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

00:02, Jul 21 2014
Lily Duval
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.

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.

The Press