The roof is on! Which naturally called for a few beers after work yesterday.
This milestone feels like a halfway point. The structure is pretty much done and once the windows go in we'll be closed in. I'm so looking forward to when we begin working on the interior. It just feels so real now that we have walls and a roof! This is also the point where Matt and I get to do a bit more of the process ourselves - would you believe me if I said I'm excited about doing the insulation?! Haha I'm sure the novelty will wear off fast!
But how good does that roof look?! I'm so pleased we stuck with black coloursteel - we tried to find an off-black shade that wasn't quite so bold but we just kept coming back to plain black. It's striking but it's not as in-your-face as I worried it would be. When we designed the house I also had reservations about the house length and roof pitch. I didn't want the proportions to be out and thought it might look too long and pointy but now I see it in 3D I realise there's nothing long about this house - it's tiny! 🤣 And I love it.
We are officially out of the ground! Today the concrete got poured for our house and we're pretty darn excited. Anyone that has built before knows getting out of the ground is one of the longest, slowest parts of the build. And what with crappy winter weather we've had recently it feels like we've been waiting for this day for a while. But it's happened & we're so excited to see it all progressing.
I thought now would be a good time to share why we went with a tiny house on foundations rather than the very popular tiny house on wheels.... When we really started talking seriously about downsizing, we first looked at the idea of tiny houses on wheels (THOW). This is the most common type of tiny house and examples of incredible THOW's can be found all over Youtube and social media now. Many people choose THOW's because of the ease of being able to move their home if they need to. The pricepoint of a THOW is often more attractive because you don't have to own the land. And of course being on wheels means you fall under transport regulations, not building regulations (although this is a grey area & is likely to change). Not having to build to specific code & go through the rigmarole of council consent is obviously attractive (having just gone through this process ourselves we can certainly see why people try to avoid it & the costs involved!). The reason we decided a THOW wasn't for us is because the mobility of the house wasn't a priority for us, we still wanted to own some land and being on wheels has it's design restrictions because your home has to stay within set road-legal dimensions.
We briefly looked into container homes, another form of a tiny house. This is where we kicked our ideas up a gear and got in touch with our builder to quiz him about the logistics of building with containers. We quickly realised from talking to him and doing some more research that while it may seem cheaper to use a container versus conventional building materials there are drawbacks and factors that need to be added into consideration. You're also limited by the dimensions of the container/s which reduces flexibility for the design.
In the end we decided on a more conventional to-building-code house on foundations - just a really small build compared to the average NZ home (which is now over 200sqm!). This way we could design a floor plan that worked perfectly for us without making compromises, we'd have a home that was easily insurable, equitable and built to NZ building standards. We'd still be 'in the system' as such (owning land, connected to services etc) but we'd get a home that would last us our lifetime and we'd be able to achieve financial freedom much faster than had we stayed in our big house.
Building a tiny house on foundations definitely has it's drawbacks too though and won't suit everybody going down the path of going tiny. Because it falls under building regulations you have all those costs to add in. Having to adhere to those regulations also means you might have to forego some amazing tiny house design ideas (such as a simple ladder up to a loft would instead have to be a compliant staircase). Going off-grid with your services (such as a composting toilet & greywater systems) isn't going to be as easy when having to be signed off by council. And it could be tricky to find land that you can build tiny on because of minimum size restrictions in certain regions.
That's the beautiful thing about tiny houses - they're specifically unique to the people living in them. What works for some, won't work for others. We are so excited to live in the space we've designed uniquely for us. And today we are one step closer.
The number one question we're getting asked on the daily at the moment is how is the build coming along or when do we think we'll be in our new home. It's exciting talking to people about our tiny home and getting to share our journey. It's cool to see such an interest in what we're doing. And we're so flippin' excited to see it all start to come together. We talk often about how amazing it is going to be living in a house we've designed, somewhere we can see ourselves being for the rest of our lives, a home that is going to give us the life we're dreaming of!
But I realised recently that each time people asked me about the build progress I was constantly thinking of timeframes and targets rather than the beauty & fun of the build itself. Over the last few months of getting out the other side with consent and then starting the groundworks I found myself getting stressed and worried every time something took longer than expected, materials didn't turn up on time or the weather stopped work for the week. I laugh now at how I naively thought we'd be out of the ground by Easter!
I've slowly learnt to release any expectations of timing. Sure it's important to have a loose timeline so all the contractors are on the same page but in terms of when certain stages will be done & when we'll be shifting in... all in good time. There never was a hard set deadline anyway and we want to get it all done right, rather than rush it.
