Imagine trying to fit an entire home into a building with less than 40sq/m of internal floor space – approximately the size of one or two typical Australian bedrooms. Would you do it?
Because more and more people around the world are doing it, including in Australia, provided they can get past the red tape.
What are the benefits of tiny houses in Australia?
Tiny houses, especially when mobile, can be an alluring prospect. Simple, sustainable and sometimes off-the-grid, they become a refuge, a conduit, a means to a different way of life.
Less is more. This philosophy is embodied in tiny house living. Less space, definitely; but also fewer costs, lower maintenance and minimal energy consumption. Thanks to utilities like composting toilets, solar energy and rainwater collection, tiny houses can be quite self-sufficient.
The Tiny House movement actually began under quite pressing circumstances. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in the State of Louisiana, USA in 2005, over 70% of occupied housing in the area was devastated. The need for affordable, self-sustaining houses became critical. Necessity, as always, is the mother of invention.
There are many different types of tiny houses – from casual, rustic styles with wooden exteriors to upcycled shipping containers. There’s a tiny house for everyone who wishes to reap the benefits of a clutter-free, minimalist lifestyle. So let’s review the expected, and unexpected, benefits of tiny houses that you may not have considered.
Reduced Costs of Living
An increase in population combined with an ever-increasing housing tax, mortgage costs and high-interest rates are making tiny houses an appealing option for many Australians. Buying a house without a mortgage is almost impossible for most Aussies. And therein lies the unique selling proposition (USP) of tiny houses.
Building a tiny house is much cheaper than a normal-sized home – sometimes less than a tenth of the price. Maintaining a tiny house is also a fraction of the normal costs associated with home maintenance. This affords the homeowners leeway to splurge on what they really want. For example, a tiny house can be just as luxurious and automated as any other home, with facilities like heating systems and hot tubs.
The median house price in Australia is approximately $800,000, although prices vary from city to city. Regional towns and smaller cities are typically less expensive. In comparison, a tiny house typically costs less than AU$100,000 if you use a professional builder (depending on the size, materials, quality, interior fittings and the service provider) or up to $60,000 if you build it yourself.
It’s the most affordable, cost-effective path to independent home-ownership. Even if you do have to take out a loan for your tiny house, the payments are typically smaller and you can pay it off a lot sooner than the average 30-year home loan.
Good For The Environment
Tiny houses leave a lower carbon footprint than traditional housing. The tiny house itself can be built from a variety of recycled materials, making it extra green and sustainable. Comparatively, tiny houses use so little energy for fuel, water, electricity and waste disposal that monthly bills are significantly lower:
- Heating a tiny house: It doesn’t take much to heat a tiny house with solar energy, for example. In some cases, you may only need a solar-powered stove.
- Water source for tiny houses: A rainwater catchment and filtration system collects water without tapping into the town water supply.
- Waste disposal in a tiny house: When it comes to waste disposal, tiny houses can use composting toilets that break down waste, eliminating the need to connect a sewage system to the sewer main. Composting toilets come in different models and sizes. Some come with a constantly working electric fan that regulates the air and eliminates odours.
Freedom To Move
Tiny houses can be built to go anywhere, while some require some measure of hook-ups like traditional housing. It’s all up to you. Hitch it on a trailer like a caravan and bring a whole new dimension to the term ‘moving’. This is probably the most starry-eyed notion people have when they consider tiny house living: having a home on wheels and driving off into the sunset. In comparison, the permanence of a traditional home with its heavy investments can seem needlessly restrictive.
A Clutter-Free Lifestyle
You can’t fit everything from a 185 sq/m home into an 18.5 sq/m tiny house. Decluttering is mandatory. Less space equals fewer things, yes, but it also equals less hassle. Less time spent cleaning and organising and more time doing the things you love.
Hosting guests in the evening? The house can be spic and span in minutes. Love decorating? You can repaint the whole house in a single morning if you wanted to. Get those new art pieces or that new rug. With such a small area to cover, decorating becomes much easier and more affordable.
A de-cluttered kitchen environment increases the likelihood of healthy home cooking, while a small, non-stimulating bedroom is better for rest. With more time to yourself and less space to move about, you are more likely to turn towards tranquil activities like reading. Tiny house owners also tend to spend more time outdoors, enjoying the fresh air and engaging in physical activities.
You could even use the extra savings to get your gardener or landscaper to optimise your little patch with a garden, a deck or even a pool.
Clutter can indirectly affect our health through stress. The emotional relief from downsizing and the financial freedom that follows is significant. Keep only what enriches your life.
If you already have a traditional home and a yard and don’t want or need to let it go, your tiny house can serve as an extra room or guest accommodation. It can also be an office, study or playroom for you and your family. Rent it out on Airbnb and make extra money on the side.
Renovating the family home? Park your tiny house in the yard and it can serve as temporary quarters until you move back in. Remember to be mindful of local rules as to what proportion of land you can use.
The federal Industry Minister, Karen Morrison, expects the prefabricated building sector will grow by $30 billion over the next five years – growing from the three to five per cent of Australia’s $150 billion construction industry it currently makes up to 15 per cent by 2025.
Are you interested in tiny houses? Get some quotes from qualified and experienced building professionals and see what’s possible. If it can be done debt-free and on your own terms, what do you have to lose?
I strongly recommend reaching out tp your local council for rules and regulations regarding tiny houses in your area. For instance, if your tiny house is a registered caravan, most likely it will be exempt from local council approvals.