Media  – Tiny Homes

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny home living has surged to unprecedented levels with cost of living pressures and soaring regional prices driving demand beyond the pandemic.
Houses as small as only 10sq m are attracting buyers seeking minimalist lifestyles and being touted as part of the solution to the housing affordability crisis.
It comes as house prices rose by $158,000 (22 percent) over the past two years through Covid in Melbourne and $142,500 (36 percent) in regional Victoria, PropTrack data shows.

 

Australian Tiny Homes Association (ATHA) president Janine Strachan said the property type was a “housing solution for a diverse range of people” — particularly those constrained by affordability, including retirees struggling with rising house and land costs.
“It puts more housing and rentals on the market, helping people stay in communities they love but can’t afford anymore,” she said.

The increasing demand for tiny homes is demonstrated across the board, with the ATHA hosting more than 200 builders, businesses and individual members.
Ms Strachan also highlighted the significant number of people in tiny home Facebook groups across Australia, such as ‘Tiny Home Communities’ which has more than 49,000 members, or ‘Tiny Homes Australia’ with more than 14,000.
The latter started in March 2017 with only two members and continues to grow each day. Group admin Donna Birch said it was currently gaining about 110 new Australian members each week.

“There is a huge demand for and interest in tiny homes and the communities that surround it,” she said.
About 12,000 people also flocked to the Melbourne Tiny Homes Expo in March, according to the organiser, Phae Barrett, which showcased a range of tiny builds including modulars, container homes, cabins, granny flats, domes, and more.
“I came across the idea of holding (the expo) just over two years ago, and my research unearthed exactly 37 tiny home builders. I now have over 350 across the country,” Ms Barrett said.

The first expo was held in Brisbane last October and attracted about 8000 people.
Ms Barrett added that it was difficult to provide substantiated figures in such an unregulated industry, where many customers were living “under the radar” due to council limitations.
She said a number of government bodies were concerned with environmental issues due to sewerage waste from tiny homes.
They also wanted to prevent the build up of multiple houses on a small block of land, becoming what Ms Barrett described as “pretty trailer parks.”
“I see their point of view, but I think they should define what tiny homes are,” she said.
“The problem is they don’t recognise tiny houses so all legislation comes under caravan laws

Despite this, Ms Barrett estimated that more than 600 tiny homes were being sold per month, both to Air BnB operators and people wishing to live in them permanently.
She also said that the “cost of buying them had increased some 50 percent in the same time frame,” with current prices ranging from $70,000-$150,000.
“A cheap one is around $70,000, but something with a bit of luxury that has all the bells and whistles is around $130,000. You could also build your own for under $150,000,” she said.
Founding member of the ATHA, Elle Paton lives in a suburban tiny home in St Kilda, and quit her corporate job years ago to advocate for the tiny living movement.
Ms Paton said that while these types of houses helped increase market stock, she agreed that there would need to be further lenience from councils for them to make a more significant impact on housing affordability.


“It definitely has impacted the housing stock and availability,” Ms Paton said.
“There’s a lower buy-in price, so people locked out of the market can get a tiny home from around $75,000.”

“Of course, you can get cheaper ones, but we tend to give advice to buy the best of what you can afford and go for quality.”
Ms. Paton also noted that the tiny home movement had helped numerous people “get back on their feet after being homeless”, particularly with help from Launch Housing — a Melbourne-based community organization providing services and support to homeless and disadvantaged Victorians.
Since 2019, Launch Housing has created 57 tiny homes as part of the Harris Transportable Housing Project in Melbourne’s inner west, in partnership with Harris Capital and the Victorian Property Fund. The homes were built using nine parcels of vacant VicRoads land.
Living tiny saved single mother-of-two

Single mother Briony Jenkins has been living in her tiny home in Mt Egerton since 2018, saving her and her two children from financial instability.
Ms Jenkins was struggling to provide for the kids after her divorce in 2016, going between various rentals and living paycheck-to-paycheck.
“It makes me teary thinking now about the financial anxiety I had before, compared to now,” she said

“I didn’t feel like I had a lot of other options. But I don’t stress anymore. I’m not in a 9-5 job, and we still eat out whenever we want and do the things we love. We’re better off both financially and emotionally.”
As the 3496sq m block was farming zoned, Ms Jenkins was able to buy it cheaply. While the land came with the tiny house, she has since built a second one for her daughter, now 16 years old, who needed her own space. Ms Jenkins and her ten-year-old son co-sleep in a queen bed.
Describing herself as a “reformed hoarder”, she sold the majority of her possessions prior to purchasing the Mt Egerton block.
Now, the mother-of-two stores her remaining items in the property’s small shed. She also maximizes the tiny home’s space, storing clothes and shoes in tubs under built-in modular couches with liftable seats.

“I love a capsule wardrobe, so I cycle through wearing the same things. The one or two nice dresses I have are hung on the back of the bathroom door.”
The family stays warm in winter through a diesel heater, which Ms Jenkins said is usually found in caravans and trucks.
But she admits that living tiny does come with its struggles.
“We’re completely off-grid, so there’s no water, power or sewerage,” she said.
“We run the internet off a hotspot on my phone. We have solar power but it’s very simple. I’ve built three generators so far.”
She said rubbish disposal was also difficult, and the composting toilet “didn’t work well”.
“I’ve considered going back to regular dwelling occasionally when things don’t work,” Ms Jenkins said.
“But I think of all the financial stress and the cleaning, and realise how happy I am here.”
“It sort of feels like we’re playing pretend,” she laughed. “It puts a bit of novelty back into adult life.”
Ms Jenkins now runs a website called parkmytinyhouse.com.au, which connects property owners with those looking for a place to park their tiny house on wheels.

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