And you know what - that mindset shift has made the build immediately less stressful and so much more enjoyable. Letting go and just being excited about the small steps forward each week doesn't come naturally to me as I'm such a planner, but it totally aligns with what we're also trying to achieve with this build.
It's been a few months since we sold our home and began the planning stages of what I've nicknamed the "Horton Build 2.0" - our tiny home. During this time we've been working towards gaining building consent from the council and while it's been quiet on the blog here, we've been busy behind the scenes getting our ducks in a row so it can be all go once we're ready to break ground.
Technically we're building a small house at 65 square metres, as tiny houses are under 50sqm or even less depending on who you talk to, but tiny houses are a way of living - a lifestyle, more than a square meterage. The philosophy is about paring down, living simply, gaining financial freedom, reducing the consumer-driven excesses, being more sustainable & eco-friendly. For some people tiny house living is also about beating the property market, or the option to move about (if your tiny house is on wheels) or even moving towards community living with shared resources. For us going tiny is a way for us to move towards financial freedom, giving us more time for experiences. We've also become conscious about our footprint on this planet and wanting to live more sustainably.
So how did we come up with our tiny house plan? When Matt and I first started talking about the idea of going tiny we took a look at the footprint we were actually using of our four bedroom house. We realised we were only really using a third of the home. So we floated our idea of going tiny to our builder and he had us take a look at a few house plans to see if we could cut a plan in half or find a way of using something existing to base ours off. But we couldn't find anything that worked for us and we began drawing up house plans ourselves. We quickly became fixed on a long house configuration with a short hallway joining everything. In fact the plan looks very close to the configuration of half our old house! We got out the measuring tape and stepped out areas. We thought about the things we loved in our old home and what we'd change. We looked at house cladding, roof pitches and design styles everywhere we travelled. We found pictures online of interiors we loved. And then we went to see Josh at MAS Architecture in Invercargill.
Josh helped us bring our ideas to life. He took my basic drawings and created all the technical drawings, plans and details required for council consent application. Here's the concept we ended up with below. A 65 square metre home that opens up to the north onto a patio running the length of the house. The living and kitchen area has a pitched ceiling to create the feeling of a bit more space. We'll use sliding barn-style interior doors rather than swinging to save on space. We've added more room to the bathroom than in our previous home to allow for a big tiled shower. Our kitchen is based off our old one but tweaked slightly to give us more storage & more breakfast bar space. We're having a walk-around wardrobe in the bedroom which will also double as a 'headboard' for the bed. We decided to still have a spare room as we want this to be our forever home and this gives us options. It will double as office and storage space. And possibly the most talked about feature - an outdoor, plumbed in bath tub!
The home will be insulated including the concrete floor, plus the use of Low-E glazing for the windows. We'll make the most of the sun's warmth but we're also planning on having a small, low emission wood burner.
We're going with plywood for the interior walls and polished concrete floors as we've fallen in love with both of those 'raw' looks. When we started thinking about the interior of our home I really wanted the house to feel like a bach - with the comforts of home but also so that it feels a little like we're on holiday. There's nothing conventional about this build and we didn't want it to feel like our last home did with white walls and carpet throughout. Corrugated cladding will be broken up along the north side with a wood feature. The natural colours and textures of stone and wood will feature throughout the home, inside and out. From the stone bath, the concrete floors, right through to our plans for the tiled shower. With plywood walls the interior will have a warmth about it, contrasting against a white kitchen. Matt has created some beautiful pieces of wood & steel furniture and plans to create a vanity unit for the bathroom of the same style. I'm imagining potted plants throughout the house bringing the outside in and the big stacking door off the living area will open us up onto the patio for those cracker Southland days.
And for those wondering about storage and where all our 'stuff' goes... we're currently living in a small rental and we actually don't have a heap of things in storage. Most of the boxes and items in deep storage currently are Matt's shed things and he's getting another shed with this build. We're not having an internal access garage this time which is something we were okay with forsaking, but Matt's new shed is actually going to be bigger than our tiny house! 😂 We managed to pare down so many of our possessions in the process of down-sizing so the built in storage within this house plan will be more than enough for the two of us.
The next blog post update will hopefully be us breaking ground and I'm so excited for that stage. This tiny house has been on my mind for the last year - I dream about it frequently and can already visualise in my mind how it will look as I walk through it. It was initially a little scary thinking we had designed this house plan & what if it didn't work functionally, but we've had a year to nut it out, we've had the best architect we could wish for helping us every step of the way and it's going to be pretty neat living in a home we designed ourselves! I remember when we decided to list our old house for sale back in March 2018 and spending half of that year thinking it was all taking too long. Now I realise time has flown and the Horton Build 2.0 is all about to get very real!