TINY HOMES: Making a big impact in property market
REAL estate advertisements across Australia spruik sprawling Australian dream homes with: "Attention! Owners are downsizing now the kids have left home" but, according to the ABS, couple-only households are set to overtake the number of families with offspring, and it's expected that DINKS (Double Income No Kids) will make up 60% of all couple-only households by 2031.
Gen-X'ers are downsizing and a rapidly growing population will see a housing shortage continue in certain areas of Australia and this, coupled with ongoing affordability issues and increasing rental prices, forces many to think outside the box when it comes to housing requirements.
According to Brisbane-based The Tiny House Company co-founder Lara Noble, the tiny home movement is taking housing to a new level, saying it is not just a dream; the "tiny house movement" is a reality.
"It is about time the housing market caught up and offered some alternatives to "the 'just in case you need it' suburban four-bedder'," Lara says.
"As designers and builders, our interest is in compact spaces; whatever form or application they take. Of course, living in small dwellings is nothing new, most of the world already does it, but here in Australia we've lost our way. For some, it's the freedom to live a well-balanced life by purchasing something small within their means rather than relying on a crippling mortgage. For others it's the flexibility of being able to change the size and function of an existing home as the need arises - a granny flat for family dependants, an additional rental property on-site, or a smaller home to downsize to once the kids have left."
Lara adds, more and more Australians are adopting it as a means of achieving freedom from debt, minimal environmental impact, and the opportunity to live simply.
"Imagine a sustainable house that can bring the ability to live debt-free, with utility bills as low as $10 a month."
Key design features
Focusing on the basic requirements of sleep, work, relaxation and hygiene, a tiny home, no matter what application, should feature living areas awash with sunlight and flush with airflow.
Moving joinery will allow for spaces to grow or contract as required and a loft will provide an escape nook or alternative sleeping area.
Just like normal housing, north-facing is optimal and, if you include a conservatory, it will buffer the external environment and provide a place to grow vegetables and to relax and unwind. Alternatively, for those tiny homes on the move and retractable deck provides extra space when needed.
- One bedroom
- One bathroom
- One living area
- Kitchen dining
- Laundry nook
Lara says their tiny homes are built to suit the correct Queensland guidelines, with the dimensions meeting regulations so as to not need a permit or escort vehicle.
Sunshine Coast-based Heavy Vehicle Registration Assessment Scheme officer John Black says the heavy vehicle standards and modifications vary between states and while you may only require a car licence to tow a tiny home in Queensland, you may need a heavy combination licence in other states.
He says that while the grey nomads are looking to hit the road; some are looking for a more permanent base.
"It is also easy to put the house on footings for more stable accommodation."
Koho Developments, North Manly, are leaders in the tiny home movement, and not only cater for the downsizing Gen-xers, they specialise in designing and developing co-housing communities for low-moderate income singles and couples including young people, elderly and people with a disability.
Director Adam Bennet-Smith says Koho Developments employ tiny house principles including space efficiency, amenity and storage.
"We believe that with good design, tiny homes can offer more amenity in better locations than larger conventional homes," he says.
"We recently completed The Kollective Byron, which consists of 20 one-bedroom detached houses that are around 30sq m. We are also working to rethink models of tenure including long-term leases and shared equity models that will give people who have the income capacity to get a home loan but may lack the deposit, the opportunity to enter or re-enter the property market. In this model rather than offering a conventional rental, Koho lends the home owner the deposit interest-free in return for a share in the long-term capital gain should the property ever be sold.
"Given how low-interest rates are, the repayments are actually less that the equivalent rental rate while at the same time providing the security of tenure of home ownership."
Adam says it is the reduced cost of management, vacancy and maintenance clients are finding very attractive.
Other forms of tiny homes to consider include:
- Prefabricated modular homes
- Container homes
- Tiny apartments
- Kit homes
- House boats
Houseboats are an affordable housing alternative for people seeking a waterfront home as their permanent residence, with basic open-plan houseboat starting at about $50,000, keeping in mind expenses like mooring and maintenance fees.
Container homes continue to be an alternate tiny home choice, and offer flexibility with size requirements, but it is important to plan for sound and thermal insulation, waterproofing, fireproofing and waste removal (composting toilet).
Pre-installed bathrooms and kitchen cabinets are the best choice, and the structure under flooring should be termite-treated marine grade ply base on a structural steel sub-frame.
To follow the Tiny Home Movement, visit facebook.com./Tiny HousesAustralia - an online community for Tiny Home lovers to share ideas and resources.