Small, simple, genius: The tiny $35k house

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 11:53 21/07/2014
Lily Duval
Doug Richardson

SPACE SAVING: A good use of space, including cupboards hidden under the floor, means Lily Duval's tiny home doesn't look cluttered. Here it is under construction, left, and all finished, right.

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Lily Duval knows better than many the trials of construction during the Christchurch earthquake rebuild.

She built a tiny house.

Duval, 27, lives in a "community" on Peterborough St. Her house sits on land shared by a few normal-sized homes without dividing fences, and the community is run by a trust.

She lives within the four avenues, worked as an earthquake repair painter and watched as millions of dollars of reusable building materials went to landfill.

Duval has a unique perspective.

"The architecture feels like it's all coming from the same places," she says. "I do worry we'll end up in a tilt-slab city."

Duval's mini-house is 14 square metres.

She was lucky enough to be given some salvaged materials, but thinks it cost her more to build now than it would have pre-quake. A lot of building materials are being thrown away or left to rot in the red zone, Duval says.

A quote for new plywood, same amount and same kind, went up $800 in just a few months last year.

"I do think it would be cool for people to build tiny houses," she says.

No consent fees, compact living and a cheap way to solve the housing crisis.

Being a central-city dweller, Duval has seen first-hand a lot of the commercial reconstruction going on.

People can easily forget the scale of the project being undertaken, she says.

"I do feel like people can be a bit unreasonable. It's a huge thing and it won't happen that quickly.

"I went away for seven weeks recently and, coming back, I feel like there's been a bit of a shift in the pace of the rebuild."

Duval, sipping a smoothie at the Herb Centre, is both positive about the rebuild and realistic. She works four jobs in a variety of fields, cycles as much as she can and contributes her time to causes she cares about.

Apart from having to get a mountain bike to navigate the city streets, she is loving living centrally.

The housing co-operative Duval lives in keeps rent as low as possible and people help each other out.

It shows, on a small scale, the benefits of knowing your neighbours and thinking outside the box.

Duval's tiny house is almost finished and cost about $35,000.

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