Hello Tiny Lovers!

It has been a while since my last blog. So much has happened since the last post that I’m not sure where to start. Wow, what a year! Ups and downs, swings and roundabouts. Never have I had a year so personally challenging, so sweet, so bitter, and yet so inspiring on the tiny front. This post is going to be a bit of a mixer: an update and a slightly different style than my previous posts. A lot to share so here goes. 

Here are the cliff notes (both personal and tiny related):

Itty Bitty –

My first tiny build happened, with blood, sweat, and – yes – tears, but we got there eventually. I love her!

Although not a full tiny house, more like a tiny camper, my first DIY was hard work and I had a lot of help and support from people with professional skills. This build taught me some valuable lessons.

1. Build close to home! I live in Melbourne, and built in Colac – What was I thinking?! Not building close to home adds substantially to the expenses, energy, stress and effort for all involved. Suggestion: be smarter than me.

2. Work with people who say what they mean, and mean what they say. I cannot tell you much unnecessary stress was due to this one element. Sure, everyone needs to be flexible, but being organised and working with reliable people makes all the difference to the process.

3. Recycled materials require a much higher level of skill to use and can consume much more time and energy. Preloved products are not always the most cost-effective way to go, even if you do collect for almost two years beforehand like I did. I am all for recycling and upcycling, but when racing the clock and for the inexperienced, straight lines do help a lot!

4. When it comes to structural elements, if unsure of the stability of the recycled material, it is better to err on the side of caution. The original target was 75% recycled and upcycled materials, but we ended up below the mark at 63% to ensure safety. A compromise I was comfortable with.

5. What works for a standard house build doesn’t always work for a tiny, and following your instinct is a good thing. I made the mistake of assuming a professional builder knew more about how to build a THOW than I did, despite all my research. I could have saved us a lot of time and headaches had I not second-guessed myself, and asked more questions earlier on. Thankfully we had the collective skills/knowledge to work through the unexpected challenges, but I won’t be so shy in coming forward again.

6. Underestimating timeframes is another rookie error. It took us nine weekends, loads of sleep deprivation, and more coffees than could be considered healthy, and our original timeframe had flown by. Sure, we didn’t have all expected hands on deck, but even if we had, our original timeframe (just four weekends – FOUR!) was naive, to put it mildly. On top of full-time jobs, my work with Tiny Non Profit, and all our other commitments, building even a tiny tiny in a month was a crazy idea. Did I not expect us to eat or sleep?! Pure madness.

Suggestion – Before, I would have said double the expected build time but now, I lean more towards saying triple it if it is your first. I had built a tiny in a 5-day workshop before, but that was under the guidance of someone very experienced. Not a good reference point if you don’t have the tiny house builder at hand. If you finish early, bonus! More time to enjoy your tiny. If not, then you have your buffer, and buffers are so often underrated.

Would I do it again? Maybe, maybe not. I love being on the tools, and I enjoyed creating and problem-solving, but Itty Bitty was no walk in the park. The circumstances would have to be spot on for me to consider it. Close to home, the right team, more time, etc.

The design for the larger tiny home is far more complex. I think I will employ professionals for the next build as more engineering and electrical is required. Plus, if wanting insurance, going professional is the easiest way. I will get on the tools go (it’s fun!), but I think I’ll work on the internal design elements for the next one.

Tiny Solutions

Next up, and straight off the back of Itty Bitty, Our first Tiny Non Profit event.

Tiny Solutions at Melbourne Knowledge Week, hosted by Melbourne City Council, allowed us the opportunity to exhibit three beautiful tiny homes, one by Tiny House 2 Go, one by Tiny Footprint, and the third by Rob Scott for Big Tiny. Tiny Solutions was a collaborative event involving many tiny house industry leaders. The event was designed to educate the public and decision-makers alike. Despite being a complete washout the first day, and by washout, I mean flooded, the event was very well received with thousands of people coming to view the tiny homes and listen to our panel of experts speak — a great turn out!

Tiny House Community Garden

While preparing for Tiny Solutions, we received a very generous offer from a local community member in St Kilda. The proposal was the use of some land for a Tiny Non Profit project, a Tiny House Community Garden.

With the help from Permablitz crew, and the support of Tiny House 2 Go, and the generosity from some kind-hearted volunteers, we quickly got to work after Tiny Solutions getting a plan together for the Tiny House Community Garden to submit to Port Phillip Council and to apply for the Pick My Project Grant.

Unfortunately, we missed out on the grant by not many votes for our sector, but the money went to other worthy causes, so we weren’t too disheartened. Still, we do need to secure more funding, so if anyone is looking to support a great project financially, you know where to find me.

