Towards tiny homes

Issue 31 Words: Verity Campbell Photography: Alicia Fox

Tiny, micro or simply small, a new generation of down-sized dwellings is on the rise.

Emerging as an antidote to super-sized housing, a growing number of minute homes are being planned and built as part of the Tiny House Movement. The movement answers yearnings for a simpler, greener life. It challenges mainstream consumer culture and empowers people to take charge of the design and build of their own house.

Tiny houses have their roots in the US with pioneers Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House book (2008), and Lloyd Kahn, author of Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter (2012). Jay Shafer and his Tumbleweed Tiny House Company propelled the movement with practical resources, off-the-plan homes and workshops throughout the country. There’s now an annual Tiny House Conference and even an American Tiny House Association founded this year to assist members to navigate regulations, insurance, planning and other speed humps to doing things differently.

In Australia, the tiny scene is also blossoming. Tiny Houses Australia, and particularly its booming Pinterest and Facebook pages, is ground zero for Australia’s enthusiasts. Founder Darren Hughes anticipated 30 or 40 followers when he set up the Facebook page two years ago. It now has over 16,000 ‘likes’, just under half from Australia. Darren’s modest “scrap book for ideas” has boomed into a thriving community that shares resources, ideas and eye candy, and has started running workshops around the country.

One of the first teeny dwellings built in Australia was recently sold on eBay, a relatively common occurrence in the US. For creators James Galletly and Alicia Fox, their first foray into tiny was conceived as a test case for James’ business, The Upcyclist. With their first project a success, they’re planning another tiny, a strawbale construction which they are hoping will open the door to more commissions.

The appeal of the movement, says James, is that it allows people to “exit the cycle of perpetual home rental or long term mortgage debt”. A tiny houser is someone who values a high degree of interaction with the outside world, he explains, and a desire for financial freedom, limited possessions and an outwardly focused lifestyle. For James and Alicia, the appeal is also the vastly reduced environmental impact that comes through building small homes with reclaimed materials.

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Cover of Issue 31
You can read more about Towards tiny homes in Issue 31 of Sanctuary magazine.

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