Many people who are drawn to the idea of tiny house living are attracted to the concept by a love of the environment and a desire to do something good for the planet. Today we’ve traveled to the Yarra Valley in southern Australia to meet one young family who are living an incredible zero-waste plant-based tiny house lifestyle. Hey Jo — goodbye — lovely to meet you. You, too. Good day, Mark. How’s it going, mate? Goodbye, nice to meet you. What an incredible-looking tiny house you’ve got here. Thank you very much How long have you been living here now? About nine months. And how are you finding tiny house life? We love it. Love it. Yeah, it’s really cozy. A little bit apprehensive initially, being relatively tall. You are pretty tall. How tall are you. Two meters? It’s not often that I feel short. And what was it that actually first captured your imagination about the tiny house movement? What first made you start thinking “Yeah, I could actually live in a tiny house”? I think we were pretty keen to live a bit more of a minimalistic sort of lifestyle, with less waste and sort of less negative impact and a tiny house is obviously a great way to, to achieve that. And also living debt-free — being able to build and own a house — is a big plus as well. I’ve been looking at tiny houses for years probably. I’d say so, yeah. Yeah, on YouTube, and like just online. And then we’re moving back to Australia from Singapore and we just decided that we’ll do it. It’s a bit of a dream come true, I guess. Yeah, I guess. I guess maybe when you get to a certain age — I don’t know — you kind of start to think more seriously about what you’re doing in life and the impact that it has on everybody. And the people around you, and the environment, I guess, these days is obviously a big concern. So that was sort of why we went towards a more zero waste lifestyle. I say “more zero waste” because we’re still not zero waste. It’s a pretty long road. But we’re doing a pretty good job of steering clear of, ah, single-use plastics and the tiny house really ties into that perfectly because you are only really using what you need in terms of space and the things that you put in that space. So as DIY builders what was the process of actually putting this house together like? Ah, it was a little bit of a mishmash to be honest. Dad had a pretty good idea. He’d built a lot of things before. Um, so when we came back from Singapore we already had the trailer, the windows, and the pine for the framing here. And we just started from the ground up. How long did the build actually take you? It was about three months in total because we both were doing it full-time and we had the support of my parents as well. Mum was cooking dinner so we were working till 9:00 every night and coming in and having dinner. Which is pretty good. The whole process went pretty smoothly. Dad helped us a lot, okay. As I touched on earlier, he’s built a lot of things in the past so he worked with us a lot and then when he had to go to work, he pointed us in the right direction. Because we originally had no idea. I remember googling how to build a house a couple of times and the steps involved: where you start, and then what’s next, and what’s next, and what’s next. So it was very reassuring to to have that information already from somebody who knew what they were doing. And the building process just brought us closer I think — yeah. Working together on a project has been really amazing. And what about materials? So looking at the exterior of this house — what have you used to put it together? Mainly Colorbond [steel]. It was something that we knew that we were kind of familiar with with using. Um… So, Colorbond and cedar is the exterior, yeah. And you’ve built a really nice porch space here as well, yeah Yeah, this is all built from recycled tomato stakes, essentially. Oh really!
Yeah. yeah, and — cut the ends off — and planed and flat. So you can see they’re all different multi colors. And they’re all arranged in 900 tiles. So when we do want to move, we can just pick up the tiles and unbolt the deck and move it wherever we go. And especially here in southern Australia, where the weather is really good, having that extra outdoor living space connected to the tiny house must be really valuable. Yeah. That little bit of a flexibility is very handy especially with visitors. Because it can get a little bit cramped when there’s six or more people in the house. Yeah. I’d have somewhere outside to have a meal and have a chat and chill out is pretty lovely, yeah. And what about the property you’re on right now? So this is actually my parents property. They’re kind of in their backyard, which is again, pretty — we feel pretty lucky. We have our groundskeepers, who take care of our lawn and the veggie garden. Oh yeah, they’ll love that. Thanks Mom. And what about future plans for — ah — are you looking at actually saving up for your own bit of land at the moment? Is this like a stepping stone? It is. Yeah, yeah the house is a total initial investment we hope we’ll get maybe seven or so years out of it. But we’re looking to get a block of land as well to move on to. And it’s not just the two of you anymore. You actually have a young one now, don’t you? Yeah, three weeks old. Only three weeks! A daughter. Yeah. Wow. And how are you finding tiny house life with a newborn baby? It’s been pretty good so far. I mean we’re lucky because we had like a extra little space on the end of the house so we turned it into your nursery, and yeah. Now you actually gave birth to your daughter right here, didn’t you? Yeah. Like where we’re standing. Yeah, we had a birth pool. We had the table and chairs over here, and a birth pool set up, and it was really nice. Yeah. Wow! Yeah, it’s really special. Yeah. When you were building this, did you have any idea that this was where you were actually going to be starting your family? No. It was bit of a last minute decision to put the pool out here. I think a home birth was something that Jo really wanted from the get-go. Yeah. But the specifics of where we would — yeah — we weren’t really sure if it would work out in a tiny house in such a small space, but we had the deck and — yeah — we kind of just like curtained off the side for a bit of privacy and, yeah, it was really nice. Absolutely! Well, I am super excited to have a look inside the tiny house. Can we see what you’ve done? Yeah, come on in! What a lovely home! Thank you. Walking in here, it actually just feels so spacious, doesn’t it? Yeah,
we added a few windows and stuff to the original design to try to bring in a bit more light, a bit more of the outdoors. So, right now, we’re in your living space. Yeah, we had a couch originally that would you know collapse to become a couch and pull out to be a bed. But we always had it as a bed, so we just got a single mattress and put it there. Now it’s our chilling out day bed and now with Alba, if Jo needs to, she spends the night down here, because it’s easier to get up and feed the baby and stuff without having to go upstairs. Gives you a little bit of extra peace as well. Yeah.
Yeah, it’s really quiet. And the steps at the end here, they move so if we need extra seating around the house for people and they also — storage, this is a laundry basket. And this one’s just bags and random things. And then tell me about the kitchen!
Obviously, you’re a chef, Mark, so this must have been a very important part of the house for you. It was, yeah. There was a bit of contention when we were building about the stove. Right. Our plumber told us that we would have to have a camping stove, which I wasn’t having a bar of.
So, nine months now living in this home, how’s it working out for you? I love it. Yeah, it’s really good. It’s really nice. Yeah, I really like living here. That the lifestyle I like trying to have a minimal footprint and very enjoyable and the fact that we made it ourselves. We can lie in bed and kind of think back and, yeah, what it was like building it and… That’s actually one of the key things, I think. Like, being in house that you built yourself and having it be so comfortable, knowing that you made the right choices in what you added to the house or didn’t put in. Yeah, it’s really nice. I’m happy. Obviously, you’ve done all the labor in this build yourself, but do you have an idea of what the project actually cost to complete? Yeah, aside from the time and the labor, like you said, it was probably, with all of the equipment, like washing machine, air conditioner, toaster, all this kind of stuff — a bit under 50 grand? Hmm. It’s a great result. Yeah. Yeah, we’re really happy with developing our own in little house for that much money, yeah. And what do you think the future is gonna hold for you guys now?