Tiny home a true mansion

Novice builder thinks big in a small space

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 10:00 25/01/2014
lily duval

HOUSE ON WHEELS: Lily Duval, 27, is building her own miniature house, despite having no previous building experience.

duval
TINY HOUSE: Lily Duval's miniature house requires no building consent.

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Her previous construction experience was a bookcase, but that has not stopped Lily Duval from building her own miniature house.

The 27-year-old is two months into the build, and is on track to have most of the construction finished in another couple of months. She is building her house directly on a trailer on communal land in central Christchurch. At 5.5 metres long, 2.5m wide and 4.2m high, Duval's house fits under the New Zealand Transport Authority's definition of a light simple trailer.

It requires no building consent.

Her house will cost $30,000 all up, which includes $8000 for the heavy-duty trailer.

The house is a medley of free and cheap materials, with rimu flooring from an old working men's club, stained-glass windows bought from TradeMe, and American redwood cladding bought cheaply after it sat unwanted in a lumberyard for years.

Duval was left money after her father died. She decided to put it to use, rather than fritter it away, and said he would "definitely approve" of how she had chosen to spend his money.

"For me, the big motivation was doing something worthwhile with my money, but also challenging myself to not keep acquiring things.

"Every single thing I ever pick up, I have to say, ‘do I really want this?' "

Houses such as Duval's are part of a "tiny house" movement in the United States. Bryce Langston and Melissa Nickerson are working in Auckland to raise awareness of the movement in New Zealand. The pair have been documenting the design process of their own tiny house at livingbiginatinyhouse.com and are about to start the build.

Eventually, they hope to provide full designs and materials freely online so anyone who wanted to build their own small house has a starting point.

Langston said he was attracted to the idea of living a "down-sized life".

"I really liked the idea of focusing less on the material possessions and more on actually doing things that make you happy."

As for Duval, she has already had an offer for building work when she finishes her house, if she wants to keep it up. 

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- The Press

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