management. Our timeline would have been significantly shorter, but the cogs of self-employment have only one driver (Quick self-promo plug… check out joshmurray.com.au).
Adriano and I make for a niche tiny house persona profile in that we’re not planning to live in our home full-time. We’re not building it as an Airbnb income stream either. It’s going to be our smaller-footprint country shack.
For many years we’ve dreamed of a block of land in the country to call our own. Not so we can build a McMansion with an Olympic-sized pool, helipad and tennis court. Rather, a minimal footprint dwelling to retreat from the city beat. Somewhere to pause, read and reconnect. Breathe in the fresh air. Grow an heirloom tomato or three and perhaps an olive tree. Dig a few holes. Taking the time to light a fire, gaze at the stars and share stories with close ones.
I know some in the tiny house community may look down on our vision, but we feel very comfortable with our not-excessive dream. Call it our permanently parked campervan. Our city pad is a modest apartment that celebrates Enoughism – a conscious living decision that allows us to close the door and head to our tiny escape without worrying about lawn mowing and gutters.
Right… enough ‘us’ rant! Back to finalising our floorplans.
As always I love hearing from you so please share any questions or feedback below. Thanks for reading!
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