In the humble words of Skye…”If a 42 year old mother of two young children with no building experience and no training can build a tiny home then it goes without saying that anyone who has the desire can.“
So this is Skye’s story…
The build was extremely cathartic for me and I loved spending so much time with my father who was there with me every step of the way. Like me he has no formal qualifications but also loves working with timber and creating.
Spent many hours scouring online 2nd hand building materials sites and traipsing through countless demolition yards and the like which was extremely time consuming but much more satisfying than ordering new and very expensive timber straight from the yard. My dad had a very old van that was quite possibly only held together by what remained of its paint job and I used that to collect all my locally sourced finds.
I often joke that it took me longer to build the cabin than it did to create life (my 2 children aged 4 and 6) but now I know I can build a home and that feels good. Anyone can. If you want it bad enough.
I started with various design ideas, initial thought was to try a shipping container conversion but there were too many constraints with steel whereas timber construction is much more versatile and forgiving. With timber the structure can evolve and change as you go. So if you change your mind about the position or size of an opening you can simply adjust accordingly. Also I found many hidden costs involved with shipping containers. It was soon decided to start from scratch with a timber design. I love a 45 degree pitch roof and it’s ideal for a tiny home as it gives the sense of space and at the same time easily accommodating a loft space.
Q. Why did you choose to build a recycled house?
A. I’ve fallen in love with the challenge and joy of re-purposing all manner of things. I chose recycled because it was more affordable than new and it was the aesthetic I wanted, I wanted it to look as if it had grown there rather than something stark and sterile. Building to me is form of art, habitable art. My building adventure has helped me find my way out of a traumatic life experience. It gave me something to work towards, plan and eventually build. It focused my mind on something positive which is exactly what I needed at the time. It would never have been possible without the love and support of my beautiful partner and the sweat and sacrifice of my dad. Both of whom were with me every step of the journey. I love the tiny house movement and what it represents.
Q. Did you need any special skills or qualifications?
A. I was a 42 year old mum with no industry training or qualifications other than having sat for an owner builder online quiz. Only needed and only had my owner builders license which was earned through an online exam.
Q. What learning resources did you use and what was the process?
A. I drew up my designs and found a local architect to draw up the plans. Sought council approval and then sat for my online owner builder test and therefore secured my owner builder permit. My only learning resources were the web and trial and error. Lots of learning through mistakes.
Q. What did you enjoy most about the experience?
A. The challenges throughout the journey. Sourcing suitable 2nd hand building materials at a good price and re-purposing what would have otherwise been discarded finds, with a different function than what they once fulfilled. I found some old chain link front gates that were green (I love green) and we used them as a balustrade for the loft bedroom. I even left the ‘Beware of the Dog’ signage on them as I loved it’s authenticity. The decking boards were sourced from a 100 plus year old farmhouse in the Glass House Mountains. The VJ boards used to line the ceilings were all sourced from various Gumtree and eBay ads and are from many Queenslander demos. The old weather boards were sourced from a local demo yard also, as were all the rafters and floor joists.
Q. What would you do differently?
A. There’s not a lot I would do differently, I was steadfast in remaining true to my vision and determination to use as much 2nd hand material as possible and the bespoke beauty of the almost finished cabin is testament to that I believe. Pre-loved wares and materials have so much character and warmth which cannot be reproduced with new materials. The cabin would have an entirely different look and feel if I’d have used new materials.
Q. What was your biggest challenge?
A. Undoubtedly the pitch of the roof which necessitated a huge ridge beam that would run the length of the cabin roof. We soon found it was impossible to move this monster beam by ourselves but I hadn’t budgeted for a hire crane so after some research we found we could hire a genie hoist lift and once the beam was placed and centred on that we could raise it the 5 plus metres up in the air to then build the upper frame around it.©
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