Tiny house a lesson in living simply

RANDALL WALKER
Last updated 14:21 25/02/2013
trailer

Happy builders: D’Arcy Lunn, centre, and volunteers build a house on the back of a boat trailer in Paekakariki.

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A 10sqm house costing less than $10,000 under construction in Paekakariki is billed as a model for low-cost housing.

Australian d'Arcy Lunn says he has already attracted the interest of Wellington mayor Celia Wade- Brown, among others, for his project, dubbed Happy Simply.

The timber and plywood house is being constructed within a month, including design, from mainly donated material on a boat trailer at the Tilley Rd end of Queen Elizabeth Park in Paekakariki.

Mr Lunn, of Adelaide, said he has worked, volunteered and taught around the world for the last 12 years. A schoolteacher by trade, he works for educational and campaigning organisation Global Poverty Project, which aims to help end extreme poverty.

"In my free time I really enjoy . . . not so much looking at how we can support those in developing countries but how we can learn from people in developing countries. They're forced into simplicity but it's a pretty amazing way to live when you're more connected to your community, your family, your environment.

"The idea of Happy Simply is to live more life with less. It's a holistic lifestyle model and the house is just one component of that."

The house he and a team of volunteers are building will be "off grid", creating its own electricity, collecting rainwater and with a compostable toilet. It will be fully insulated and have a "goretex coat" between the frame and cladding for waterproofing. He will cook on a gas stove and is on the lookout for a woodburner.

The house will have just one room with a loft for sleeping. "I've lived in countries where you'd fit 10 people in a house that size... they lay the mats down by night," said Mr Lunn.

He admitted not everyone could live in a house so small, but said the idea was for people to take ideas from the project.

Spanish designer Javier Carrasco, who is teaching mud brick home building in Turangi, is leading the construction.

Design work started on Waitangi Day and the build is to finish on Wednesday.

Mr Carrasco said the project had been challenging, particularly getting the foundation level on the trailer, and sourcing the materials in the timeframe.

The house will be four metres long by 2.4m wide, and from ground to high point stand at 4.2m, just under the maximum allowed.

A team of up to 10 had been working on the project.

Among the crew was Paekakariki's Daniel McClellan, an apprentice builder who lost his job this month in the Mainzeal collapse.

"I'm really interested in small houses and affordable living," he said, adding he believed the project had potential.

Mr Lunn first came to New Zealand in 2009 and "fell in love with the country", particularly Paekakariki, saying it was the one place he could consider settling down.

He said the Paekakariki community had been "phenomenal" during the project.

The business community and other organisations had also helped him by donating materials, meaning the house was costing him less than $10,000, including koha for those building it.

The boat trailer, bought from Trade Me from an Upper Hutt man for $900, was the most expensive item, he said.

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Tim Bishop, from Sustainable Habitat Challenge, which teams engineers, architects and builders with groups wanting to build affordable, sustainable housing, was also involved.

He believed there was a "real need" for people to find ways to live in more affordable homes, and, rather than being tied to a mortgage for 30 years, have more money for what they "really want to do".

Mr Lunn said the project was also about educating, with some involved having no previous experience, and the community encouraged to take ideas.

"I don't own the intellectual property of it, it really is a totally open sourced thing for people to come and see and grab whatever they need from it . . . not everyone is going to live like this."

Mr Lunn plans to live in the house until April when he has to travel again, and hopes it can be used by someone in the community until he returns in December. Being on a trailer it was transportable, he said.

- Kapiti Observer

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