Interest growing for tiny homes online

01-04-2019

Interest growing for tiny homes online

Anuja Nadkarni15:46, Sep 25 2018

AMY BAKER/STUFF.CO.NZ

West Auckland couple Kasia and Jake Walker talk about life in their new tiny house.

Tiny homes are becoming all the rage as people look for alternative housing options in unaffordable property market.

Kasia Walker has been living in her tiny West Auckland house for two years and runs the Tiny House Living Facebook community page, with over 13,000 followers. She said hundreds of new members flocked to her page each week. 

"With the rising house prices, especially in cities, I'm not surprised more and more people are looking for alternative options," Walker said.

Walker and her husband decided to downsize after watching a YouTube video on tiny houses.


Interest growing for tiny homes online
AMY BAKER
Kasia Walker and her husband decided to downsize after watching a YouTube video on tiny houses.

"Our rent was about to go up, and that was good motivation to make some changes and look for an alternative solution," Walker said.

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"It seemed near impossible to save enough money for a 20 per cent deposit on a home in Auckland, and we were over paying money into someone else's investment instead of our own."

A tiny portable hexagonal house on Trade Me has also received huge interest from house seekers.

The one bedroom, one bathroom, 55 square metre hexagonal relocatable house has already garnered almost 78,000 views and 136 enquiries. The asking price is $50,000.

It took architect and builder Pete Jon three years to draw up the blueprint plans and build the flat-pack concept home.

"I built it myself. I'm just one person that got serious about finding housing solutions," Jon said.

"It took me three years to put together. But once you get the formula right, you can replicate it again and again."

Interest growing for tiny homes online
SUPPLIED
Kasia Walker's West Auckland tiny house on wheels.

Jon said every time he had tried to build his own flat-pack home he had received offers from customers to buy it. 

"The first container house I built, I hadn't even finished it, and someone wanted it. You go along, because it's one of the rules of business to sell if someone wants to buy."

Jon said he had received great amount of interest for his Trade Me listing including a contract from a hotel in Brazil to build staff accommodation.

Jon previously built container homes for billionaires' super yachts in the Philippines.

"Everyone wants smaller houses and smaller mortgages. It's been frustrating that for years banks hadn't provided loans for flat-pack homes," he said.

Interest growing for tiny homes online
SCREENSHOT
This tiny hexagonal home has garnered a lot of attention on Trade Me.

Prefab NZ chief executive Pamela Bell said there had been a gaping hole in the housing market for one- to two-bedroom homes in New Zealand.

"There's a serious housing affordability crisis and we've been buying homes bigger than we actually need," Bell said. 

There were about 180,000 homes across the country that could be partitioned and made into two, Bell said.

A big hurdle in the expansion of modular homes has been getting mortgage finance for individuals looking to set up a prefabricated home for themselves.

Walker said finding a finance company to help fund their build was not an easy task.

"I rang around multiple banks, and finance companies before I finally found one that could help fund our build.

Then we realised servicing a tiny house loan was less than what we were paying each week into someone else's investment and that after a few years we would pay off own investment and then free up our income to do more of the things we love."

Interest growing for tiny homes online
SUPPLIED
Prefab NZ boss Pamela Bell says Prefab NZ chief executive Pamela Bell says people have lived in houses larger than they actually need.

Trade Me spokeswoman Millie Silvester said there had been an increase in demand for tiny portable homes advertised on the website.

"These tiny houses are often sought after by people looking to simplify their life," Silvester said.

"With rising house prices, these pint-sized houses are the perfect Kiwi bach or first home that won't leave a hole in your pocket.

"Living in a tiny house won't be everyone's cup of tea but there are certainly a few perks that go with being able to pack up and move your house or bach whenever you need to."

Jon said because the houses he built were under the 65sqm they fit under the Auckland Unitary Plan and did not require consent.

"A lot of the small, portable houses you see are great for a weekend stay but not to live in long term. That's why I wanted to create homes that suited the people who lived there."

Interest growing for tiny homes online
SCREENSHOT
The one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 55 square metre relocatable house is attracting a lot of attention on Trade Me.

The foundations of the tiny flat-pack houses can be laid within hours.

"We're just getting started with modular housing. The main trends lie in the innovation of the architecture of these homes. There's a lot of room to play with," Jon said.

Walker said the only downside to living in a tiny house was access to unlimited power.

"We get to miss out on paying a power bill each month since we are on solar, but sometimes miss having unlimited power, especially in winter months when we have to be a bit more conscious about usage."


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