Tiny Homes - Doing More with Less

Published on 04 December 2017

Indi Hangan says when people step inside of the pint-sized homes he designs and builds for Tiny Homes Australia, more often than not it’s the same reaction – “oh wow, it’s bigger than I imagined”. This is the secret to the success in a good tiny home. Downsized proportions, no skimping design and as a result – pleasantly surprising.

Indi started creating his small-scale mobile homes at the start of this year. At a series of recent open days at his Ringwood factory, he had close to ten thousand people walk through the models and a thousand attend an auction soon after. He says that the tiny homes movement has its role to play in the changing housing landscape here in Australia.

While most of the interest comes from those wanting to expand on existing space, there’s a flexibility to tiny homes that can suit the needs of just about anyone.

'There is definitely a growing interest in alternatives,’ says Indi. ‘We have had so many young people approach us who are just sick of the state of the housing market at the moment. We have also had elderly people looking for granny flats, and even single parent families looking to live in a tiny home without excessive financial strain. Tiny homes offer a unique opportunity of creating living space without the planning, permits and mess of building, and this also plays a huge part in why people are so receptive to them.’

A tiny home can be a smart investment, a great way of giving a teenager some space without moving them off the property, or an answer for people looking for a more sustainable lifestyle.

‘We have had some clients already sign up for their own custom builds, and we are hoping that we will be able to provide the opportunity for even more people to gain the freedom of investing in a tiny home,’ he says. ‘We believe there is huge untapped potential in these small structures.’

Indi answered some of our tiny home questions.

So exactly how tiny is a tiny home?
As tiny as you want! Homes can be designed and built as small as 4m long, or as large as 10m long. The homes are generally 2.4m wide in keeping with transport requirements.

Why go tiny?
There are so many reasons for people to go tiny and every one of them have their own personal take. Some vary from having a retreat away from home, living more simply, or living more economically. Some people may want a teenager out of the house but not off the property, a granny flat on the property to accommodate parents, or a home out the back for guests when they arrive. For most people, the decision to go tiny is either as an investment (holiday rental or accommodation on their property), or for financial reasons, to ease the financial pressure they currently find themselves in.

What kind of design features are a must in a good tiny home?
This is a tricky one because everyone’s living needs and habits are different! We really couldn’t give you a definitive or specific answer, but, here’s what we think is important in a tiny home:

  • Large windows for an open feel.
  • Great finishings so that the home feels, well, homely.
  • A home that is customised to your own taste.
  • Space to eat, sleep and socialise.
  • An exterior space that is set up to compliment the interior.

Do they work for families?
They are definitely an option for families. We have had families approach us thinking about moving in to a tiny home permanently, or temporarily while they build their larger home. It’s all about applying the home to each individual circumstance.

What about councils – what are the restrictions around tiny homes?
Every council is different regarding what they will allow with tiny homes. We recommend every client does their research in to what the council will allow – but as a general rule, whatever the council allows with caravans they will allow with a tiny home.

Ok, so we have to ask. Toilets. How does that work in an off-grid tiny home?
We get this question a lot! And it was one of our first concerns when we first looked in to off-grid homes. In an off-grid tiny home, we use a composting toilet. These toilets use decomposition and evaporation processes to recycle waste. By the end of the process, the compost is safe to add to the gardens as a fertiliser, with no bad smell and no germs. We’re still debating whether we’d be daring enough to add it to the veggie patch, though!

Where do you go for inspiration for your designs?
Everywhere! Our inspiration comes from any space saving hack or design blog. We love following the tiny home movement in the US and Canada on social media – there are some amazing tiny home building companies that we are inspired by. The magic with the homes, though, is that each client will have their own view, dream and design in mind for their tiny home. We get the best of both worlds - enjoying designing our own builds, and supporting the design process of other people’s builds too.

What happens if/when you outgrow them?
Families who outgrow a tiny home have the option of setting up a second home with just bedroom and bathroom space. We have plans for two complimentary homes set up to allow for bedrooms and a bathroom in one home, and the kitchen, dining and living in a second. This layout creates options for growing families who would like more space.
If you’re finished with the tiny life, there’s always the option of hiring the home out as a holiday rental or selling it.

Where else can people go to see your designs/homes?
People who are interested in buying their own tiny home are welcome to contact us and book in a time to see our current builds, walk through them and discuss plans and options.

Visit the Tiny Homes Australia website to find out how you can create your own your own tiny home.