I’m happy to say that the response from Port Phillip Council has been positive, and we are just waiting on one last element from Council to move the project forward. Our project has been a challenging one for them to place, given it is the first of its kind, but hopefully, we will have the green light to take the project to the next level soon. In the meantime, the vacant block is getting cleaned up, the Tiny Non Profit is gathering resources, community support, and we continued to have in-kind donations of support and materials the project. In May, international artist, My Dog Sighs, created the first artwork for the garden and it is beautiful! If you look closely, you will see the outline of a row of tiny houses in the eyes. Neat right?!

By My Dog Sighs

And then, a bomb! (the personal bit I warned you about)

Shortly after the Pick My Project campaign came to a close, I found out my mother had cancer. Unfortunately, mum was too far gone for the doctors to assist, so she opted to stop her dialysis and took her own life. We said our goodbyes a little under a year ago. Having just lost my Godmother, and having both my mums go in such a short period, I was heartbroken. Though not a unique tragedy, it can be a brutal experience, and it certainly took the wind out of my sails.

Shortly after, the second bomb hit. Entirely out of the blue, as if my body was pulling out a “stop” sign, I became really unwell with a mysterious illness. Doctors went looking for all kinds of scary stuff. As you can imagine, I was more than just a little concerned. Thankfully, the Doctors found the issue earlier this year and I’m fighting fit again. Actually, better than fine. I have my Tigger bounce back again, and I’m back in full swing doing what I love.

The combination of the above, my world did a 180 and, honestly, tiny blog posts weren’t up there as a priority for a little while. I have to say I was surprised by the tiny house community’s support and kind-hearted enquires. People close to me noticed my energy drop off but, to my surprise, some people from the tiny house community did as well and took the time to check in and see how I was going. The support moved me. It’s lovely to know that the work connects with people. Thank you!

Anyway, enough of all that emotional stuff. Back to the bigger picture and tiny news. What’s happening in the tiny world now? So much!

The US is still leading the charge with laws starting to be changed and more tiny home and tiny house villages popping up.

Here at home:

The Victorian State Government has opened a consultation on the Caravan Parks and Movable Dwellings Regulations, with a set to start addressing some challenges around tiny houses. Submissions have now closed, and it has progressed to the policy development stage. Thank you to all those who took the time to make a submission and share your views.

Here in Vic, Jan Stewart from the Tiny Non Profit is pushing ahead Tiny Homes Sweet Homes project for the homeless in Castlemaine. Go Jan! Contact Jan if you are keen to support.

More tiny house businesses are popping up everywhere, meaning more choice for the tiny home buyers market.

The Australian Tiny House Association is starting to pick up steam and have not long appointed a new President, Ric Butler. A great man, with a newly well-formed team of tiny experts behind him. After having a year to lay the groundwork and build a great group of volunteers, they are now hard at work developing more information and resources. One to watch.

Kellie from the Tiny Homes Foundation is continuing to do brilliant work creating houses for the homeless and for those at risk of becoming homeless. Having proven that the Tiny Homes Foundation model works, Kellie has set her sights on a new demographic but needs support to roll out her solution. Get behind that one if you can.

Grant and the team from Designer Eco Tiny Homes sold their 100th tiny home, and are still building more. Congratulation to Grant and Co!

Last year saw over double the number of tiny house events than the previous year, and with 39 events already scheduled for 2019 (more than last year already) numbers are looking like doubling again this year. This is excellent news for those wanting to see a tiny up close or educate themselves before going tiny. See Tiny Events for a list of events in your area.

Media coverage is becoming more common, and tiny homes will feature for the second year running at the Home Show, both in Melbourne and Sydney. Tiny houses are now touring trade fairs and exhibiting in a variety of forums, from tech, through to glamping and off-grid festivals.

There’s movement in WA around accommodating tiny homes. Check the article out here.

The conversation around tiny homes in Australia has changed dramatically over the last 18 months, going from “what is a tiny house?”, to “what’s in the way?” and “how can we make it happen?” and it looks like the conversation is set to continue evolving. Exciting times!

More resources are now available, for both DIYers and buyers, including a nationwide interactive log of how councils are responding to tiny homes.

Please be sure to contribute if you have any relevant information/resources to add. Every bit helps. Click here to get in contact if you have any resources to share.  

Lastly, and most importantly, I want to say thank you to all the solutions-focused people for putting in the effort to help change the landscape for tiny homes here in Australia. With so much activity, the collective result of everyone’s action is, from my perspective, making a real difference. So, if you do not hear this elsewhere, your time, effort and energy are very much appreciated. Thank you!

A big update, I know. Back to a more topic-focused style for the next post.

Until next time, happy building Tiny Lovers!

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