Budget beauty

Issue 33 Words: Anna Cumming Photography: Bruce Jacups
Urunga, NSW
  • The two-metre-wide north-facing louvre windows in the living room, kitchen and bedroom were custom-made by a local craftsman, Squire Winter, out of local timber, and provide access to sea breezes and let winter sunlight fill the space.
  • Emma saved money in the build by using recycled materials throughout. She purchased reclaimed hardwood bearers and joists, floorboards and mahogany weatherboards from a nearby house demolition, saving money, reusing resources, and adding character to her home.
  • A moveable partition made up of chests of drawers topped with bookshelves provides storage and defines a sleeping area for Emma’s kids.
  • The winter sun penetrates the full width of the house.

Emma Hohnen wanted a modest home for herself and her two children on a tiny budget in an even smaller timeframe. The restrictions led to the creation of a light, airy, character-filled space tailored exactly to her needs.

In need of a home for herself and her two young children, Emma Hohnen made the most of her local council’s affordable accommodation legislation to achieve a simple, light and comfortable small home in just three months. This was aided by the council’s 21-day approval scheme for single-bedroom secondary dwellings of up to 60 square metres.

Built in the backyard of a house she owns and rents out on the New South Wales Mid North Coast, the house is a simple rectangle with a flexible kitchen/living space, a bedroom and a bathroom, and an expansive covered deck on the western end. A moveable partition made up of chests of drawers topped with bookshelves provides storage and defines a sleeping area for Emma’s kids.

“The priorities were to have winter sunlight enter the living area, access to sea breezes via louvre windows and high ceilings to offset the small size of the house”, says Emma. “Also I wanted to use a high proportion of recycled materials and employ local craftsmen.”

Emma had just $110,000 to spend. She bought recycled hardwood bearers and joists, floorboards and enough mahogany weatherboards for two of her walls from a nearby demolition, saving money and adding strength and character to the house. The remaining walls and roof have Colorbond cladding for durability. She also saved money by pitching in herself, assembling the IKEA kitchen with help from friends, doing some of the de-nailing of the recycled timber, and streamlining the building process: “I made sure that everything was always ready in advance for the builder and carpenters, so there was never any time wasted.”

Despite her choice not to install active heating or cooling, except for a couple of ceiling fans, Emma says the finished house performs well. “I have used a little portable heater only occasionally during the winter – the winter sun penetrates the full width of the house,” she explains.

The locally crafted and sourced wide louvre windows in the livingroom, kitchen and bedroom allow sea breezes to pass through the cottage and offer the perfect frame for contemplating her achievement.

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Cover of Issue 33
You can read more about Budget beauty in Issue 33 of Sanctuary magazine.

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Credits

DESIGN
Emma Hohnen

BUILDER
Bellingen Building Company

PROJECT TYPE
New build

PROJECT LOCATION
Urunga, NSW

COST
$110,000

SIZE
Land 380 sqm
House 60 sqm

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